Friday, March 16, 2012

Superiors and subordinates

The question of trust in one's superiors has come up lately in the comments (by EOD CPT). I think that it is a question of serious ethical and practical significance in the military. It is so important because there are historically great rivalries between officers and NCOs, NCOs and privates, etc.

Legend has it that the position of "attention" and the position of "parade rest" that one stands in when addressing officers and senior NCOs respectively were instituted in ancient Rome as a way to make the superior feel comfortable in the knowledge that his subordinates will not attack him. If the superior saw that a soldier near him was not standing properly rigidly, he would get nervous and was allowed to strike the subordinate.

Now, in most countries these are vestigial traditions. But the animosity between superiors and subordinates persists. It is only under the best of leaders that one finds soldiers who really want to be working for him. The rest are just not in a position to walk away.

I don't have much to say about the whole issue at the moment, but Samir Chopra has a post that is interesting and along these lines. He mentions that in many of the interviews he has conducted with veterans for his work on the history of air power in India, it is the stories about dealing with superiors that sometimes are told with more verve and detail than the stories about standing up to the enemy. When people advise their children against joining the military, it is often because they don't want to put their children through the same experiences with military superiors that they did.

I've mentioned the Army Center for Leaderhip's survey and technical report last year on military leadership and the revelation that came out about how many soldiers thought there was "toxic leadership" in their units.  The Army's Combined Arms Center had a post on this too a few months back. This is something that definitely needs to be looked at closer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

At the intersection . . .

. . . of military ethics and computer/business ethics is this question: why is the lowest quality computer software produced for the government?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

At the intersection . . .

. . . of animal ethics and military ethics, I submit this article.