The Army’s ethics

Categories: ArmyEthicsPhilosophy


This is a 3000 word essay on the importance of obeying a direct order from my first line. I am writing this essay because my first line told me to report in to him with a text message after I had been let go from my duties to take a driver’s test. I completely ignored this order and went along doing my own thing. It is extremely important to obey my first line, because if I do not, the consequences will be bad.

Also, by not obeying my first line, I violated Article 92 of the UCMJ, which could be punishable with up to an Article 15, and also loss of rank.

Article 92 states: “Any person subject to this chapter who—

  1. Violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;
  2. having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or
  3. is derelict in the performance of his duties; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

    ” As a soldier, you must be a person of strong and honorable character committed to the professional military ethic.

The p. m. e. is central to everything that we do. It expresses what we believe and value as a profession and serves as the moral compass that guides us as we strive to live out those beliefs. Our ethic is as old as the Army itself. Forged throughout our history, it remains relevant – even vital – in today’s era of constant conflict.

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As the character of conflict in the 21st century evolves, the Army’s strength will continue to rest on our values, our ethos, and our people.

Our soldiers and leaders must remain true to these values

Our soldiers and leaders must remain true to these values as they operate in increasingly difficult environments where moral-ethical failures can have unplanned consequences. Most of our soldiers do the right thing – and they do it well – time and again under intense pressure. But we must stay vigilant in upholding our high professional standards, especially when it comes to following orders. We must think critically about our professional military ethic and encourage dialogue at all levels as we deepen our understanding of what this time-honored source of strength means to the profession today.

Being in the military calls us towards a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional, to be part of a professional body, and our responsibilities to that body and to the nation it serves in continuing to advance our ethics. Within the military itself, the Army has its own set of ethics. The Army’s ethic is to maintain the Army’s effectiveness. This suggestion is as clear as it is true-without such an ethic, the Army cannot be effective at what it does. The Army’s ethics provide the primary means of social direction and control over their members as we perform our expert duties and orders, often under hectic conditions.

How, and how well, do the individual professionals within the Army—officers, nco’s, enlisted soldiers, and civilians alike—assume the Army ethic in their daily lives such that the Army’s leadership is seen consistently on duty and off duty, 24 hours a day? This is done by following all orders that are given to us-from the most basic of orders (such as sending a text message to my first line) to the most complex of orders given to us on the battlefield. I was given a direct order yesterday to text message my first line after I finished taking my driver’s test. Once I finished my test, I failed to follow through with that order.

If I had been given this order while in a combat situation, I could have compromised the mission, and lives could have been lost because I failed to follow through on a direct order. Text messages are a way for me to stay in contact with my first line, and anyone else who needs me. And when I fail to respond to a text, or I fail to send a text, then my first line and others do not know if I have completed my orders, or the mission. By not sending my text message to my first line, I was showing that I was not being trustworthy as a soldier, and not following the Army’s ethics.

The Army’s ethics

Surely, as the Army’s ethics reminds us, unless the profession’s ethic is displayed naturally in the personal lives and official actions of its leaders, and through them its soldiers, the Army is simply not a profession at all, and its effectiveness even as a bureaucracy will be greatly impaired. The Army’s ethics are standards by which one should act based on values. Values are core beliefs such as duty, honor, and integrity that inspire attitudes and actions. Ethical values relate to what is right and wrong and thus take priority over non ethical values when making ethical decisions.

Army ethical values include: honesty by being truthful, straightforward, and candid in everything that I do as a soldier of the American Army. Truthfulness is required. Dishonesties are usually easily uncovered. Lies erode integrity and weaken public confidence. Untruths told for seemingly selfish reasons (to prevent hurt feelings or to promote good will, etc. ) are nonetheless disliked by the receivers. Straightforwardness adds honesty to truthfulness and is usually necessary to promote public confidence and to ensure effective, efficient conduct of operations.

Truths presented in such a way as to lead receivers to confusion, mix-ups, or inaccurate conclusions are not productive. Such unintended lies can promote ill-will and eat away at openness, especially when there is an expectation of truthfulness. Candor is the direct offering of unrequested information. It is necessary according to the seriousness of the situation and the nature of the relationships. Candor is required when a reasonable person would feel betrayed if the information were withheld. In some circumstances, silence is dishonest; yet in other circumstances, revealing information would be wrong and perhaps unlawful.

