Magazine article National Defense

Readers' Forum

Magazine article National Defense

Readers' Forum

Article excerpt

Military Ethics

* I just read, "Military Ethics: Is There a Crisis of Leadership" (April 2014, page 16) and the answer is clearly, yes. While most people confuse morals and ethics, and ethics with a code of conduct, there are many differences.

I earned a Ph.D. in Christian business ethics in 1997 and have been a practicing ethics consultant. When I worked for a well-known multinational corporation that is a leader in the defense/aerospace industry, my manager refused to teach the corporate ethics program to his staff. He asked me to do it because he felt that his management was very unethical and said he had no right teaching it. I did it for years.

While I specialize in ethics within a business, I can extend my model to any organization. In my model, the organization needs a strong mission statement - the "where we are today." Next, the organization needs a vision statement - the "where we want to be."

These are followed by the core values. The mission and vision statements are prepared and promulgated by senior executives, but the core values should be created by the employees. Core values in an organization are equivalent to morals in an individual. At one time in our great country, our morals were based on Biblical truths. For an organization, core values could include items such as honesty, integrity, citizenship or quality. These are what the organization would like its customers and clients to think about when they think about the organization.

I read an article last week that discussed sexual assaults in the military during 2012. Female war fighters reported 12,000 sexual assaults, while males reported 14,000 sexual assaults, mostly by males. The military needs adult supervision. There is a failure of leadership in the U.S. military.

If we go back to my comments about my manager feeling unable to teach ethics because his management chain was unethical, we might think that ethical behavior flows from the top. My research, teaching and consulting has led me to that conclusion. Just as little children try to mimic older siblings or parents, workers in any organization will mimic the ethical behavior of the supervisors and managers above them. When the CEO and his/her staff exhibit ethical behavior, the next level of managers will try to do the same; this continues all the way to the lowest level employee.

You are on the right track with this article. While we might have some differences in terminology, we are in synch on the concepts. Thank you for the reference to J. Phillip London's book, Character: The Ultimate Success Factor, as I will have to get a copy.

Michael E. Harris,

aka The Ethics Doctor(TM)

Acquisition Reform

* Your article, "Congress Takes Another Stab at Fixing Pentagon Procurement" (National Defense blog, April 13) has raised again the obvious to many of us in the business.

Where are the folks who really understand what is driving costs? They, not Congress, procurement organizations, operations folks, the Pentagon, are the ones driving those costs. Those folks are the engineering, manufacturing, testing and procurement planning personnel of our industry.

Several years ago when Ashton Carter was in Frank Kendall's chair as the undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics we had the pleasure of briefing some of his staff on procurement simulation models that we had developed and utilized to counsel our clients on what it would take to beat the competition at the price line. …

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