Moral Courage - increasing importance??

#1
Moral courage has always been important, along with leadership and integrity. In light of the increasing "stretch" across the military do you feel that the issue of moral courage will become increasingly more important and if this is the case will senior officers demonstrate a better ability to listen and not confuse moral courage with "whining about how difficult it is"?

I personally feel that this will go on to be one of the key qualities required at all levels of command over the next decade if we, The Army, are not to suffer badly and a failure to do so will result in a large quantity of small soldiers voting with their feet - comments or views please?
 
#2
I think if one gets into this definition of moral courage, it can be seen just what is involved. To me, it suggests that moral courage follows the line we had recently reference leadership - is it something that some people are born with or can it be taught/learned?
Moral courage, however, is just that: driven by principle. When courage is manifested in the service of our values-when it is done not only to demonstrate physical prowess or save lives but also to support virtues and sustain core principles-we tend to use the term moral courage. Moral courage is not only about facing physical challenges that could harm your body-it's about facing mental challenges that could wreck your reputation and emotional well-being, your adherence to conscience, your self-esteem, your bank account, your health. If physical courage acts in support of the tangible, moral courage protects the less tangible. It's not property but principles, not valuables but virtues, not physics but metaphysics that moral courage rises to defend. Where the physically courageous individual may be in full agreement with the momentum of the occasion and is often bolstered with cheers of encouragement and team spirit, the morally courageous person often goes against the grain, acting contrary to the accepted norm. Acts of moral courage carry with them risks of humiliation, ridicule, and contempt, not to mention unemployment and loss of social standing.

Simply put, moral courage is the courage to be moral.
http://www.moral-courage.org/mc_chapter_one.html
 
#3
Moral courage for the next decade? I think you are maybe tens years too late - regimental cuts, political expedients, seems to me that the Army has already lost it.
 
#4
Moral courage has always been important, along with leadership and integrity. In light of the increasing "stretch" across the military do you feel that the issue of moral courage will become increasingly more important
If you are told to do something - then just get on with it. Don't pass your difficulties up the chain of command. If you have a problem completing the task as directed - then come back.

We have it easy. Can you imagine during the 1 or 2 WW; sorry sir... before I do this task are you aware etc etc...

Everyone is aware of overstretch... this is nothing new......... therefore no need to bang on about it.

Excellent quote from OldRedCap on moral courage by the way.
 
#5
With that reply Ramilles, I think you may have given your age (generation) away.

There is an issue that needs to be explored to answer the question of why NCOs feel increasingly unloved by the Army and Officers feel undervalued by the society the serve. Not sure it is simply about moral courage though. There is work ongoing within the Army to determine what exactly what this 'golden thread' is. So far it seems to be a combination of extremely poor internal communications, faultering trust in the chain of command and the perception that senior officers officers are too busy looking up to their politcal masters and their potential peerage that they fail to speak up for the boys (or they do so just as they are leaving the Service).

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there Ramilles. The very fact that so many junior(ish) officers / SNCOs / soldiers are discussing it means that it must be resolved. Denial by senior officers that there is a problem only adds to the frustration of those that will be left when thay retire and leave us to clear up.

Your mind would be useful on this topic - if you permit yourself to open it.
 
#6
The_Hawk said:
There is an issue that needs to be explored to answer the question of why NCOs feel increasingly unloved by the Army and Officers feel undervalued by the society the serve. Not sure it is simply about moral courage though. There is work ongoing within the Army to determine what exactly what this 'golden thread' is. So far it seems to be a combination of extremely poor internal communications, faultering trust in the chain of command and the perception that senior officers officers are too busy looking up to their politcal masters and their potential peerage that they fail to speak up for the boys (or they do so just as they are leaving the Service).

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there Ramilles. The very fact that so many junior(ish) officers / SNCOs / soldiers are discussing it means that it must be resolved. Denial by senior officers that there is a problem only adds to the frustration of those that will be left when thay retire and leave us to clear up.
Your mind would be useful on this topic - if you permit yourself to open it.
I hope The Hawk doesn't mind me editing slightly - apologies!

Most of it is all too true. I still find it interesting that the letters pages section in Soldiers magazine has expanded somewhat in the last couple of years. Something to do with the gradual lack of forelock tugging by the minions, I'm sure!

Even more interesting is the fact that a good proportion of letters are answered by a Brig Mcfukcwit in PS world who seems to spend his entire time saying "it's not our fault - bugger off". I'm sure he is in the position to do so deliberately but I find it difficult to believe that HMG is ALWAYS is the clear for whatever reason...

