Army Values




Bear true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers.

Loyalty is the big thing, the greatest battle asset of all. But no man ever wins the loyalty of troops by preaching loyalty.  It is given to him as he proves his possession of the other virtues.

Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall
Men Against Fire

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Since before the founding of the republic, America´s Army has respected its subordination to its civilian political leaders.  This subordination is fundamental to preserving the liberty of all Americans.  You began your Army career by swearing allegiance to the Constitution, the basis of our government and laws.  Pay particular attention to Article I, Section 8, which outlines Congressional responsibilities regarding the armed forces, and Article II, Section 2, which designates the president as commander in chief.  Beyond your allegiance to the Constitution, you have an obligation to be faithful to the Army, the institution and its people, and to your unit or organization.  Few examples illustrate loyalty to country and institution as well as the example of GEN George Washington in 1782.

GEN George Washington at Newburgh

Following its victory at Yorktown in 1781, the Continental Army set up camp at Newburgh, New York, to wait for peace with Great Britain.  The central government formed under the Articles of Confederation proved weak and unwilling to supply the Army properly or even pay the soldiers who had won the war for independence.  After months of waiting many officers, angry and impatient, suggested that the Army march on the seat of government in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and force Congress to meet the Army´s demands.  One colonel even suggested that GEN Washington become King George I.

Upon hearing this, GEN Washington assembled his officers and publicly and emphatically rejected the suggestion.  He believed that seizing power by force would have destroyed everything for which the Revolutionary War had been fought.  By this action, GEN Washington firmly established an enduring precedent: America?s armed forces are subordinate to civilian authority and serve the democratic principles that are now enshrined in the Constitution.  GEN Washington?s action demonstrated the loyalty to country that America´s Army must maintain in order to protect the freedom enjoyed by all Americans.

GEN Washington´s example shows how the obligation to subordinates and peers fits in the context of loyalty to the chain of command and the institution at large.  As commander of the Continental Army, GEN Washington was obligated to see that his soldiers were taken care of.  However, he also was obligated to ensure that the new nation remained secure and that the Continental Army remained able to fight if necessary.  If the Continental Army had marched on the seat of government, it may well have destroyed the nation by undermining the law that held it together.  It also would have destroyed the Army as an institution by destroying the basis for the authority under which it served.  GEN Washington realized these things and acted based on his knowledge.  Had he done nothing else, this single act would have been enough to establish GEN George Washington as the father of his country.

Loyalty is a two-way street: you should not expect loyalty without being prepared to give it as well.  Leaders can neither demand loyalty nor win it from their people by talking about it.  The loyalty of your people is a gift they give you when, and only when, you deserve it, when you train them well, treat them fairly, and live by the concepts you talk about.  Leaders who are loyal to their subordinates never let them be misused.

Soldiers fight for each other, loyalty is commitment.  Some of you will encounter the most important way of earning this loyalty: leading your soldiers well in combat.  There´s no loyalty fiercer than that of soldiers who trust their leader to take them through the dangers of combat.  However, loyalty extends to all members of an organization, to your superiors and subordinates, as well as your peers.

Loyalty extends to all members of the Total Force.  The reserve components, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, play an increasingly active role in the Total Force´s mission.  Most DA civilians will not be called upon to serve in combat theaters, but their contributions to mission accomplishment are nonetheless vital.  As an Army leader, you will serve throughout your career with soldiers of the active and reserve components as well as DA civilians.  All are members of the same team, loyal to one another.



Fulfill your obligations.

The essence of duty is acting in the absence of orders or direction from others, based on an inner sense of what is morally and professionally right....

General John A. Wickham Jr
Former Army Chief of Staff

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Duty begins with everything required of you by law, regulation, and orders; but it includes much more than that. Professionals do their work not just to the minimum standard, but to the very best of their ability. Soldiers and DA civilians commit to excellence in all aspects of their professional responsibility so that when the job is done they can look back and say, "I couldnít have given any more."

