Warrior Culture

In the final days of his tenure as army chief of staff in June 2003, General Eric Shinseki sent a memo to the U.S. Army’s senior leadership outlining the need to reemphasize the “warrior ethos” throughout the army as it transformed itself from peace to war. His successor, General Peter J. Schoomaker, adopted Shinseki’s strategy for transforming army culture, making it a top priority. Both generals believed that the army’s focus on the technical skills of a soldier’s military specialty had led soldiers to identify with their job to the detriment of their identity as a combatant and their basic combat skills.

The unpredictable and violent nature of the asymmetrical wars the army faced in Iraq and Afghanistan increased the likelihood that all soldiers would ...

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