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Army vice chief: Strong ethical foundation could boost retention

By Joe Lacdan | Army News Service | Aug. 8, 2018

Changing the ethics of the nation's largest military branch starts at its core, with Soldiers, said the Army's vice chief of staff during the annual International Society for Military Ethics Symposium July 30.

Instilling Army values and ethics across the force begins with developing ethically-sound Soldiers early on, such as during Basic and Advanced Individual Training, said Gen. James C. McConville.

McConville cited the Army's "Not in My Squad" program as one important tool for helping to develop strong Army values and ethics among Soldiers.

As part of the Not in My Squad program, it is squad leaders who are charged with taking the lead in training their Soldiers, instilling discipline, and ensuring Soldiers understand Army values so they can accomplish their missions ethically, effectively and efficiently.

Professional conduct must be practiced at all times, both at home and while operating overseas. There, McConville said, it's important that during extended operations Soldiers don't forget their training and lose sight of the Army's ethical and moral standards.

"Winning's not only defeating the enemy," McConville said. "It's defeating the enemy the right way."

McConville also touted overmatch as a key component to winning wars, making modernization of the force more crucial to future success.

"We will have such a powerful military ... that no one will want to get on the field against us," McConville said. "We will deter through strength. When it comes to ethical things, when a lot of wars happen, its miscalculation. People assume you're not strong enough, you're not brave enough. But if you're the toughest person on the block and they know it, there's an opportunity to have peace through strength, and I think that's the future."

To build that strength, the Army has had a laser-like focus on force readiness. The Army is now focusing training and readiness efforts on combined arms maneuver and decisive action, for instance, while also maintaining the mastery of counter-insurgency operations that has been developed during more than 17 years of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also part of building that strength is a focus on modernization. The Army recently announced that its new Army Futures Command will stand up in Austin, Texas, to further that goal.

The Army also recently announced a new holistic health and fitness program for Soldiers that includes a focus on mental health. The general said resilience, physical and mental fitness will be key to instilling morals early in Soldiers' careers.

Many specialized units are also putting Soldiers through ethical situations before selecting them, McConville said, to make sure their minds are in the right place.