There can be several approaches to the issue of service in the armed forces, its need and ethics. For a number of reasons, military service appears to be a unique profession, radically different from any other and virtually unparalleled. This is due to the large number of risks that each soldier takes upon himself, with the great danger to which they expose themselves and, first of all, with the very concept of this profession. The very idea of military service implies a certain complex of ideas that turn out to be dominant and immutable for every serviceman. These ideas form a special worldview that distinguishes the soldier from the ordinary person. Military service implies a particular value system that can seem problematic despite its implied morality. In this essay, an attempt is made to analyze the present tasks and the main goals pursued by the military forces as a certain social institution.
The Concept of Duty
For the most part, what seems to be the most widely accepted view links military service to the concept of duty. Duty in the context of military service means, first of all, the subordination of the will and rights of the soldier in relation to the state. Military service is a profession in which control and subordination are of the utmost importance. Considering that talking about this service always means work that contains a very high risk (Swain & Pierce, 2017). The risks and dangers of military service are immutable in this work, and this enormous pressure can cause a person to fear and inability to act. Based on this possibility of panic, the soldier needs a special outlook in order to flawlessly follow orders.
Moreover, the execution of orders can be complicated by doubts about the adequacy of this order from a higher authority or by the personal pride of the soldier. That is why the duties of a soldier lie outside the bounds of social attitudes and are established in a more elevated form. Duty for a soldier thus represents an awareness of the importance of his service as a consistent, quick, most effective execution of orders. Doubts about the soldier’s work should be eliminated, and the duty to one’s own country can work as a method that removes psychological barriers.
Professionalism, or expertise, seems to be an integral part of the characteristics of a military employee. This characteristic implies more than just knowledge of the standard military code and the basics of combat since any battle tactic involves large tasks. Many centuries and even millennia of the history of military conflicts constitute a whole compendium of knowledge and plots that can be adapted to the surrounding reality (Swain & Pierce, 2017). A military man who is a true professional must be able not only to accumulate knowledge, since professionalism is to apply it adequately and in a timely manner. Military tactics require improvement as a principle by which it becomes possible to throw a real challenge to your opponent.
Therefore, expertise also implies experience in applying skills and adapting them to the current environment, a specific conflict situation. Professional training includes the stages of organizing and equipping troops, then planning actions and finally implementing them in a military operation (Swain & Pierce, 2017). The very sequence of these stages implies the need for fundamental military skills in the soldier, which will be improved and transformed. At the same time, the use of military skills is first distributed by the intended strategies, which is only then tried on for reality. It is precise because of the frequent inconsistency of the original plans with reality in situations of military conflict that not only a high level of battle skills is required, but also their flexibility.
Military Service as a Vocation
The very confidence in the importance of one’s profession makes the title of a soldier or serving in the army not just a job but a calling. Often speaking about the army, analogies are drawn between a soldier and a priest for certain reasons (Swain & Pierce, 2017). The first reason for such a comparison lies in the belief in the correctness of their methods and, most importantly, in the immutability of their attitudes. Secondly, the hierarchy of the military institution in many ways resembles a church organization according to the principles characterizing vocation as something higher than a profession.
A group of people gathered in an organization according to their vocation should be distinguished not only by professionalism but also by high responsibility. The priest is, in some sense, responsible for the lives of his flock by giving them a message that can be misunderstood and cause a lot of harm. A similar situation exists with military power, which can and should use its power only to stop harm – not to inflict it. That is why the idea of vocation is so closely related to the idea of responsibility. This is not just about private or collective responsibility for the failure of a mission or military campaign. Equally, in this case, ethical responsibility is fundamental since it determines the reasons and nature of any military intervention.
Rational Use of Violence
Often, military service, and especially the management of soldiers, is characterized as the management of violence, which means they use military aggression only rationally. The complex hierarchy of military orders serves to organize military action in such a way as to shed blood in the name of less blood. This is the main ethical principle of military service, at least when it comes to an army devoted to a democratic social order. Democracy implies the rights of the majority and, in general, the rights of people, which puts humanism at the forefront of such a political theory. The Democratic Army is therefore inherently humanistic, in spite of all the apparent cruelty and cold-bloodedness.
The need to think rationally and take into account the possibilities of using violence and exterminating the enemy is urgent, given the risks against which the army is fighting. When it comes to enslaving or killing even more people, it can be concluded that very humanistic ethics dictates the use of violence to stop bloodshed. This moral question about the value of human life and killing for good still seems controversial. Suffice it to say that the ethics of the military structure allows for violence and bloodshed to prevent more casualties. It is difficult to say whether the chain of violence stops in this way, but it can really be argued that military force should be used at a time when its use seems inevitable.
Thus, the reason for the existence of the army is the need to use violence in order to protect society. Service to the community and the preservation of more life is essential for an army employee of any rank. This task is the main one and is set extremely high since the soldier’s ethics implies the willingness to give their life in the fight. Ethical and collective responsibility, discipline and willingness to collaborate, as well as high professionalism, are thus the foundation of the military credo.
Swain, R. M., & Pierce, A. C. (2017). The profession of arms. The armed forces officer (pp. 15-28). National Defence University Press.