Army War College researcher to speak on deceit in the military

Post by IU Newsroom intern Annie Brackemyre

New research from an Army veteran and military researcher shows that repeated exposure to strenuous demands and the necessity to sacrifice honor for compliance has rendered many Army officers ethically numb.

As a result, deception and dishonesty are rampant in the Army bureaucracy, the study finds. Deceit is now increasingly necessary and sanctioned as a measure to maneuver through the military institution.

Leonard Wong

Leonard Wong

Leonard Wong, researcher at the U.S. Army War College and author of “Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession,” will present a Veterans Day public lecture on trust and deceit in the military Wednesday, Nov. 11, at IU Bloomington.

The lecture will take place at 5 p.m. in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Frangipani Room. It is free and open to the public.

“A culture of dishonesty inhibits oversight and accountability by senior civilian leaders, Congress and the public,” said David Delaney, visiting assistant professor at the Maurer School of Law and member of the National Security Ethics Faculty Working Group. “Dr. Wong’s work cautions that a culture of dishonesty harms the Army, erodes public confidence and follows veterans into their civilian lives. A disregard for truthfulness and other ethical norms in early, formative professional experiences has long-lasting consequences for the individual and our society.”

Wong previously served as an Army officer, teacher of leadership at West Point and analyst for the Chief of Staff of the Army. His research in ethics, leadership, civil liberties and changing institutional culture recently led him to a discussion with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the ethical and bureaucratic shortcomings of the military.

“Lying to Ourselves” is unusual and has the potential to make a great impact because it was commissioned by the military. The Army then asked Wong to educate senior leaders on his findings and suggest reform tactics.

In the report, Wong suggests that the first step in changing a culture of dishonesty is the acknowledgement of organizational fallibilities. Wong recommends that policies at every level be analyzed and re-evaluated.

“At the highest levels, leading truthfully includes convincing uniformed and civilian senior leadership of the need to accept a degree of political risk in reducing requirements,” Wong writes in “Lying to Ourselves.” “At other levels, leading truthfully may include striving for 100 percent compliance in all areas, but being satisfied when only 85 percent is reported in some.”

Wong’s visit is sponsored by the National Security Ethics Faculty Working Group, the Center for American and Global Security, the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, Hutton Honors College and the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions.

Tags: , , ,