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                   The Guardians of American Society: Plato’s “The Republic” as a Foundation for Military Recruitment and Training
 CPT Robert Best
Since the establishment of the Continental Army on June 14, 1775, the United States military has drafted, recruited, and trained
civilians to defend the nation. The need to maintain a military force that is both professional and lethal enables the United States to protect its borders and further develop its democracy. During attendance to the Strategic Broadening Seminar at the University of Louisville in 2019, it became apparent that much of the training and indoctrination framework used by the United States military to transform civilians into service member’s shares many similarities to the teachings of the Greek Philosophers such as Socrates and Plato. This paper will discuss the similarities that Plato describes
as the essential characteristics and virtues in his book ”The Republic” written 2,400 years ago and the recruitment and training of todays’ military. The essential characteristics are the human nature of recruits when they enter in to service and the virtues instilled in service members during the educational foundation they require for service. Furthermore, this essay will justify the current framework used by military services during Initial Entry Training (IET) and Plato’s emphasis on the areas of human nature, virtues, and ethics for the selection and training of the guardians for society.
The U.S. military is comprised of four main branches of service: The Army, The Navy, The
Air Force and The Marine Corp. Generally each branch of service approaches the indoctrination
of their service members in the same manner; the term used throughout this paper is Initial Entry Training (IET) to describe the process. Once recruited, civilians complete rigorous training not only focused on increasing physical capabilities and stamina but with an emphasis of instilling
the values of the institution. “The Army created
a word for it: Soldierization – the process of transforming an individual from a citizen to a Soldier. Soldiers are expected to think, look, and act as Soldiers always” (TR 350-6, 2019). In his book, Plato describes an indoctrination process for the guardians that must be completed before they can serve the society. According to J.P. Hittinger, Plato’s training process involves the mental aspect of training in addition to the physical component. “First, justice is the ordering of the soul: reason, spiritedness, and desires (ambitions). Second, by way of courage, requires the formation of the soul and inculcation of opinion concerning the good. Third, the soldier at arms is the standard bearer for the value of courage. Finally, it must be mentioned that Plato’s solution requires a further element
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