War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview

13 Integrity

John D. Ryan

This brief statement concerning the importance of integrity to the military leadership function was issued by General John D. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, as a policy letter for commanders on November 1, 1972. General Ryan disseminated this policy in the wake of revelations of false reporting in Vietnam, some instances at very high levels of command.

—M.M.W.

Integrity—which includes full and accurate disclosure—is the keystone of military service. Integrity in reporting, for example, is the link that connects each flight crew, each specialist and each administrator to the commander in chief. In any crisis, decisions and risks taken by the highest national authorities depend, in large part, on reported military capabilities and achievements. In the same way, every commander depends on accurate reporting from his forces. Unless he is positive of the integrity of his people, a commander cannot have confidence in his forces. Without integrity, the commander in chief cannot have confidence in us.

Therefore, we may not compromise our integrity—our truthfulness. To do so is not only unlawful but also degrading. False reporting is a clear example of a failure of integrity. Any order to compromise integrity is not a lawful order.

Integrity is the most important responsibility of command. Commanders are dependent on the integrity of those reporting to them in every decision they make. Integrity can be ordered but it can only be achieved by encouragement and example.

-180-

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