The Evolution of Ethics as a Course of Instruction

Within the Non-Commissioned Officer Education System



CH (MAJ) Mark R. Johnston

United States Army Sergeants Major Academy

Fort Bliss, Texas

December 2008



Introduction and Purpose-Why We’re Teaching Ethics

I. Some History-Where We’ve Been

II. Transformation of NCOES and the Study of Ethics-Where We’re Going



Appendix-Colonel Fredrick Van Horn and General Frederick M. Franks, Jr. Correspondence


Introduction and Purpose- Why We’re Teaching Ethics

            One month before the American public voted to elect the 44th President of the United States, Newsweek published a series of moral questions targeting some of the more important ethical issues the incoming President will be compelled to engage as Commander-in-Chief. Of special interest to American military personnel are the two following questions; [1]

                        A) Does the United States have a moral obligation to act, alone or in concert with                          others, when governments manifestly fail in their "duty to protect"?

                        B) Is the first use of armed force ever morally justifiable?

            These questions have significant implications for both diplomatic and military strategy. No one understands this better than the uniformed personnel serving in the American military. As this nation continues to be confronted with persistent conflict[2] or what the Bible terms as “wars and rumors of war” throughout the world,[3] men and women are increasingly placed into ethical dilemmas driven by the larger moral issues posed above. That the United States will continue to engage in military action seems certain as the global “flattening” of the world continues to occur.[4] Because of this, interest in the study and teaching of ethics within the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Education System (NCOES) remains an important subject for consideration.

            Military ethics helps to anchor the ‘management of violence’[5] within the realm of hope for a more civilized and humane world. Values, morals and faith often contribute to the defining of personal and institutional behaviors.[6] In a world where competing value systems can quickly fade into moral colorlessness, the effort to standardize the content and method of teaching ethics remains a priority within NCOES.[7] Military ethics provides the professional and rational framework for pulling the trigger and taking another human life.[8] Ethics also becomes a factor in the psychological well-being of soldiers who must kill in the line of duty.

            It is the purpose of this paper to briefly examine the teaching of ethics to E8s and E9s within the NCOES, as represented by the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA). [9] This will be done by briefly examining some of the evolutionary history of USASMA’s ethics instruction and the current transformation of educational modules to meet the demands of the future force. [10]

I. Some History-Where We’ve Been

            Ethics training and education is a relatively new discipline of study at USASMA. Some 22 years after the founding of USASMA,[11] a chair in ethics was initiated. In 1994, under the leadership of the Commandant of the Academy, Colonel Fredrick E. Van Horn, a letter written to Frederick M. Franks, Jr., the Commanding General of the United States Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), proposed the establishment of the Chair of Ethics in honor of the Sergeant Major of the Army and the first Sergeant Major of the Academy, William G. Bainbridge.[12]

            The Bainbridge Chair in Ethics, as it was to be called, would “emphasize the vital role all Noncommissioned Officers play in exemplifying, emphasizing, encouraging, and enforcing the highest standards of ethical behavior.”[13] The proposal included the role of the Commandant and the Command Sergeant Major of the Sergeants Major Academy to serve as co-chairs of the Bainbridge Chair of Ethics during their tenure at the Academy with responsibilities to “teach, write, and speak on the subject of ethics at the academy and elsewhere as requested.” Additionally, an annual symposium on ethics would be sponsored through the Academy with “speakers of note who will be invited to present papers to the students, staff, and faculty in residence.” These papers would be distributed army-wide through media such as the NCO Journal which was viewed as an “excellent means of getting the best results of this effort to the Noncommissioned Officers Corps.”

