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A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession? - Army's Professional Ethic continued
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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?
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3. The Meritocratic Essence of the Army Ethic based on Certifications by the “three C’s” of Competence, Character, and Commitment. All professions seek to create and maintain a culture, with their ethic at its core, that places extremely high value on the institution’s behavior as a meritocracy. For the Army, this means advancement based on individual merit alone, with no partiality shown to any individual or group. Professions thus ensure that only practitioners fully qualified in competence, character, and commitment are advanced to positions of higher responsibility and service to their client. This is how professions remain effective in their expert work, which in turn maintains the trust of their client—which is the lifeblood of the profession’s existence. Maintaining this essence of their cultural and ethical foundation explains why all professions, including the Army, place such importance on repetitive certification of their individual professionals. Preferential treatment in certifications, or any other benefit of being a member of the profession, is taboo; all must be earned strictly on the basis of individually demonstrated merit.

4. Integration of personal morality with the ethic of the profession is required for Army leaders to be self-aware and integral, and thus authentic leaders “of character.” Army doctrine on leadership is informative here: "Leadership is affected by a person’s character and identity. Integrity is a key mark of a leader’s character. It means doing what is right, legally and morally. . . . Leaders of integrity adhere to the values that are a part of their personal identity and set a standard for their followers to emulate. Identity is one’s self-concept, how one defines himself or herself. . . ." 23

This understanding of authentic leadership—leading by accurately reflecting in words and actions who you are holistically as a person—places the responsibility on the individual professional to integrate his or her personal morality with the other components of the Army’s Ethic, legal and moral, and then to lead consistently from that identity. Army leaders may not identify themselves as one person on duty and another off duty; their character, if authentically displayed, will vary little from situation to situation. Living and leading from an identity that is not integrated, meaning one that places one’s personal morality outside the scope of professional ethics, drawing then on each one on a situational basis, does not comport with Army leadership doctrines and will quickly be recognized by followers as inauthentic. In stark contrast, recent research from Iraq again establishes that in combat, authentic military leaders have high impacts on their followers.24

We conclude this section by noting again that new Army doctrine reaffirms a mutual responsibility, shared between individual professionals and the Army Profession for the development of professionals and their adaptation and implementation of the ethic as a means of social control.25 Put simply, to be an authentic person of character, the individual Soldier and leader must live, on and off duty, consistently with his or her understanding of right and wrong—the individual integration of personal morality and the professional ethic. If it becomes impossible for a Soldier to do so because of hostility to liberty of conscience and legitimate religious expression, then he or she must make a choice (which we will discuss in Section IV).

Before that occurs, however, to fulfill its part of the mutual responsibility, the institution—the Stewards of the Army  Profession—must make every effort consistent with mission effectiveness to avoid such individual-institutional ethical conflicts. Thus, to reiterate the challenge we are discussing in this monograph: The enduring challenge facing the leaders of the Army and the other Services is how to balance the restrictions placed on soldiers’ practice of their liberties—due to what the Army in its regulation calls “military necessity”—with their constitutional rights to hold religious beliefs as the basis of their personal morality and to exercise those beliefs as acts of conscience.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 09:22