Engaged Leadership: A Method for Linking the Professional Ethic and Battlefield Behaviors
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The ethical behavior of Soldiers on the battlefield is paramount, especially in counterinsurgency and stability operations in which the support of the local populace is vital to the success of the mission. We continue to see how one incident by an individual Soldier or small group of Soldiers can set back the success of an entire unit, even a coalition. This came to the forefront during the war in Iraq with the events of Abu Ghraib and Haditha. Recently, similar events were reported in Afghanistan with five members of an Army Stryker brigade charged with the premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians. These events suddenly revived a debate over the professional ethics of our Soldiers by calling into question whether they represented isolated incidents or an ethical culture problem in our armed forces. On the surface, these events appear to represent a few isolated incidents. However, the present conditions that exist within our Army, including repetitive combat deployments, provide opportunities for future lapses to occur. Preventing ethical lapses in the face of these conditions requires a change in unit culture in which fellow members Soldiers hold each other accountable to proper standards of conduct and performance. This culture change can only occur through direct leader involvement via Engaged Leadership, which leads to modeling of proper behavior and discouragement and correction of inappropriate actions. This paper will provide an overview of the factors that lead to Soldier misconduct, review recent analyses of the ethical climate in Iraq, present a course of action COA one division took to address battlefield ethics, and finally, discuss the role of Engaged Leadership in improving and enhancing Soldier battlefield ethical performance.
- Sociology and Law
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Unconventional Warfare