Chairman promises vigorous military ethics campaign

10 Feb 2014 | Jim Garamone

Recent lapses in military ethics have Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey's full attention, and he promises a military campaign to reinvigorate the profession of arms.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the pledge in statements he issued following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's Feb. 7 news conference on the issue.
"This challenge didn't accumulate overnight, and it won't be solved overnight," he said.

Dempsey noted the importance of understanding the challenge that ethical lapse pose to the military, adding that military officials must continue to "see the challenge clearly and precisely."

"Acts of crime, misconduct, ethical breaches, command climate and stupidity each require a distinct solution," he said. "But the overall solution is attention to who we are as a profession. And that's my focus."

The American people have high regard for their military, and in most cases, the chairman said, that high regard is well-deserved.

"The overwhelming majority of our military leaders are tremendous professionals and citizens who show up to serve, to bring their best, and often sacrifice greatly," he said. "There will always be those who let down the team and the nation, and when they do, we will hold them accountable."

"The trust of the American people, and frankly, the trust our young troops place in us as leaders, is too important," he continued. "We can't afford to let the transgressions of the few undermine the trust and credibility of our entire profession."

Dempsey began his campaign to highlight the profession of arms even before he became chairman. He began looking at the effects of prolonged war on the profession when he served as the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. This picked up speed when he served as the Army chief of staff, and expanded when he became chairman.

During a recent interview, Dempsey said he views the campaign in military terms – a campaign in the military vocabulary implies a series of actions, all intended to converge on a desired outcome.

"The desired outcome in this campaign is that the force rekindles its understanding and resolve as a profession and then recommits itself to that which makes us a profession: our unique skills and attributes, commitment to continuing education, and the agreement to live to a specific set of values," he said.

Still, the chairman said, it is not the war that caused these ethical lapses. "It is the pace, and our failure to understand that at that pace, we were neglecting the tools that manage us as a profession over time," he said.

Headquarters Marine Corps