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Lying to Ourselves YouTube Lecture

Perspectives in Military History Series at the US Army Heritage and Education Center

Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession

Every day, no matter the environment or specific duties, U.S. Army officers are bombarded with overwhelming demands for their units to accomplish tasks, and sometimes tasks are far beyond their capacity. According to a study from the U.S. Army War College's (USAWC) Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), many Army officers allow their own honor and integrity to slip in the face of long-term exposure to overwhelming demands. The authors of the study, Dr. Leonard Wong and Dr. Stephen Gerras, make the case that a U.S. Army Officer's signature and word have, in many cases, lost the luster of true honor and integrity. Their lecture outlines the issue of untruthfulness among officers, and discuss the steps the Army should take to affect the culture.

In February 2015, Drs. Wong and Gerras published an extensive study outlining the deception occurring at all levels of the Army's leadership in response to the pressure officers are placed under to report success in their unit, even when success does not necessarily exist. In response to their study, the authors offer solutions to change the culture in the Army and the military as a whole. In this lecture, the authors outline the issue, offer solutions, and review the impact their 2015 study had on the U.S. Army in the two years since publication.

Lecture Date: April 19, 2017

Key Time Marks

  • 2:30 - Background on the Study
  • 9:56 - Do you lie?
  • 10:28 - Checking the box
  • 11:30 - Example: Mandatory Training
  • 13:05 - Example: Storyboards Downrange
  • 14:40 - Example: Going on leave
  • 16:50 - Intent: Well-meaning requirements or CYA
  • 20:00 - Example: Officer Evaluation Report Support Form
  • 22:30 - Ethical Fading
  • 30:20 - Technology gives some distance to the lie
  • 33:20 - Rationalizing/Dumb Requirements
  • 34:25 - Rationalizing/Mission and Troops
  • 36:00 - So What? Individuals Get to Define Right and Wrong
  • 38:00 - So What? All Things Become Suspect
  • 38:40 - So What? It Hides Careerism
  • 39:35 - So What? It Teaches Hypocrisy
  • 41:42 - So What? If the Profession Doesn't Fix It, Someone Else Will
  • 43:30 - Three Recommendations
  • 49:48 - What was the reaction to the study?
  • 58:30 - Why have we created this environment?
  • 60:00 - Q & A

2017 Mission Command Conference at West Point

West Point's Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic sponsored the 2017 Mission Command Conference (MCC) at the United States Military Academy April 19-20. The theme of this year's conference was "Black Hearts," a book written by Jim Frederick. Michelle Eberhart wrote an article for West Point's "Pointer View" entitled, "MCC―Leaders advise cadets in the stretch run to graduation," in which she says the conference is "[West Point] Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr.'s Capstone Course of Officership and is intended to help inspire current and future members of the military profession for a lifetime of service to the nation."

Eberhart quoted U.S. Army Director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence, Brig. Gen. James J. Mingus, who noted that you cannot fight wars unless you are the master of Mission Command philosophy. He said, "It's really about the profession, it's really about the ethics and values associated with it to drive that profession; it's the leadership around that that makes it happen."

Read the full article on Pointer View: MCC―Leaders advise cadets in the stretch run to graduation

Gladiators Build Esprit de Corps

Esprit de Corps is one of the essential characteristics of the Army Profession, and Soldiers in the 1st Special Forces Group (FSG) [Airborne] recently competed in an event that fosters that characteristic: the 2nd Annual Gladiator Challenge, held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Spec. Amanda Ridder wrote an article about the event entitled, "Gladiators embody 'Esprit de Corps.'" In the article, 1st FSG Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter, initiator of the first Gladiator Challenge, said, "The fighters come here to put it all on the line in front of these guys, gals and me, and that takes a lot of guts."

Read the full story here: Gladiators embody 'Esprit de Corps'

TRADOC NCO Town Hall 4

The State of NCO Development Town Hall 4, conducted live online Mar. 30, 2017, focused on Stewards of the Profession, which is the third line of effort from the NCO 2020 Strategy. TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport hosted the live event as part of a four-part series and provided Soldiers with a unique opportunity to pose questions to senior leaders.

Sgt. Maj. Boris Bolaños, from the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE), answered questions about the Army's ongoing character development project and the sergeant major of the Army's Not in My Squad initiative, both for which CAPE is the Army proponent.

Watch the full event below:

Mastering the Profession of Arms

Australian Army officer Mick Ryan recently released the second article of an interesting three-part series entitled "Mastering the Profession of Arms" for War on the Rocks.

Ryan says he based the series on U.S. and Australian experiences, and he offers three propositions in the articles.

"In [the] first installment," he said, "I propose that there exists an enduring nature of the profession of arms. In the next installment, I propose that there are seven key drivers for contemporary changes in the competencies required in the profession of arms. Finally, in the third installment, I propose that there are seven essential and evolving competencies of the military professional in digital-age warfare."

Read the first two installments on War on the Rocks using the links below, and keep an eye out for the final segment.

Mastering the Profession of Arms, Part I: The Enduring Nature
Mastering the Profession of Arms, Part II, Keeping Pace with Changes

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