Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Military commanders and the conduct of just war—a study of the moral dilemmas Commanding Officers face in combat and the training they are given to solve them
by Reinboth, Johan N. R., M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2010, 68; 10305789
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis focuses on the commanding officers as moral agents of the states they represent. Given their mission to win and their obligation of following the rules of armed conflict, are there moral dilemmas reserved to the commanding officer? How do they perceive the training they are given to solve their moral dilemmas?

I discuss and answer these questions based on a survey of commanding officers (n=9), representing different nations and different service branches.

There are five groups of universal dilemmas faced by commanding officers in combat. Facing these dilemmas, the principle of proportionality in contemporary warfare seems to be on its way out. There is a gap in time between officer school graduation and deployment in which military ethics and moral dilemmas are not exercised, but the perception of the gap as critical is dependent on the officer’s rate of deployment. The experience gained in real-time situations represented the most useful “training” of moral dilemmas, suggests two things: Firstly, the lower the deployment rate, the greater the need for ethical and moral training, yet the less useful is the basic officer training (BOT) and pre-deployment training (PDT) perceived to be. Secondly, armed forces need to be continously engaged in armed conflict to ensure operational readiness.

Keywords: Commanding officers; Just war theory; Jus in bello; Moral dilemmas; Military ethics

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Trinquand, Dominique
Commitee: Beardsworth, Richard
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: International Affairs
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Military studies
Keywords: Combat, Commanding officers, Ethical dilemmas, Jus in bello, Just war, Military ethics
Publication Number: 10305789
ISBN: 978-1-369-49353-5
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