The U.S. spends billions of dollars in its security cooperation program to develop “professional, accountable, and capable security forces” in other nations, part of a grand strategy to improve global stability and counter violent extremism. Despite its great investment in professionalizing foreign militaries, however, the U.S. has no functional definition of military professionalism – a term that until now has been considered too vague and multi-faceted to operationalize. In this article, the author seeks to remedy this oversight, drawing from twenty years of security cooperation fieldwork in Latin America and Africa, as well as a vigorous literature review, to define four important components of military professionalism: (1) formal military education and vocational training, (2) military subordination to elected civilian officials, (3) knowledge and practice of the law of armed conflict and human rights law, and (4) a clearly established program of professional military ethics. This article provides guidelines for U.S. and European officials who work with partner nations to develop more professional military forces and, in particular, for officials managing security assistance programs with developing countries.

Paterson, Patrick. “Measuring Military Professionalism in Partner Nations: Guidance for Security Assistance Officials.” Journal of Military Ethics 18 (2) 2019: 145-63. doi:10.1080/15027570.2019.1638461.

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