Does The Military Need a Formal Code of Ethics?

Marauder06

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For class tomorrow, we're going to have an informal debate on the topic, "does the military need a formal code of ethics?". My small group has been tasked to argue the "pro" point of view. I thought this would be an interesting topic for the site as well, and I'm interested in hearing your points of view since it will help me prepare for tomorrow's class. Any thoughts?
 

Diamondback 2/2

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I thought we already somewhat had one “the soldiers guide” is full of all kinds of information on how to properly interact with your peers, superiors and subordinates. Coupled with our overly in-depth legal system UCMJ and general policies, I can’t see how 90% of the shit-bags slip through the cracks. But being as they are already slipping through the cracks with all of that printed on paper that says they are not supposed too, I can’t see how another “code of ethics” will be followed.

I can however see how it would be a benefit for dealing with a couple of ass-pumper’s dancing, kissing and showing public affection with each other, while in uniform at say the Army ball, B-day ect. Just looking into the future on that one, now that DADT is gone.

But in a basic answer, we need to use the damn rules, codes, and policies we currently have before we add more to them. Do I think a code of ethics is a good idea? Yep, but we need to get rid of some of the fat in the current system and then we need to enforce that new code if it’s going to be implemented.
 

x SF med

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Wow, Mara - tough subject. Ethics, morality, and integrity should be key for every military individual - we volunteer for and are charged with defense of not only this country but it's citizens around the world - it's interests, and the interests of our allies at their behest. This choice demands an ethical commitment of the individuals who make it, for with this charge comes a great responsibility, as a gunslinger and a sheepdog and an ambassador. The military, especially the Enlisted and NCO ranks are held to a much higher standard of ethical and moral correctness than this country's elected officials. Case in point - until not too long ago, adultery was an offense that could be met with being drummed out of the service, as was indebtedness, and even habitual tardiness... the ethical standards are there, the question is are they adhered to in all cases.

Maybe MacArthur said it best, when he laid out the ethical code for the US Army in 3 words:
Duty, Honor, Country.
All else pales in comparison to that concise summary.
 

AWP

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For class tomorrow, we're going to have an informal debate on the topic, "does the military need a formal code of ethics?".

Core fucking values....they already exist. You know why it appears that a code of ethics is needed? Because leadership isn't doing its job and ensuring subordinates live up to their service's core values. The discussion you have to participate in is BS, Mara, because the solution exists but our "leaders" are too chickenshit to enforce the standards.
 

Mac_NZ

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We have 3CI, Courage, Comradeship, Commitment and Integrity. It's a standing joke, the Soldier's changed it to Cowardice, Corruption, Confusion and Incompetence.
 

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Core fucking values....they already exist. You know why it appears that a code of ethics is needed? Because leadership isn't doing its job and ensuring subordinates live up to their service's core values. The discussion you have to participate in is BS, Mara, because the solution exists but our "leaders" are too chickenshit to enforce the standards.

I would have to rephrase and say that leadership isn't leading by example. General rule of thumb is those under your leadership will only perform to 80% of what the example is. The only way for leadership to ensure subordinates are living up to core values is to be living above and beyond the core values.
 

AWP

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I would have to rephrase and say that leadership isn't leading by example. General rule of thumb is those under your leadership will only perform to 80% of what the example is. The only way for leadership to ensure subordinates are living up to core values is to be living above and beyond the core values.

I agree with to that to a certain point. I've seen leaders who fail exactly as you describe, but I've also witnessed an outright failure to enforce the standards. Leaders who meet the standards in a variety of ways and yet they never enforce those standards in their subordinates. For example, what good is a leader who meets height and weight while his/ her unit is sprinkled with fat bodies?
 

AWP

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HS, there are plenty of hypocrites out there too. I wish I could say it was one branch or one careerfield within a branch, but spending the bulk of my time around the AF and the Army I haven't noticed one who is better than the other in this regard. The core values are a joke, just another AFN commerical between shows.
 

0699

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Core fucking values....they already exist. You know why it appears that a code of ethics is needed? Because leadership isn't doing its job and ensuring subordinates live up to their service's core values. The discussion you have to participate in is BS, Mara, because the solution exists but our "leaders" are too chickenshit to enforce the standards.

People will only live up to those standards you enforce.
 

LibraryLady

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People will only live up to those standards you enforce.

Excellent point. Live the standards, and enforce the standards on your subordinates. Simple, easy - why do they always have to make things complicated?

LL
 

Marauder06

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OK, mission completed, thanks for the input.

My teammates and I were overprepared for this debate. Two of my teammates are extraordinarily well-organized and intelligent. Because of them, we did research, exchanged notes, and had a bit of a rehearsal. The other side did none of that, which was evident in their performance.

I'm kind of on the fence as to whether the military needs a joint canon of ethics; on the one hand I think it would be useful, but on the other I think there are other, more fundamental things that should be addressed first. Nonetheless, the mission was to support the "pro" side of the argument, so that's what we did.

One of our main points was that it is precisely because of sundry, overlapping, and perhaps even contradictory rules, regulations, codes, laws, etc. that are out there, that the Armed Services (Army, Navy, Air Force. Marines, Coast Guard) needs one joint canon of military ethics. The joint ethics reg in and of itself is 185 pages. I'm pretty sure we can come up with something better than that.

The service-specific codes are useful, but they project service-specific values, not ethics. In our definition, values are building blocks for ethics; they are therefore mutually exclusive. Moreover, things like the UCMJ, Code of Conduct, and Geneva Conventions are laws, not ethics. As it is impossible to legislate every possible situation, a canon of ethics would be much more useful to Joe in any situation in which he finds himself.

There were some other points as well, those are the ones I remember the most. We briefed first so the other side was largely left trying to rebut our points. Since they didn't prepare very well, it was a bit of a struggle for them. They are smart people, but a little prep would have served them well. The way the debate was set up, it was 5 minutes of speaking each, pro/con, four people per side, so it was over in about 45 minutes. The other side held it together pretty well until the end; their "closer" made a semi-coherent ramble that contradicted the position made by his side's first speaker. He also went on about how we don't need ethics "because we kill people" and made some kind of analogy I didn't understand about why Rommel (which he pronounced "Ro-mel"
confused.png
) wasn't but on trial for war crimes after the war. He went last so I didn't get a chance to point out the a) Rommel was dead before the end of the war and b) you can be a belligerent on the opposite side and NOT be tried for war crimes if you behave legally and ethically.

We didn't assign winners and losers in this debate but I'm pretty sure we won ;)

Another set of students had to debate whether it's ethical for a flag officer to resign in protest. Personally I think that was a much more interesting topic.
 

Scotth

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A little off topic but a quote that has stuck with me from an old NCIS episode about the difference between being ethical and moral.

"An ethical man knows it's wrong to cheat on his wife and a moral man would never."
 
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