For the military leader, the maintenance of good order and discipline is essential for a military force to be effective. An undisciplined military force is a losing one (Hoversten). General Robert E. Lee was one of the greatest military leaders of all time and was firm when it came to discipline. It was important to him that his soldiers understood that, in addition to efficiency, discipline guaranteed a solder’s safety; that if his forces did not prepare themselves for war when they had a chance, they would pay dearly (McBride). Discipline can be best defined as “a state of training, resulting in orderly conduct.” (McBride). This “state of training” must be achieved as well as maintained during peacetime so come wartime our forces are well prepared. The maintaining of good order and discipline sometimes calls for a supervisor or commander to intervene and advocate for the best interest of their troops.
However, other times it includes the imposition of administrative censures or even non-judicial or judicial punishment (Hoversten). Maintaining an atmosphere of good order and discipline is really a matter of how one perceives their surroundings. If soldiers are happy, lead with authority, are recognized for their achievements, and are treated fairly, they will respond by performing their assigned duties to the best of their ability (Navy Advancement 3-9). Those seniors who are most consistent in decision making and treatment of subordinates are those who subordinates are more willing to follow. These leaders both reinforce and discipline behaviour to guide subordinate’s development, to live according to the Army values, to teach moral principles, ethical theory and leadership attributes. Behaviour is the manner of conducting oneself; it is the response of an individual or group to its environment. (FLW EO Office). Good order and discipline set the standards of appropriate behaviour for the individual and the group. It allows the individual and group to know how and when to act, keeping everyone in line and the group to work as a cohesive one. Take the BETARI Box model, for example, my attitude affects my behaviour, which in turn affects your attitude which affects your behaviour which then comes back around and affects my behaviour (FLW EO Office).
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With good order and discipline, it sets clear expectations for the whole to live by, so the whole can function without too many bumps in the road. There will however be some 10 per cent of those “hard cases” and “sea lawyers,” who require your personal attention and those members must be dealt with systematically on a case by case basis (Navy Advancement 3-9). The postponement of disciplinary action will cause conditions to deteriorate to the point where severe measures become necessary (Navy Advancement 3-9). Good order and discipline keep operations running smoothly and provides for a chaos free working environment. When expectations are set and followed through with, morale is then set to a high standard and allows for more efficient work and a more content workforce, or in regards to the military more content servicemen and woman.
Insubordination has on respect for rank; if tolerated; it will infect a military unit and destroy all existing discipline (Navy Advancement 3-9). If sloppy work habits, military appearance and poor attitudes are allowed, all uniformity and quality will decay. Good order and discipline can influence individuals to promote Army values by setting expectations. These expectations assist in the development of good character and help subordinates to behave correctly through correct understanding and personal desire. Good order and discipline foster correct actions through role modelling, teaching and coaching. Without good order and discipline the foundation of our military crumbs.
Liberty in the military environment is the right to act in a manner of one’s own choosing within the restraints of the regulations and good order and discipline (McBride). All military personnel are free privately to do “their own thing” as long as they never lose their sense of duty. Failure to go, absent without leave (AWOL), poor attitude, drug and/or alcohol use and abuse or continued tardiness are some examples of violations by individuals who do not understand the full meaning of personal liberty. Extra duty, restriction, and correctional custody all punish as well as psychologically teach the value of liberty to the individual (McBride).
Good order and discipline are vital for a successful military. General George Patton was a strong disciplinarian who was equally as adamant about preparedness. He told his commanders if they did not enforce and maintain perfect discipline, they were potential murderers (McBride). He went on to say… “That is a blunt way of putting it, but war is blunt, and war is what we must all prepare for” (McBride). It is too late to prepare for war once the war has already begun. Good order and discipline prepare soldiers for war; it teaches responsibility for being accountable for what they do or fail to do and it assists soldiers in making them accountable for their personal conduct as well.
Good order and discipline is a state of obedience. It allows those who serve in the military to be prompt and willing; to be responsive to orders and to understand and comply with the regulation. It makes for a strong, uniformed force that can act swiftly and justly to maintain safety. Without good order and discipline the safety of the American people, the military as a whole and fellow soldiers are at risk. Good order and discipline is the backbone of leadership, it is the foundation of the Army core values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Once in the military, whether on or off duty, you represent the military and it is important to represent the United State Military with pride and honour.
It is only when we consider the military as a whole in maintaining good order and discipline that we truly take care of our people. How well we use our tools of good order and discipline may well determine how well we use our tools of war (Hoversten).
FLW EO Office. “Values, Attitudes and Behaviors.” Retrieved 19 June 2011 http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/eo_values.ppt Hoversten, Michael. “Take care of your people: order, discipline vital for military effectiveness.” 2006 U.S. Air Intelligence Agency, 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. Retrieved 18 June 2011 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0QUY/is_3_46/ai_n16125632/ McBride, Loyd W. Chief Master Sergeant. “Discipline.” Air University Review, May-June 1981. Document created: 25 July 01. Retrieved 18 June 2001. http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1981/may-jun/mcbride.htm Navy Advancement CD-ROM. One on Demand. (3-9) 24 February 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2011. http://www.tpub.com/content/advancement/14148/css/14148_37.htm
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