Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethics for the military officer: Teaching ethics at the maneuver support center for engineer officers
by Dissmore, Peter O., D.Min., Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2009, 250; 3359877
Abstract (Summary)

Upon entry into the United States Army, students are required to follow the ethical guidelines for their new profession. This requires them to understand basic ethical principles universal to humanity, as well as those specific to the profession of arms. American soldiers must understand the reasons for which they fight; otherwise, they may commit war crimes by going after the wrong objective. Tragedies, such as the Abu Ghraib scandal, are things the Army seeks to avoid. Such violations also increase the propensity for Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.

To address this need for ethical decision-making instruction, I, as the assigned chaplain, presented a class on Ethical Decision-Making to over 1600 lieutenants and captains at the Maneuver Support Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri between August 2005 and February 2009. I taught monthly classes to the lieutenants attending the Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course and quarterly classes to the captains attending the Engineer Captains Career Course.

Instruction focused on understanding how each person derives his or her ethical principles and on the ethical decision-making model as described in the army regulations. It also gave the students a basic understanding of some of the major ethical theories as well as how to make ethical decisions in a combat environment, where killing may be required. Though the course content is presented from a secular perspective, it was enhanced from the project’s biblical-theological literature pertaining to ethical decision-making, focusing primarily on the Ten Commandments and a possible clash of values. It also reviewed the general literature relevant to military issues, especially combat and the Just War Theory. Following the Just War principles helps the soldier to fight better during the war and live better following the war—at peace with themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their nation.

Course examinations and ongoing dialogue with students provided quantitative and qualitative assessment of the project. In addition, students were required to use the ethical decision-making process in selected practical exercise scenarios. Results of the primary practical exercise are shown in Appendix I. As shown there, during the span of this study I observed an increased understanding of ethical principles and the ability to make tough ethical decisions for combat.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hernando, James D.
School: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
Department: Doctor of Ministry Department
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Military studies, Philosophy
Keywords: Chaplaincy, Just war, Just war theory, Military chaplains, Public prayer, War
Publication Number: 3359877
ISBN: 978-1-109-22742-0
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