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Army in final steps of defining service 'ethic'

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2014) -- As guests of Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, about 100 Army civilians within the Senior Executive Service met today, at the National Defense University here, to discuss and provide input on a new addition to Army doctrine called the "Army Ethic."

This coming June, the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, will release the second edition of the Army Doctrine Reference Publication 1, called "The Army Profession." This time around, that publication will contain an entire chapter dedicated to defining the Army Ethic, something that was mentioned only in brief in the first edition of ADRP 1 in June 2013.

At the National Defense University, Army civilians discussed options for integration of the Army Ethic throughout the professional development process for Army civilians and provided their thoughts on how to strengthen morale, retention, and esprit within the Army Civilian Corps.

"We think of ourselves as ethical people," McHugh said. "We have standards and measurements by which we guide our lives -- it's kind of the glue that holds our society together."

But he said person to person, ethical standards vary. And that is why there needs to be a unifying ethic for the Army.

"As an organization, we really need to think of ourselves more as a single organism, as a single profession," he said. "Which means it's better if we can come together, if we can come to the most common understanding we can as to what it means to be an Army professional and what it means to live the Army ethic."

The secretary asked senior Army civilians for their "honest reactions" and "candid input" regarding a proposed version of the Army Ethic. The document has already been seen by and commented on by officers attending the May 2014 class of the Command and General Staff College. Additionally, two-star Army generals had their own chance to provide input in July during a forum hosted by Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

"What I hope we can all take away from today's effort ... we have to have that shared vision among all of us -- uniform and civilian -- because we are one Army and we are very proud of that fact," McHugh said. "And we have to reinforce guidance we generate here today on how we live the Army ethic."

McHugh told the civilians he needed their "observations, and council, on how we can integrate these principles throughout our professional development effort. It has to permeate the entire Army -- civilian and military."

The current draft Army ethic defines a "trusted Army professionals" as being three things: "honorable servants of the nation -- professionals of character;" "military experts -- competent professionals;" and "stewards of the Army profession -- committed professionals."

"As trusted Army professionals, we strive to be honorable military experts, and servants, and stewards of the army -- as a professional institution -- and do the right thing by the people who are entrusted to us," he said. "That is our identity. That is who we claim we are ... As we practice this profession we must uphold the Army ethic, and reflect a common understanding of why we serve and how we serve in defense of the American people."

McHugh said Army professionals serve out of love of country, love of the Army, love of the Army family and of the American people.

"We come, contrary to the thoughts of many, to preserve the peace," he said. "As we put it, to prevent, shape and win in a complex world. We are committing to do our duty to lead this nation into a more peaceful environment."

The Army professional, McHugh said, contributes to the common defense, defends American values such as those spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and serves "not to promote war, but rather to preserve peace."

The Army professional also serves ethically, he said. "We demonstrate character; we serve effectively with professional competence, efficiently ... taking care of our Army, our people, our resources."