From One Leader to Another
The Army Values
2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)
April 17, 2019
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The Army Values are the basic building blocks of an Army professional’s character. They help us judge what is right or wrong in any situation. The Army Values form the very identity of the Army, the solid rock on which everything else stands, especially in combat. They are the glue that binds together the members of a noble profession. (ADRP 1)
Values tell us what we need to be every day, in every action we take. Army Values form the identity of America’s Army, the solid rock on which everything else stands. They are the glue that binds us together as members of a noble profession. The following definitions can help you understand Army Values, but understanding is only the first step. As a Soldier, you must not only understand them; you must believe in them, model them in your own actions and teach others to accept and live by them.
To bear true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other Soldiers. Loyalty is the big thing, the greatest battle asset of all. But no man ever wins the loyalty of troops by preaching loyalty. It is given to him as he proves his possession of the other virtues. Loyalty is a two-way street: you should not expect loyalty without being prepared to give it as well. You can neither demand loyalty nor win it from other people by talking about it. The loyalty of your peers is a gift they give you when, and only when, you deserve it—when you show your competence, treat people fairly, and live by the concepts you talk about. Soldiers who are loyal to their peers and the unit never let them down. Soldiers fight for each other—loyalty is commitment. The most important way of earning this loyalty is performing well in combat. There’s no loyalty fiercer than that of Soldiers who trust each other to make it through the dangers of combat as a team. However, loyalty extends to all members of our profession—to your superiors and subordinates, as well as your peers.
Fulfill your obligations. The essence of duty is acting in the absence of orders or direction from others, based on an inner sense of what is morally and professionally right. Duty begins with everything required of you by law, regulation, and orders; but it includes much more than that. Professionals do their work not just to the minimum standard, but to the very best of their ability. Soldiers commit to excellence in all aspects of their professional responsibility so that when the job is done they can look back and say, “I couldn’t have given any more.” Soldiers should always take the initiative, figuring out what needs to be done before being told what to do. What’s more, they take full responsibility for their actions and those of their subordinates. Soldiers should never shade the truth to make the unit look good—or even to make their teammates feel good. Instead, they follow their higher duty to the Army and the nation.
Treat people as they should be treated. This discipline is what makes the Soldiers of a free country reliable in battle. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself. Conversely, he who feels, and hence, manifests disrespect toward others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself. Respect for the individual forms the basis for the rule of law, the very essence of what makes America. In the Army, respect means recognizing and appreciating the inherent dignity and worth of all people. This value reminds you that people are the Army’s greatest resource. Soldiers should always honor everyone’s individual worth by treating all people with dignity and respect. Everyone who serves with this profession deserves respect no matter their uniform or dress.
Place the welfare of the nation, the Army and subordinates before your own. The nation today needs men and women who think in terms of service to their country and not in terms of their country’s debt to them. You have often heard the military referred to as “the service.” As a member of the Army, you serve the United States. Selfless service means doing what’s right for the nation, the Army, your organization and your teammates—and putting these responsibilities above your own interests. The needs of the Army and the nation come first. This doesn’t mean that you neglect your Family or yourself; in fact, such neglect weakens a Soldier and can cause the Army more harm than good. Selfless service doesn’t mean that you can’t have a strong ego, high self-esteem or even healthy ambition. Rather, selfless service means that you don’t make decisions or take actions that help your image or your career but hurt others or sabotage the mission. We must function as a team and for a team to work the individual must surrender their self-interest for the greater good of the whole.
Live up to all of the Army Values. What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death. Honor provides the “moral compass” for character and personal conduct in the Army. Though many people struggle to define the term, most recognize instinctively those with a keen sense of right and wrong, those who live such that their words and deeds are above reproach. The expression “honorable person,” therefore, refers to both the character traits an individual actually possesses and the fact that the community recognizes and respects them. Honor holds Army Values together while at the same time being a value in and of itself. Honor means demonstrating an understanding of what’s right and taking pride in the community’s acknowledgment of that reputation.
Do what’s right—legally and morally. The American people rightly look to their military leaders not only to be skilled in the technical aspects of the profession of arms, but also to be men and women of integrity. People of integrity consistently act according to principles—not just what might work at the moment. Soldiers with integrity make their principles known and consistently act in accordance with them. The Army requires leaders of integrity who possess high moral standards and are honest in word and deed. Being honest means being truthful and upright all the time, despite pressures to do otherwise. Having integrity means being both morally complete and true to oneself. As a Soldier, you are honest to yourself by committing to and consistently living the Army Values; you’re honest to others by not presenting yourself or your actions as anything other than what they are. Soldiers should always say what they mean and do what they say. If you can’t accomplish a mission, inform your chain of command. If you inadvertently pass on bad information, correct it as soon as you find out it’s wrong. People of integrity do the right thing not because it’s convenient or because they have no choice. They choose the right thing because their character permits nothing less. Conducting yourself with integrity has three parts:
- Separating what’s right from what’s wrong.
- Always acting according to what you know to be right, even at a personal cost.
- Saying openly that you’re acting on your understanding of right versus wrong.
Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral). Personal courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather, it’s the ability to put fear aside and do what’s necessary. It takes two forms, physical and moral. Good Soldiers demonstrate both. Physical courage means overcoming fears of bodily harm and doing your duty. It’s the bravery that allows a Soldier to take risks in combat in spite of the fear of wounds or death. In contrast, moral courage is the willingness to stand firm on your values, principles, and convictions—even when threatened. It enables Soldiers to stand up for what they believe is right, regardless of the consequences. Soldiers, who take responsibility for their decisions and actions, even when things go wrong, display moral courage. Courageous Soldiers are willing to look critically inside themselves, consider new ideas, and change what needs changing.
Our professional responsibility is to strengthen our honorable service by living the Army Values daily. These values are the basic moral building blocks of our profession.” “The Army Values are more than mere words we recite. The Army Values understood but not acted upon are meaningless. (ADRP 1)
*Article originally published in From One Leader to Another in 2013