Summary Of Dick Couch's A Tactical Ethic

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Dick Couch writes a thought-provoking book, A Tactical Ethic: Moral Conduct in the Insurgent Battlespace, which details a growing problem in the United States military, i.e. maintaining ethical and moral behavior on and off-duty. His supporting arguments are society emphasizes behavior not conducive to promoting positive ethical behavior, malignant personalities in the ranks spreading negative behavior, and the ambiguity of the asymmetric warfare fought today. He provides anecdotal evidence supporting the US military’s methodology to combat these trends. However, his true strength lies in the combat stories of ethical dilemmas related to him through soldiers serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and advice given for junior officers and …show more content…
The two greatest weaknesses of the book are a lack of emphasis or attention applied to the responsibilities of senior leaders as well as the “real-estate” of the book applied towards Close Quarters Defense (CQD), the Navy’s hand-to-hand combat training. While Couch utilizes his example of CQD as a method the Navy employs to teach discipline and ethics, he devotes 10 out of 113 pages of his book to it. Instead, I believe the book could have been further strengthened by commentary on the failures existent within the mid and upper-tier leadership ranks within the military; specifically, toxic command climates and unethical behavior albeit non-tactical in nature. Nonetheless, Couch’s final chapter provides solutions to improving ethical behavior in a succinct manner. Overall, I enjoyed the book and can cite numerous instances from my own personal career where I would echo Couch’s advice and solutions to ethical dilemmas within our ranks. Many of which I was forced to learn through first-hand experience, thereby ultimately shaping my moral compass. Summarily, in hindsight, I wish I had been forced to undergo discussion and practical exercises akin to those mentioned in the book during my initial training so as to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced early in …show more content…
For me, as I continue to grow as a leader, this book puts forth succinct guidance for leaders in ambiguous environments such as those experienced daily in special operations. While it has not changed my views on ethical behavior in the military, it has reaffirmed them. The largest compliment I could pay Couch would be to provide the aforementioned first-hand experiences supporting his statements in the book. As such I would wholeheartedly endorse Couch’s recommendations as a guidebook for leaders. In conclusion, the last piece of advice would be for junior leaders to maintain the wherewithal to stand up and inform superiors unadulterated truth instead of toeing the party line for what they want to

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