            The vision of Colonel Van Horn was based on the conviction that the “Noncommissioned Officer is in an especially strong position to encourage maintenance of high ethical standards” throughout the Army, because NCOs function as “advisors to the officer and trainer, coach, teacher, counselor and mentor to all ranks.” In his response to the proposal of Colonel Van Horn, General Franks wrote his response in two sentences;

                        “Proposal to establish William G. Bainbridge Chair of Ethics at the Sergeants Major                      Academy is approved. Chair must represent ethical behavior demonstrated by SMA                      Bainbridge and serve to emphasize role of noncommissioned officers in developing and                       maintaining those high standards.”[14]

            With the approved proposal in place for the creation of the Bainbridge Chair in Ethics, the study of military ethics became an authorized discipline of study at the Academy. However, it soon became apparent that the ideals and duties of the Bainbridge Chair could not be practically followed. Both the succeeding Commandants and Command Sergeants Majors of USASMA were either unable or unwilling to fulfill the teaching roles assigned by the creation of the new chair. As the Academy continued to develop and mature into the preeminent institution for training senior NCOs worldwide, the busy schedules of both the Commandants and Command Sergeants Majors precluded any serious attempts to fulfill the requirements of the Chair as originally intended. Additionally, most of the Commandants and Command Sergeants Majors were not educated in ethical theory, history and praxis. The annual symposium did not materialize due to budgetary and time constraints as USASMA struggled to stay abreast of demanding technologies and fulfill other requirements handed down from TRADOC.[15]

            There is some question regarding whether or not ethics was ever formally taught in the years immediately following the tenure of COL Fredrick Van Horn. If a course in ethics was offered, there seems to be no early standardization of what the class was and how it was taught. [16] The solution USASMA decided on to finally fulfill the conditions of the Bainbridge Chair was to employ Army chaplains who had received graduate degrees in ethics through Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) and utilize them as Senior Ethics Instructors. This solution answered another problem within the Academy.  It maintained the presence of an Active Duty Chaplain on the USASMA staff during a time when the reduction of personnel through manpower assessments eliminated the chaplain slot altogether.[17]

            USASMA records indicate that chaplains were assigned to the academy beginning in 1973.[18] But with the reorganization of Army assets and the creation of the Installation Management Agency (IMA), now called Installation Management Command (IMCOM), Unit Ministry teams (UMTs) comprised of a chaplain and a chaplain assistant were no longer assigned to TRADOC schools.[19] All chaplain support originated from the garrison where the school was located. As a result, the ministry of a dedicated (assigned) chaplain could only be obtained through the utilization of chaplains who were schooled through ACS to teach ethics or world religions.[20]

            Chaplains assigned to USASMA provided some ethics instruction through limited, narrowly defined roles. But those roles were often subject to change. In early 1987, the school history records a “shift in the duties and responsibilities of the chaplain”[21] who had served as an instructor in the Leadership Division and a writer in the Department of Training Development (DOTD) where lesson plans were developed.  These lesson plans are called Training Support Packages (TSPs) and serve to standardize training throughout the NCOES worldwide.

            Following the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Scandal in April, 1997, ethics was taught by the Academy chaplain as a required two hour block of instruction. [22]  In 2004, the class on ethics was incorporated into a TSP, providing a classroom guideline for discussions and small group interaction. One of the requirements of the class was the writing of a three to five page paper on an ethical issue by each student. These papers were competitively read and judged through a committee comprised of the USASMA chaplain and other qualified persons and remains a requirement within the Sergeant Major Course today. The best papers are selected for the annual publication in the United States Sergeants Major Academy Excellence in Writings Journal. Over the past few years, topics that have received distinguished recognition include the following titles; [23]

Free Speech and the Soldier’s Blog by MSG Rich Greene

Combat Related Employment of Women by CWO Derek J.W. Bisson, Canadian Forces

The War On Terrorism and Transforming the Army by MSG Michael Stout

The Ethics of Processing Combat Deaths Under “Imminent Death” Regulations by SGM Phil Pearce

The Army’s Ethical Climate Since 11 September 2001 by MSG Paul E. Coleman

Laying the Ethical Foundation by SGM Daniel Hagan

The Ethics of the United States Television News Media by MSG Keith Preston

The Problem With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by MSG Tabitha Scrivens

Honor or Revenge: An Ethical Dilemma by MSG Bryan K. Witzel

The Christian in Combat by MSG Bart L. Culver

Torturing the Enemy; Right or Wrong? By MSG Thomas L. Frances, Jr.

