The Disciplinary Regulations of the United States Army define military discipline as “a strict and honorable compliance by all servicemen with the order and rules prescribed by laws, military regulations and orders of commanders (superiors). ” Military discipline is a special form of military relations. Its specifics lie in coordinating the conduct and actions of military personnel and in serving to establish such relations as are required for successful joint activity.
The conduct of servicemen is regulated by special rules and standards of behavior set forth in laws, military regulations and orders of commanders (superiors) and reflecting the specific features of the military organization and the state’s requirements on the behavior of military personnel. Military discipline as the order of relations and behavior of servicemen constitutes a key component of internal order in military units and detachments.
By regulating serviceman’s relations and behavior, military discipline forms the very basis and structure of internal order as the mode of organization of the life and activity of the Armed Forces, permeating all its elements, since the maintenance and enhancement of internal order is based on compliance with the prescribed rules and standards of behavior. It is known that functioning and development are inextricably linked together and, at the same time, are qualitatively distinct, each being governed by its own specific laws.
The functioning process proceeds according to the laws of a relatively stable state, the system’s mode of existence and its movement in the given qualitative state, whereas the laws of development are laws governing the system’s transition from one state to another, i. e. , a change of states which results in the system’s transition to a qualitatively different level of functioning. The unity of functioning and development is an expression of the contradictory mode of existence of the military organization (just as of any system in general), in which functioning corresponds to relative rest, and development, to absolute motion.
The interconnection and specifics of the functioning and development of the military organization as an integrated system determine the common character of military discipline and military control, and the difference between them. What they have in common is that both of them are kinds of organizational relations and act as parts or aspects of the military organization. And the difference between them is that discipline ensures the functioning of the Armed Forces as a system, whereas control ensures their development.
In other words, military discipline is a mechanism for maintaining, and military control is a mechanism for transforming the military organization. Discipline is the aspect of the military organization that ensures a stabilization of its level, whereas control is the aspect that carries the Armed Forces to a higher level of development. Currently there is a fully shaped view on the psychological foundations of discipline as a specific set of personal and interpersonal structures and processes in mental regulation, which secure normative behavior in servicemen.
The set includes the following: individualized personal sense of discipline (structure, development, conditions of functioning, causes and forms of disciplinary deviations), social psychology of group (interpersonal) disciplinary processes and structures, managerial psychological mechanisms for discipline, etc. Enhancing the normative component in behavior, including that of enlistees, is a continuous joint endeavor by the entire personnel, from commanders to subordinates, as for that matter is the effort to keep this kind of behavior at a required level.
Also participating in the endeavor are collective–formal and informal–structures of the military public. The latter, as the present writer sees it, impact on the state of discipline mostly in the negative fashion because they possess a normative system of their own, which is incompatible with the one based on the army regulations. All enlistees, both as personalities and members of definite service and public structures (including those with a negative impact on discipline), their relations and degree of activity form in the aggregate the disciplinary system of an element (unit).
Psychological support for troops has emerged as a necessity because this kind of work can deal, to a considerable extent, with a set of specific psychological problems arising within disciplinary systems at all levels, not the lower echelons alone, as is often believed. Occasionally it is just the matter of an enlistee being unprepared for discipline-abiding lifestyle (ignorance of army regulations, orders and regulatory documents).
Sometimes, however, psychological problems stem from clearly expressed anti-disciplinary attitudes in some or other serviceman, which attitudes tend to disorganize military activities, mixing, and off-duty routine. Two groups of disciplinary psychological problems are identified. First, inadequacy (weakness, instability, incompleteness, and unfinished nature) of individual, group or organizational mechanisms for normative behavior and control thereof as is revealed by practice; certain enlistees lack the required disciplinary motivation and/or they cannot behave in an organized way in conformity with the regulations, rules, laws, and military traditions.
Military command and control agencies, for their part, do not have enough energy and skills to consistently and confidently regulate the activities of their subordinates. This group of disciplinary and psychological problems is subdivided into three components: motivation problems of discipline, problems of normative or organizational incompetence, and mental disorganization problems, both personal and group, including managerial.
The second group of disciplinary and psychological problems is linked with the existence of overt or covert alternative and shadow disciplinary systems, both individual and group, complete with the ways and rules of their own, which are incompatible with the army regulations, laws, and even human morality. Conscription-based military units are characterized by different forms of extra-regulation relations (barracks-room hazing, friendly societies of persons coming from same district), which are unlikely to disappear completely with the conversion to enlistment.
Separate servicemen, too, may impose their own regulations within elements, something that forms part of their behavioral strategy directed at strengthening their leadership within the system of relations along with their informal power. As is to be regretted, it is society’s current disrespect for law, things legal and the authorities, its revulsion for measures aimed at maintaining law and order that are the general social source of psychological problems in the area of military discipline.
This kind of negative sociological consciousness is responsible for the situation where people are not prepared to accept certain restrictions of their freedom and needs for the sake of general organization and security. Daily observations and specialized studies show that the enlistees are likely to display in full measure one of the regularities that more often than not tends to ascribe indiscipline to others rather than oneself (this means that an undisciplined soldier doesn’t see himself as such).
The unfavorable tendencies are enhanced by the sick sociopsychological background created by social deviations in society, like alcoholism, drug addiction, crime, abuse of power, etc. As a result, the RF Armed Forces acquire enlistees possessing a definite experience of this kind as well as stable negative motivation attitudes Some other reasons generating disciplinary and psychological problems are the conditions, factors, events, as well as such decisions and actions coming from senior chiefs as will prevent a soldier from implementing his normative motivation.
If willingness to obey discipline is not encouraged and contrasts with the behavior of other servicemen, if obeying some ordinary rule takes an almost heroic effort, the inner resources of discipline are dissipated quite rapidly. Military discipline is a daily concern of the military district commander, his deputies, the military council, and unit and formation commanders at all levels in the district.
