NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Ethics Challenged By Quiz

Do you ever stop to consider complex ethical dilemmas? You know, the kind where there’s sometimes more than one right answer?

Well, there’s a new branch of the Canadian Army tasked with helping soldiers figure out the answers–or where to find the answers–to these particularly thorny questions.

The Army Ethics Program (AEP), which launched this spring, is a comprehensive effort to train and place a unit ethics co-ordinator within every army unit.

“The AEP has been operationalized to address the enhanced ethical challenges faced in both garrison and while on operations. Be it peace or war, military ethics is about right and wrong–and doing what is right. Like Diogenes who, with his lamp went through the streets of Athens in search of honest men and women, the AEP is the medium through which land forces command personnel are to be drawn to the light of doing right,” writes Major Rick Walker, the army ethics officer.

Beyond unit ethics training, the AEP has also launched a complementary program to provoke discussion and awareness of the dilemmas posed by ethical issues. Using the Internet and CF publications, AEP has distributed a series of interactive case studies to poll respondents about their level of ethical awareness.

“These are case study vignettes. The whole idea is that they will trigger thinking in these areas by bringing out key elements of ethical concerns and issues,” said Walker. “So it’s a teaching device, it’s a learning device, there’s no end state. Is doing right sometimes not about following the rules?”

Following are some of the hypothetical cases and the results of survey responses.

Just Sort Them Out!

You are Corporal Hawthorne, a driver tasked as trail party to the lead company conducting a sweep of a local village for suspected insurgents. Young men are conducting a well-orchestrated harassment of the lead platoons by throwing stones and physically obstructing movement. The lead company commander loses patience and orders the reserve platoon to “sort out” the harassers. The reserve platoon grabs the obvious ringleaders and attempts to subdue them. In the course of their continued physical resistance, the soldiers’ ferocity builds to the point where the youths are severely beaten and in serious need of medical attention. The pace of the sweep picks up and the reserve simply moves on to the next report line, leaving the trail party to drive around the injured. You radio into company headquarters for instructions but are told to keep moving because “they got what they deserved and it will serve as a useful lesson to others.” As Cpl. Hawthorne, what do you do now? What is the easy thing to do? What is the “right” thing to do? What will each option mean for you, your fellow soldiers, and the injured villagers?

a. Do nothing. Keep moving because this is not your responsibility.
b. Break out the first-aid kits and have the medics treat the injured.
c. Report to the commander of the trail party and insist that somebody do something.
d. Leave an anonymous report for the military police.
e. None of the above.

Respondents: 151. Answers: a. 17 per cent; b. 52 per cent; c. 12 per cent; d. seven per cent and e. nine per cent.

To Tell Or Not To Tell: The Limits Of Medical Confidentiality

You are Jane Palmer, a master corporal medic assigned to the medical wing in support to the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, N.B. There is a unit deployment in full swing and in the process of a medical screening you come to realize that one of the high-profile “cute guys” that has been working his way through the female quarters, and is presently dating your best friend, has tested HIV-positive. The convention of doctor/patient confidentiality is in effect, and the patient is aware of his condition, but there is no telling if “Romeo” actually intends to change his lifestyle. Any irresponsibility on his part may now prove fatal to others. As M.Cpl. Palmer what is the “right” thing to do? (What will each option mean for you and the soldiers?)

a. Tell your best friend “in confidence.”
b. Leak the info anonymously to the female quarters.
c. None of the above.
d. Do nothing: “the rule is the rule.”

Respondents: 501. Answers: a. 37 per cent; b. eight per cent; c. 50 per cent; d. three per cent.

A Feeling Like No Other

You are Private Williams and your infantry platoon is advancing towards a village within insurgent-controlled territory. You and your buddy, Roley, are on point when the platoon is caught in an ambush. Roley is seriously wounded and cannot be moved while under enemy fire. You dress his wounds, while the platoon gives covering fire but no one can move up to help you and the platoon is ordered to conduct a tactical withdrawal in contact. Your section commander is ordering you to pull back and though sliding into shock, Roley is begging you not to leave him behind. Your head is spinning, your throat is bone dry, and you are feeling sick with fear as you sense the enemy about to close the ambush. As Pte. Williams what do you do now? What will each option mean for you, Roley, and the rest of the platoon?
a. Stay with your buddy and await the enemy advance.
b. Ignore the risk and attempt to move Roley back yourself.
c. Withdraw on your own and report Roley’s condition to your section commander.
d. Counter your section commander’s order to withdraw and attempt to direct fire support and manpower forward to extricate your “buddy.”
e. None of the above.

Respondents: 125. Answers: a. six per cent; b. 62 per cent; c. seven per cent; d. 16 per cent and e. eight per cent.

Let It Go And Everything Will Be All Right

You are Warrant Officer Steve Levy and during a social event your friend, Alice, the commanding officer’s secretary, confides in you–in strictest confidence–that since her divorce the commanding officer, who is married, has been “hitting on her.” His attentions have made her increasingly uncomfortable. Aware of the unit policy on harassment, you advise her to report it. You suggest that she should at least speak to Captain Brassy, the unit ethics co-ordinator. Alice thanks you for your concern, but points out that the CO is within months of a promotion and a posting, and that if made aware, Capt. Brassy would certainly “do the right thing.” Her fear is that the CO writes both her and Capt. Brassy’s personal evaluation report. If she blows the whistle, career retribution could be swift for both of them. “No,” she says, the right answer is to “just let it go and everything will be all right.”

As WO Levy, what do you do now? Is this an ethical dilemma?
a. Do nothing. Respect Alice’s request and just let it go.
b. Report the situation to Capt. Brassy and let the chain of command handle the situation.
c. Leak the information, anonymously, to the civilian personnel officer.
d. None of the above Respondents:

218. Answers: a. 21 per cent; b. 57 per cent; c. six per cent and d. 13 per cent.

Sign up today for a FREE download of Canada’s War Stories

Free e-book

An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.