U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, visits the U.S. Army National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, Calif., Nov. 6, 2016.

Can a soldier disobey orders? In some cases they can.

The military is a hierarchical organization. Some degree of obedience to the orders of superior officers is required for the organization to function. But those who serve in the U.S. military are not automatons, and they are not asked to surrender all independent moral judgment when they sign their enlistment papers. American service members are defending a nation of laws, not of men. Their obligation to obey the orders of their superiors does not include orders that are palpably illegal.

The complete article

John Ford — War on the Rocks

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  1. The question of the My Lai massacre came up in my AIT motion picture photography class when I was learning my US Army job in 1970. There were Marines, Airmen, a Vietnamese Seaman, and GIs in the class.

    The Vietnamese Seamen had no opinion he was willing to express. The GIs and Airmen felt they’d refuse any order to shoot the villagers because it was an order we felt was illegal. The Marine was willing and ready to shoot because he had complete confidence in his superiors to give only legal orders!

    Refusing to carry out an order in the military is like whistleblowing. If you are willing to suffer the consequences, you can follow your conscience.

  2. A very interesting post. I’m not from the USA, but I would assume this applies to any civilized Western country.
    I read the complete article from beginning to end. A thing I don’t always do with long articles. I often skim bits, but this deserves reading properly.
    Thank you for the post.

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