Moral and Ethical Issues
you need to help the soldier navigate issues of conscience and
responsibility while remembering the complex nature of the issues.
Therefore, it is important to remember that there are legal and
statutory issues involved, and soldiers are not responsible for judging
whether a particular conflict is or is not justifiable. Those soldiers
granted conscientious objector status receive it based on a moral
opposition to all war, not just objections to specific conflicts.
Morality in war is a direct responsibility of the soldier; therefore,
issues of the right conduct of war are generally more common. The
Army uses three basic principles for reflecting on the right conduct of
war: proportionality, safeguarding noncombatants, and conduct in
accordance with international agreements.
Proportionality is the first criterion and refers primarily to the
selection and use of weapons. It condemns "overkill." Its purpose is
to prevent unnecessary death, suffering, and destruction. It requires
the selection of military targets and the avoidance of intentional
destruction of civilian targets. It does not permit retaliation.
The second criterion is safeguarding noncombatants. This appears
more frequently than any other in international law. While the
identification of noncombatants has become more complex in modern
warfare and is complicated by such issues as "military necessity," it
clearly applies to the aged, the helpless, and children.
10 May 2005