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Combined Arts and Tactics Department
Leadership and Staff Functions Division

Fort Benning, Georgia 31905





1. INSTRUCTIONAL INTENT: To allow the Officer Candidate the opportunity to conduct an assessment of personal values and career goals and analyze how those values and goals will affect, or be affected by, military service. These, and other influencing forces on ethical reasoning are then addressed using the Decision Making Process by applying it in situations presented in case studies.

2. TRAINING OBJECTIVES: As a result of this instruction, the Officer Candidate will be able to accomplish the following training objectives:



Identify personal values and relate them to the values of the profession.


In the classroom, given classroom notes and the career assessment exercise.


Using information from classroom notes and the exercise, the student will:

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State the reasons why an overlap between personal and professional values is important.

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STANDARD: Using information from classroom and reading notes, the student will identify three of the means by which values are transmitted and provide an example of each.


Formally (e.8., constitution, oath of office, code of conduct, UCMJ).

Informally (e.8., statement of key leaders, mottos, slogans, special insignia).

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Explain the officer's responsibility to serve as a positive role model.

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STANDARD: Based on information from classroom notes, the student will list five actual val ues and discuss each value by:

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b. Stating the source of the value (e.8., performance standard, policy, procedure, sop, reward, and punishment).

Stating the impact of the value on individual and organizational behavior in the Army.



Discuss the problems which result from differences between ideal and actual values.

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b. State how any one of these problem areas or pressures produces a difference between an ideal and actual value (i.e., how the problem or pressure distorts the ideal value).


State the impact of the difference between ideal and actual values on the Army.

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State what he/she thinks most people would do to combat the pressure.

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CONDITION: In the classroom, given case studies, paper training, radio repairs, or other appropriate case studies selected by the instructor.

STANDARD: Without the use of notes or other course materials, based on information from case studies, paper training, etc., the student will:

a. Identify and describe the two major opposing or conflicting issues (values) involved in the problem situation.

b. Identify the influencing factors operating in the situation and state the nature of their influence.

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Chaplain (Col) Kermit D. Johnson, USA

(Student Handout 9-1 of MQSI, Ethics and Professionalism reproduced from: the US Army War College, 1974.)

PARAMETERS, Journal of

Colonel Kermit D. Johnson, Chaplain Corps, graduated from USMA in 1951 and was commissioned as a 2LT, Infantry. He first commanded an infantry platoon in the 820 Airborne Division, Ft. Brag8. He then saw combat in Korea with the 2d Infantry Division as a platoon leader and a company coam ander, and later commanded a heavy mortar company in the 29th Regimental Combat Team, Okinawa. COL Johnson received his Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1960 and entered the Chaplain Corps. He has had Chaplain's assignments at Ft. Benning, West Point, in Germany and Vietnam. Currently he is the post Chaplain at Carlisle Barracks.

Earlier this year, I awoke at 0500 hours thinking about an ethics talk I was scheduled to give at the US Army War College Memorial Chapel. As I allowed my mind to wander in free association, I got more than I bargained for. I started out with a flashback of Vice-President Nixon's visit to the heavy mortar company I commanded on Okinawa in 1954.

It was pleasant to recall that my company had been selected for the Vice-President's visit because we consistently had the best mess on the island. However, this triggered a thought about my mess sergeant. For some unknown reason he could come up with juicy steaks whenever they were needed, whether they were on the menu or not. I recalled that he had some contacts with the Air Force and apparently was involved in trading, but I never bothered to look into it.

My next thought was that trading in steaks really wasn't much different from trading in bullet-proof vests. This brought to mind the supply sergeant of another company I commanded during the Korean War. He had no administrative ability whatever, but he always had a good supply of bullet-proof vests. The only thing that helped me out of Korea without supply shortages were those bullet-proof vests--valuable trading materials.

These uncomfortable thoughts, dredged from the semi-subconscious at five in the morning, formed the starting point for my thinking about the ethics of military leadership. But still another question forced itself upon me: Is this the sort of thing which forms the substance of Watergate and mini-Watergates?"

With this as background, I can't post as a flaming prophet or crusader in the ethical area. Maybe this is just as well. Perhaps in order to have an ethical consciousness we should be aware of our personal fallibility. In recent reading, I've noticed this awareness in Abraham Lincoln's life. He was constantly at odds with puritanical moralists and idealists whom he could never please. Yet Lincoln knew very intimately what we are like as human beings. It came out in a comment he made about our judicial system as he quoted Thomas Jefferson, with approval: "Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps."

At the outset, I must admit that I am probably as silent, as tactful, as self-protective, and as non-risk taking and gutless as anyone else. Yes, I have been forced to take some clear-cut goal line stands-those Martin Luther deals where you say, "Here I stand. I can do no other," whether it's to the detriment of efficiency report, career, or whatever. However, this is exceptional.