            As can be discerned from these titles the vast field of ethics, military life and duty are fair game for study and debate by USASMA students. These topics illustrate the number of important issues impacting military performance, efficiency, effectiveness and well-being today. They are representative of the ongoing need for ethics instruction within NCOES.

II. Transformation of NCOES and the Study of Ethics-Where We’re Going

            The transformation of the NCOES into a more adaptable system of training and education for an emergent military force structured to meet the challenges of the 21st Century began in 2007. This has occasioned a thorough re-examination of what and how we teach.[24] With the entrance of Class 60 of the Sergeants Major Course a new era in class design and instruction begins.[25]  In 2009, Faculty Advisors (FAs) will be designated as Instructor/Writers and will use curriculum adapted from the Intermediate Level Education (ILE) coursework taught at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth, Kansas. The purpose of this transformation is to bring the NCO and Officer Corps closer together in their education and training as leaders, while promoting a better understanding of the Army’s overall operational and strategic concepts.     

            This transformation will use an ethics package concurrent with what is presently taught in ILE. This effort should promote an ongoing development in critical thinking amongst senior NCOs. At least one ethics paper will continue to be written by each student, and ethics as a topic of study will be squarely located in classroom and lecture formats. The emphasis on reading, thinking, debating and deciding will continue to characterize the USASMA approach to ethical decision making. This begins with the Warrior Leader Course and is designed to take soldiers beyond the standardized Basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) modules where soldiers are first introduced to Army Values.

            Other methods of teaching ethics include the introduction of published authors and guest speakers who specialize in topics that have ethical relevance to military personnel.[26] Through exposure to these persons, students are confronted with ideas that often challenge hidden moral prejudices, and follow-on research and debate ensue, contributing to the process of critical thinking. Programs involving voluntary retreat formats also provide opportunities for ethics instruction. Leadership off-sites, Bible studies, lending libraries and literature distribution serve to keep ethical debate vibrant within the Academy. There are discussions within the Academy about utilizing technology through podcasting to further ethical training at the lower enlisted levels. Such programs would be developed in concert with the web-based Self Structured Development Program (SSDP) and be fed-out to squad level groups around the world.

            Ongoing research about how to introduce relevant, ethical dilemmas into simulated battle-field training and exercises remains a focus of DOTD. An example of what such a dilemma might look like includes a computerized training scenario where hostile fire from a religious site housing innocent civilians occurs, and how soldiers should respond. Another example students might encounter is the moral dilemma of an oncoming vehicle that is visibly carrying children, but is in violation of check-point protocols in a combat area, and whether or not to fire on the approaching vehicle. Military personnel will continue to engage in small group discussions and debates over such issues as killing a wounded insurgent who has become incapacitated in a fire-fight or the detainment and treatment of prisoners.[27]


            Senior NCOs increasingly recognize ethical dilemmas in the context of a Nation engaged in an era of ongoing, persistent conflict with ideological enemies who often have no nation-state allegiance. Yet, as stated at the outset of this paper, the larger moral questions and responsibilities of our national leadership connects to the ethical questions that place soldiers in harms way.[28] The transformation of the Sergeants Major Course into a more synchronized program of study with ILE should return many positive results in the near future. One of these results will be the development of seasoned soldier-scholars who are better equipped to do the right thing at the right time for the right purpose.

            Teaching military leaders to become ethical decision makers requires a program completely integrated within the structured framework of NCOES where chaplains participate as subject matter experts in ethical theory, history and praxis. The chaplain’s seat at the table of NCOES development promotes the balanced evolution of ethics within the military system where they can communicate values through the institutions of church and state. Such ethics are based on faith, spiritual fitness and those cherished traditions guiding the professional exercise of military service. Ongoing involvement with ethical research, writing and teaching is essential for this to occur. Through proactive engagement with the relevant moral and ethical issues impacting the performance of duty and accomplishment of mission, chaplains provide a viable conscience to the management of violence.

            As our military is called upon to engage an ever-changing world with the possible use of lethal force, we need to remain committed to training and educating soldiers with those unchanging values defining true military ethics. In so doing, we focus our quest for civilized hope within the blur and blood of combat. In good conscience we can support our Commander-in-Chief when the “duty to protect” is thrust upon our Nation and American soldiers are called upon to deliver an answer. 

