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Ethics in the Navy


Ethics in the Navy

People employed by the navy often have to work in the harshest of environments that test their morals and ethics. On a regular basis, men and women in the navy have to make quick and ethical decisions while still following orders as required. Despite the demanding nature of the work, navy personnel are also regarded as the most disciplined and moral individuals and those in the profession are respected not just for the part they play in protecting the nation, but also the discipline and ethical code of conduct displayed when fulfilling their duties. While most individuals follow their own moral compass, the navy core values and integrity influence the sailors’ good conduct and discipline not just while on duty but also when engaging with other members of society.

All members of the navy are required to observe and maintain a higher standard of behavior as each individual is held accountable for their actions. All sailors are expected to carry themselves with dignity and respect and engage in ethical conduct both when on duty and also when in public (USNI, 2017). As such, the ethics taught while the sailors are in training and as they carry out their duties teaches them to be accountable for their actions and consider their ramifications before making the decision to act. Even in intense situations such as war or when engaged with an enemy, any action taken by the sailors has to be ethical as each individual is held accountable for every action taken (USNI, 2017). Living in such an environment where morals are a priority helps the values to have a bigger impact and therefore influences the decision to only engage in good conduct and maintain discipline at all times.

Sailors are also taught the importance of integrity and why they ought to have strong moral principles and practice honesty. Navy personnel are honorable and whatever actions they engage in are governed by the principles and values taught while still in the navy (Greenert, 2015). Despite having different backgrounds and cultural practices, sailors are taught how to work as a team and why it is important to trust each other. Learning to look out for the interest of others helps the sailors take into account how their actions affect others and what they can do to ensure that their actions yield the most ethical outcomes (Greenert, 2015). By learning to coexist with other sailors, those in the navy also learn how to coexist with people from different backgrounds. It is through the training and experiences while at the navy that each individual sailor learns the importance of discipline and how to maintain good order.

The core value that has the biggest impact on navy personnel has to be the respect they have for the chain of command. As part of their training, sailors are taught to respect those in authority and not just the top management but even the person immediately in a higher position. The orders given by someone who is at a higher position are expected to be followed without question (Greenert, 2015). There are however measures put in place to ensure that those in authority do not misuse their power and that sailors do not end up following unethical leaders. The commitment to follow orders to the letter while respecting the chain of command is one of the many virtues that sailors get from the navy and through it, they become more disciplined and are able to maintain order, regardless of whatever situation they are in.

Other than the chain of command, navy personnel are taught to be leaders and make fast decisions even under pressure. In line with the chain of command, the navy is structured in such a way that there is someone to take over in case someone in authority dies or cannot fulfill his duties (Greenert, 2015). In such a situation, all sailors are trained and equipped with the skills needed to not only follow orders but also step up in time of a crisis and take on a leadership role. Since some of the characteristics of a leader are having good morals and maintaining conduct, the skills that sailors pick up in the navy realty influence their moral compass. It ensures that they are mentally prepared to take on new responsibilities at a moment’s notice and lead others into situations that need proper guidance and mentorship (Toner, n.d). The realization that leading often requires making of ethical decision and issuing orders that put other sailors’ lives at risks pushes those in the navy to engage in ethical conduct as a way of ensuring that the decisions made result in the general good of all those affected by the decision.

Structures set in place to determine the way navy personnel go about performing their duties requires individuals to not only follow the orders issued by superiors, but do so in such a way that is ethical and achieves the most desirable results. While all sailors are expected to follow the commands issued by their superiors, implementing some of these orders requires them to think outside the box especially when the commander may be issuing orders that are questionable (Toner, n.d). Since orders are to be followed to the letter, regardless of the ethical ramifications that will follow, sailors have to find way to make the right choices and find a middle ground between following an order and maintaining good morals (Toner, n.d). As such, sailors often learn to think outside the box and seek out alternatives to achieving what is expected of them. Seeking different alternatives gives the sailors a chance to be innovative which in turn ensures that they engage in good conduct, regardless of what orders are issued to them.

Like most soldiers, sailors in the navy have to work in testing environments where the enemy may not necessarily be concerned with their well-being. However, since sailors are taught to view war as a necessary evil, their actions in war are only carried out when necessary and that they are ethical in all aspects (Toner, n.d). The ability to practice good morals not just when engaging an enemy but also in the general public is therefore enhanced by the virtues and policies that govern sailors while in the navy. Other than learning about the best way to survive while in battle, the navy also teaches the sailors the importance of maintaining good conduct, leading by example and why individuals should have good morals, regardless of the nature of environment they live or work in.



















Greenert J, (2015) “The moral component of leadership” U.S Navy

Toner J, (n.d) “Morals under the gun: The cardinal virtues,military ethics and American society” University Press of Kentucky

United States Naval Institute, (2017) “The Bluejacket’s manual” United States Navy


1141 Words  4 Pages
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