Army Standards and Ethical Dilemmas
MSG Garrison, John O., 19Z
United States Army Sergeants Major Academy
SGM Kelvin Hinkle
December 8, 2011
The inconsistent application of Army standards leads to unethical decisions on a daily basis. Despite an emphasis on Army values at all levels, military leaders open themselves up to make unethical decisions when they don’t adhere to set standards. Despite the Army having clear standards on height/weight, APFT, the tattoo policy, and reporting requirements, leaders often take it upon themselves to ignore the standard or create their own. Leaders have the responsibility to maintain and enforce standards which are driven by regulations. If military leaders would consistently enforce these standards, ethical dilemmas and unethical decisions would be significantly reduced.
Army Standards and Ethical Dilemmas
Standards are necessary within an organization to promote discipline, production, and efficiency. Recently, the Sergeant Major of the Army visited the Sergeants Major Academy and the focus of his presentation was really about Army Standards. The Sergeant Major’s message got me thinking about Army standards and the inconsistent application of these standards throughout the Army, specifically the ethical dilemmas that arise due to this inconsistency. If an organization’s standards are applied inconsistently, that organization’s culture changes and allows room for unethical application of those standards. In the Army we see this inconsistent application of standards in the areas of height and weight standards, the APFT, the tattoo policy, application of punishment through the UCMJ, and in unit reporting. Standards
First, we must define what a standard is. Standards are methods that define what success is in a training event, such as an APFT or marksmanship qualification. Standards are the rules for conduct in the work place and while off duty. Standards are rules or guidelines for proper wear and appearance in the uniform. In the Army we have regulations, training manuals, and unit standing operating procedures that spell out the “standard” for everything we do without exception. The Army even has a standard for organizational values, LDRSHIP. A tool that should make consistent application of standards easy for leaders is the acronym LDRSHIP: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Despite regulations and despite Army values, our leaders, Army wide, have difficulty in enforcing standards consistently the result for these leaders, often times, is making unethical decisions which have a negative effect on the force. Our challenge as leaders is to do a much better job of enforcing standards, as well as consistently applying the standards in order to reduce ethical dilemmas. Height/Weight and APFT
The Army clearly spells out its policy or standard for both height/weight and physical fitness standards in AR 600-9 and in FM 21-20. In AR600-9, the standard for how much a Soldier can weigh, based on his or her height and age is spelled out. If a Soldier exceeds the height/weight screening table, then the Soldier is taped to assess the amount of body fat the Soldier has. If the Soldier exceeds the allowed body fat percentage, AR 600-9 specifies what actions are to be taken by the commander. Some of the consequences include, counseling by the Soldier’s supervisor, nutrition counseling, the Soldier should be flagged and barred to re-enlist until meeting the height/weight standard, ultimately the Soldier should be chaptered out of the Army if he or she is unable to meet the standard. Just like AR 600-9, FM 21-20 specifies the Army standard for both the conduct of the APFT as well as the standard for passing the APFT. Additionally, the Army has specified that a Soldier that doesn’t pass the APFT should be flagged and not eligible for promotion until that Soldier meets the standard. One...
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