This Journal is sponsored by the Assn. for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service.

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? - Recommendations
PDF Print E-mail
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

V. Recommendations
Our recommendations are stated here in terse form, as we believe they follow logically from the foregoing discussions. They are designed to reinforce the principles in the Army Ethic as discussed in Section II, in particular the understanding that moral leadership is best applied under mission command when the profession’s culture is meritocratic and self-policing at each level rather than imposed from above, and when a broad diversity of personal moralities is leveraged to the effectiveness of the profession.

For senior leaders, the Stewards of the Army Profession:

  • By policy and personal leadership, maintain the essential meritocratic nature of the Army’s Ethic and culture, while celebrating and leveraging the diversity of religious (as well as nonreligious) presence within the profession.
  • By policy and personal leadership, rid the profession’s culture of any real or perceived hostility or intimidation towards religion and its correct expression. Maintain a culture in which Soldiers and their leaders can live and serve with individual authenticity consistent with “military necessity” as expressed in Army regulations. In most all cases, they should be free to express and apply their religious faith and the moral convictions that spring from that faith.

For Soldiers of religious faith, all ranks, uniformed and civilian:

  • Be knowledgeable of, and scrupulously follow, your rights to religious expression as well as the limitations to those rights. We recommend a remarkably helpful article by retired Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer and current faculty member at the Air Force Academy David Fitzkee, “Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations.”43
  • At the same time, do not overstep your bounds. While serving as integrated leaders of character, and including your moral understanding in all discretionary decision-making, remember that you are not called by the Republic in your role as military leader either to be an evangelist for your faith, or to insert your religiously based morality into situations where doing so is improper. So, effectively integrate your personal morality of faith with the profession’s ethic: be an integral, authentic leader of character; model the same and develop the same in your subordinates. You have no call to hide your faith or to ignore it in decision-making; but your professional call is to integrate your faith-based worldview and morality with the Army’s Ethic, not to redefine the latter.
  • Do not be intimidated in the current culture; do not allow the Army’s Ethic and culture to be eroded. Get off the sidelines and get engaged. Challenge through official channels all policies/attempts that are hostile to the freedoms of thought, belief, conscience, and correct expression of those convictions, whether based on religion or not.
  • Lead up: Expect, remind, and assist the Stewards of the Profession to be the Guardians of the Ethic and the profession’s military effectiveness.

About the Authors: Don M. Snider is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at West Point, NY, from which he retired in 2008. He is now a Senior Fellow in the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) at West Point and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. In a previous military career, Dr. Snider served three combat tours in Vietnam as an infantryman; after battalion command, he served as Chief of Plans for Theater Army in Europe, as Joint Planner for the Army Chief of Staff, as Executive Assistant in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House. He retired from the Army in 1990. Dr. Snider’s research examines American civil-military relations, the identities and development of the American Army officer, military professions, and professional military ethics. He was research director and co-editor of The Future of the Army Profession, (2d Ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005), and Forging the Warrior’s Character (2d Ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008). More recent publications include, “Dissent and Strategic Leadership of Military Professions” (Orbis, 2008), The Army’s Professional Military Ethic in an Era of Persistent Conflict (co-author, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2008) and, co-editor with Suzanne Nielsen, American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in the New Era, (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). His opinion editorials appear on the website of the Strategic Studies Institute; his most recent contribution was, “What Our Civilian Leaders Do Not Understand about the Ethic of Military Professions: A Striking Example of the Current Gap in Civil-Military Relations.” Dr. Snider holds M.A. degrees in economics and public policy from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Maryland.

Alexander P. Shine is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and educator. His military service included tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, infantry command at the company and battalion level, and teaching assignments at the U.S. Military Academy, New York (U.S. History); Wheaton College, IL (Military Science); and the U.S. Army War College (National Security Strategy). Following retirement from the Army, he served a decade as Commandant of Cadets and Professor of History at Culver Military Academy in Culver, IN. Colonel Shine currently does contract editing for the Strategic Studies Institute and teaches about World War II and the Civil War for a travel agency. His articles have appeared in Command, Infantry, Air Power Journal, Parameters, and Armed Forces Journal. Colonel Shine holds a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy and an M.A. in history from Harvard University.

Note: The Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press publishes a monthly email newsletter to update the national security community on the research of our analysts, recent and forthcoming publications, and upcoming conferences sponsored by the Institute. Each newsletter also provides a strategic commentary by one of our research analysts. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter, please subscribe on the SSI website at:

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 09:22