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ISSN: 2354-8315 (Online)


A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?
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Article Index
A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?
Background & Context
Background & Context continued
The Evolving Culture of Hostility toward Religious Presence and Expression
Evolving Culture of Hostility continued
The Army's Professional Ethic
Army's Professional Ethic continued
The Challenge and Opportunities to the Leader of Faith
Challenge & Opportunities continued
Opportunities for Leaders of Religious Faith
Why Not Just Let Soldiers of Religious Faith Leave the Army?
All Pages

By Don M. Snider, Ph.D., Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, and Alexander P. Shine, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired

Published by the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Press. Reprinted by permission of SSI and USAWC. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

This monograph is the 6th in the Professional Military Ethics Series; it addresses an issue about which little has been written. It intentionally plows new and difficult ground.

The larger issue it addresses is the cultures of the military professions that currently serve our Republic and the role of the Stewards of the Profession in the evolution of those cultures, in particular their moral and ethical core. Since our Armed Forces exist as military professions only by the trust they earn from the society they serve and the trust they engender among professionals who voluntarily serve within them, this issue is of no small import. If the Stewards are unable to lead the professions such that both the external and internal trust relationships are maintained, then the military institution reverts to its alternative organizational character of a big, lumbering government bureaucracy. Since there is no historical record that such government bureaucracies are able to create the expert knowledge or expert practice of a modern, military profession—such as we have enjoyed in the post-Vietnam era—such a situation does not bode well for the future security of the Republic.

Thus, the larger issue has to do with the evolution of the ethics of America’s military professions. Those ethics, however, do not exist nor evolve in isolation of other influences external to the professions. Scholars have established for some time that there are three major influences on the ethics of the military professions: 1) the changing nature of warfare and the associated imperative to prosecute it effectively; 2) the evolving values of the society being defended [both their beliefs as to what is moral or ethical in warfare, and more broadly what they value as a society]; and, 3) the international treaties and conventions to which the United States is a party. It is the second of these influences that is of interest in this monograph—the evolving values of the American society being defended.

Among the evolving values of American society, this research seeks to address the perennial issue of religion, its role in the moral character of individual volunteers, and how, amid a secularizing society, the Stewards of the Professions can maintain an ethical culture that facilitates, indeed fosters, both correct religious expression and military effectiveness. Since the military represents a microcosm of American society, the cultural wars raging outside the professions for several decades on such issues as racial integration, abortion, the service of gays in the military, gender roles, etc., have each migrated in their own time into the military sub-society. This research explores the extent to which that is now the case with religious expression and how the military professions can, once again, lead in overcoming such cultural dysfunction, in this case by facilitating soldiers’ individual integration of diverse personal moralities, faith–based or not, with their profession’s ethic.

—Professor Douglas C. Lovelace, Jr., Director, U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Press
—Everett Denton Knapp, Jr., Colonel, U.S. Army, Director, Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 09:22