Army leaders take the initiative, figuring out what needs to be done before being told what to do. Whatís more, they take full responsibility for their actions and those of their subordinates. Army leaders never shade the truth to make the unit look good, or even to make their subordinates feel good. Instead, they follow their higher duty to Americaís Army and the nation.

Duty in Korea

CPT Viola B. McConnell was the only Army nurse on duty in Korea in July of 1950. When hostilities broke out, she escorted nearly 700 American evacuees from Seoul to Japan aboard a freighter designed to accommodate only 12 passengers. CPT McConnell assessed priorities for care of the evacuees and worked exhaustively with a medical team to care for them. Once in Japan, she requested reassignment back to Korea. After all she had already done, CPT McConnell returned to Taejon to care for and evacuate wounded soldiers of the 24th Infantry Division.

CPT McConnell understood and fulfilled her duty to the Army and to the soldiers she supported in ways that went beyond her medical training. A leaderís duty is to take charge, even in unfamiliar circumstances. But duty isnít reserved for special occasions. When a platoon sergeant tells a squad leader to inspect weapons, the squad leader has fulfilled his minimum obligation when he has checked the weapons. Heís done what he was told to do. But if the squad leader finds weapons that are not clean or serviced, his sense of duty tells him to go beyond the platoon sergeantís instructions. The squad leader does his duty when he corrects the problem and ensures the weapons are up to standard.

In extremely rare cases, you may receive an illegal order. Duty requires that you refuse to obey it. You have no choice but to do whatís ethically and legally correct.



Treat people as they should be treated.

The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.

Major General John M. Schofield
Address to the United States Corps of Cadets
11 August 1879

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Respect for the individual forms the basis for the rule of law, the very essence of what makes America. In America's Army, respect means recognizing and appreciating the inherent dignity and worth of all people. This value reminds you that your people are your greatest resource. Army leaders honor everyone's individual worth by treating all people with dignity and respect.

As America becomes more culturally diverse, Army leaders must be aware that they will deal with people from a wider range of ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Effective leaders are tolerant of beliefs different from their own as long as those beliefs don't conflict with Army values, are not illegal, and are not unethical. As an Army leader, you need to avoid misunderstandings arising from cultural differences. Actively seeking to learn about people and cultures different from your own can help you do this. Being sensitive to other cultures can also aid you in counseling your people more effectively. You show respect when you seek to understand your people's background, see things from their perspective, and appreciate what's important to them.

As an Army leader, you must also foster a climate in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender, creed, or religious belief. Fostering this climate begins with your example: how you live Army values shows your people how they should live them. However, values training is another major contributor. Effective training helps create a common understanding of Army values and the standards you expect. When you conduct it as part of your regular routine, such as during developmental counseling sessions, you reinforce the message that respect for others is part of the character of every soldier and DA civilian. Combined with your example, such training creates an organizational climate that promotes consideration for others, fairness in all dealings, and equal opportunity. In essence, Army leaders treat others as they wish to be treated.

As part of this consideration, leaders create an environment in which subordinates are challenged, where they can reach their full potential and be all they can be. Providing tough training doesn't demean subordinates; in fact, building their capabilities and showing faith in their potential is the essence of respect. Effective leaders take the time to learn what their subordinates want to accomplish. They advise their people on how they can grow, personally and professionally. Not all of your subordinates will succeed equally, but they all deserve respect.

Respect is also an essential component for the development of disciplined, cohesive, and effective warfighting teams. In the deadly confusion of combat, soldiers often overcome incredible odds to accomplish the mission and protect the lives of their comrades. This spirit of selfless service and duty is built on a soldier's personal trust and regard for fellow soldiers. A leader's willingness to tolerate discrimination or harassment on any basis, or a failure to cultivate a climate of respect, eats away at this trust and erodes unit cohesion. But respect goes beyond issues of discrimination and harassment; it includes the broader issue of civility, the way people treat each other and those they come in contact with. It involves being sensitive to diversity and one's own behaviors that others may find insensitive, offensive, or abusive. Soldiers and DA civilians, like their leaders, treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Selfless Service

Selfless Service

Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

The nation today needs men who think in terms of service to their country and not in terms of their countryís debt to them.

