Why is accountability important in the United States Army? In order to properly understand why accountability is important, it’s prominent that the regulation, AR 600-8-6, be reviewed first. Following, I will discuss what accountability means to me in addition to how practicing accountability is just as imminent.
Accountability is “the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accountability) A short definition, however, takes an extensive amount of planning, especially in reference to the Army’s utilization of it.
“Soldier accountability is the responsibility of commanders at all echelons during peacetime, mobilization, combat, and other types of deployments. Unit commanders will account for their assigned and attached personnel by verifying their full name, Department of Defense (DOD) common access card with electronic data interchange—personnel identifier, and/or full social security number (SSN). Deployment encompasses all activities from origin or home station through destination, specifically including the intra-continental United States, inter-theater, and intra-theater movement legs, staging, and holding areas.
Various HR accountability and strength reporting resources are used for this process.”(http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_8_6.pdf)
Personnel accountability is the duty of every Army Leader at all times. It ensures that a unit is serving at its greatest capacity at any given time. By keeping proper accountability of personnel, Army Leaders know the condition of their subordinates at all times and can effectively use their unit’s abilities fully.
Additionally, personnel accountability helps ensure that every soldier receives the proper care and attention they deserve. In the case that a soldier is not present or is acting out of the ordinary, leadership can take action to remedy the problem and give the soldier the necessary resources to fix the problem. On the other hand, if the leadership fails in keeping personnel accountability, the soldier’s well-being may be at risk. This serves as the baseline for many of the Army’s Soldier readiness programs.
Soldiers are the United States Army’s most valuable resource. The Army’s Leaders, in turn, must protect their Soldiers and maintain their readiness at all times. At the most basic explanation of how this task is performed within the armed forces, accountability is used from the beginning of each day all the way until the end. Not only that, but each soldiers’ status is to be known every day, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. This may sound extensive or over the top but in order for the army to work at its fullest function, all of its soldiers need to be in accordance with its rules or it could otherwise jeopardize the combat readiness of any unit. How is that possible? In comparison, business is broken down into different groups and individuals that are responsible for certain parts of making a business prosperous. Similarly, each soldier has a specific task assigned to them in order to make an Army strong. If one soldier is unable to perform a task, whether he/she be simply on leave, a duty is never left undone and the mission still needs to be completed. By implementing this simple task, it helps leadership reconstruct plans and missions for each day, never leaving room for unfinished business.
In more depth, “The mission of personnel accounting systems is to provide personnel accountability through reporting strength- related information. Personnel accounting depends on timely, accurate, and complete personnel data information entered correctly and updated as frequently as possible or when personnel duty statuses change. The information gained through personnel accounting not only updates and synchronizes automated personnel and readiness databases, but also provides commanders, readiness managers, and strength managers at all levels the data necessary to analyze personnel strength and make timely decisions that affect combat power.”(http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_8_6.pdf) With the previous references regarding accountability in AR 600-8-6 explained, it leads me to discuss my personal view on what this term means to me. To begin with, accountability entails doing the right thing when no one else is looking. Once we have understood the principle of accountability, it then needs to be practiced at work but just as importantly, in our everyday lives. Lastly, accountability can lead to success.
First and foremost, “Doing the right thing even when nobody is looking,” is a common term used in association with accountability. Being able to trust someone will do the right thing makes him/her dependable. With that being said, being dependable means being able to confide in someone, regardless of any situation. This is commonly seen in leaders in the army. For example, each day a task or “mission,” is put out and seen at a company level in the army. From higher status, the commander and first sergeant tasks established missions, enforced with guidance from platoon and squad leaders, which are then completed by the lower enlisted soldiers. The use of this chain of command, all would not be possible without the principles of accountability being applied.
On the other hand, however, it is important to identify how being unaccountable can be detrimental. It can be inferred that being unaccountable also means being incomprehensible or irresponsible or being without explanation. Furthermore, irresponsible people often act out against rules without considering the consequences of their actions or acting in a naïve manner. When a soldier acts out against the rules, it can be perceived as his or her NCO being incompetent. Thus, resulting in time spent toward correcting a soldier and putting a mission behind or at a halt.
Greater accountability eliminates the time and energy spent in unproductive behavior that produces wasted effort and confusing distractions. “Recent surveys show that the vast majority of people, at all levels of an organization, engage in these ineffective behaviors in their daily work.” (https://www.ozprinciple.com/self/why-accountability/) The price that is paid by both individuals and organizations for a lack of accountability can be significant. In a complex and challenging business environment, no organization can afford to pay the price for a lack of accountability. Unfortunately, people in most organizations only worry about accountability when something goes wrong, resulting in a “run for cover” mentality when anyone mentions the word. By introducing a new view of accountability, a positive and principled view, accountability for results becomes something that everyone embraces as a helpful step in making things happen.
Accountability is fundamental to perform improvements not just applied in the workplace but in everyday events. It is also a guiding principle that defines how we make commitments not only to our peers at work but our close family and friends. Being able to recognize and have ownership of when we fall short of those commitments allow for progress towards a more genuine and moral person. Being able to work through diverse situations, makes an individual more widely qualified. Consequently, the more qualified a person is in array of diverse experiences, the more apt they are to gain success. All in all, being accountable in all aspects of life can lead to progression not only as a better person but better professional.
Without further explanation, it is obvious that accountability can affect a person/soldier’s future. Accountability is an essential characteristic in all aspects of one’s life. A responsible person can be relied upon by others to get a job done without blaming others for any problems he or she encounters and will therefore be the first choice for a promotion. Trusted, responsible soldiers are what the Army looks for when determining who should get promotions. The Army must maintain its own reputation for responsibility, so it seeks people who share that characteristic. In another view, accountability is a simple word that, at its root, means: “the willingness to stand up and be counted — as part of a process, activity or game.” In this sense, then, accountability is less something I’m held to or something is done to me; rather, it is a word reflecting personal choice and willingness to contribute to an expressed or implied outcome.
As a conclusion, it’s unquestionable why the army has utilized accountability from it’s highest to lowest ranking soldiers. With the reference of AR 600-8-6 as well as my personal thoughts towards accountability, there is one factor that cannot be ignored, however. It’s without a doubt that many missions within the army and in every type of workplace that a job can be done in two different ways; the hard or the easy way. By first implementing a positive approach to accountability helps ensure that employees at every level of an organization embrace and encourage accountable behavior and attitudes that can shape the daily work environment and the achievement of organizational results. By creating a culture of accountability, the key to the success of any organizational initiative can be possible. Leaders must work not just as boss and subordinate but work together as partners in order to gain greater personal and organizational accountability. There is no “U” in “Army,” just as there is no single attribute of an individual or organizational life that contributes more to the success of individual soldiers, companies, and organizations.
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