CALL to HIGHER Duty: Explicit Core Value Principles for All America’s Defenders

By Gordon L. Campbell, US Army Logistic Management College

Why do the services have different “CORE Values”? Are the fundamental purposes and missions of the Air Force, Army and Navy & Marine Corps, at their very core, so different as to necessitate the accentuation of three sets of different core values? This paper takes the position of “No”. It reviews the various “Core Values” programs of the services and highlights their weaknesses both in philosophic theory and application. By integration of “explanatory documents and presentations” from high levels within each of the services themselves, it concludes with the formulation of explicit core value principles for all of America’s defenders.


Many years ago I was counseled by a "young", brash, below-the-zone Army 06 (who, by the way, retired a General Officer--so I presume he knew something) to adhere to three simple rules when designing any program: 1. Make it “Snuffy Proof”. 2. Remember, nothing is “Snuffy Proof”. 3. Follow Rule #1.

Although his advice was given for weapon system program management, I feel it should also be rigorously applied to any program of character development. Simply put, are the core values, as expressed by each of the services, “Snuffy Proof”? That is to say, are they fairly simple, easy to remember and explicit--do they mean what they say or do they require lengthy explanations? Are they whole and complete--do they require additional “implicit” values or can they stand on their own? Has the reduction of the number of “core values”, presumably for brevity, been a self-defeating, pseudo reductivist exercise--has potential, if not actual, ambiguity regarding the nature of proper conduct been increased by reducing focus on only a few concepts? Do the values as currently expressed by the services accentuate for the soldier, either explicitly or implicitly, why the values of the military should be any different than that of the rest of society, their home town or neighborhood? Finally, do the “core values” of your service embody the reasons you joined it and/or stay--are these the values for which you are willing to fight, kill, die and order others to do the same?




The core values of the military must be commensurate with the values of the society which it both represents and protects. If it does not, it will lose its legitimacy. This and other concepts are explored and discussed by various authors in The Military and the Problem of Legitimacy. A single conclusion reached by authors of various different ideologies was that military legitimacy may be closely linked to the political unity between the military and the nation-state, with political unity strengthened by common ideological values permeating both the military and society. Example: "In examining the relation of the army to society one has, then, to take into account, among other things, problems of morality and customs and the specific moral principles binding on career soldiers and resulting from the nature of the social roles they play. In addition we must consider the common elements appearing both in the morality of society as a whole and in the morality of a defined professional group. This leads to more general problems far outstripping the relation of the army to society, that is to problems of professional ethics, their genesis, character and function and particularly to the relation between the morality of particular professional groups and the morality of society as a whole."



The core values expressed by the services do not appear to be in danger of conflicting with the values of our society. I will return to the basis for this determination later in the paper. I do question, however, whether or not they adequately embody the difference between being a member of the military as opposed to just a member of the general civilian population. After all, if you agree that though the military is a part of society, being a member of the military is different, then shouldn’t the core values of the military also embody what is central to that distinction?


In remarks delivered during the Air Force Academy’s Commandant’s Leadership Series (November 8, 1995) , Air Force Chief of Staff, General Ronald R. Fogleman clearly bracketed distinctions unique to being a military member of our society. I excerpt the following: We’re entrusted with the security of our nation. The tools of our trade are lethal, and we engage in operations that involve risk to human life and untold national treasure. Because of what we do, our standards must be higher than those of society at large. The American public expects it of us and properly so. In the end, we earn the respect and trust of the American public because of the integrity that we demonstrate. To make sure we stay focused on the right things, we require all members of our profession to take an oath. In addition to this oath, we also ascribe to what the noted British soldier-scholar, General, Sir John Hackett, calls the “unlimited liability” clause. Simply said, in the pursuit of the profession of arms if you are called upon to lay down your life for your country, for your family, for your fellow Americans, you’re expected to do so. And its is no big thing. It is just a part of this profession that you’ve embarked upon. No other profession entails such a commitment.


Ethos: DUTY


THE UNITED STATES ARMY ETHIC: Four Professional Values


While I believe a few other professions may take legitimate exception to the General’s last sentence, it is the oath, with its unlimited liability provision, combined with the duty to command the most expensive and deadliest arsenal on the planet, that sets the military apart from the rest of society.

