A chapter from the anthology Transformations of the Military Profession and Professionalism in Scandinavia (Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies Press, 2021) Editors: Anne Roelsgaard Obling & Lotta Victor Tillberg
Karl Ydén’s chapter “Unpacking the ‘Military Profession’ Concept: Accounting for Variations in Military Organising” pays attention to how we understand the contemporary military profession in a Swedish context characterised by change – external, environmental changes (the post-Cold War internalisation of the Swedish armed forces, for example) and internal, educational changes (for example, the academisation of junior officers’ education and curriculum). The chapter first discusses which factors contribute to a new focus on the concept of a “military profession” in Sweden. Quotation marks are used here to show that it is misleading to understand military officers as belonging to a single profession. One plausible practical effect of insisting on one profession is an army-centric officer education. Arguing for professions (in contrast to a profession) includes recognising the considerable variety of contexts and competences within the military organisation, understood as a highly “complex organisation” (Perrow 1986) consisting of different officer categories with different skill sets and logics of action.
This conceptualisation brings with it some analytical challenges, however, including the matter of how the multifaceted nature of military organisation might be theorised and studied. To meet these challenges, Ydén develops a model of four logics, attending specifically to the differences and dynamics of the core tasks and functions of military organisations. The argument here is that, by collapsing the four logics (including peacetime logics and real-life counterparts), we easily dismiss the possibility of different legitimating strategies, skills systems and leadership activities existing side by side in the organisation, and the ways in which each logic needs to be taken into account when discussing the development of the military profession and a well-functioning, efficient organisation.
Karl Ydén, PhD, Army reserve officer, IMIT Research Fellow, board member of European Research Group on Military and Society, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences & the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, Advisor to the Swedish Government Offices and the Defence Research Agency, Co-Founder/Co-Director of CSMS.
This article can be downloaded from SJMS homepage: https://sjms.nu/articles/10.31374/sjms.40/
Victor Tillberg, L. (2020). The Dynamics of Military Skills: The Role of Experience-Based Knowledge in Challenging Situations. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, 3(1), pp. 55–67. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31374/sjms.40