THE US. ARMY WAR COLLEGE HAS JUST COME OUT WITH A REVEALING AND IMPORTANT STUDY ABOUT INTEGRITY IN THE ARMY
ITS FINDINGS ARE NOT PRETTY. IT IS TITLED—APPROPRIATELY—
‘LYING TO TO OURSELVES’
IN PRACTICE, INTEGRITY IN THE ARMY IS SADLY LACKING
The following is a brief extract from a UPI story featured in www.military.com on February 20 2015.
In the study called "Lying to Ourselves," the War College's Strategic Studies Institute interviewed Army personnel from all ranks and found that lies permeate throughout the military institution, whether by civilians or those in uniform.
Officers sometimes face a "suffocating amount" of tasks. Often, they use phrases to make it seem as if they complied to all requirements demanded.
Personnel do this to "sugarcoat the hard reality that in the routine performance of their duties as leaders and commanders, U.S. Army officers often resort to evasion and deception," the study said.
The most highlighted rationalization to partake in dishonesty is that it is often necessary to lie because the task asked of personnel or the reporting required of them is unreasonable, irritating or "dumb."
"I think some expectation of equivocation is accepted on dumb things," one officer said.
Staff officers in the Department of the Army revealed that sometimes reports they receive aren't fully trusted. This means that personnel who request information and those who supply it know that the information is questionable, the study said.
"We don't trust our compliance data," one officer said.
Part of the reason why lying is so prevalent is because there is a psychological disconnect between performing a dishonest act and facing the consequence for it.
"A moral decision can lose its ethical overtones if the eventual repercussions of such a choice are either unknown or minimized," the study said. "For example, it is a common perception that much of the information submitted upward disappear.
The thrust of the above suggests that this culture of dishonesty (which is what it is, by the way) is confined to bureaucratic reports and similar. Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, outright lying, dissembling, or obfuscating is fundamental to the way the entire system works at present. Let me stress this—it is normal.
culture--: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)
It helps to explain why the Pentagon still cannot be audited as yet. The excuse that is given is that there are too many incompatible accounting systems—which I do not believe—but I certainly do believe that a considerable amount of basic data is simply made up to keep superiors happy.
No, I am not relying on my own analysis and observation alone. Recent research has shown that such is exactly the situation. False figures covering a wide range of issues from maintenance to readiness are entered—and this fact is widely known within the services.
Why is nothing done about it? Because such lies make everyone look good. That is their purpose.
It is all based upon the idea of making your superior look good—regardless of the facts—because, if you don’t, he or she can, and frequently will, wreck your career.
Let me paraphrase Lord Action: “All power corrupts—and rank—when used in an authoritarian manner (which is how the system is set up)—corrupts both up and down.”
One side-effect of all this is that the data upon which major decisions are made is often massaged to make it fit in with the senior officer’s prejudices. As a consequence, it is exceedingly difficult for just about anyone to find out the truth about anything. After all, if the base data is falsified, what is there to go on?
A true irony is that in the the absence of accurate information, leaders—who know perfectly well their data is false—still rely on it for decision making because accurate data doesn’t exist. Indeed, after a while, they start believing in it themselves.
Classifying data which doesn’t need to be classified—and should not be—obscures many deficiencies. False figures obscure much else. Lack of oversight by those tasked with that responsibility—the leadership, Congress, and, in the final analysis, the president, completes the picture. The wider context is an ignorant and indifferent public.
Militarily, we are the most powerful nation in the world—yet success in war eludes us again and again—and has since Korea (over 60 years ago). We refuse to admit this, but we have a dysfunctional military system in a number of critical ways.
It is scarcely an accident that whenever our military occupy, invade, or otherwise become involved with another country, corruption becomes rampant.
DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY makes a nice slogan but it is not the way the system actually works.
The public, as a whole, know little about the Army, don’t care to know more, and prefer to admire from afar because that eases their consciences.
“Thank you for your service,” means, in essence, “rather you than me.”
Congress is not just complicit in the corruption, but is integral to it. The MICC stands for the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.
Can soldiers be both physically courageous and corrupt? Absolutely. That fact is demonstrated every single waking day. Being brave doesn’t mean you are a trustworthy human being.
Moral courage—standing up to the rampant careerism, intellectual dishonesty and other forms of corruption that permeate our military, is another matter entirely.
It is hard to fight a system that is rotten in such fundamental ways.
What drives such behavior? The same things that have so distorted the current American Business Model.
Ego and Money. If one want a one word answer, ‘Greed’ will serve. Over $1 trillion a year flows through the National Security establishment (the Defense Budget being the largest—but very far from the only—element).
Throughout history people have raped, pillaged and killed for a whole lot less. Human nature hasn’t changed.
It is to the credit of the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute that they have written this report. This is serious moral courage at work.
Will anything happen as a consequence? To the authors of the report? Probably (in some quiet way). To the Army as a whole?
Sadly, it is exceedingly unlikely that matters will change. The American tragedy continues apace. The lack of integrity in the Army is just one facet.
VOR words c. 740.