It is this duty, and the oath which establishes the broad parameters in which it is to be conducted, indeed establishes the very raison detre of our existence, which sets the military apart. To paraphrase General Fogleman, our standards must be higher than those of society at large because we have answered the call to higher duty. General Fogleman ended his address suggesting reflection upon a quote from General Robert E. Lee: Duty is the sublimest word in the English language; you should do your duty in all things. You can never do more. You should never wish to do less. Upon reflection, if duty is central to the distinction between the military and the society it both represents and protects, should it not be explicitly cited as a core military value? Only the Army consistently and explicitly recognizes it as such. A paper presented at last year’s Joint Service's Conference on Professional Ethics, suggested the expansion of the Army Core Values to seven. These seven now constitute the Army Core Values of the Character Development XXI initiative. However, while initially citing first four "Professional Values", then three and now seven Core Values, the Army always supplements the lists with additional "Soldier Values" / "Professional Qualities": 1991: FM 100-1 Commitment Competence Candor Courage 1994 & XXI: Commitment Candor Courage Compassion Competence Additionally, the paper placed "Duty", quite appropriately, as the center point of a proposed “Moral Compass”.




The new expanded value set results in a more representative list of the Army Core Values. It, however, like the lists from the other services, is incomplete. I will use the excellent analogy of the proposed "moral compass" as a means of explanation. As currently constructed, the moral compass is worse than useless: it is dangerous. It offers no guidance to the disoriented or truly lost. It is not a “moral” compass. It is, at best, an “amoral” compass. Worse, it can be an “immoral” compass utilized to rationalize improper conduct. Worse still, in the hands of the morally bankrupt and disingenuous, it can be used to lead others to commit acts of evil.


For those who may find my criticism overly harsh, I ask to consider one of the "greatest" leaders in American history. A man whose genius, charisma and organizational ability allowed him to go from rags to riches and create an international syndicate whose remnants are with us today. A public figure of dubious distinction whose warped ego-centric world view would allow him to genuinely say this compass not only made him the man he was but was strictly adhered to by his followers. Though, again, extremely warped, a man with a sense of honor and integrity, whose courage allowed him to succeed in the face of incredible odds, who gave and demanded respect, loyalty and selfless service in the performance of duty--that is to say, duty to serve him. The man: Al Capone.


The addition of a single principle would totally negate this analogy. It is a value which is essential for the success of any hierarchical organization: Honesty. Simple honesty: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; candid, sincere, with no intent to deceive, honesty. Yet, one can truly say that honesty is not a core value of the U.S. military services. Look at the lists. This omission, especially given the values explicitly espoused, could indeed explain much. Evasive Honesty?

At times this was a non answer. It was meant to be evasive, and it was…I tried to avoid telling outright lies. But I certainly wasn't telling the truth. Under Fire, by Oliver North, p. 322.

Prosecutor: The consequence was lies to Congress?

LTC North: Yes…I was not under oath. Testimony to Congress, 14 August 1990

It could explain that out of preserving the “honor” of his service, and out of commitment to his program, a well trained Flag Officer would submit egregiously false progress reports to his superiors, to eventually be presented to Congress, in order to secure program funding. A program reported to be on schedule for first flight only weeks away, while in actuality, the assembly complex still had tape marks on the floor to indicate where the manufacturing equipment was to be located. It could explain the fabrication of an intricate tale of homosexuality, sabotage, murder and suicide (including the maligning of the dead killed in the line of duty) to preserve the “honor” of their service and battleship. It could explain loss of memory regarding Tail Hook, “Blood Wings”, academy cheating scandals, and a host of other incidents. Could it also explain "evasive honesty"? The “loyalty” and “honor” represented in these cases would make Scarface proud.


Fortunately, of course, honesty is regarded as essential by military leadership. Again, General Fogleman: You report the good, the bad and the ugly up the chain to your superiors. It's much better for your boss to find out the problems directly from you, than after the fact when you've failed in a mission, or unnecessarily endangered lives or resources.

The bottom line is we don't lie. There is no substitute for honesty and integrity in our profession. What we do is just too important.

