Thursday, October 6, 2011

Does the Army Have a Discipline Problem?

You'd think so from this article and the comments below. A huge chunk of of military jurisprudence consists of what is essentially employment law, albeit in a criminal law setting. Outside of the traditional torts-assault, battery, murder, etc.-military law focuses on getting people to do their jobs, and do them properly in a coherent team.

This leads to some interesting angles on what are traditionally employment matters. For example, sexual harassment is a criminal offense under military law (Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 93, Maltreatment of subordinates). Under certain circumstances, so is adultery, along with unduly familiar relations between superiors and subordinates (UCMJ Article 134). Refusing to dress properly might get you a warning letter, or fired; in the military, it can get you tossed in the slammer.

Thus the article, and the comments following it, reflect legitimate concerns about how people do their jobs, and whether they are following the proper customs and courtesies required of all military members. I suspect that a lot of what is perceived as a breakdown in this type of discipline is a result of the heavy combat operations tempo our Armed Forces have been subjected to, particularly in the Army and the Marine Corps. Things like having your boots shined, uniforms pressed, and being properly attired are usually given less emphasis in units actively engaged in combat, for obvious reasons. That slackness tends to carry over into the garrisons, unless properly addressed by NCOs and officers. 

It will be interesting to see if this perception continues as we wind down our active operations in Central Asia. 

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