"If the theory of war did no more than remind us of these [moral] elements, demonstrating the need to reckon with and give full value to moral qualities, it would expand its horizon, and simply by establishing this point of view would condemn in advance anyone who bought to base an analysis on material factors alone. "
–Carl Von Clausewitz
The US military has a responsibility to itself and society to set and adhere to high moral standards. This requires the kind of moral courage that is critical to successful leadership. It also models a healthy value system for a society that may be in danger due to its own abandonment of such traditional values. The military value system is based almost entirely on the laws that govern it, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ applies to all branches of the military including the Coast Guard. Most of the issues covered in the UCMJ include: bringing cases to military courts, the different types of court-martial, treatment and apprehension of prisoners, and the trial process. Additionally, rules and regulations govern military behavior and standards of conduct. It is the very nature of military leadership to promote virtuous behavior for thoseselves and those who follow rather than passively follow the crowd that is liberalizing its values to accommodateate contemporary social trends.
The professional military leader is stuck in the middle of this conflict between traditional and contemporary values, on one hand being a member of a dynamic society, and on the other hand called to lead in an establishment steadfast on traditional moral principles. But you may have noticed that people with military experience have certain intangible qualities. Things like self-confidence, pride and a sense of purpose. The military instills these qualities in enlistees because it makes them good people. By embodying such core values as Honor, Courage and Commitment; men and women build character and confidence, develop strong team skills, and learn to accept responsibility and accountability for personal actions. In the Navy, for instance, the same bedrock principals or core values of honor, courage, and commitment have transported on to today since the naval service began during the American Revolution.