In the end, integrity means having the courage to take responsibility for your actions and those of your subordinates.

Former Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall, also in remarks to the Air Force Academy, stated: Integrity first. Integrity is essential. It's the inner voice, the sound of self control, the basis for the trust that is imperative in today's military. In this world of "me first" and relative ethics, fairness and honesty are still hallmarks of the military officer. The Navy "home page" discusses honesty in its explanation of the Core Value "Honor": "…Be honest and truthful in our dealings with each other, and those outside the Navy;…" Likewise, the Army ( in the new seven value code) places its incorporation of honesty under honor. Like the Air Force, however, it attempts to incorporate honesty under integrity in its four professional value configuration, while the Navy places integrity under Honor. Do you think Snuffy is following this? All three services accentuate the importance of honesty. All three services, however, do so only implicitly. This implicit incorporation, I believe, if not erroneous, at least stretches definitions of "honor" and "integrity" beyond their bounds. Additionally, this implicit incorporation might also be easily interpreted as an implicit subordination: In a choice of Honor or Honesty, Honor wins--remember Big Al, and the examples cited above. Let's replace obfuscation with obfirmation. Since, amazingly enough, we actually have agreement of all three services that honesty is critical, why not simply state that "Honesty" is a Core Value for all the services in the U.S. military? Before searching for other areas of tri-service agreement, let's more closely examine "Honor" and "Integrity". HONOR I believe this term is being grossly misused and therefore may be easily abused. The establishment of an organizational set of core values is done as a guide for the individual members of the organization, not the organization itself. Simply put, any actions of the organization are the products of its members. Therefore, to have "Honor" as an organizational core value could very well be confusing and/or provide a convenient individual rationalization: i.e., "I covered it up to preserve the honor of the service" mentality. "Honor", whether examined as a noun or a transitive verb, is not an attribute of an individual or something an individual gives to oneself. It is an external recognition. Furthermore, it is an external recognition based upon a perception. Deception, leading to erroneous perception, can falsely earn an "honor". Conversely, exemplary actions gone unperceived, will fail to earn the recognition of honor they deserve. The most an individual can do and that which we as an organization should want them to do, is to be publicly honorable. In other words, conduct yourself at all times and in such a manner as to be worthy of receiving "a public honor" regardless of whether your actions are noticed. Honorable conduct must be distinguished from conduct done solely to protect honor. This, of course, begs the question of what type of action, conduct or accomplishment is worthy of "a public honor". The winning of the Pulitzer Prize is an honor, regardless of whether the author is a professional writer, academic, student, journalist, housewife, or inmate on death row. The latter honored recipient, however, may not, as a person, be viewed as honorable. "Honorable", therefore, is a collective which we need to define. But first, let's look at integrity.


The word integrity is derived from the Latin word integritas, meaning wholeness or soundness which, in turn is derived from integer, meaning untouched, whole, or entire. It is the quality of being complete. Thus, like "Honorable", integrity is a collective made up of various qualities which requires explicit definition. The Air Force "Little Blue Book" containing their Core Values recognizes this nature of integrity: Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity, for example, is capable of acting on conviction…But integrity also contains several other moral traits… It then goes on to delineate, complete with definitions, the following moral traits: Courage, Honesty, Responsibility, Accountability, Justice, Openness, Self-Respect, Humility

I personally believe these are wonderful traits. Indeed, I would be pleased to work for, with, or have work for me anyone with these traits. My question is: Why are they implicit? Let's not forget Snuffy. Perhaps its time for a test. 1. OK, Snuffy, the Air Force has three core values. Now remember, the first one has eight traits--what is the value and what are the traits?

2. The second value describes four important behaviors--what is the value and what are the behaviors?

3. Finally, the last value consists of five different types, one of which has two special categories--what is the value and what are the types and categories?

A truer, "expanded", representation of the Air Force Core Values would be much larger.