On a day to day basis the tightrope is a better metaphor. I believe that we walk a tightrope, constantly oscillating between the extremes of crusader and chameleon; both roles are difficult and we burn up a lot of energy attempting to walk the tightrope between these two pogitions. The crusader, to use a phrase of J. D. Salinger, seems to "give off the stink of piousness" or self-righteousness. On the other hand, the chameleon is so non-principled that if you told him "A" was right one week and then that "non-A" was right the next week, he'd dutifully and loyally click his heels together and say, "Yes, sir."

My own self-understanding then, in discussing this matter of ethics is that of a tight-rope walker caught alternately between the positions of crusader and chameleon--in one instance donning the uniform of a pure knight in shining armor and, at the other times, crawling into my chameleon skin of comfort and compromise. To the extent that others have felt this ethical tension, I hope this article will encourage fellow crusader-chameleons to surface those ethical issues with which we all struggle from day to day.

In the December 1973 issue of "Worldview," Josiah Bunting, a former Army officer and a crusader
type who wrote The Lionheads, refers to "the tyranny of the dull mind," which, he says, "one so often
encounters in the military." But he's objective enough to speak also of "the tyranny of the gifted
mind" and he says these types are more dangerous because they withhold their true judgments lest they
jeopardize the hopes for success which their ambitions have carved out for them.

He quotes B. H. Liddell Hart, discussing British officers, at this point:

A different habit, with worse effect, was the way that ambitious officers, when
they came in sight of promotion to the general's list, would decide that they
would bottle up their thoughts and ideas, as a safety precaution, until they
reached the top and could put these ideas into practice. Unfortunately, the
usual result, after years of such self-repression for the sake of their
ambition, was that when the bottle was eventually uncorked, the contents had

What Hart is saying should not be limited to promotion to general. The process starts much
earlier. I would have to agree that if we don't now expose the relevant ethical issues that affect
our daily lives, when we become Chief of Staff or Chief of Chaplains and open up the bottle, we're
going to find that there isn't any carbonation left, no zip. It will be gone. It simply can't be
saved that long.

I would like to emphasize four pressing ethical 1ssues for leaders in the military establishment
to consider. The first is the danger posed by the acceptance of various forms of ethical relativism,
or the blurring of right from wrong. It appears obvious that the erosion of a sense of right and
wrong in favor of a "no-fault" society poses a threat to sound ethical judgments.

A brilliant young major, now out of the Army, once told me that we can never say anything is
right or wrong. He said very blatantly, "Everything is relative. There is no right or wrong." I
then asked him if the killing of six million Jews in World War II was wrong and whether the actions of
Adolph Eichmann were wrong. He said, "Well, it depends on what was going on in Eichmann's mind."
What basis does this man have for making ethical judgments with his belief that all is relative?

Less blatant but equally devastating to ethical judgments is a subtle and disguised form of
ethical relativism practiced frequently in the military setting. It comes out of the tendency to have
a functional or pragmatic attitude. I've heard Army officers say impatiently, "Hell, don't give me
all that theory. I just want to know what works." This, of course, is a theory-"what works is
right." Such a hazardous ethical position is made worse by emphasis on getting the job done no matter
what. Performance of the mission is everything; therefore, the question of what is right often gets
lost in the shuffle of practicality and necessity, if indeed ethical questions are even raised.

A second ethical issue every military leader should face is what I call the loyalty syndrome.
This is the practice wherein questions of right or wrong are subordinated to the overriding value of
loyalty to the boss. Loyalty, an admirable and necessary quality within limits, can become
all-consuming. It also becomes dangerous when a genuine, wholesome loyalty to the boss degenerates
into covering up for him, hiding things from him, or not differing with him when he is wrong.

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General Shoup, former Marine Corps Como andant, once said something like this: "I don't want a
'yes' man on my staff, because all he can give back to me is what I believe already." Now for a
leader to honestly say this and to attempt to carry it out, I would think he would have to be very
secure. To turn it around, the less secure a leader is, the greater his need for pseudo-loyalty, that
is, for fewer ideas that threaten his position. The simplest and quickest way he can get this type of
loyalty is through fear. There is little doubt in my mind that fear is often a motivational factor in
Army leadership, and also major trouble spot in terms of ethical practice. This 13 confirmed in a
study entitled The United States Army's Philosophy of Management, done by eight officers in the Army
Comptrollership Program at Syracuse University. With reference to a survey of officers and civilians
on managerial practices in the Army, the report said:

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From the statements concerning fear, one can conclude that the use of fear is
perceived by a majority of respondents, especially the lower ranking
respondents, to deeply pervade the Army's organization structure. Lower ranking
respondents generally believe that managers are unwilling to admit errors and
are encouraged to stretch the truth because of how fear operates within the
system. They believe that fear itself and the life and death power of
efficiency reports are the primary means used by their superiors to motivate
subordinates' per formance. When lower ranking officers are afraid to tell
superiors about errors, embarrassing situations for the individual, the manager,
and the organization can arise when the errors are finally disclosed. Thes
persistence of fear as a stimulator of performance can have repercussions.

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