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The Army Ethic White Paper July 2014 - Introduction & Background
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Article Index
The Army Ethic White Paper July 2014
Introduction & Background
The Problem and The Risk
Discussion continued
Discussion part 3
Discussion part 4
Discussion part 5
Discussion part 6
Discussion part 7
Reinforcing the Army Profession plus Summary & Solution
The Army Ethic—Heart of the Army
All Pages


The Army Ethic explains the nature of Honorable Service* for the Army, both as an institution and as a profession, in the accomplishment of the mission. It expresses the standard and expectation for all of us to make right decisions and to take right actions in the conduct of the mission, performance of Duty, and in all aspects of our lives.

* Throughout this paper, words or expressions in Italics have an operational meaning within the lexicon of the Army Profession. They must be commonly understood and consistently applied in the practice of our profession.

The Army Ethic explains why we conduct ourselves morally and ethically, instead of just describing the what and how of professional service. It provides motivation and inspiration for each of us to perform our Duty in a manner worthy of the Trust of the American people and each other.

“When people talk about the institutions that they trust…the United States Army is at the top of the list. Whether it is a man or woman in uniform or a Civilian…this is a team that needs to ensure that there is a mutual trust…so it is a very special relationship…forged over time….”1 —John M. McHugh, 21st Secretary of the Army

The Army Ethic emphasizes and informs Stewardship: caring for and developing subordinates, peers, and leaders in Character, Competence, and Commitment; safeguarding and maintaining property; and exercising appropriate and disciplined use of resources.

The Army Ethic guides the ethical design, generation, support, and application of landpower, including regulations, policies, programs, procedures, practices, and systems.

Living the Army Ethic inspires and strengthens our shared identity as Trustworthy Army Professionals, drives Character Development, and reinforces Trust -- among Soldiers, Army Civilians, Army Families, and with the American people.

Therefore, expressing the Army Ethic in doctrine is imperative. 

The goal is an articulated, accessible, commonly understood, and universally applicable Army Ethic -- motivating Honorable Service, guiding and inspiring right decisions and actions. In turn, the Army Ethic will drive the Concept and Strategy for Character Development.


The present need to articulate the Army Ethic surfaced during the CY11 Army Profession Campaign. In April 2012, the Commanding General, TRADOC [Training and Doctrine Command] published the Army Profession Campaign Report. It provided findings and recommendations related to the status of the Army Profession after more than a decade of continuous armed conflict.2

Among its findings, Soldiers and Army Civilians asked for an expression of the nature of our profession, the Army Ethic, and the doctrinal concepts and principles that clarify our identity and roles. Specifically, members across the profession noted that no single document exists to identify and define the Army Ethic.3

In response, ADP 1 – The Army, September 2012, included a new chapter entitled, Our Profession. It identified Trust as the foundation for our relationship with the American people and for successful accomplishment of the mission.4 Subsequently, for the first time, a supporting ADRP 1 – The Army Profession was released on 14 June 2013.

This doctrine describes Army culture and the Army Ethic as the foundation for developing the moral identity of Army Professionals. It notes that the essential characteristic Trust is based on adherence to the Army Ethic in the performance of Duty and in all aspects of life.5

“The people entrust … the lives of their children to soldier in our ranks. They trust that the Army will not waste those precious resources…. This sacred trust defines the bond between our Nation and its Soldiers.
[Those] who display questionable characteristics, such as double standards, evidence of unfaithfulness, or even disregard for law … create an environment of mistrust. There can be no equivocation of trust; it either exists or it does not.”6 —General Robert W. Cone, Former CG, TRADOC

Army doctrine further recognizes that the Army Ethic is informed by law, Army Values, beliefs expressed in codes and creeds, and is embedded within our unique Army culture. 

Our ethic embodies fundamental precepts that enable us to understand the purpose of our lives in Honorable Service to the Nation. It notes that ethical practices are the professional standard and that unethical practices must not be tolerated.

“The Army has earned the trust of the American people as a professional organization and we must employ all necessary measures to preserve this confidence. We expect all of you to…demonstrate the character, competence, and commitment that are essential to the profession.”7 —General John F. Campbell, Vice Chief of Staff, US Army

Last Updated on Friday, 14 November 2014 12:35