Dannatt: Military must teach morals
08 November 2011
The military must place as much importance on personnel's moral training as it does their physical development and set a moral example for the rest of society to follow, according to former Chief of the General Staff General Lord Dannatt.
In a speech to theology thinktank Theos, Dannatt will argue that society is no longer providing new recruits with "an understanding of the core values and standards of behaviour required by the military".
"The competing pressures of an evolving society, where individualism dominates and the utility of armed force is openly debated, and in an increasingly complex operating environment – all this combines to make the mental and moral preparation of our soldiers as important as their physical training," he will say.
"They must be able to kill and show compassion at the same time; they must be loyal to their country, their regiment and their friends without compromising their own integrity."
Dannatt will say some of the revelations from the Baha Mousa inquiry about the bad treatment of detainees in British custody were "unforgivable".
"All our soldiers must know that collectively and individually, we can, and should, and will be called to account when things go wrong."
He will argue that while British soldiers "must be able to extract information from captured enemy forces in a timely manner to avoid future loss of life… they must do so within the rule of law".
The former head of the army will also say the military should look to produce moral individuals in an effort to boost moral standards in society at large.
"Given that much of our society is pretty unstructured these days, and given that the military has the unique opportunity to educate its own into the importance of a proper moral understanding, then perhaps the military community may have a wider contribution that it can make to the nation."
HAVE YOUR SAY
08 November 2011
While I agree that the UK military training establishments play an increasingly important role in preparing recruits for future service life, I do not think the 'moral' problem is as bad as it is perceived to be. The vast majority of teenage recruits inherently know the difference between 'right' and 'wrong', it is only when presented with poor role models that they may be confused. The riots this year were a perfect illustration that a very small number of people who decided to live outside the normal rules of society attracted a small but significant number of followers. What was unexpected was society rejecting their excuses and calling for harsher punishment than was at that time available. That demonstrated to me that societal structure is still alive, albeit slightly dormant!
Where UK military can assist is in instilling into recruits the necessity of teamwork and 'family values' that are as vital today as they were 50 years ago. It is no coincidence that these values are absent as many recruits prior to joining have not had a stable family life and the concept of looking after your comrades (or enemy prisoners) may be alien to all they have previously experienced.
AW Employee - Yeovil