I think I am safe in stating the United States Air Force Core Values are not Snuffy proof. I can categorically state they are not "Senior Officer" proof. Currently enrolled as a student at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), I have had easy and casual access to senior officers with highly varied backgrounds and tremendous experience from all the services. This afforded me an excellent opportunity to examine how well the services' various core values are known within a "high-test" sampling of their officer corps. Since my objective was to discover what the officer corps knew regarding their service's core values, as opposed to what they could "look up", I selected an interview type of inquiry instead of a written survey. I restricted my inquiry to two simple questions with the second question requesting an open ended explanation of the respondent's position: 1. What are the Core Values of the ? (Appropriate service for interviewee asked). 2. Should the Core Values of the Services be different? Why or why not?


INTEGRITY FIRST Includes: Courage, Honesty, Responsibility, Accountability, Justice, Openness, Self-respect, Humility

SERVICE BEFORE SELF Behavior which: Follows the rules, Respects Others, Has Discipline & Self-control, Controls: Anger Appetites, Exhibits: Religious toleration, Demonstrates Faith in the system

EXCELLENCE IN ALL WE DO Means: Product/service excellence, Personal excellence Community Excellence Requires: Mutual respect, Benefit of the doubt, Resources Excellence Includes: Material resources excellence, Human resources excellence, Operations Excellence: Includes: Excellence of internal operations, Excellence of external operations

The forum for my questions varied. Some were done "one on one" while others were done in groups of two to six. All participants (24 in total) were told their responses would be used on a personal nonattribution basis, but would be attributed to their service. In the group sessions I required the respondents to individually answer the first question without discussion. The responses I received to question number one had 100% sampling consistency across the services: They were either wrong or admitted they didn't know. The responses to question number two, similarly, had 100% sampling consistency across the services. The responses indicated, at the basic level, the core values of all the services should be the same. The only differentiation between the services should in their "Competencies": Service "Core Values" should be the same; Service "Competencies" may differ. Here is a representative sample, by service, of some of the more interesting responses I received:

1. What are the Core Values of the ? Navy: --I know there are four attributes, but immediately, off the top of my head, I can't answer you. --I don't know. Marines: --You got me. Can I look it up? --So much for meeting expectations. Army: --Let's see, there are four: Integrity, selfless service…Well I got two, right? --Oh boy. If I were a Marine I could pull out my little card… --No--are you kidding? The Army has a video, I can get it for if you want. --No. What good is it? Important? Yes, but not the way its used. Its a trivia game.

Air Force: --Give me awhile and I can get them for you. --Integrity & Honesty. Integrity is the key one… --Let's see, Integrity, Accountability, Dedication…I think there are a couple more. No? Hmm, well maybe those are ________ Command's values. They're different from the Air Force.

2. Should the Core Values of the Services be different? Why or why not? Navy: --No. I should hope they are the same values I'm trying to teach my kids. --This is a trick question. They are the same--aren't they? --Yes, unless you mean overarching values like Integrity and Honesty. If that's what we're talking about, then they should be the same. If you're talking about competencies, then there'll be differences.

Marines: --No, the "Core Values" should be the same. The "Competencies" will be different.

Army: --No, they should be the same. Core Values should be basic. They should be the basis for what we do.

--No, but only if it doesn't add to the trivia. All these different trivia contests need to be dumped and replaced with single program that means something. Good luck to anybody that can make that happen.

--No, but how are you going to make it meaningful? If you can get your arms around that, I'm all for it.

--No. How can we possibly have "JOINTNESS" if our Core Values are different? Air Force: No. The Core Values, emphasis "CORE", need to be the same. I mean, come on, were talking basics here: "JOINT" means "CORE".

No! There are too many…laundry lists. This should not be rocket science. The nation's values should be equal to ours.

No. They should not be different. In fact, they should be the same as for every U.S. citizen.


Based upon the results of my sampling, it would appear the different values programs of the three services share some universal commonalties: 1. Senior officers do not know the contents of their respective service core values program. 2. Senior officers believe the military services should have the same "core values".

In addition to the above, I found two recurring themes very interesting: A. Shared "Core Values" are necessary for "Jointness". B. Military Values should be the same as the Nation's. Both the two commonalties and the two themes need to be addressed. While all four could be rolled up into a single assessment [senior officers (regardless of service) don't know the core values of their services, but believe they should be the same for all services and the nation], I believe separate examination may glean some useful insights. I will begin with the recurring themes.


