Army leaders who’ve been prompted to rethink tactics and war-fighting doctrines because of Iraq and Afghanistan also see a need to re-examine how they educate soldiers about ethics.


Army leaders who’ve been prompted to rethink tactics and war-fighting doctrines because of Iraq and Afghanistan also see a need to re-examine how they educate soldiers about ethics.

Some of the interest in ethics is tied to the wars: the black eye of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, concerns that stress from unconventional conflict leads to bad decisions, and, for at least one retired general, the sense that the military lost the public’s trust in Iraq. But some leaders also say the Army has worried for a while that it hasn’t been doing a good enough job of instilling strong ethics.

Officials at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and at Fort Leavenworth, home to the Army’s Command and General Staff College, are still in the early stages of developing the material they’ll blend into handbooks, papers, online presentations and videos they use to train soldiers. Officers involved in the effort say that eventually a soldier’s grounding in ethics — strong or weak — will become a factor in promotions.

The Army’s efforts to rethink its training on ethics received a boost this fall, when Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot pledged $6.1 million to a private foundation supporting programs at Fort Leavenworth’s command college. One result is a new chairmanship in ethics — the kind of post universities set up for academic areas they deem important.

“It can’t be, ‘Today we’ll do ethics training and that will do for the year,’” said Brig. Gen. Ed Cardon, deputy commandant of the Fort Leavenworth college. “It has to be ingrained in everything we do, on and off duty.”

Much of the discussion among Army leaders remains general, with few details yet about exactly how their desire for better ethics training will translate into day-to-day operations.