Mattox installed as CGSC's first ethics chair
November 10, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Nov. 10, 2011) -- Dr. John Mark Mattox was installed as the first Gen. Hugh Shelton Chair of Ethics at the Command and General Staff College Nov. 7.
As the ethics chair, Mattox has a visiting professorship, the first privately-funded position at CGSC, said Dr. Chris King, dean of academics at CGSC. The position was part of a $2.5 million gift to the CGSC Foundation by Ross Perot two years ago.
"It was his wish that the chair be named in honor of a great American Soldier whom he admired, Gen. Hugh Shelton," King said of Perot.
King said leadership and ethics have always been a part of the curriculum at CGSC. One cannot understand military leadership without examining the moral obligations required by commissioned officers, he said.
"However, the last 10 years of war have presented us with stark examples of how war challenges the very fiber of our soldier values," King said. "Some would try to narrow our judgments only to those incidents where we have failed to win the fight for the ethical higher ground, but there are many more examples of where great moral courage was demonstrated even in the face of the worst horrors of the world."
Retired Lt. Gen. John Miller, a former CGSC commandant, now works with the CGSC Foundation, a nonprofit group that is separate from the Department of Defense but supports activities at the college.
Miller said the naming of the new ethics chair also begins the third CGSC Foundation Ethics Symposium. Each year for the past three years, experts have come to CGSC to discuss the professional military ethic. This year's topics include genocide and Rwanda, the use and limits of military forces, and a white paper, "Profession of Arms Assessment," by Col. Sean Hannah, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
Miller said he saw the need for the study of ethics from his own experience.
"An abiding concern that I had from my combat experience, primarily in Vietnam, was that at the tactical level and the operational level, our officers and our noncommissioned officers really were not prepared with any kind of ethical framework," Miller said.
Mattox, a retired colonel, is a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, National Defense University. He has a doctorate in philosophy and semiotic studies from Indiana University and is also a graduate of the Intermediate Level Education program at CGSC and of the Army War College. His works include a 2006 book, "St. Augustine and the Theory of Just War."
Mattox said the intention of setting aside ethics as a topic among CGSC's curriculum is important.
"In the Army, we spend a great deal of time, effort and resources to ensure the leaders and Soldiers of the organization meet the standards associated with the membership in the profession of arms," he said.
The Army already requires Soldiers to meet physical fitness standards, meet marksmanship standards, maintain custody and care of equipment, and maintain suitability for security clearance, Mattox said.
Mattox also said when some institutions have decided they must adopt "value-neutrality" to be politically and socially correct, those institutions are unable to provide an appreciation for ethics.
"An organization like the Army that issues weapons to young men and women in their latter teens -- and calls upon them to make irreversible life and death decisions -- cannot afford the luxury of value-neutrality," Mattox said. "We must make active reflection upon ethics and virtue a fundamental part of our professional lifeblood."