Following Military Orders That May Be Unethical
The armed forces are known for their disciplines and attitudes. The basic difference is of about nine weeks, in which an attitude of a person is distinguished. The training is quite helpful in developing mental and physical strength. Thus this helps in following the toughest orders within the army. The army lays the foundation for the seven golden values that should be part and parcel for every individual’s personality. These are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage (Carrick, Connelly& Robinson, 2009).
There are many orders that the armed forces have to obey that are deemed as unethical. Many times the forces are in search of recruitment opportunities for the disadvantaged. This might also be because of the fact that they are unable to communicate the problems to be faced by them in the coming years. England is the only country in European Union that recruits teenagers into the army. When they join the army, they are bound to bear with all but they can’t leave until their six year commitment is over. If they do so, they won’t be finding another job. Those who are recruited are treated as if they don’t have any rights at all. Armed forces staff office confronts substantial jeopardy throughout military service, as well as mental injury, and many struggle to relocate into life of a civilian (Carrick, Connelly& Robinson, 2009).
Ethics can be defined as having to do with or conforming to moral standards or professional standards of conduct. It can also be explained as the cogitation of analysis about ethical wrong and right, which fosters the ethical cognizance and demonstrates the basis for correct activities by leaders of the military. The ethics of military are way different from the ethics of the personal relations. In the ethics of the military, no social control or higher authority is tolerated (Robinson, Lee & Carrick, 2008).
The main characteristic of an ethical issue is that it raises basic questions of right and obligations, of good and evil, of the ends and purposes of individual lives and those of major social institutions. In the military as well as in some other professions there are professional standards we are expected to live by. These standards are enforced on a daily basis to ensure compliance. Ethical behavior is not something merely desirable to add to other professional skills, but it is meant to be a vital part of deploying those skills and using them most effectively. Military ethics was formulated to deal with circumstances and problems particular to the profession of military. Even though ethical awareness is being stressed at all levels there is an ongoing debate to determine if military ethics should have a code like other professions.
The army has seven values that every service member should be familiar with and are actively practicing. These values are Leadership, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal-Courage. Honor is the value based on moral values and ethical behavior rooted in universally accepted values. The ethics of military professionals must go beyond fidelity to law and its legal underpinnings. No constitution or law is obeyed and understood without the cultivation of moral conscientiousness and moral sensitivity. That is why every professional ethic, including the military's also includes concern for honor (Gabriel, 2010).
Duty implies that not only is one obligated to do one's job conscientiously, but also to do so within ethically acceptable forms. The ethical aspect of duty for military professionals has at least two major facets. First, military professionals, like all other professionals, need a knowledge of basic moral principles and some facility in applying the; professionals also require some understanding of why these moral principles are essential to our daily life together as human beings. Second, professions have their own particular moral responsibilities and ethical guidelines that specify how best to recognize and maintain their specific obligations to clients. In its widest dimensions, probably the most basic set of guidelines for military professionals is found within the criteria evolved by the various theories of the just war Matthews (1989).
Upon initial entry into the army during basic combat training every potential army enlistee is required to take a forty-hour class in ethics. This class lays out the major moral questions they will face in the military, why they make a difference and the possible consequences, for good or bad, or indifferent answers. The Non Commissioned Officers or NCOS are charged with this very serious responsibility. These values are the guidelines to the ethical behavior that army service members are expected to exhibit. Throughout the service member's tour of duty these values are continually taught and promoted.
The manner in which individuals in the military organization behave can and often will affect the lives of others. Our actions have consequences for human welfare. Moral issues that are unrelated to violence and killing fall within the parameter of military ethics, not because only military leaders confront them, but because military leaders confront them in special ways within the military context.
Sometimes some of the missions we are tasked with may raise eyebrows in the general public, which plays a role in us always being cognizant of our behavior. People don't always tend to agree with the reason we are given certain task and question the morality of it. A further complication of the military is the great difficulty under which judgments can be made. Military ethics will differ from ethics practiced in other professions because of its many complexities. For instance, there will be greater variations in kinds of moral agents found in the military realm. Some examples include the common foot soldier, staff officers, and governmental leaders. All of these examples will at one time or another encounter decisions about the use of military force subject to widely differing constraints and responsibilities.
For example, during the Vietnam War there were many accusations of service members deliberately killing citizens who were not a threat to them and destroying property unnecessarily. It is for situations like the two just mentioned that we must never forget to practice military ethics. The reason we do not is that even during war, we are still operating under an ethical principle. Also, studies have shown that moral and ethical dilemmas are commonly resolved within the intellect and conscience of the individual (Post, 2008).
Some would argue that there was a war going on and anything goes. They would also argue that it is no more wrong to crush the enemy than to crush a bug or a rock with one's foot. I say no matter if there is a war or not you must still display professionalism in your duties. There is a saying in the army that even when no one is looking to do the right thing. During wartime all service members are guided by the Geneva Convention rules, which are specific on every service member's behavior if they are involved in some type of conflict.
