The Marine Corps has a history of implementing new ideas and teachings to better equip Marines for success. From the use of new technology such as helicopter insertion during the Korean War, to recent policy modifications, including uniform changes and appearance standards, the Corps has continually sought to improve both physically and mentally. As the Corps moves forward to respond and adapt to the next generation of war fighters, Marine leaders will reflect on our proud history while looking to the future – ensuring Marines continue to develop as quality citizens.
In June, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos ordered a stand down: a one-day ethics training event for all Marines to help them understand the value of developing a deeper code of values to bring the Corps to higher standards.
“The Marine Corps is a wonderful institution,” Amos said. “When we look at the Corps and tell the Marines to correct themselves and get on true north, they do it.”
Amos said it is important for the Corps to get back to true north.
The Marine Corps University now provides all lieutenant colonels and colonels in command a new ethics course, “Developing Ethical Leaders.” These leaders will bear the responsibility for ensuring the Marines under their charge receive and understand this course as well.
“This isn’t a training to show the difference between right and wrong,” said Dr. Paulo Tripodi, professor of ethics and leadership Marine Corps University. “This is about crafting Marines into better decision makers.”
Tripodi said, senior leaders in the Corps have been developing and providing ethics training for years, to give Marines a better understanding of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
“In 2003, we were teaching very little about ethics in the Corps,” Tripodi said. “Since then … we increased ethics awareness on a greater scale. Now is a good moment in the natural progression of the Corps to introduce ethics into training.”
With such a large-scale approach to this, Tripodi stressed it goes beyond what is usually instilled in Marines during boot camp.
“We want to go beyond ‘Marines don’t steal, cheat or lie,” Tripodi said. “We want to have that well established and then ask under what circumstances someone might be stealing and if so, why?”
Ethics training will help Marines be better decision makers and avoid engaging in unethical behavior.
“Junior Marines will have a better understanding of how to make decisions in a stressful environment or in a group under peer pressure,” Tripodi said. “What we want to do is discuss right and wrong and see where our understanding of right and wrong can be compromised.”
Once such situations are identified, Marines can then plan their actions ahead of time and make the appropriate decisions.
“We’re going to educate [the Marines],” Amos said. “We’re going to make sure every general officer is grounded in truth as well as all commanders and their top enlisted.”
Helping Marines to understand and act on what is right can also affect the rest of the nation, Tripodi said.
“When you have better decision makers as Marines, you have better decision makers as American citizens,” Tripodi said. “When they go back to society, they will have this extra ethical element from the Corps.”
This training is not about creating greater consequences for those breaking the rules – this training is about ensuring Marines know what the right thing to do is and have the moral strength and character to do the right thing, Tripodi said.
“We have the right policies in place right now,” Amos said. “We just need to be disciplined enough to follow not only the letter of the law but the spirit and intent of the law.”
The culture of the Corps and the mindset of Marines are powerful forces in ensuring our Marines do their very best, for their Nation, its citizens and their Marine Corps family.
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