Saturday, March 17, 2012
Colonel Robert D. Heinl's plea of nearly 56 years ago - restore the special trust and confidence of our officer corps
Point 4: Officer discipline must be unsparing.
Officers who transgress the code of their profession must be punished. In most cases they should be gotten rid of. Misguided reluctance on the part of commanding officers to do individual hurt must give way to realization that the price we pay for “special trust and confidence” is unsparing personal accountability.
If the individual failings which have given rise to blanket restrictions and erosion of officer status had been dealt with individually, the horrible examples with which this essay commences need never have existed.
Furthermore, unsparing officer discipline oughtn’t to start with the cases on the critical list—that is, at the general court martial stage. Commanding officers must discover the moral courage—and be fully supported by higher commanders—to correct and bring to notice officers whose habits and qualities are in the least below par.
An administrative reform which would greatly facilitate such corrective action would be a more realistic philosophy of fitness reporting so that individuals could be routinely appraised in their defects as well as in their virtues.
But commanding officers are not the only ones concerned with officer discipline. Every officer must be jealous of the special trust and confidence reposed in the whole officer corps.
The full essay remains available from the United States Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS archive - HERE.