A student project paper prepared in last year's ICAF class (1997) identified the following need : With the passage of the Goldwater Nichols Act in 1986, many aspects of DOD operations were integrated and streamlined. Common policies, practices, and doctrine emerged to rationalize activity between the services for unity of effort and impact. What has not evolved is a joint military ethic. Each of the Services has a separate ethical code as a vision for its service members. A joint service ethic is important at this juncture. It would provide a comprehensive statement that would link and synchronize the values of each of the services, and ensure consistency as service-specific ethics evolve. Joint duty supersedes individual service parochialism. As our Armed Forces continue adapting to this reality, a single, joint ethic becomes necessary to provide all service members the common touchstone needed to maintain the public trust and execute their responsibilities with the good of the entire military establishment and the nation at heart. This paper recognizes each service has a different "ethic" and views it as a problem. Its proposed solution is the creation of an "overarching ethical code". This, in a joint environment, is necessary because: The strong authority which the military requires can lead to abuse of power if not wielded in compliance with a clear ethical code. The complex operations the military engages in today require strong cohesive units and effective teamwork. These depend on a high level of trust which must build on adherence to a common ethical code. My findings agree with their assessed need for a "common ethic" for military personnel, but parts company as to the solution. The need is for an identical value code, not another code to tie different codes together. After all, if senior officers don't know their respective service "core values" now, do you think, in the words of one respondent, "another …list" is going to help?




Another flaw of this proposed solution is to examine its fundamental implication. Let's have a little fun with this one. Suppose you were given charge of a new joint operation and had the authority to hand pick your small team, carte blanche, from across the services. The first thing you do is examine the mission profile to determine what competencies are going to be required. This is pretty straight forward. You breathe a sigh of relief upon finding many of the competencies you require appear to be shared by at least two services. This is good because the next step is tougher: matching the values required for the competencies to the explicit values of the services in order to successfully complete the mission. Let's see, Competency A is going to require absolute integrity if we're going to pull this off. Well, obviously, that lets the Navy out. Fortunately the Air Force shares that competency. Competency B needs unbridled courage for mission success. Forget the Air Force on this one. Lucky for us we have the Marines. This mission demands the loyalty of Argus for Competency C. That leaves the Army as the only game in town for this one. Competency D calls for selfless service or is it service before self? No matter, its beyond the Navy or the Marines, we'll have to make do with the Army or Air Force. You contemplate the requirement for this step and conclude how unnecessary it would be if there were but one more ethical code to fill in the gaps between the services…


Several respondents stated, not only that military values should be the same regardless of Service affiliation, but they should be the same as the rest of the nation's. I found this result fascinating. Remember the conclusion of the previously cited book, The Military and the Problem of Legitimacy: while the values do not have to be identical between the military and its society, military legitimacy may be closely linked to the political unity between the military and the nation-state, with political unity strengthened by common ideological values permeating both the military and society. This, of course, begs the question: Does the United States have a set of identifiable "Core Values"?

Core Ethical Values

1. HONESTY - - truthful, straight-forward, sincere, candid; doesn’t mislead or deceive 2. INTEGRITY/PRINCIPLED -- courage of convictions; stands up for beliefs; puts principle over expediency 3. PROMISE-KEEPING -- always strives to keep commitments; reliable, dependable 4. FIDELITY-LOYALTY -- doesn’t talk behind your back; faithful to friends, employer, country, and duties 5. FAIRNESS -- strives to be equitable, open, just; not prejudiced; doesn’t discriminate on improper basis 6. CARING/COMPASSION -- considerate, kind sharing, charitable, unselfish 7. RESPECT FOR OTHERS -- respects freedoms, dignity and rights of others 8. CIVIC DUTY -- abides by laws and rule; participates, does his/her share 9. PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE --does best; pride in work; responsible to those who depend on him/her 10. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY/ACCOUNTABILITY -- considers consequences and accepts responsibility for actions and inaction's; doesn’t shift blame or make excuses

