This impressive report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. It is a study of the literature on military professionalism and military ethics. It suggests that by developing and inculcating a recognized and well-defined Professional Military Ethic in all of the military services and at all rank levels, the modern American armed forces will gain common understandings of the nature of the Professional Military Ethic and apply it to actions in both peace and war.
The literature suggests a hierarchy of values, or, at the least, certain virtues are more often discussed than others in the field of professional military ethics. Those virtues are selfless-service, sacrifice, honor, loyalty and integrity. Leadership is also recognized by military authors as more than a practice, or talent, but as raised to the level of an ethical imperative for the officer corps. Other common virtues are duty, courage, commitment, country, honesty, and competence. This thesis provides an in-depth discussion of these values, and demonstrates how they apply to modern American armed forces.
The morality of war involves many important questions—when to kill, whom to kill, what level of force to employ, when to protect prisoners, when to act as peacekeepers or police in the changing face of warfare, when to stop genocide or oppression. These questions are faced, and answered, by members of a professional military on a regular basis, even in so-called peacetime operations. One would hope that people who have spent years developing a sense of morality and an ability to make ethical choices only make such decisions following careful consideration. But in the military, and especially in times of war, all levels of personnel make those important decisions every day, including soldiers who have not spent years developing a sense of morality. What do they use as their guiding principles? What definitions of morality are in place within the military?
Military sociologists and other academics have studied the military under a number of different lights, attempting to define the military in terms of a legal basis for operation, political power, or as a reflection of the society it serves. All three are valid viewpoints for studying the military, but the main idea of this thesis is that the soldiers of the armed forces of the United States must have a more encompassing means of making their daily decisions, in peace and in combat. Those decisions should be based on society's recognition of the military as a professional body, and the military's own understanding and application of a Professional Military Ethic.
Why discuss the idea of ethics and morality within the military? No one would argue against the proposition that the mission of the United States military is to defend the nation and its interests and visit violence upon those who threaten its security. Most people would also agree that the military serves the people of America and is a tool to be used by the President and elected political officials. If the role of a soldier, sailor, marine or airman (for the purposes of this thesis, hereafter referred to as "soldier") is simple obedience, what does it matter what his or her individual value system is? The United States military was founded on the western traditions of service to the state and the noble, chivalrous ethos of the warrior. Does such an ethic still have a place in modern warfare?