Si vis pacem, para bellum




Dockery, Kevin, Future Weapons. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group; 2007

Friedman, Thomas, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2005

Grossman, David,  On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War  and Society.  New York: Little, Brown and Company; 1995

Holmes, Richard, Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers At War. London; Harper Press, 2006

Huntington, Samuel,  The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations, Boston: President and Fellows of Harvard University, Belknap Press; 15th printing 2000

Rejali, Darius, Torture and Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 2007

Sanchez, Ricardo S., Wiser In Battle: A Soldier’s Story, New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 2008

Toffler, Alvin and Heidi, War and Anti-War. Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century. New York: Little Brown and Company; 1993

Toner, James H, True Faith and Allegiance: The Burden of Military Ethics, Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky; 1995

Newspapers and Journals

Abrams, David; Chair of Ethics allows NCOs to speak out for themselves. Fort Bliss Monitor, Ft Bliss, TX;  April 6, 1995

Ferguson, Mary; Future Combat Systems. The NCO Journal, Volume 17, Issue 3, Summer 2008

Weigel, George; Dangling Conversations: Posing the moral questions facing the next American president. Newsweek Web Exclusive, October 6, 2008

United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Excellence in Writings, Class 55, Class 56, Class 58. United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Ft Bliss, TX.


Web Sites           Global Security.Org

http//                                Persistent Conflict                                                               USASMA      

Appendix-Colonel Fredrick Van Horn and General Frederick M. Franks, Jr. Correspondence



[1] Weigel, George; Dangling Conversations: Posing the moral questions facing the next American president. Newsweek Web Exclusive, October 6, 2008. Mr. Weigel categorized his questions into three areas of concern; On Matters of Foreign Policy; On Matters of Domestic Policy and On Matters of Character. The five questions comprising On Matters of Foreign Policy follow: A. This past April, Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the United Nations regarding nation-states "duty to protect" and described this duty as the litmus test of political legitimacy. Does the United States have a moral obligation to act, alone or in concert with others, when governments manifestly fail in their "duty to protect"? B. Religiously-shaped moral conviction plays multiple, dynamic roles in 21st century world politics. Very few people at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or the Central Intelligence Agency understand this. What will you do to change that? C. Forget the chatter about "preemption." The correct term, within the classic just war tradition, is "the morally justified first-use of armed force." Do you think the first use of armed force is ever morally justifiable? If so, when? If not, why not? D. What role does distorted religious conviction play in creating the dangers we face from terrorists? How can American public diplomacy address those convictions? E. What is the responsibility of the United States to help ensure that the new Iraq is safe for all its religious communities? What is the moral responsibility of the U.S. government toward displaced Iraqi Christians, many of whom have fled the country? These questions will remain a focus of US government as the global war on terror persists.


[2] Cf. 2008 U.S. Army Posture Statement Information Papers: Persistent Conflict; (http//, “The future security environment will be an era of persistent conflict. In the past, great powers/alliances and the bi-polar world combined to suppress many independent actors and sources of conflict. We are on the leading edge of a period when an increasing number of actors (state, non-state, and individual) in a less constrained international arena, are more willing to use violence to pursue their ends. This will result in an expanding set of both actors and conflicts.”  

[3] According to Global Security.Org (, “In 1965, there were 10 major wars under way. The new millennium began with much of the world consumed in armed conflict or cultivating an uncertain peace. As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way [down from 15 at the end of 2003], with as many as two dozen "lesser" conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity. Most of these are civil or "intrastate" wars, fueled as much by racial, ethnic, or religious animosities as by ideological fervor. Most victims are civilians, a feature that distinguishes modern conflicts. During World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5 percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants. Africa, to a greater extent than any other continent, is afflicted by war. Africa has been marred by more than 20 major civil wars since 1960. Rwanda, Somalia, Angola, Sudan, Liberia, and Burundi are among those countries that have recently suffered serious armed conflict.”