The Josephson Institute of Ethics generated ten ethical values which they advocate as the ethical foundation of American culture. They refer to these as "Consensus Ethical Principles". Over the past ten years these principles have been confirmed through discussions and surveys of thousands of participants as core ethical values. I have personally instructed well over a thousand students using a similar methodology with results which also consistently validate the acceptance of these principles. While I, for one, do not believe that "consensus" is necessarily the best way to determine ethical values, societal agreement is necessary if they are to serve an influential purpose. In other words, any normative system must have a widespread basis of acceptance. Given my personal belief that an ethical system should be based upon rigorous ratiocination, I compared the Josephson Core Ethical Principles to the "Moral Rules" ethical theory and system created, in perhaps the paradigm of reductionism, by Bernard Gert. The breadth and scope of the "Moral Rules" are often narrower than the Core Ethical Principles (Caring/Compassion; Respect for Others and particularly Pursuit of Excellence could be interpreted as "Ideals" within Gert's system)… Only the Pursuit of Excellence principle lacks a clear correlation. Given the apparent "face validity" (acceptance through consensus by samples of the general public) combined with their firm grounding (9 of 10) in an ethics based in reason as opposed to culture or religion, I suggest that the nine Core Ethical Principles which correlate to Gert's Moral Rules … serve as a valid baseline from which to make the determination that the various Service "Core Values" programs share a common ideological root with that of "civilian" society. Additionally, these "CORE 10" are nearly identical to the "Primary Ethical Values" found in Chapter 12, Section 5 of the Joint Ethics Regulation (JER, DoD 5500.7-R). Of course, this last reference, a DoD 5000 series regulation, begs the additional question: Why do the services feel it necessary to unofficially "supplement" the JER's "Primary Ethical Values" with their own "Core Values"?

An obvious reply, based upon my findings, would be if senior officers cannot recall three or four words, or three short phrases, how can anyone possibly expect them to know the contents of Chapter 12, Section 5 of the Joint Ethics Regulation-- a document known primarily to JAG Officers, DoD academicians, and the Service Acquisition Corps. The JER does not pass the "Snuffy Test". Another response would be the objective is more than just ethics.


Man has been contemplating the nature and application of Ethics for centuries. Approaches vary from discussions of the theoretical nature of good and evil (meta-ethics) to the establishment of systems to aid in making decisions regarding good and evil (normative ethics). An intellectually persuasive normative system is, of course, difficult to construct unless you have grounded it in some type of meta-ethical framework. Therefore many ethical approaches are blends of each. As noted previously, there are many diverse approaches to ethics. Whether one is a proponent of ethical reductionism or prefers a nonreductive, virtue approach to ethics, the singular problem of gaining public acceptance still remains. …a normative system must be justified. As long as any value system of the military is clearly commensurate with the values of the public, it will be "justified" by consensus. The problem then becomes one of putting this normative system into practice. The transition from philosophical acceptance to consistent daily application, is after all, what is desired. Before we get there, however, there is a little matter of inculcating our target population with a value set. Therefore, we need to construct a meaningful value set that can be easily taught, remembered, applied and reinforced by example. These principles are ancient. Borrowing from Cicero, St. Augustine stated the objective of an orator is to: ...teach to delight, and to move. Of these, teaching is the most essential. To teach is a necessity, to delight is beauty, to persuade is a triumph. Now of these three, the one first mentioned, the teaching, which is a matter of necessity, depends on what we say; the other two on the way we say it. St. Augustine's premise is simple. Rhetoric is a tool available to both those who teach falsehoods and those who teach truth. If the former can teach their falsehoods briefly, clearly, plausibly and in such a manner that will place their audience in a friendly, receptive frame of mind (remember "Al"), while the latter tells the truth in such a manner that is "tedious to listen to" and "hard to understand" , who will be listened to? Additionally, the teacher should be able to "argue and speak with wisdom." This means the teacher should be able to readily apply his teaching to situations meaningful to both himself and his students--i.e. not instruct as an ivory tower philosopher. It becomes a matter of choices. Which is easier to understand and more readily applicable: the correct values or their rationalization? Which is then more readily acceptable to a soldier who desires to learn and be a member of the team? In summary, our ability to instruct values should be judged by our ability to be understood, the soldiers ability to readily apply that understanding, and finally the most difficult, our ability to instill the willingness within the soldier to apply them. If "...the truth taught is one that must be carried into practice, and that it is taught for the very purpose of being practiced, it is useless to be persuaded of the truth of what is said, it is useless to be pleased with the manner in which it was said, if it be not so learnt as to be practiced."