General of the Army Omar N. Bradley

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You have often heard the military referred to as "the service." As a member of the Total Force, you serve the United States. Selfless service means doing whatís right for the nation, the Army, your organization, and your peopleóand putting these responsibilities above your own interests. The needs of Americaís Army and the nation come first. This doesnít mean that you neglect your family or yourself; in fact, such neglect weakens a leader and can cause the Army more harm than good. Selfless service doesnít mean that you canít have a strong ego, high self-esteem, or even healthy ambition. Rather, selfless service means that you donít make decisions or take actions that help your image or your career but hurt others or sabotage the mission. The selfish superior claims credit for work his subordinates do; the selfless leader gives credit to those who earned it. The Army canít function except as a team, and for a team to work, the individual has to give up self-interest for the good of the whole.

Soldiers are not the only members of the Total Force who display selfless service. DA civilians display this value as well. Then Army Chief of Staff, Gordon R. Sullivan assessed the DA civilian contribution to Operation Desert Storm this way:

Not surprisingly, most of the civilians deployed to Southwest Asia volunteered to serve there. But the civilian presence in the Gulf region meant more than moral support and filling in for soldiers. Gulf War veterans say that many of the combat soldiers could owe their lives to the DA civilians who helped maintain equipment by speeding up the process of getting parts and other support from 60 logistics agencies Army-wide.

As GEN Sullivanís comment indicates, selfless service is an essential component of teamwork. Team members give of themselves so that the team may succeed. In combat some soldiers give themselves completely so that their comrades can live and the mission can be accomplished. But the need for selflessness isnít limited to combat situations. Requirements for individuals to place their own needs below those of their organization can occur during peacetime as well. And the requirement for selflessness doesnít decrease with oneís rank; it increases. Consider this example of a soldier of long service and high rank who demonstrated the value of selfless service.

Duty in Korea

GA George C. Marshall served as Army Chief of Staff from 1939 until 1945. He led Americaís Army through the buildup, deployment, and world-wide operations of World War II. In November 1945 he retired to a well-deserved rest at his home in Leesburg, Virginia. Just six days later President Harry S Truman called on him to serve as Special Ambassador to China. From the White House President Truman telephoned GA Marshall at his home: "General, I want you to go to China for me," the president said. "Yes, Mr. President," GA Marshall replied. He then hung up the telephone, informed his wife of the presidentís request and his reply, and prepared to return to government service.

President Truman didnít appoint GA Marshall a special ambassador to reward his faithful service; he appointed GA Marshall because there was a tough job in China that needed to be done. The Chinese communists under Mao Tse-tung were battling the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek, who had been Americaís ally against the Japanese; GA Marshallís job was to mediate peace between them. In the end, he was unsuccessful in spite of a year of frustrating work; the scale of the problem was more than any one person could handle. However, in January 1947 President Truman appointed GA Marshall Secretary of State. The Cold War had begun and the president needed a leader Americans trusted. GA Marshallís reputation made him the one; his selflessness led him to continue to serve.

When faced with a request to solve a difficult problem in an overseas theater after six years of demanding work, GA Marshall didnít say, "Iíve been in uniform for over thirty years, we just won a world war, and I think Iíve done enough." Instead, he responded to his commander in chief the only way a professional could. He said Yes, took care of his family, and prepared to accomplish the mission. After a year overseas, when faced with a similar question, he gave the same answer. GA Marshall always placed his countryís interests first and his own second. Army leaders who follow his example do the same.



Live up to all the Army values.

What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death.

Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

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Honor provides the "moral compass" for character and personal conduct in America's Army. Though many people struggle to define the term, most recognize instinctively those with a keen sense of right and wrong, those who live such that their words and deeds are above reproach. The expression "honorable person," therefore, refers to both the character traits an individual actually possesses and the fact that the community recognizes and respects them.

