A new report released by the U.S. Army War College claims that military officers routinely lie with impunity, resorting to “evasion and deception” as part of a culture that is well known within the Pentagon.
The War College’s Strategic Studies Institute has produced a 33-page-long study that concludes the Army is infected with dishonesty and deception at almost every rank. Compiled through interviews with officers across all levels of the Army, the report represents a serious indictment of the military’s ethical culture.
“In the routine performance of their duties as leaders and commanders, U.S. Army officers lie,” it reads.
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The report comes just a week after outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel implored senior military staff to root out “unethical behavior.” In a memo drafted just days before Ash Carter succeeded him as Defense Secretary, Hagel asserted the need for a strengthening of ethical culture in the military.
“The vast majority of our senior leaders are men and women who have earned the special trust and confidence afforded them by the American people. However, when senior leaders forfeit this trust through unprofessional, unethical or morally questionable behavior, their actions have an enormously negative effect on the profession.”
According to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, Hagel has been “deeply troubled” over investigations that have recently revealed a culture in which officers may become “ethically numb.”
“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,” Kirby noted.
A U.S. Army War College study shows that U.S. Army officers lie as a matter of routine. https://t.co/Jym6WGsd0F pic.twitter.com/Fpn2MNAsIS
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The study goes on to assert that senior military officials distrust the information and data they receive from subordinates, ranging from compliance with requirements to actionable details of missions.
“Deceptive information is both accepted and commonplace” in the military, according to the report, as Army officers sidestep a bureaucracy they see as burdensome, rather than attempting to reform it.
Leonard Wong and Stephen J. Gerras, who authored the report, assert that lying is justified in three ways: supporting the troops, accomplishing the mission at hand, and through disdain of military regulations. The result, they contest, is a highly unusual situation in which both the officers reporting and receiving the data are fully aware that it is suspect.
The executive summary of the report also asserts that many lies perpetrated by officers within the Army are “encouraged and sanctioned by the military institution.”
[Image: John Harman via Military Times]