By not sending the text message like I was told to do, I broke the primary ethical value of honesty by not being straightforward. I was not honest with my first line because I withheld information from him. If this had happened on the battlefield, it could have cost the lives of other soldiers-including mine and my first lines. Another Army ethical value is integrity. Integrity is being faithful to one’s convictions. Also, following principles, acting with honor, maintaining independent judgment, and performing duties with fairness help to maintain integrity and avoid conflicts of interest and hypocrisy.

A third ethical value that is standard in the Army is accountability. Soldiers are required to accept responsibility for their decisions and the resulting consequences. This includes avoiding even the appearance of bad behavior. Accountability promotes careful, well-thought-out decision making and limits thoughtless action. I showed myself as not having accountability by not sending the text message like I was told to do. If I keep not showing accountability, my first line is not going to trust me, and I will also be letting the Army down as well, by not keeping with the Army’s code of ethics.

Promise keeping is another critical ethical value that the Army is known for. No government can function for long if its commitments are not kept. Soldiers are obligated to keep their promises in order to promote trust and cooperation. Because of the importance of promise keeping, soldiers must only make commitments within their means. Because I broke a promise to send a text message to my first line, I broke trust and cooperation on both ends. Now, it’s going to be harder for my first line to trust me to follow through on more complex orders.

He is going to wonder if I am going to slack off and forget to do what I’ve been told to do. The last critical ethical value that the Army is known for is pursuit of excellence. Soldiers are expected to set an example of greater attentiveness and commitment. They are expected to be all they can be and to go all-out. This was in fact the motto for the Army for a very long time, and for good reason. Because when we be all we can be, we are living the Army code of ethics. I was not being all I could be, and going all out when I failed to send the text message to my first line. I was failing as a soldier.

Specialist in the Army

I am up for promotion to Specialist in the Army. As a Specialist, I would be given more responsibilities and duties, and more would be expected out of me. As it stands, I have not shown that I am ready for that extra responsibility. Retired General of the Army, Norman Schwarzkopf said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy. ” What he means by that is that you can do without the strategy, but you cannot do without the character. As a soldier, I need to have a higher set of standards that I live by, and conduct myself by.

I am also held to these higher standards. And if my first line or NCO’s can’t trust me to live by these higher standards, and follow through on simple orders, then they will not promote me. Many people know what the words Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage mean. But how often do you see someone actually live up to them? Soldiers learn these values in detail during Basic from then on they live them every day in everything they do — whether they’re on the job or off. But, it is a breach in values when I knowingly disobey a direct order.

Army is a complex combination of missions, tasks and responsibilities

Let me explain some of these words in detail. Loyalty is bearing true faith and allegiance to the U. S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. A loyal Soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow Soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the U. S. Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit. Duty is fulfilling your obligations. Doing your duty means more than carrying out your assigned tasks. Duty means being able to accomplish tasks as part of a team. The work of the U. S.

Army is a complex combination of missions, tasks and responsibilities — all in constant motion. Our work entails building one assignment onto another. You fulfill your obligations as a part of your unit every time you resist the temptation to take “shortcuts” that might undermine the integrity of the final product. Selfless service is putting the welfare of the Nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service is larger than just one person. In serving your country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain.

The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort. Honor is living up to the Army values and code of ethics. The Nation’s highest military award is The Medal of Honor. This award goes to Soldiers who make honor a matter of daily living. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything that you do. Integrity is doing what is right, legally and morally.

Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with soldiers, NCO’s and others. Soldiers must be and act responsibly in every situation they may find themselves in, whether it’s in or out of uniform. Responsibility and accountability are two of the main factors in being a successful soldier in today’s U.S. Army. You must be a responsible soldier if you want to make it in the Army. The officers in charge of each Army, Corps, Division, Regiment, down to the Platoon and Squad are all experienced, level-headed men and women, whose job it is to keep the men and women under them disciplined as well as informed as to what is going on and thereby gaining the men’s and women’s cooperation. From the five-star General down to the “lowly” Private, it is his duty to see that whatever his job is, it is done properly and with integrity.

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The Army’s ethics. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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