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+title: "Professional Soldiers"
+I am reading portions of [Makers of Modern Strategy: from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age](https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691027647/makers-of-modern-strategy-from-machiavelli-to-the-nuclear-age) and the first truly striking observation I have is that modern American society's conception of a "professional soldier" differs greatly from the historical definition.
+From personal experience, I would guess that the average American thinks of "professional soldier" as synonymous with "mercenary".
+The truth is exactly the opposite.
+The military revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries was a movement *away* from mercenaries, who were considered ill-disciplined because of their propensity to "mutiny, desert, or defect, paralyzing operations."
+In place of mercenaries, governments began to focus on first militias and then standing armies of their own citizens.
+The pivotal ideas behind this shift were "the need for discipline and the notion that society had a military obligation."
+> Resolving the problem, the Orangist reformers created a new type of professional soldier and combat leader, combining marital expertise with specific social and spiritual values.
+This new "professional soldier" stood in direct contrast to their mercenary contemporaries.
+I would argue that the distinction is once again clear based on the conduct of America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
+The key that distinguished the professional soldier from the mercenary was not military expertise --- which both possessed --- but discipline and a responsibility to society, encoded in a set of virtues and values.
+As an outside observer (from a conventional background), the US military's [recent](https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/27/us/navy-seals-edward-gallagher-video.html) [issues](https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2021/01/25/navy-seal-gets-10-years-in-strangulation-death-of-army-green-beret-staff-sergeant/) with SOF (not to [mention](https://darknetdiaries.com/transcript/47/) [actual](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisour_Square_massacre) [mercenaries](https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-10-17-3392316246_x.htm)) feel like an outgrowth of a military culture that worships tactical prowess, [without remorse](https://www.militarytimes.com/2020/10/22/i-hope-shes-scarred-for-life-recalling-my-time-as-a-blackwater-mercenary/).
+I think it would be better to have professional soldiers whose highest responsibility is to society.
+> His idea officer was not motivated by the quest for individual glory, but, having learned to command as well as to obey, would consider himself first and foremost as a professional serving his community.