Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Tactical Ethic: Mroral Conduct in the Insurgent Battlespace

Title: A Tactical Ethic: Moral Conduct in the Insurgent Battlespace
Author: Dick Couch
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Pages: 139

Content: As the nature of the modern battlespace evolves, so too does the requirements of the soldiers and sailors that we put into harms way. The central theme of Mr Couch’s book centres upon the fact that while physical and professional training are central in the development of our personnel, an area that is sorely lacking in attention is the inclusion of moral/ethical training as part of our curricula. The modern asymmetric battlespace no longer centres upon capturing and holding territory from a conventional enemy force. The modern enemy of today more often than not does not wear uniforms, blends in with the local population, may very well be a part of the local population and is not interested in ‘territory’ as a measure of its success. Therefore, Mr Couch highlights the centre of gravity in the modern fight as being the struggle for the people; the proverbial ‘hearts and minds’. He acknowledges the deep challenge associated with this task, not the least of which concerns what we focus on in our Warrior Culture: “the imbalance between what we value as courage and choose to ignore in the way of compassion.” He further emphasises the dynamic of the small unit in terms of trust and cohesiveness and the difficulty that presents when the soldiers and officers are faced with dealing with turning in or addressing morally questionable behaviours of popular or influential members of that unit. Additionally, the effect of modern communication technology on public perception demands greater transparency and awareness. This is a very relevant study to the modern military and how the environment is impacted by the smallest action of our soldiers.

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