Seizing the Initiative: Rhetorical Implications of US Army Doctrine


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Army doctrine imbues the organization and its personnel with characteristics of professionalism. Texts analyzed for this dissertation present the Army professional's demeanor and awareness in terms of an ability to recognize and capitalize on fleeting opportunities. These doctrinal texts show that the Army professional embodies the rhetorical concept of kairos. In rhetoric studies, Kairos is understood to be an independent force that a rhetor must accommodate and also as an ability whereby a rhetor creates an opening for action; both models are rooted in reasoned action. Recent work on bodily rhetorics makes room for an immanent, embodied, and nonrational model of kairos as a kind of instinctual awareness. An analysis of how the notion of professionalism is conveyed in the selected corpus shows that the Army's philosophy of command is communicated in terms of kairos, and offers insight into how the Army professional is taught to recognize and act on opportunity. Army doctrine provides an example of how all three models of kairos function in the education of the Army professional.



rhetoric, kairos, professionalism, mission command