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Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession (REPORT) | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession (REPORT)

A fascinating study was released in February of 2015 by a variety of authors including retired military officers and professors at the US Army War College. It is cleverly named Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession. As one can imagine, the study is about the lack of truth and how far it permeates through the culture of the military. Focusing specifically on the Army, the authors identified the many ways that we lie to ourselves and our senior leaders on a daily basis – but also looked at whether or not the institution of the military was encouraging this lying.

LyingOne of the simple premises for this discussion focuses on the mandatory training that military figures have come to loathe. It is the 20 second discussion which has been adopted by an organization in the military and turned into a 45 minute online video which must be watched on a government computer with dozens of questions that must be answered by each individual service member. This ignores the lack of government computers to conduct the training as well as the ridiculous nature of a 45 minute online game show to convince people that they should be respectful of each other, or refrain from being abusive in relationships. This is but one of the many examples that units face every day.

The study assesses that mandatory training alone would require 297 days… out of a total of 256 available! So how does an organization that requires more work to be done than time is available expect that members will be truthful? How do service members balance the requirement to conduct seemingly useless mandatory training while also having to conduct extremely necessary combat training? How should subordinates react when they know they are given a 10 gallon bag and are told to put 15 gallons of water in it?

Quite simply, they lie.

The organizational failure is not in the expectations that service members will be honest all the time, but in the lack of reality surrounding the requirements that cannot conceivably be accomplished while simultaneously being critical of subordinates who cannot accomplish the requirements.

The military is surely not alone in this shortsightedness. Most institutions demonstrate it in some form or another. It is the company that does not notify its employees about a requirement for the next morning until the end of the day, and seemingly expects that employees will have it ready first thing. Most managers find it difficult to understand the effects that their unnecessary requirements have on overall productivity. Most employees find it difficult to express this to their employers… without finding themselves fired.

At the end of the day, the military is an organization where honesty and integrity are greatly valued amongst its service members. People hold themselves to the standards that are achievable and make personal decisions towards the standards which are unrealistic. The most honest thing an organization can do is assess itself, and this study will help to bring to light many issues that need to be resolved.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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4 thoughts on “Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession (REPORT)

  1. A command is only as good as it Commander, and that goes all the way to the top. This is nothing new, just a lot more prevalent especially a the top.

  2. I’m with MP 1SG. This is nothing new. The Commander sets the tone. If he/she tolerates lying, or practices lying him/herself, or sets such unrealistic conditions for the unit that lying is the only way to achieve them, then you’re going to have lying. I served in one unit where lying was tolerated to the point that if you called out a superior who lied, you were the one who would receive the negative counseling statement for your “lack of loyalty” to your superior. At the end of the day, it falls to each individual to do the right thing. Some don’t have the guts to do that.

  3. It is not confined solely to the US Army but is rampant throughout all branches of the military. However, the easy answer of the “Commander sets the tone” is a bit hard to swallow. If everyone in the chain is buying off on the unrealistic values, ridiculous objectives, assinine annual training requirements, etc… then a commander, at any level, is in a hard position to “piss into the wind”. We have all had the commanders that we loved who set the right tone, but they are no longer with us and the ones kept are those that, in general, we despised.
    This begs the question then; can one pick his battles and take minor losses while keeping in his sights on the grander picture of the unit as a whole? Does this make little white lies acceptable? Or does it breed a nasty infection, that spreads virulently? I am asking only to promote discussion.
    I served 24 years in the Marine Corps and was a MSgt when I retired, but there was a reason for that. I believe that there is much more to the issues, both stated and implied, within this article that holds some answers, but there is not enough room here to discuss all of them.

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