Monday, March 08, 2010

Values of Military ≠ Values of Society as a Whole

In the United States, military voices are present in the national political debate. For issues of strategic importance, news shows continually invite military thinkers and generals to comment on the important decisions of the today. Should there be surge in Afghanistan? Should we continue to fund F-22 production despite the cost? We trust these people's judgment. No doubt it comforts us to see all the medals on General Patraeus' chest.

We listen to them because they embody the principals we hold dear. Military men are trustworthy. They are persistent, devoted, and honest. They are strong and reliable, efficient and motivated.

On the fancy Army recruitment site (, there is a list of important army values
  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Respect
  • Selfless Service
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Personal Courage
All very impressive qualities. On the Navy site, I found a list of principles outlined by the current Deputy Secretary of Defense and previous Secretary of the Navy, Gordon R. England:
  1. Provide an environment for every person to excel
  2. Treat every person with dignity and respect — nobody is more important than anyone else
  3. Be forthright, honest and direct with every person and in every circumstance
  4. Improve effectiveness to gain efficiency
  5. Cherish your time and the time of others — it is not renewable
  6. Identify the critical problems that need solution for the organization to succeed
  7. Describe complex issues and problems simply so every person can understand
  8. Never stop learning — depth and breadth of knowledge are equally important
  9. Encourage constructive criticism
  10. Surround yourself with great people and delegate to them full authority and responsibility
  11. Make ethical standards more important than legal requirements
  12. Strive for team-based wins, not individual
  13. Emphasize capability — not organization
  14. Incorporate measures and metrics everywhere
  15. Concentrate on core functions and outsource all other
Again, very impressive qualities. Undoubtedly, these are some of the values that make our military the force which it is today.

Although grateful I am for the role the military has had in defending the freedoms we have in the country, every once and a while I am reminded that military has its own agenda which does not reflect the values of a democratic society. Back in December, a story emerged of a Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo in Iraq threatened to jail woman solders who have become pregnant and the men who impregnate them. The policy was not implemented but the fact that it was even discussed is absolutely ludicrous.

Of course, our men and women in the military give up rights that many of us citizens take for granted, but are these the values we hold dear in the rest of society. Can not another solution involving more sex education or more emphasis on the importance of duty be found? Seriously.

No comments:

Post a Comment