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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

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