Essay On Military Ethics And Moral Reasoning
The military or in more formal terms, the armed forces, is an element formed by a country’s defense department that are equipped with and authorized to use lethal force, tools, and weapons to counter threats to the country or its citizens’ security and interests. A military, just like corporate or for profit organizations, is composed of not just one but rather a group of people, all working together to reach a goal or an objective. The military can be perceived as an organization that heavily relies on the management and coordination of human resources, among other assets. In fact, human resources can be considered as one of, if not the most important, component of a military because the discipline of the people in a military organization, how they communicate and coordinate, how they were trained, and the innate and developed virtues implanted in them during training can make a huge difference on their performance both during war and peace times. During peace times, it can spell the difference between a highly successful joint military organization training programs and disaster rescue and assistance programs; during war times, it can set the difference between a highly successful military campaign and one that can be described as a decisive defeat with a huge number of casualties.
Virtues are important in managing a military organization but the real question is what exact virtues must be present in order to maintain an ongoing streak of productivity or bounce back from a trend of organizational stagnation. The answer is it varies because different military organizations face circumstances that are almost always unique to that particular organization and so it only makes sense to assume that the virtues that must be incorporated in the maintenance of military ethics, moral reasoning, and discipline, must be based on the requirements of the military organization’s present circumstance. In that case, it would be the military leader, or the commander in chief and generals, who should be in charge of selecting the virtues that they want to impart on their functional units, or in this case, the soldiers and administrative personnel working within the organization.
According to an article published in the University of California Press in 2004, a military organization should instill to their subordinates the following key military virtues: loyalty competence, selflessness, integrity, and pride .
Loyalty is often considered, especially in traditional military contexts, as the quintessential virtue that all military personnel both combatants and non-combatants must have. Loyalty is a virtue that can come in many forms. For example, there is loyalty to the country, loyalty to the military leaders, loyalty to the constitution, to the president, or to the army itself, its traditions, and standards. The principle that applies when it comes to loyalty is that a military organization that tis made up of loyal military personnel is bound to be more solid than one that is marred by treason and other consequences of disloyalty and insubordination, some of which may include treasons, mutinies, and rebellions, all of which can prove to be damaging for a military organization’s productivity and more importantly, reputation as the upholder of peace and order in a state or country. In theory, the most important among these types of loyalties is the loyalty to the constitution because the main reason why a military organization is established, that is to uphold the provisions set by the country’s constitution. There are, however, some who suggest that the communal loyalty or a soldier’s loyalty to his comrades is more important than constitutional loyalty. In one source, it said “may veterans who are honest with themselves will admit, I believe, and that the experience of communal effort in battle, even under the altered conditions of modern war, has been a high point in their lives. Despite the horror, the weariness, the grime, and the hatred, participation with others in the chances of battle has its unforgettable side, which they would not want to have missed” .
Another important virtue would be competence. It has been said that the strength of a military organization or force relies heavily on size or in this case, number. That is, the larger the size of the army is, the stronger that particular branch of the military would be. This is, in fact, true. A good evidence or example of this would be China. China’s army alone numbers in hundreds of millions, thanks to its gigantic population which constitutes over twenty percent of the world’s total population. However, the size of the organization cannot be the sole factor or indicator of military strength because competence too is important. Some may even argue that it is just as crucial as loyalty. A military organization may make it appear fierce and strong but it is the competence of its members that would dictate its real-world performance. Being competent requires an individual to have a discipline, a habit that encourages and motivates him to make self-improvements. Those self-improvements, in turn, would be the ones that would make that individual more competent, especially over the long run. If everyone in the organization has this mindset, the entire organization will certainly benefit. Laziness and complacency are some of the virtues or behaviors that go in contrast with competence because they do not lead to the development of skills and talent but rather to its deterioration.
Now, it is only normal for a member of a military organization to encounter a scenario characterized by conflicts, especially when the leaders want to impart a lot of virtues and values to the organization’s personnel. Occurrences like this can, in fact, are considered normal because it also happens in other areas of discipline aside from the military. What an individual who is facing this scenario must do is to know his strengths and weaknesses and then decide for himself what aspect of himself he wants to focus on. However, he should know that self-stagnation or worse, letting one’s skill and talent deteriorate is not an option, especially in the military discipline where the virtues of loyalty and competency, among others, are highly regarded.
In a scenario wherein a soldier is ordered to commit an unjustifiable action, the ethical thing to do would be to follow orders at least from a militarist point of view. But then again, it all depends on the soldier who will follow the command what particular virtue he wants to uphold, would it be loyalty or morality? In order to prevent the occurrence of such conflicts, the military should have in place a somewhat autonomous sub-organization that would regulate or preferably prevent the occurrence of such situations or if one instance has already occurred, investigate what happened and prosecute the perpetrators of the immoral and or unjust command.
Gray, S. (1970). The Warriors: Reflections of men in Battle Excerpt. Harper and Row.