Honor holds the Army values together while at the same time being a value itself. Together, Army values describe the foundation essential to develop leaders of character. Honor means demonstrating an understanding of what's right and taking pride in the community's acknowledgment of that reputation. Military ceremonies recognizing individual and unit achievement demonstrate and reinforce the importance America's Army places on honor.

For you as an Army leader, demonstrating an understanding of what's right and taking pride in that reputation means this: Live up to all the Army values. Implicitly, that's what you promised when you took your oath of office or enlistment. You made this promise publicly, and the standards-Army values-are also public. To be an honorable person, you must be true to your oath and live Army values in all you do. Living honorably strengthens Army values not only for yourself but for others as well: all members of an organization contribute to the organization's climate. By what they do, people living out Army values contribute to a climate that encourages all members of the Total Force to do the same.

How you conduct yourself and meet your obligations defines who you are as a person; how the Total Force meets the nation's commitments defines America's Army as an institution. For you as an Army leader, honor means putting Army values above self-interest, above career and comfort. For all soldiers, it means putting Army values above self-preservation as well. This honor is essential for creating a bond of trust among members of the Total Force and between America's Army and the nation it serves. Army leaders have the strength of will to live according to Army values, even though the temptations to do otherwise are strong, especially in the face of personal danger. The military's highest award is the Medal of Honor. Its recipients didn't do just what was required of them; they went beyond the expected, above and beyond the call of duty. Some gave their own lives so that others could live. It's fitting that the word we use to describe their achievements is "honor."

MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart in Somalia

During a raid in Mogadishu in October 1993, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart, leader and member of a sniper team with Task Force Ranger in Somalia, were providing precision and suppressive fires from helicopters above two helicopter crash sites. Learning that no ground forces were available to rescue one of the downed aircrews and aware that a growing number of enemy were closing in on the site, MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart volunteered to be inserted to protect their critically wounded comrades. Their initial request was turned down because of the danger of the situation. They asked a second time; permission was denied. Only after their third request were they inserted.

MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart were inserted one hundred meters south of the downed chopper. Armed only with their personal weapons, the two NCOs fought their way to the downed fliers through intense small arms fire, a maze of shanties and shacks, and the enemy converging on the site. After MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart pulled the wounded from the wreckage, they established a perimeter, put themselves in the most dangerous position, and fought off a series of attacks. The two NCOs continued to protect their comrades until they had depleted their ammunition and were themselves fatally wounded. Their actions saved the life of an Army pilot.

No one will ever know what was running through the minds of MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart as they left the comparative safety of their helicopter to go to the aid of the downed aircrew. The two NCOs knew there was no ground rescue force available, and they certainly knew there was no going back to their helicopter. They may have suspected that things would turn out as they did; nonetheless, they did what they believed to be the right thing. They acted based on Army values, which they had clearly made their own: loyalty to their fellow soldiers; the duty to stand by them, regardless of the circumstances; the personal courage to act, even in the face of great danger; selfless service, the willingness to give their all. MSG Gary I. Gordon and SFC Randall D. Shughart lived Army values to the end; they were posthumously awarded Medals of Honor.



Do what's right, legally and morally.

The American people rightly look to their military leaders not only to be skilled in the technical aspects of the profession of arms, but also to be men of integrity.

General J. Lawton Collins
Former Army Chief of Staff

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People of integrity consistently act according to principles, not just what might work at the moment. Leaders of integrity make their principles known and consistently act in accordance with them. America's Army requires leaders of integrity who possess high moral standards and are honest in word and deed. Being honest means being truthful and upright all the time, despite pressures to do otherwise. Having integrity means being both morally complete and true to yourself. As an Army leader, you're honest to yourself by committing to and consistently living Army values; you're honest to others by not presenting yourself or your actions as anything other than what they are. Army leaders say what they mean and do what they say. If you can't accomplish a mission, inform your chain of command. If you inadvertently pass on bad information, correct it as soon as you find out it's wrong. People of integrity do the right thing not because it's convenient or because they have no choice. They choose the right because their character permits no less. Conducting yourself with integrity has three parts:

  • Separating what's right from what's wrong.
  • Always acting according to what you know to be right, even at personal cost.
  • Saying openly that you're acting on your understanding of right versus wrong.

