Saturday, April 07, 2007

Compare and contrast

It is instructive to compare the American military code of conduct with the British Army's equivalent. I think you'll agree that no comment is necessary. Just despair.

Here's the American version:

I - I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

II - I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

III - If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

IV - If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

V - When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

VI - I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

And here's the British version:

The British Army exists to defend the Nation and its interests. It has a reputation second to none, based largely on its fighting spirit, and on the high standards of professionalism, behaviour, and self-discipline that British soldiers have consistently displayed.

Land operations are physically and mentally demanding, extremely unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. In the end they depend for success on teamwork, which comes from demanding training, strong leadership, comradeship and trust. Such trust can only exist on the basis of shared values, the maintenance of high standards, and the personal commitment of every soldier to the task, the team, the Army and the Nation.

The values and standards of the Army are laid out in this booklet, and you have a duty to uphold them whenever and wherever you are serving, on duty and off. Success on operations, and ultimately the lives of your comrades, will depend on your doing so.


Selfless Commitment
Personal commitment is the foundation of military service. You must be prepared to serve whenever and wherever you are required, and to do your best at all times. This means you must put the needs of the mission, and of your team, ahead of your own interests.

Courage Courage creates the strength on which fighting spirit depends. You must have the physical courage to carry on with your task regardless of danger and discomfort, and the moral courage always to do what you know is right.

Discipline The Army must be a disciplined force if it is to be effective. You must therefore obey all lawful orders you are given. The best form of discipline, which the Army expects from you, is self-discipline. Only that will earn you the respect and trust of your comrades, and equip you to cope with the difficult, individual decisions you will have to make during your service. This applies whether on operations or not.

Integrity Integrity involves honesty, sincerity, reliability and unselfishness. It is an essential requirement of both leadership and comradeship. Unless you maintain your integrity, others will not trust you and teamwork will suffer. Integrity sometimes requires you to show moral courage, because your decisions may not always be popular. But it will always earn you respect.

Loyalty The Nation and the Army rely on your commitment and support. You must therefore be loyal to your commanders, your comrades and your duty. If you are not, you will be letting others down.

Respect for Others
As a soldier you have the exceptional responsibility of bearing arms, and when necessary of using controlled lethal force. In addition, you will sometimes have to live and work under extremely difficult conditions. In such circumstances, it is particularly important that you show the greatest respect, tolerance and compassion for others because comradeship and leadership depend on it.


As a soldier in the British Army you must:

Abide by the civil law, wherever you are serving.

Abide by military law, which includes some additional offences such as insubordination and absence without leave which are needed to maintain discipline.

Abide by the laws of armed conflict whenever you are on operations.

Avoid any activity which undermines your professional ability, or puts others at risk. In particular, the misuse of drugs and abuse of alcohol.

Avoid any behaviour which damages trust and respect between you and others in your team and unit, such as deceit or social misconduct. In particular, you must not commit any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, whether on grounds of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or any other behaviour which could undermine good order and military discipline.

Ultimately, you must always measure your conduct against the following test: “Have your actions or behaviour adversely impacted or are they likely to impact on the efficiency or operational effectiveness of the Army?”

Those of you in positions of authority, at whatever level, have a duty of care towards your subordinates, looking after their interests, and ensuring that they fully understand what is expected of them. This duty of care extends to ensuring that individuals who raise concerns have their complaints dealt with in a thorough and timely manner.

You will receive further instruction in your unit on the Values and Standards of the Army. If you are uncertain or unclear about what is expected of you, you should ask your commander. The challenges you will face on operations, and in training, will test you and your team. That is why your commitment to the Values and Standards of the Army is essential.
UPDATE: Dammit, I am going to comment - just to highlight what seems to be the golden rule: 'Ultimately, you must always measure your conduct against the following test: “Have your actions or behaviour adversely impacted or are they likely to impact on the efficiency or operational effectiveness of the Army?”'

What the fuck is this supposed to mean? This is the "ultimate" guideline, but you'd need to sit down and conduct an audit before being able to assess it. And it's completely negative: not "have you done any good?" but "have you done any harm?" That's a recipe for inaction - to risk neither.

And that's exactly what we saw in the waters off the coast of Iraq a few days ago.

To immerse an army in this sort of waffle is to defeat it before the firearms are even issued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i dont think thats what the guideline means. Its a catch all. If your a bad soldier who in no way will help your team or the army in any way in a conflict situation, or even off of one if your that bad, then they can kick you out on "conduct unbecoming a soldier in the british army", or your giudeline. simple they dont want you in... your out; all the broitish services have them.