If a service member is just allowed to take matters into their own hands why even enforce discipline or teach ethical standards. In all fairness though, during that period in the army's history there were a lot of draftees who could care less about any type of standard of behavior and their major concern was to complete their tour of duty and make it home alive. Discipline problems ran rampant and were not addressed until later years. Since the Korean War many affluent parents and politicians spoke out saying that they wanted the military to meet its objective but not with their children but instead with the children of the poor, the uneducated and the disenfranchised. This demand not only would have impacted the effectiveness of the military organization but the demand itself was unethical.
At one point in our military history the military organization was inadequate because it did not represent adequately all social classes, specifically it over represented the poor and uneducated. Military professionals responsible charged with training and devising training programs and for anticipating possible combat situations faced even greater responsibilities, given inadequate personnel, and such responsibilities weighed most heavily on those professionals most sincerely committed to the military objective, who are precisely those we cannot afford to lose whether by attrition or resignation.
For the most part these enlistees were not taught about the importance of ethical standards. They were not privy to higher forms of education that military personnel today are required to attend once they reach a certain rank. These schools focus on developing the soldiers to be more professional in their duties and to educate them. Today's army service member is more educated than at any other time in the army's history. The relatively rapid turnover of the first-term enlisted ranks will continually bring into the military large groups of young men and women with varied ideas of morality and ethics and with backgrounds connected closely with the political and social structure of the civilian system. The mixture of large groups of people with moral and ethical backgrounds that may vary considerably from military concepts of ethics and morality can corrode professional effectiveness and cohesiveness. For these reasons, the profession must set clear moral and ethical patterns linked with the best patterns in society.
The acceptance of this social demand and adjustment is not only unethical because it reinforces the society's denial of the rights and humanity of military personnel and its refusal to accept its obligation to share in the cost for preserving its values, but in addition it makes it increasingly difficult the process of training and utilizing personnel and perpetuates the separation of civilian and military values. Before June 1973 the army was not an all volunteer force and by adjusting to the demand for an all-volunteer membership, the military organization encourages society to believe that society's demand that preparedness for action be conducted with no disturbance to civilians is also legitimate (Amstutz, 2005).
When the army deploys its men and women overseas to confront terrorists or dictators who oppresses their people it is our obligation to do so with professional conduct. The military must ensure that all of its objectives are legitimate as essential to preserving basic human values. If the objectives are not carried out legitimately, this would create a double wrong first by the oppressors and secondly by the military.
This is one of the reasons that there is civilian control over the military so that democracy is preserved in our nation and that the military profession is prevented from usurping the powers of the state. At times the civilian and military values are in conflict. It is when the civilian world makes demands concerning the manner in which the military carries out its objective that ethical conflicts arise. Another demand made by the civilian world is that in carrying out its objective the military organization should do it anywhere but here. They understand the importance of having missiles, military bases, and military personnel but what they oppose is the view of their homes being spoiled, their daughters being threatened, or their property values going down. This demand too is an unethical attempt to gain benefits at the expense of others and accounts for the general uneasiness many civilians feel in the presence of military personnel. Thus, the moral and ethical patterns of the military profession must be linked with society on the one hand and stem from the unique purpose of the profession on the other.
One of the most basic problems of military ethics is to justify its existence. A number of thinkers regard the destructive power of modern military machinery to be so great as to be uncontainable. Because of the brutality of war, it appears to them that in war all moral standards are, by definition, cancelled. Many people believe that the violent and disruptive nature of war makes a military ethics impossible. Military ethics must be an ethics for peacetime as well as an ethics for war, an ethics for soldiers in the field as well as an ethics for political leaders.
There has been a great deal of debate in western thought about what conditions need to be satisfied before going to war can be claimed to be morally justified. The different aspects of this debate form part of what is called just war theory. The first condition is that, war must be declared by a legitimate authority. The second requirement is that the war must be initiated for a just cause. This is normally interpreted to mean that a war is only warranted if it is a response to some prior misdeed committed by the adversary nation. In addition, to be just, wars must be waged with the right intentions. The last requirement is the war must be waged using the correct means. The main idea behind the idea of just cause is that wars are responses to prior wrongs. The just war must be reactive or negative in nature-not positive.
Most military groups, from the time of the Greeks at least, have developed standards of moral conduct that are quite strict and demanding. There is no universal agreement on these standards beyond the consensus that some should be followed. The point of including right means along with other prerequisites of a just war is that a nation would not be entitled to engage in a war that it intended to fight using immoral means. The key lies within the realm of war itself. It unavoidably involves the destruction of human life and well being, often on a large scale. So for all intents and purposes, it is an instrument, which causes great harm. Use of this instrument can only be justified if employing it achieves something of such great value as to outweigh its harm. The harm of war can only be justified if it prevents an even greater harm of the same type, because it is rare that any positive goals will surpass it in value (Flynn, 2007).
For the military professional, the political-social system in the United States entails moral and ethical dimensions that are further complicated by the culture and lifestyle of his profession. It is the profession that has the most immediate impact on the member's everyday life and lifestyle. And professional interpretation of these moral and ethical patterns has the largest impact on the individual's own sense of morality and ethics. Integrity is "the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honest and sincere." In broader terms, it means that the individual is an entity in him-a "whole man" who derives his moral values and ethical behavior from the larger universe. It also suggests sensitivity to other human beings and the individual's awareness of the consequences of his actions on other men and the environment. Finally, it is rooted in the idea that man is a rational being whose values stem physically from his uniqueness.
