This module is designed to take you past the theory and into the gritty world of applied military ethics. In the first two sections we will build a model of why soldiers commit atrocities supported with case studies, then in the following three sections we will explore what you as a military leader can do to try and prevent soldiers from committing atrocity in war. We want to give you, as a small-unit leader, a framework with which to understand, explain and anticipate ethical risk.
Major Tom McDermott DSO MA joined the British Army in 2001 and has operated from the tactical to the strategic. Before transferring to the Australian Army in 2015, he was an Instructor at the Defence Academy of the UK.
Lt Col Stephen Hart RM is currently head of Command Leadership and Management training at the Army Division of the UK Defence Academy. He has commanded on operations in Northern Ireland, East Timor, Sierra Leonne and Afghanistan. He was appointed as a First Sea Lord Fellow in 2014.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Hart from the British Royal Marines provides a short introduction to the Armouring Against Atrocity module by laying out the aims of the module, its structure and central themes.
Lt Col Steve Hart RM introduces a model that links the corrupting influence of the situation of war with both group dynamics and individual agency to explain ethical drift in behaviour and the pressures that might lead to atrocities being committed.
In this second section Lt Col Steve Hart RM will look at a series of case studies of atrocities and tie them into the model proposed in the first section. The three case studies are the My Lai Massacre from the Vietnam War, The Somalia Affair and the death of Baha Mousa.
Major Tom McDermott DSO, Research Fellow for the King’s College London Centre for Military Ethics will examine what you as a military leader can do to try and prevent soldiers from committing atrocity in war. In this section Tom will review and then build upon the model constructed by Lt Col Hart in the first two sections and then talk about knowing the individuals under your command and how to identify those who might be predisposed to ethical failure or those who might be more vulnerable to the stresses of the situation in which they find themselves.
In this section Maj Tom McDermott DSO will discuss the 'Group As The Prize' and discuss the challenges of the military group dynamic in war. He will introduce and expand upon the idea of the Virtue Ethic as a powerful tool to armour your soldiers against ethical failure and how to 'Build The Group' and develop and articulate your Virtue Ethic.
In this section Maj Tom McDermott DSO discuses how you might understand the situation of war you find yourself in, ways of monitoring for potential ethical problems and suggestions for how to establish protective tactics to help you and your soldiers from ethical drift.
This section provides the full notes for the whole Armouring Against Atrocity module and a further reading list.
Lt Col Steve Hart RM provides a short conclusion to the Armouring Against Atrocity module by drawing together all the elements that have been discussed during the module and, in the process, emphasising the conclusions drawn.