I am a retired Army officer who believes in the moral standing of the profession of arms, yet recognizes its shortcomings. I served in the Army from 1984-2017, mostly in the infantry and on the faculty at West Point. As a researcher of combat leadership and ethics, I interviewed hundreds of Army leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003-2011. Welcome to this online space for thinking about war, morality, and the profession of arms. Follow me @combat_ethics
It would be a major moral and social victory if the Army figured out how to accomplish its wartime mission while simultaneously protecting its soldiers from succumbing to hate. Soldiers should be taught that they inflict lethal violence on enemy combatants in war not because they hate the enemy—and not because the enemy soldiers are evil—but because they love those they are sworn to protect and defend.
The most troubling and challenging ethical situations I have faced in the Army involved misconduct by leaders who were senior to me. The Army’s culture would improve if there were a shared understanding about all soldiers’ duty to hold their leaders accountable to the Army’s ethical standards.