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US Army's War College Report on Lying in the Military

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The US Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute's (SSI) has generated a 51 page report:
Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession

Authored by Dr. Leonard Wong, Dr. Stephen J. Gerras.

Opednews is publishing a condensed version the full report, which can be found in full here.

...This study found that many Army officers, after repeated exposure to the overwhelming demands and the associated need to put their honor on the line to verify compliance, have become ethically numb. As a result, an officer's signature and word have become tools to maneuver through the Army bureaucracy rather than being symbols of integrity and honesty. Sadly, much of the deception that occurs in the profession of arms is encouraged and sanctioned by the military institution as subordinates are forced to prioritize which requirements will actually be done to standard and which will only be reported as done to standard. As a result, untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profes- sion are loath to admit it.

...Until a candid exchange begins within the Army that includes recognition of the rampant duplicity, the current culture will not improve. The second recommendation calls for restraint in the propagation of requirements and compliance checks.

...leaders at all levels must lead truthfully. At the highest levels, leading truthfully includes convincing uniformed and civilian senior leadership of the need to accept a degree of political risk in reducing requirements. At other levels, leading truthfully may include striving for 100 percent compliance in all areas, but being satisfied when only 85 percent is reported in some.

...Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently stated that he was "deeply troubled" by the latest spate of ethical scandals across the military. His spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told a news conference, "I think he's generally concerned that there could be, at least at some level, a breakdown in ethical behavior and in the demonstration of moral courage." He add- ed, "He's concerned about the health of the force and the health of the strong culture of accountability and responsibility that Americans have come to expect from their military."1

Indeed, troubling indicators point to ethical and moral transgressions occurring across all levels of the military. In the Air Force, for example, nearly half of the nuclear missile launch officers at one base were involved with or knew about widespread cheating on an exam testing knowledge of the missile launch systems.2 In the Navy, 30 senior enlisted instructors responsible for training sailors in the operation of nuclear reactors were suspended after a sailor alerted superiors that he had been offered answers to a written test.3 In the Army, a recent promotion board looking through the evaluations of senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) found that raters were recording deceptively taller heights in order to keep any NCO weight gain within Army height/weight standards.4 Additionally, the constant drumbeat of senior officer misconduct and ethical failings have included violations ranging from lavish personal trips at government expense to hypocritical sexual transgressions.

...Dishonesty in the military, however, lies not just with the misdeeds of a few, but with the potential for deception throughout the entire military...

...We begin by analyzing the flood of requirements experienced by military leaders and show that the military as an institution has created an environment where it is literally impossible to execute to standard all that is required. At the same time, reporting non- compliance with the requirements is seldom a viable option. As a result, the conditions are set where subordinates and units are often forced to determine which requirements will actually be done to standard and which will only be reported as done to standard...

...This analysis began with an exploration into the avalanche of mandatory training requirements levied throughout the Army. It has been fairly well established that the Army as an institution is quick to pass down requirements to individuals and units regardless of their ability to actually comply with the totality of the requirements...

...in 2012 the Department of the Army Inspector General (IG) examined how units were coping with the deluge of mandatory requirements involved in the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) process. The IG report noted:

At none (0 of 16) of the locations inspected were companies in the ARFORGEN process able to complete all mandatory training and administrative tasks during ARFORGEN which impacts their ability to lead effectively and take care of Soldiers.

Those three reports focus on the detrimental effects on training management due to the suffocating amount of mandatory requirements imposed upon units and commanders. Commanders were said to be harried and stifled as they were inundated by directives from above. Yet these reports only obliquely address a more pernicious phenomenon emerging from a culture that demands more from the profession's members than is possible. If units and individuals are literally unable to complete the tasks placed upon them, then reports submitted upward by leaders must be either admitting noncompliance, or they must be intentionally inaccurate....

...Discussions across the force confirm, as previous reports have noted, that the requirements passed down from above far exceed the ability of units and individuals to accomplish them. A former brigade commander bluntly described the annual training requirement situation: "It's more than you can do in one year."10 Another officer gave more detail: "The amount of requirements, if you laid [them] down on a calendar--all the external stuff you have to do--and then how much time you have to complete [them]-- it's physically impossible!" Another officer added his perspective:

It's a systemic problem throughout the entire Army . . . We can probably do two or three things in a day, but if you give us 20, we're gonna half-ass 15 and hope you ignore the other five.

...U.S. Army officers, and members of the military profession in general, tend to have a self-image that bristles at any hint of dishonesty...

...After a few minutes into the discussion (usually about 20), however, hints would inevitably emerge that there was something deeper involved in the situation. For example, one senior officer reflected upon the pressures of complying with every training directive and stated, "You find ways to qualify your answer. It's not quibbling--it's assuming risk." When pressed for specifics on how they managed, officers tended to dodge the issue with statements such as, "You gotta make priorities, we met the intent, or we got creative." Eventually words and phrases such as "hand waving, fudging, massaging, or checking the box" would surface to sugarcoat the hard reality that, in order to satisfy compliance with the surfeit of directed requirements from above, officers resort to evasion and deception. In other words, in the routine performance of their duties as leaders and commanders, U.S. Army officers lie.

Once officers conceded that they did, indeed, occasionally misrepresent the truth concerning compliance with directives, admissions tended to flow more freely...

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US Army's War College Report on Lying in the Military

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