Absolutism in moral and ethical standards qualified by the immediate necessities of military purpose apparently circumvents inherent difficulties in reconciling individuality, the profession, and society. If the military serves society, then its primary value system must evolve from the political-social system that it serves. One cannot have it both ways: either the military serves society or it serves itself. It is philosophically self-serving to presume that the military serves society but develops moral and ethical patterns exclusively within the military world. This difficulty in relating military values to the values of society is one factor in the persistent dilemma of attempting to reconcile the military profession with democracy. The dilemma has led to a variety of attempts to clarify and explain the military profession in terms of its "separateness" from society.
I feel that there is a direct correlation between professionalism and the teaching of ethics. Professional soldiers are protectors of the ideals of America, willing to fight for these ideals so that others can live in a free and just society Pullen (1990). Ethics should be important to military leaders who have a sense of history of their profession. The role of military leaders at all levels is a critical element in the overall process of professional socialization. Informal elements of the ethic are taught through professional socialization. For commissioned and noncommissioned officers, that process takes place most obviously in the structured programs of the military's professional development system, but the day-to-day activities in military units and the examples set by senior leaders provide the most influences.
The chief aim of professionalism is to develop an army of morally self-determining soldiers. Professionalism is put into practice, daily in the military by all leaders at all levels. Soldiers are expected to behave in a certain way and are admonished if they are not conforming to standards. Ethics play a crucial role in our moral reasoning of what is good and bad. In some cases, good moral conduct will require devotion to an accepted moral rule or principle. In other cases, rules or principles may not be clear, or are too general to be of help in resolving specific cases. At that point, the prudent exercise of personal and professional virtue comes into play. The military's actions will always be scrutinized and thus we must always conduct ourselves as professionals.
Military leaders must recognize that there is a connection between a well-developed moral sense and the fulfillment of their responsibilities. People respect professionals and value their opinions and military professionals should be no different. As professionals we are held to a higher standard and are always expected to do the right thing even if it goes against what you as an individual feels is wrong. The Army has set specific guidelines in place to assist soldiers in making the morally right decision even if they don't completely understand the reason why at the moment. In some units, serious and sophisticated programs are being developed for those who will be given the task of teaching ethics.
Commitment to the military profession carries with it a prima facie acceptance of the use of war as an instrument of national policy. We as soldiers are aware of this and are not expected to act as pacifists. However, the military forces are limited by the un-codified professional military ethic that governs its members, permissible actions. The most recent example of soldiers having to make split second ethical decisions was during the Iraqi War, which some argue is not yet over. The enemy did not play fair but in our military we did not reciprocate their actions by using civilians as shields. Instead, we relied on our military training and skill gained from years of experience (Andrzejewski, 2009).
Every military member who is properly instructed knows that orders maybe unlawful or immoral and that it is not always one's duty to obey them. In the end those who were captured and proven to have been involved were charged with war crimes. It is at times like these that the principle of ethics plays a detrimental role in a service member's decision of what to do in certain situations.
The other side broke several of the Laws of The Geneva Convention but we were still held to a higher standard. As I stated earlier it would have been doubly wrong for us to come to their level. Since American soldiers fight to protect basic human values, we should strive not to disregard those values in fighting to protect them. The only way to achieve consistency is to refrain from policies that systematically deny the humanity of America's military forces. Thus, America does not establish rules or follow practices aimed at acting immorally in war or destroying the humanity it fights to preserve. Because we as soldiers will have a chance to commit terrible acts in war, but do not want to behave terribly as a rule, morality has an undeniable claim on the wars America fights.
Even though The Professional Ethic has not been codified it has been widely accepted by the Army as the ethics that we follow. The values of our profession provide a strong foundation for the un-codified tenets of the professional ethic that guides the conduct of members of the military. The "traditional ethic" of the American military is as follow:
1. Accept service to country as their watchword and defense of the Constitution of the Constitution of the United States of America as their calling.
2. Place their duty first. They subordinate their personal interests to the requirements of their professional functions.
3. They conduct themselves at all times as persons of honor whose integrity, loyalty, and courage are exemplary. Such qualities are essential on the battlefield if a military organization is to function effectively.
4. Develop and maintain the highest possible level of professional knowledge and skill. To do less is to fail to meet their obligations to the country, the profession, and fellow soldiers.
5. Take full responsibility for the manner in which their orders are carried out.
6. Promote and safeguard, within the context of mission accomplishment, the welfare of their subordinates as persons, not merely as soldiers.
7. Conform strictly to the principle that subordinates the military to civilian authority. They do not involve themselves or their subordinates in domestic politics beyond the exercise of basic civil rights.
8. Adhere to the laws of war and the regulations of their service in performing their professional functions.
There is no doubt to the critical importance of ethics in the military profession. There are various elements that come into play when leaders and subordinates have to make morally right decisions. There should be a continuation of the promotion of ethics at all levels. The more educated our service members are the greater our military forces will be.