Leaders can't hide what they do: that's why you must carefully decide how you act. As an Army leader, you're always on display. If you want to instill Army values in others, you must internalize and demonstrate them yourself. Your personal values may and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, if you're to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce, not contradict, Army values.

Any conflict between your personal values and the Army values must be resolved before you can become a morally complete Army leader. You may need to consult with someone whose values and judgment you respect. You would not be the first person to face this issue, and as a leader, you can expect others to come to you, too. If one of your subordinates asks you to help resolve a similar conflict, you must be prepared by being sure your own values align with Army values. Resolving such conflicts is necessary to become a leader of integrity.

Personal Courage

Personal Courage

Face fear, danger, or adversity (Physical or Moral).

The concept of professional courage does not always mean being as tough as nails either. It also suggests a willingness to listen to the soldiers' problems, to go to bat for them in a tough situation, and it means knowing just how far they can go. It also means being willing to tell the boss when he's wrong.

Former Sergeant Major of the Army William Connelly

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Personal courage isn't the absence of fear; rather, it's the ability to put fear aside and do what's necessary. It takes two forms, physical and moral. Good leaders demonstrate both.

Physical courage means overcoming fears of bodily harm and doing your duty. It's the bravery that allows a soldier to take risks in combat in spite of the fear of wounds or death. Physical courage is what gets the soldier at Airborne School out the aircraft door. It's what allows an infantryman to assault a bunker to save his buddies.

In contrast, moral courage is the willingness to stand firm on your values, principles, and convictions, even when threatened. It enables leaders to stand up for what they believe is right, regardless of the consequences. Leaders who take responsibility for their decisions and actions, even when things go wrong, display moral courage. Courageous leaders are willing to look critically inside themselves, consider new ideas, and change what needs changing.

Moral courage is sometimes overlooked, both in discussions of personal courage and in the everyday rush of business. A DA civilian at a meeting heard courage mentioned several times in the context of combat. The DA civilian pointed out that consistent moral courage is every bit as important as momentary physical courage. Situations requiring physical courage are rare; situations requiring moral courage can occur frequently. Moral courage is essential to living the Army values of integrity and honor every day.

In combat physical and moral courage may blend together. The right thing to do may not only be unpopular, but dangerous as well. Situations of that sort reveal who's a leader of character and who's not. Consider this example.

Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson at My Lai

Personal courage, whether physical, moral, or a combination of the two, may be manifested in a variety of ways, both on and off the battlefield. On March 16, 1968 Warrant Officer (WO1) Hugh C. Thompson Jr. and his two-man crew were on a reconnaissance mission over the village of My Lai, Republic of Vietnam. WO1 Thompson watched in horror as he saw an American soldier shoot an injured Vietnamese child. Minutes later, when he observed American soldiers advancing on a number of civilians in a ditch, WO1 Thompson landed his helicopter and questioned a young officer about what was happening on the ground. Told that the ground action was none of his business, WO1 Thompson took off and continued to circle the area.

When it became apparent that the American soldiers were now firing on civilians, WO1 Thompson landed his helicopter between the soldiers and a group of 10 villagers who were headed for a homemade bomb shelter. He ordered his gunner to train his weapon on the approaching American soldiers and to fire if necessary. Then he personally coaxed the civilians out of the shelter and airlifted them to safety. WO1 Thompson's radio reports of what was happening were instrumental in bringing about the cease-fire order that saved the lives of more civilians. His willingness to place himself in physical danger in order to do the morally right thing is a sterling example of personal courage.