One of the things that attracts people, myself included, to military service is that one gets to serve the country and contributes to its defense and well-being in the most direct way. Whether it is fighting in the wars the American people believes in, or simply doing various services, those serving in the armed forces and the military is at a position that enables them to do their patriotic duty, while still maintaining a relatively higher level of income to support their livelihood and opens great and varied opportunities for career advancement.
Being in the military and armed forces service, however, deals with tasks and duties that affects the lives of literally millions and millions of people, whether directly or indirectly. It is necessary that those serving in the armed forces have certain guidelines to follow in conducting their sworn duty. Further, being in the armed forces allows one access to a host of vital information that may detail and ultimately unravel whole strategies and game plans. This information would be detrimental to both the armed forces in particular and the country in general if it falls into the wrong hands, especially into hostile parties’ hands.
While ordinary businesses and companies have their own code of ethics that serve as guiding principles in how they conduct business and personal matters, their company culture, even the values that the company wants to emphasize, the United States has its own Military Code of Conduct. While the Code of Conduct is more focused on keeping confidential information secret, it also provides guidelines for proper behavior that is essential for survival in war, or in captivity, and outlines the values that each enlisted personnel should hold close to his or her heart.
This paper will delve into the sufficiency of the Code of Conduct both as a guiding principle of the behavior of those in military service, and as a deterrent to any potential misdeeds or wrongdoing, and develop a system of inquiry based on the code of conduct. The United States Military Code of Conduct The United States Military Code of Conduct was first used under the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 and has seen two amendments under the administrations of President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and finally President Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s.
It has six articles that basically puts forth the obligations, duties and responsibilities of all enlisted personnel of the United States Armed Forces (Silent-Warriors. Com, undated, Introduction section). The six articles of the Military Code of Conduct relies on its history, giving importance to both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and deals primarily with concerns of a person in combat, evading capture, resistance and escape (ArmyStudyGuide. Com, 2005, Introduction section, paras. 1, 2 and 6).
It further details that as a personnel of the armed forces, one is expected to sacrifice his or her life for the good of the nation, not to surrender voluntarily, and to avoid capture. When captured, he or she is expected to resist his or her captors, and attempt or try to escape. He or she is to refuse any favors offered by the enemy in exchange for any confidential information unless it puts him or her, and his or her companions in danger (ArmyStudyGuide. Com, 2005, The Code section, paras. 1-16).
The Military Code of Conduct also outlines the procedures of leadership and taking command while in captivity. In the event of captivity, the captured shall lead or obey as the situation arises, and no information other than name, service number, rank, birth date and other vital personal information such as health status and similar concerns. The prisoner should not provide additional information other than those prescribed in the code, specially not tactical and strategic information to the enemy.
The Code also lays down that even in captivity, the prisoners’ loyalty and commitment should stay to the country, his or her unit, fellow prisoners and the Armed Forces in general (ArmyStudyGuide. Com, 2005, The Code section, paras. 1-16). Finally, the Code also outlines the potential review of an enlisted personnel’s conduct during captivity that would either expose his or her misconduct or reward his or her good performance as set by the Code’s guidelines (ArmyStudyGuide. Com, 2005, The Code section, paras. 1-16). Values
Analyzing the Military Code of Conduct, one can clearly glean emphasis on certain values. Article 1 calls for commitment and dedication to the United States of America, in the country’s way of life and its ideals, which in turn calls for understanding and keeping faith with the country’s causes, and loyalty and faith to the armed forces, along with the chain of command and comrades in arms. This dedication dictates that all personnel fight against the enemies of the United States, its culture and its causes (Powers, undated, p.1).
Article 2 provides the guideline that one should exhaust all possible means to avoid being captured by the enemy, which calls for dexterity, determination, and knowledge and application of appropriate survival skills (Powers, undated, p. 2). Article 3 is a closely-related article that states that even under captivity, all military personnel are still bound by the Code of Conduct and adds that one is expected to resist and try to escape by all means possible (Powers, undated, p. 3).
Article 4, on the other hand, reiterates the value of loyalty to one’s country, unit, and fellow officers. It also underscores the importance of keeping information confidential and away from enemy’s hands, along with establishing further guidelines on instituting leadership among the prisoners. Basically, article 4 outlines the importance of discipline and leadership in times of captivity, which have proven vital in the eventual survival of those who have experienced captivity in the past (Powers, undated, p.4).
Article 4 is also the first article the speaks of the potential to have legal repercussions for any wrongdoing. A lowering of resistance or a show of disobedience can be grounds for legal proceedings (Powers, undated, p. 4). Articles 5 and gives guidelines on which information may be given, and emphasizes yet again, loyalty and dedication to the United States, its causes and way of life, the personnel’s unit, and fellow prisoners (Powers, undated, pp. 5-6).