[4] The idea of a “flattened world” originated with India’s Nandan Nilekani, software entrepreneur and the Co-Chairman of Infosys Technologies Ltd. Thomas Friedman popularized the idea of  an increasingly connected world fostered through technology and emerging global markets. Friedman lists ten ‘flatteners’ in his book with the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the first, and perhaps the most important of the ten. The shift from a world conveniently divided by the symbology of the Iron Curtain to a world enmeshed in conflicting secular and religious ideologies where non-state actors declare war and perpetrate belligerence has complicated our understanding of military response and Friedman, Thomas. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2005.


[5] The terminology “management of violence” originated with Harold Lasswell whose lifelong interest in propaganda and political terminology was later adapted by Samuel Huntingdon who argued for the professional status of career military personnel.  Cf. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations, Boston: President and Fellows of Harvard University, Belknap Press; 15th printing, 2000, pg. 11.


[6] LT. Gen. (R) Ricardo S. Sanchez writes; “Soldiers must always be guided by our values. The value system that we embrace is the toughest of any profession in our society…it is our sense of duty, integrity, and honor that must guide every action and every decision we make as leaders. There is no place in our warrior ethos for compromising our integrity. The soldier must always do what is right, knowing that many will question and second-guess his actions…a soldier must never leave the moral high-ground.” Sanchez, Ricardo S., Wiser In Battle: A Soldier’s Story, New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 2008, pp. 449-450. General Sanchez ends his fascinating book with the words, “Si Dios quiere” reflecting his strong faith in God.


[7] The quest for the ‘standardization of ethics’ is on-going, but tremendous progress has been achieved over the past few years through initiatives like the Army Center of Excellence for the Professional Military Ethic (ACPME) at West Point, and the codification of Army Values taught to every person who serves. The importance of such attempts to standardize military ethics is expressed well by James Toner;   “Military personnel must be capable of reflection, about the nature of virtue and its implications for action. They must distinguish in word and deed between killing as a function of legitimate military necessity and the murder of innocents; they must separate the application of lawful military power from wanton, frenzied destruction.”  Cf. Toner, James H, True Faith and Allegiance: The Burden of Military Ethics, Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky; 1995, pg. 21

            [8] Grossman differentiates between types of killing from an ethical perspective, i.e., the difference of a kill through ambushing an enemy and a “noble kill” where an enemy combatant is recognized for his ability and courage in the fight; “These are noble kills which place the minimum possible burden upon the conscience of the killer. And thus the soldier is able to further rationalize his kill by honoring his fallen foes, thereby gaining stature and peace by virtue of the nobility of those he has slain.” Grossman, David LTC.  On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War  and Society.  New York: Little, Brown and Company; 1995, pp. 195-196.

[9] Attendance at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, located at Fort Bliss, Texas,  is a requirement for promotion to E9 (Sergeants Major) and is predominantly attended by qualified and selected US Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard and Air Force personnel who remain in residency for approximately 9 months. The annual student body represents about 1% of the total force structure. The Sergeant Major is the capstone rank of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and generally has about 20 years of military experience contributing to the responsibility and respect of the rank. As leaders, Sergeants Majors are the “primary influencers” on Soldiers.  

[10] This transformation of the Army’s NCOES is driven by other developments in the military such as The Future Combat Systems (FCS) program which digitally connects 14 systems through a common network and will greatly define the future of American warfare. FCS includes the Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS), Non-Line of Sight-Launch System (NLOS-LS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Manned Ground Vehicles, Non-Line of Sight Vehicles, and Ground Combat Vehicles. The potency of these systems and the distance of human operators from their kill targets may demand a new study emphasis on the ethics of killing. Will the ease and sophistication of killing promoted by these systems contribute to a lack of moral conscience within those trained to become “Digital Master Gunners”? Cf. Ferguson, Mary; Future Combat Systems. The NCO Journal, Volume 17, Issue 3, Summer 2008, pp. 9-13 and Grossman, David LTC.  On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War  and Society.  New York: Little, Brown and Company; 1995, pp. 169-170 who calls it “Nintendo Warfare” which allows for a psychological distance where the combatant can eliminate a human image on a monitor screen while “not seeing people” during the act of killing. The tendency towards “robotic warfare” raises important ethical issues; “Can human overrides be built in at every step? What is the morality of robot-killers who may not be able to distinguish an enemy who is a threat and one who is trying desperately to surrender?”  The “moral and military implications” must still be flushed out as technology drives the lethality of future combat systems. Cf. Toffler, Alvin and Heidi, War and Anti-War. Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century. New York: Little Brown and Company; 1993, pp. 116-117. Also, Dockery, Kevin. Future Weapons. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group; 2007, pp.310-314 where he describes the future use of laser technology in weapon systems that cause blindness; “The idea of a weapon that causes blindness on the part of the soldiers who face it is so repugnant that the development and fielding of such devices is banned by international agreements.” The USA banned the development of such weapons before these agreements were ever reached.