Only a short while ago it was believed that crime, alcohol and drug abuse, suicides and other deviations from social norms were survivals of the distant past and that at a certain point in the development of society they would disappear altogether. Back in the early 20th century, the French sociologist Emile Durkheim came to the conclusion that social deviation, including crime, is a phenomenon which has never been and can never be eliminated altogether in any society.
In other words, every society has always had and will continue to have a certain number of individuals who, for various internal or external reasons or a combination of such reasons, tend to violate (to “deviate” from) the established social norms. Society’s most important task is to ensure that social deviations do not reach a critical mass that would endanger its very existence. A natural question arising in this context is whether this social deviation phenomenon is characteristic of the Armed Forces?
It certainly is, because the armed forces are an integral part of the state and society, and servicemen are a part of the people. First, all the positive and negative behavioral trends and regularities intrinsic to society fully manifest themselves in the behavior of servicemen. Second, the Army is one of society’s social organisms which can itself be liable to distortion, hence the social deviations in the behavior of servicemen. Third, the armed forces with strictly regulated military service are a social institution with its own specific social norms (in addition to those existing in society).
In the army, the behavior of servicemen is more tightly regulated compared with other social units and institutions. In view of that, servicemen are more likely to depart from the established norms, since the normative value system of the armed forces allows them a lesser degree of freedom in choosing a line of behavior. The task we face today is to work out and introduce into the combat training process the most effective and sometimes unconventional forms and methods of maintaining the required standards of personal officer and nco training so as to keep the most promising of them in the Armed Forces.
It is also clear that an officer, nco (or soldier for that matter) working hard at his professional job simply has no time to commit any offenses. Military discipline is one of the main factors determining the army’s combat readiness and combat efficiency. This truth has stood the test of history on many occasions. It is no accident that military leaders and commanders have always regarded a tightening of discipline among the troops as a task of paramount importance.
A. V. Suvorov called discipline “the mother of victory. ” On following a Direct Order; Technically there is no such thing as a “direct” order. Orders are either lawful or unlawful. The informal term “direct order” tends to mean an order given face-to-face from a person in authority to a subordinate. It has zero meaning under the UCMJ as the “direct order” still has to be lawful to have effect. Upon enlisting each soldier swore the following oath;
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States, or lawful superior orders or for some other reason is beyond the authority of the official issuing it.
In the armed forces of the United States, officers (Both commissioned and non-commissioned. ) are expected to issue orders to subordinates, in order to carry out assigned duties. These orders are assumed (By them. ) to be lawful (i. e. – not promoting illegal actions. ), and a subordinate whom disobeys them does so “at his peril” ( Risking legal sanction. ) Recruits are taught to obey, immediately and without question, orders from their superiors, right from day-one of boot camp. Military members who fail to obey the lawful orders of their superiors risk serious consequences.
Article 90 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it a crime for a military member to WILLFULLY disobey a superior commissioned officer. Article 91 makes it a crime to WILLFULLY disobey a superior Noncommissioned or Warrant Officer. Article 92 makes it a crime to disobey any lawful order (the disobedience does not have to be “willful” under this article). In fact, under Article 90, during times of war, a military member who willfully disobeys a superior commissioned officer can be sentenced to death. Seems like pretty good motivation to obey any order you’re given, right?
Not necessarily. These articles require the obedience of LAWFUL orders. An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders — if the order was illegal. “I was only following orders,” has been unsuccessfully used as a legal defense in hundreds of cases (probably most notably by Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II).
The defense didn’t work for them, nor has it worked in hundreds of cases since. The first recorded case of a United States Military officer using the “I was only following orders” defense dates back to 1799. During the War with France, Congress passed a law making it permissible to seize ships bound to any French Port. However, when President John Adams wrote the order to authorize the U. S. Navy to do so, he wrote that Navy ships were authorized to seize any vessel bound for a French port, or traveling from a French port. Pursuant to the President’s instructions, a U.
S. Navy captain seized a Danish Ship (the Flying Fish), which was en route from a French Port. The owners of the ship sued the Navy captain in U. S. maritime court for trespass. They won, and the United States Supreme Court upheld the decision. The U. S. Supreme Court held that Navy commanders “act at their own peril” when obeying presidential orders when such orders are illegal. The Vietnam War presented the United States military courts with more cases of the “I was only following orders” defense than any previous conflict.
The decisions during these cases reaffirmed that following manifestly illegal orders is not a viable defense from criminal prosecution. In United States v. Keenan, the accused (Keenan) was found guilty of murder after he obeyed in order to shoot and kill an elderly Vietnamese citizen. The Court of Military Appeals held that “the justification for acts done pursuant to orders does not exist if the order was of such a nature that a man of ordinary sense and understanding would know it to be illegal.
” (Interestingly, the soldier who gave Keenan the order, Corporal Luczko, was acquitted by reason of insanity). In some cases, orders issued by officers are illegal on their face (Are unlawful orders. ), and subordinates are justified in not carrying them out. An example would be the 1968 massacre of unarmed civilians at My Lai, Vietnam, which was carried out by a U. S. Army Lieutenant, on orders issued to him by both his Company & Battalion commanders. Another example occurred in Iraq, at Abu Ghraib.
Prisoners were being “softened up” for interrogation by U. S. Soldiers, whom were under orders to do so. These were issued by private contractors, given authority to issue such orders, by the Department OF Defense. In closing it is in a soldier’s best interest to maintain a steadfast motivation in his job at hand thereby alleviating tenancies towards counterproductive behavior, have knowledge of his R. O. E. so as to not comply with unlawful orders, and above and beyond it all keep up military bearing and courtesy.