Ah well, c'est la vie, don't you know. I know my place..... :(
 
#7
In this modern world (I'm giving my age and generation away free here), image is everything. To be seen to have failed in any respect leads to a permanent scar. The accusation that will be made is "You messed up on (project X) so it is likely you will mess this up (project y)"
With this background, it is quite understandable that an organisation will seek any means - such as Brig Mcfukcwit in PS - to come up with some bland response that answers no question and diminishes the importance of the whole incident.
Until something is/can be done to correct this situation, everyone sees themselves as a community policeman looking out for the rights of the whole organisation or group to which they belong. This is not too much of a problem in minor everyday matters but, in a disciplined society such as the armed forces, there are times when there is a requirement for the instant, unquestioning, (blind faith if you wish to call it that) obedience of my generation. However, how one distinguishes between the two attitudes is a difficult matter. To borrow from another thread, perhaps we should prefix orders to be obeyed with 'no duff'?
 
#8
WildGoose said:
Moral courage for the next decade? I think you are maybe tens years too late - regimental cuts, political expedients, seems to me that the Army has already lost it.
Well said WildGoose. Too many senior offrs are too concerned about their OJARs/ knighthoods to rock the boat. The concept of cutting Inf Bns whilst increasing commitments is a case in point, even though more will 'apparently' be available at any one time due to lack of Arms Plotting.

That said, we all need to recognise that moral courage is pertinent at ALL levels from Pte soldier upwards. We need to get young soldiers thinking about their moral responsibilities and make sure that junior commanders exercise their powers in both moral and pysical terms. Too often I have seen LCpls and Cpls not stopping things, whether it is giving brand new soldiers too hard a time or not giving information about miscreants. Young Platoon Commanders need to learn to grip all ranks when they see similar things happening.
 
#9
Given the importance of moral courage (moral is to physical as 3 to 1) and the percieved reduction of it within our CoC, is there an emerging void within which a third element would fit that could assist. I refer the the suggestion of a Federation, discussed elsewhere on ARRSE.

It seems to me that such a body will not only provide a means of expression to those disatisfied with their CoC, it may also be able to act as a vehicle that the CoC cn utilise to push an issue to their political masters, without having to expose themselves or stand full square behind it. ie. "Minister, this issue has been most strongly represented by the Federation and we (you) must provide an answer!"
 
#10
Outstanding said:
Given the importance of moral courage (moral is to physical as 3 to 1) and the percieved reduction of it within our CoC, is there an emerging void within which a third element would fit that could assist. I refer the the suggestion of a Federation, discussed elsewhere on ARRSE.

It seems to me that such a body will not only provide a means of expression to those disatisfied with their CoC, it may also be able to act as a vehicle that the CoC cn utilise to push an issue to their political masters, without having to expose themselves or stand full square behind it. ie. "Minister, this issue has been most strongly represented by the Federation and we (you) must provide an answer!"
Outstanding,

Surely this displays a total lack of moral courage. It is the duty of any decent man to stand up against what he believes to be wrong. Having the ability to hide behind the coat tails of an organisation or federation will only encourage unsubstantiated and anonymous bleating. This will only deter those (few) people who are willing to put themselves in their superior's In Tray from doing so.
 
#11
I agree, but perhaps the end result is what matters to the guys and girls on the ground and if there is a lack of moral courage the Federation can fill the gap.
 
#12
Yes well.. my age is a give away ! Many good comments for which many thanks.

the question of why NCOs feel increasingly unloved by the Army and Officers feel undervalued by the society they serve.
I am sure a lot of good work and money is looking into this.. but it is a bottomless pit. It is a soft fluffy statement that anyone can say and is part of the need for a feel good factor I suppose. Too much of it around these days IMHO.

I have the old fashioned view, that we spend more time, effort and money than we should on the softer issues which are easy to say, difficult to quantify and even more difficult to rectify (if they were wrong in the first place) than sorting the real issues that make a significant change. Everyone needs to feel loved and that life is fair. Life is not fair. It is cruel, selfish and very unfair. Accept it and move on. Dwell on it and it will destroy you from the inside.

Senior officers not speaking up for their soldiers - be it perceived or otherwise - has been around for years and is nothing new. There will always be this accusation as long as we have an Army and a rank structure. It is the same in civilian life re senior directors.

I suppose I am getting old and cynical (Ok so I am !) but my point is that when there is real job to do which needs 100% effort of the team, there is always someone who witters on /wastes time about matters over which we have no control (eg overstretch), rather than getting on with the job in hand.
 
#13
You are drifting off the thread point. The witterers may well be the ones with the moral courage to point out the shortcomings in the proposed course of action. Ignoring them and failing in your aim would be attributed to poor leadership. On the other hand there are folk who will obfuscate a situation simply because they can (or they don't want to carry out the order. Thats when a good leader knows who to listen to and who to ignore. A good leader may then have to display moral courage himself in accepting that the task in hand is unachievable, but that it must be carried through as it is part of a grander design.
 