[11] USASMA was established at Ft Bliss, Texas, July 1, 1972, through the visionary leadership of General Ralph E. Haines who advocated the importance of the Noncommissioned Officer as a professional deserving standardized training and education. The training of E8s and E9s through small group instruction evolved with programs designed to professionally enhance the whole enlisted field. The Academy became the proponent for the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) in 1981. The Basic Noncommissioned Officers Course (BNCOC) followed as did functional courses such as Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course (BSNCOC) and the First Sergeants Course. The Command Sergeants Major Course (CSM) was established in1989 and is now taught at Leavenworth, Kansas.


[12] The 5th Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA), SMA Bainbridge was the first Command Sergeant Major for USASMA and is described as having “indelibly imprinted his strong ethical beliefs on the tradition of the organization responsible for training and educating every member of the Noncommissioned Officers Corps.” On March 31, 1995, SMA Bainbridge was the honored speaker at a brief ceremony to christen the chair. In his comments he referred to the humbling experience saying, “It’s probably the greatest honor that’s ever been bestowed on me.” Cf. Abrams, David; Chair of Ethics allows NCOs to speak out for themselves. Fort Bliss Monitor, Ft Bliss, TX;  April 6, 1995, pg. 1. SMA Bainbridge died in Palm Bay, FL., 29 November, 2008, during the writing of this paper. His legacy is impossible to repeat, his life an example for all.


[13] The proposal for the William G. Bainbridge Chair of Ethics was initiated in time for Class 44 of the Sergeants Major Course. I’ve enclosed a copy of the primary correspondence in the appendix of this paper.


[14] Letter included in appendix


[15] There is some evidence that SMA Bainbridge addressed the Academy the year following the inauguration of the Chair concerning the role of ethics in the NCO Corps. But nothing follows from that effort in the USASMA records.


[16] See note 7 regarding the on-going quest for standardization. The earliest efforts at teaching ethics, while erratic, helped to build the foundation that we now utilize, resulting in a more standardized process today.


[17] The manpower assessment conducted in 2002 determined that the role of the chaplain could be fulfilled through the garrison command and therefore decided to eliminate the UMT from the USASMA Table of Distribution and Allowance (TDA).


[18] The following is a list of the chaplains assigned to USASMA since it’s founding: MAJ John C. Scott-1973-1975; MAJ Gary A. Bowker-1975-1978; MAJ Paul W. Morgan, Jr.-1978-1981; MAJ Gary D. Perkins-1981-1984; MAJ Arthur F. Jensen-1984-1986; MAJ Lawrence T. Evans-1986-1989; MAJ Don B. Brown-1989-1992; MAJ Fred L. Hudson-1992-1996; MAJ Linda L. George-1996-1999; MAJ William O. Barefield-1999-2002; MAJ Jeffrey L. Zust-2002-2004; MAJ Walter Hoskins-2004-2005; MAJ Mark R. Johnston-2005-present.


[19] IMA’s eventually underwent a redesignation common to all U.S. Army installation management structure worldwide, known as Standard Garrison Organization (SGO).


