Ethics for Juniors
MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
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As a Marine captain with nearly 14 years of service, the authors experience has been that real and profound ethics training is not done at the junior enlisted levels. Marines receive some limited training on the laws of war, but the training is superficial and without expert analysis. The classes seem to be perceived by participants as an institutional requirement rather than as a challenge to think critically or as an opportunity for intelligent debate. The Marine Corps must provide junior enlisted Marines with in-depth law of war training to address grey areas and to avoid potential atrocities in combat. Unfortunately, war crimes will always be present, and what exactly constitutes a war crime will always be debated. With the changing battlefield landscape from regular force on force to irregular small unit battles, the potential for civilian casualties will remain high. The current conflict has forced commanders to push the decision-making process further and further down the chain of command. Key decisions are no longer exclusive to higher headquarters. This transition has given rise to the strategic corporal and now more than ever, the Corps must ensure that all Marines take every precautionary measure to protect the reputation and image of the Corps and the country. Administering an ethics training program that encourages the junior leadership to think critically will ensure that young Marines conduct themselves as professional combatants who always adhere to and uphold the laws of war.
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