#14
Bellthrob said:
Outstanding said:
Given the importance of moral courage (moral is to physical as 3 to 1) and the percieved reduction of it within our CoC, is there an emerging void within which a third element would fit that could assist. I refer the the suggestion of a Federation, discussed elsewhere on ARRSE.

It seems to me that such a body will not only provide a means of expression to those disatisfied with their CoC, it may also be able to act as a vehicle that the CoC cn utilise to push an issue to their political masters, without having to expose themselves or stand full square behind it. ie. "Minister, this issue has been most strongly represented by the Federation and we (you) must provide an answer!"
Outstanding,

Surely this displays a total lack of moral courage. It is the duty of any decent man to stand up against what he believes to be wrong. Having the ability to hide behind the coat tails of an organisation or federation will only encourage unsubstantiated and anonymous bleating. This will only deter those (few) people who are willing to put themselves in their superior's In Tray from doing so.
I agree with the spirit of your comment, Bellthrob. However:

1. Let's not pretend that on occasion unofficial means have not been used to press a case on behalf of subordinates. Eg a very subtle and clever campaign in the late 70's about junior soldiers' pay, linked to the firemen's strikes in that period.

2. If you expect the Federation to encourage unsubstantiated and anonymous bleating, I am afraid it is going to be a disappointment to you. Take the "service voting" campaign which started last year on this site. The chain of command were never going to get involved, not for any sinister reason - it was due to a historic constitutional misunderstanding which went back to 1945. What swung it in the end were the reports and complaints from individuals which came in via this site: all reports were rigorously tested, investigated and corroborated and were thus unanswerable.

3. The Fed will not be an exact copy of any other organisations, but you will not find any of the Police Federations or GCG (the representative body for staff at Cheltenham) encouraging anonymous bleating. Why would they? - it's their credibility on the line.
 
#16
Moral courage is as important today as it always has been, no more or less

If the consensus is that the current government undervalues soldiers then this is really no different to the situation that has always existed

Historically democratic governments see their priorities elsewhere it’s something we have always had to deal with whatever the colour of the political party (although I would argue that FAS is a damn sight better worked out than Options for Change ever was)

Currently we have many issues impacting simultaneously
(HERRICK – TELIC – BOWMAN – WFM – JPA etc)
This creates pressure but I am sure that the C of C is concerned and aware of just what a large amount they are asking, after all how could they not be?

A change of attitude is subtly underway, I can see that in my own position 3 years ago the Armies answer to every question was “I will work harder” no problem was insurmountable all it took was the application of more man hours or soldiers.
I see this changing my Regt has just had an inspection where for the first time I saw the issue of Work life balance staffed by the inspecting Officers. Perhaps the C of C has had the moral courage to see there are two sides to every coin.

Moral courage is essential and we should always point out the fall out from decisions made, at the same time the old saying “discussion to the point of decision” needs remembering once the order is given get on with it.

As a last point Gen Colin Powell states that “Perpetual Optimism is a force multiplier” a cracking point I think, before we get up the moral courage to tell the world the cup is half empty maybe we should get the courage to tell the world the cup is half full.
 
#18
Ramillies said:
Senior officers not speaking up for their soldiers - be it perceived or otherwise - has been around for years and is nothing new. There will always be this accusation as long as we have an Army and a rank structure. It is the same in civilian life re senior directors.
Yes - it has long been a problem. The opinion I formed whilst serving was that the seniors did not see problems in the same way as juniors and did not accept a need for action. "That's how it was when I joined and it never did me any harm" syndrome. I found the same attitude amongst my older directors even in a company that won awards for its methods and HR/personnel organisation. "Oh - the fitters always complain about that sort of thing"
I deliberately set out above to find a definition for moral courage. I see it as a very rare event that real moral courage is called upon. Ethics and respect quite often enter into civdiv life and what would have been called moral fibre would deal with the problem. In the services, the need for sheer physical courage and bravery overtakes any consideration of moral courage. Kill or be killed is a great decision maker.
 
#19
Outstanding said:
If an order is considered illegal, is it moral courage, cowardice, good or poor military discipline to challenge it?
Please review your answers in the context of the SAS trooper who backed away.................
Oh - and was not lesson one on day one of JNCO training something about "never give an order you know will not/cannot be obeyed"?
Surely the level of the action ordered is significant - e.g. Prince of Darkness refusing to go head to head with Russian forces over occupying an airstrip requires moral courage. To decline to go on patrol with coalition troops will not have the same effect - as we have seen.
 
#20
It may also be significant that morally challenging military decisions are easier to take without the input or involvement of political mandarins. No doubt had certain decisions been referred for political confirmation, their outcome would have been different. Perhaps it is the element of political control over military judgement which creates the impasse?
 

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