Special Operations and Ethics

Special Warfare magazine has published an issue devoted to special operations and ethics.  

Special Operations, and unconventional warfare in particular, present ethical and moral issues at a much greater rate and to more junior individuals than any other type of military operation, possibly any other human activity. These operations ask young men and women to carry sensitive information, equipment, and often cash into a chaotic and tense environment and rely on sometimes questionable partners for survival, as is well described by Dr. Joseph Long and Dr. Kari Thyne in their article “Ethics is Leader Business.”

This is an extreme resposibility, and it requires preparation. As stated by CPT Benjamin Ordiway, author of another article in the issue, “SOF operations present enough risk already. Leaders needlessly assume more risk by failing to prepare personnel for the complexities of the moral terrain. Navigating that terrain with honor requires proficiency in moral reasoning. If SOF do not assess and select for moral reasoning, it must be developed through education and training.”

In “All Training is Ethics Training,” MAJ Bart Kennedy argues ethical training is “integral, not incidental,” to Army special operations training. He argues that the answer is not to “’do ethics training,’ but instead to recognize that we are already in the business of ethical formation and seek to understand the how and why of what we already do.”

6 SOF ethics
SOF Ethical Truths

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