Occasional Paper #1: The Responsibility Threshold for Military Officership


  • Joseph Chapa United States Air Force Academy


This paper proposes a new framework for defining military officership. Developments in technology and policy have raised questions about the nature of the profession of arms and long-held distinctions between officer and enlisted roles. Recent scholarship has argued that the advent of the cyber domain demands that we broaden the expertise of the military professional from Huntington’s traditional conception of the “management of violence.” At the same time, the US Air Force has recently opened RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot positions to enlisted members—a significant departure from Air Force cultural norms. The paper argues that recent conceptions fail to account for the officer/enlisted distinction and that officership ought to be defined instead in terms of the additive responsibility for people, finances, mission objectives, and concentrated lethality. This conception of officership provides a model against which to evaluate military positions to determine whether they ought to be filled by officers or enlisted members. Conclusions, though they will be applicable to the enlisted Global Hawk pilot decision, will also apply much more broadly to joint and international conceptions of military officership.


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How to Cite

Joseph Chapa. (2018). Occasional Paper #1: The Responsibility Threshold for Military Officership. Journal of Character and Leadership Development. Retrieved from https://jcldusafa.org/index.php/jcld/article/view/157