The common definition of ethics is "the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment". Ethics instruction, in DoD, has been generally limited to iteration of standards of conduct. This is the legalistic or minimalist approach to ethics. People want to know what they can or cannot do--so we tell them. The implicit assumption being if they follow the conduct standards, they are ethical. The primary definition of ethical, however, is "conformance to moral standards" with the subordinate definition being "conformance to standards of conduct of a given profession". Thus, if our instructional goal was to have ethical soldiers and employees, we have probably failed, for we have only addressed half the definition--the dangerous half. Our concentration on conformance to standards breeds the "if its legal its ethical mentality". Following the law or standard does not necessarily make one ethical. Nazi death camp officer statements to the effect, "I was just following orders", were no defense at Nuremberg--the orders were immoral. Secondly, does following a moral law, order or standard make one ethical if it is followed only due to fear of retribution if you are caught violating it? Thirdly, what more can you do? Laws and standards are baselines--minimal levels of acceptable behavior. It is here where the Services' Values Programs attempt to have an influence: Challenging the individual to grow, to go beyond the minimum expected and become a part of something greater than an employee meeting the position description or a soldier following orders. How can we impart the values (which are behind our laws and standards), the judgment and the desire necessary to go beyond the standards, and perhaps even challenge the standards if necessary? We are now beyond mere ethics, that is to say, doing the right thing. We are in the realm of virtue: Doing more than you are "required" to do.

Content Challenge

Readily applicable and acceptable to all military services

Fosters "Jointness"

Has a common basis in the ideological values of American society

Embodies the distinction of being a member of the American military


Let's summarize what we're looking for: A "Snuffy Proof" multiservice core value system. Based upon our discussion, such a system, if it is to be successful, must overcome requirement challenges in two concomitant dimensions: Content and Disposition.

MNEMONIC GNOME Disposition Challenge

Simple, Explicit, Complete

Easy to: Instruct, Remember, Reinforce, Apply

Well, as they say, I've got some good news and some bad news. First the good news: I believe I've captured the essential implicit values discussed by the services in explaining their Core Values Programs. Additionally, I've incorporated "values" based on the "Five Pillars" of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General C.C. Krulak., which are essential for military success as we move into the 21st Century. The bad news is such incorporation has a price: Quantity. I have identified 11 Core values. Additionally, I've nominally added three descriptors to each Core Value. A little quick math totals 44 "items" for consideration. Snuffy's eyes begin to roll... However, there is more good news. First off, the descriptors are just that: they merely provide analogous or synonymous terminology. Second, the list is explicit and complete. Third, the list, as purposely constructed, utilizes a mnemonic device. It will not only will make remembering, applying and reinforcing the values easy, but also captures the purpose and distinction of being a military member in our society. It is the main title of this paper: C. A. L. L. to H. I. G. H. E. R. Duty.

CALL to HIGHER DUTY Explicit Core Value Principles for All America’s Defenders

COURAGE Chivalrous Confident Stout-Hearted

ACCOUNTABILITY Professional Reliable Responsible

LEADERSHIP Appropriate Perceptive Role-Model

LEARNING Continuous Improvement Pursuit of Excellence Resourceful

HONESTY Truthful Candid Sincere

INTEGRITY Principled Honorable Courage of Conviction

GOVERNANCE Regulated Discreet Self-Controlled

HUMILITY Modest Subordinate Self-Critical

EMPATHY Compassionate Humane Encouraging

RESPECT Courteous Dignified Just


Loyal to Military Oath


Service before Self


I believe the principles selected are fairly straight forward and self explanatory. They incorporate, as principles, the concerns expressed by all the services in their individual lists and explanations. They are not, however, merely a conglomeration of the values of the three services. There are some slight differences and additional principles. These will be briefly discussed. Trust

"Shared organizational values make possible the trust that underlies the relationships among the constituents of the organization.