[20] The expectation that chaplains would pull double-duty as both an instructor at the assigned TRADOC School and as a unit chaplain who could perform necessary ministry became the condition of such assignments. This has recently been addressed through a manpower re-assessment tool called a 10-1, which argues for the retention, expansion and inclusion of new personnel slots in order to fulfill the mission requirements of a given command. The possibility of a Unit Ministry Team being assigned to USASMA in the near future is dependent upon the argument made by the Academy regarding their need for the services of a chaplain and chaplain assistant. This argument will also include the ongoing assignment of those chaplains qualified to teach ethics and may result in USASMA eventually hosting two chaplains on their staff.



[21] With the arrival of Chaplain (MAJ) Lawrence Evans a move was made from DOTD where he had served as a writer of instruction and he assumed “control” of the Command Group. His role became more pastoral as an advisor to the Commandant and the religious program of the Academy. He also became the pastor of the Biggs Army Airfield Chapel, located across the street from the Academy. All USASMA chaplains since that time have assumed the senior chaplain/pastor role of the Biggs Army Airfield Chapel. At other times the chaplain’s role at USASMA has been designated as the Life Skills Officer and as the Academy Secretary. Chaplain (MAJ) Jeffrey Zust was listed on the Table of Distribution and Allowance (TDA) as the Life Skills Officer in 2003.  I was listed as the Academy Secretary due to a loss of the slot for a chaplain. This was finally corrected to Senior Ethics Instructor, but my OER will forever record this unusual designation and remind me of my journey as an Army Chaplain.


[22] Ethics instruction was an optional class in 1996, taught on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons by Chaplain Linda L. George. Her seven week class addressed such issues as ethics in combat, biomedical ethics and leadership values, including confronting the potential to do evil, treatment of persons with HIV/AIDS and flowing unethical orders. She also toured the Holocaust Museum with her class as a part of their curriculum.


[23]  United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Excellence in Writings, Class 55(2005), Class 56 (2006), Class 58(2008). United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Ft Bliss, TX.


[24] The Warrior Leader Course will introduce Specialists and Corporals to team level tasks and is more of a training/functional course; the Advanced Leader Course will target Sergeants and Staff Sergeants with material similar to the older Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, while the Senior Leader Course will incorporate a redesign of the older Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course for Sergeants First Class and Master Sergeants. Additional functional courses include Battle Staff, the First Sergeants Course and the Senior Staff NCO Course. Throughout all these phases is the Structured Self-Development Domain (SSDP) that is accessed through the internet and provides a lifelong education track for the career soldier. All of the Courses have prerequisites found in the SSDP. Additionally, the College of the American Soldier works in conjunction with GoArmyEd and supporting colleges and universities that grant degrees to persons fulfilling academic criteria. The Warrior University serves to synchronize and disseminate new training information in tandem with the other educational systems in place Cf. Ferguson, Mary; Future Combat Systems. The NCO Journal, Volume 17, Issue 3, Summer 2008, pp. 29-31 for an excellent graphic summarizing the information above.


[25] The redesign of the 9 month residential Sergeants Major Course will introduce internet based thin-client computers into the classroom, synchronizing the officer based education with the USASMA instruction. Class 60 will be the first SGM class comprised of only SGM selectees. Non-promotable E8s will not be selected for the USASMA residency course beginning with Class 60.


[26] LTC Dave Grossman has spoken twice at USASMA in the past three years about military ethics.  He is an example of what the Academy looks for as a guest speaker.


[27] The importance of addressing these ethical issues through training and education extends to the psychological and spiritual well-being of soldiers who are thrown into the evils of combat. Those who follow the standardized values accepted by the institution are better equipped to deal with the issues of conscience after serving in the military. Cf. Rejali, Darius, Torture and Democracy. Princeton; Princeton University Press, 2007 pp. 525 ff.


[28] There are numerous stories being published that highlight the difficult moral and ethical dilemmas soldiers are facing on the battlefield. Richard Holmes describes this from the British soldier’s perspective where shooting an insurgent who is involved in an ambush but has thrown away his weapon presents a conflict with the rules of engagement. Cf. Holmes, Richard. Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers At War. London; Harper Press, 2006, pp. 339-442. Such ethical issues cross all national boundaries on the battlefield, and students from over 40 nations debate these issues within USASMA.