Trust begins by carefully defining individual and corporate expectations.

Trust, then, in the sense in which we are using the word, is not about adherence to codes or procedures but rather about adherence to values."

Integrity & Honor: Previously, I described why "honorable" should be the focus for a normative system vice "honor". I also described both "honorable" and "integrity" as collectives, that is, descriptions which incorporate more than a single value. Note that I placed honorable as a descriptor of integrity. Integrity is further described with "Principled" and "Courage of Conviction". What principles? What convictions? The answer is simply the remaining ten core values. Integrity is the ability, and the willingness, to use all the values together at all times--not to pick and choose for your best advantage. Such conduct is honorable. Such conduct ferments trust. Loyalty I also described problems with the concept of loyalty, i.e. it can easily be misconstrued. Rightly understood and used, however, it is essential. Note I placed the concept as a descriptor under the principle of "Duty" and tied it solely to the Military Oath. Loyalty to your squad, unit, command chain, division, service, etc., are all well and good. However, it must be understood, and therefore clearly shown, that loyalty to the sworn military oath is paramount. This loyalty cannot be subordinated: if it is, then this all means nothing.

Leadership Extolling Virtue

"I think a frequent failing of people in leadership positions is that they are likely to be too reticent, too timid about extolling virtue. We have a tendency to want to talk about the "substantive" things, the numbers or whatever. But our people also need to hear us talk about the normative things. Those are the real substance. As the leader, you must create a moral context for what you are trying to accomplish.

You have to keep going back to values." I trust the value of "Leadership" needs no explanation, nor will have any detractors.

Learning: Given our continuing requirement to "do more with less", our ever evolving "high-tech" battlefield, combined with our increasing responsibilities in operations other than war--"Learning" is essential. General Krulak's fourth "Pillar" is education and training. While education and training can be provided by the services, unless the recipients value learning, its a waste of time and resources.

Governance: The Air Force places the concepts of "rule following", "discipline" and "self-control" under their core value of "Service before self". I've expanded the concept more in keeping with the classic virtue of "temperance". Of course, I was in need of a "g" word, and I found "governance" to be extremely suitable.

Empathy: Only the Marine Corps, in Pillar #2, People, discusses the concept of "caring", while the Army, in its "Professional Qualities" raises the concept of "Compassion". I found, however, the Army inclusion (though raising an important point) appearing more like an after thought than a firm "quality", while the Marine usage too restrictive. Their example was specifically designed to emphasize the caring for other Marines. While this is good, I believe we need to go further. Whether we are in combat, peace making, peace keeping, disaster relief or any other MOOTW with which we may find ourselves involved, we must never fail to show our humanity, compassion, and encouraging support. It is our sense of humanity, combined with respect for others and disciplined power, that will allow our forces to do what others cannot. Yes, we want our adversaries to fear us on the battlefield, but simultaneously, we do not want them to fear being our prisoners. Surrendering masses of troops (e.g. Desert Storm) are far preferable than an enemy fighting to the death (e.g. Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Okinawa). Tensions in peace keeping and even disaster relief (foreign or domestic) often run high. A "friendly", disciplined force is far more likely to face reduced confrontations than one viewed as merely another occupying army.


This paper established two major goals: I. Highlight the philosophic and application weaknesses of the separate and different Core Value programs of the Services; II. Create a single set of Core Value Principles for "all America's defenders" which would: A. Be explicit B. Be complete C. Be easy to: 1. remember 2. understand D. Share common, societal, ideological values E. Emphasize the value distinction between the military and the general civilian population F. Be "Snuffy Proof". Excluding "Snuffy Proof", I believe "CALL to HIGHER Duty" has met the goals. As for II.F., well…remember "Rule #2". However, also recalling "Rule #3", and given I through II E., I believe this single value set is far more "Snuffy Proof" than the existing systems. A discussion of instructional and implementation methodologies for a DoD wide program to successfully inculcate this value set, in all of the Services, is well beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say the talented and committed manpower necessary for such an under taking exists throughout the Services. Proper education and implementation is the key: otherwise all you have is window dressing, or just another…list. A call has been made. Has a sense of duty been aroused? Who will go higher?