Segments in this Video

Introduction: Ethics and Loyalty in Military (01:27)


Fred Friendly introduces the concepts of ethics and loyalty in the United States military.

Becoming a Soldier (04:25)

Moderator Charles Ogletree plays Jerry Irving Joe, a young man who wants to enlist in the military. There are many steps for an applicant to be accepted into the military.

Killing in the Military (03:00)

Ogletree asks, when is killing others is morally acceptable? Reverend J. Bryan Hehir says it is understood that soldiers must fight, but according to the Nuremberg Trials, they must know when to oppose an order that instructs them to do something they know or think is morally wrong.

Response to Attack (03:23)

General William C. Westmoreland says if one of his divisions was attacked and many soldiers died, he would obtain reinforcements and retaliate. Peter Jennings agrees with Westmoreland and asks questions about the attack.

Press/Military Relationship (03:11)

Westmoreland says he would not give reporters information because the enemy could be watching, and that could be detrimental to American soldiers. James E. Service says he would be a little more cooperative with the media as long as there is trust. Their first obligation is to the safety of the troops.

Military Representation (02:16)

Service and Newt Gingrich say the press should show the public moral actions performed by the military. They also believe that private events should not be aired on public television.

Decision to Kill (03:03)

Lieutenant Frederick Downs Jr. discusses the circumstances in which he would tell his soldiers to kill the enemy and take no prisoners. Captain Brian Jenkins agrees, but considers capturing prisoners of war. Each soldier must make his or her own decision.

Is It Murder? (05:10)

Down says the decision to kill enemies in battle depends on the circumstances; his first obligation is to his men. Major Robert C. Stuart, Colonel George M. Connell, and Hehir agree that enemy soldiers who are wounded should not be killed, but there are situations where orders are not clearly defined, and everything is subjective.

Blessing Soldiers (03:00)

Ogletree talks to Chaplain Timothy Tatum about the morality of a soldier's behavior in war. Tatum will bless the soldier but not the weapons or the missions, he will comfort soldiers about their fears, and he will pray for their safe return.

Following Orders (06:36)

Downs and General Edward C. Meyer believe soldiers should follow orders no matter the situation. They agree that lying to soldiers and using them as decoys is morally correct because it would be for the greater good. Meyer says it is unethical to not be professional in any field, and soldiers need to trust orders.

Media Presence (02:17)

Jennings says he, and other reporters, would stay out of the way and capture as much of the action on video. Westmoreland says that Jennings and other reporters might be there, but they are not welcome and do not belong. The press might pose a threat.

Basic Moral Understanding (03:27)

General David C. Jones says the basic understanding is that the military does not kill prisoners, the wounded, or their own soldiers. There are situations where an officer has to go against that moral understanding. A commander has responsibility and must make split decisions thought to be for the good of all soldiers.

Showing the Public (03:14)

When an act that is objectively immoral happens, it is the job of the media to show the public in a responsible manner. Mike Wallace says he would take time to discuss, understand, and edit the tape, but would still show it to the public.

Handling Enemies (06:50)

If placed in situations where officers must make split decisions about enemies, some say they would perform actions that look immoral. Military officers on the panel say they prefer to take enemies alive because they are more valuable, butwould kill them if necessary.

Conclusion: Ethics and Loyalty in Military (03:12)

Friendly concludes that loyalty in the military sometimes conflicts with a soldier’s moral compass. He introduces the next episode about confidentiality and the military.

Credits: Under Orders, Under Fire (Part 1) (01:02)

Credits: Under Orders, Under Fire (Part 1)

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Under Orders, Under Fire (Part I)

Part of the Series : Ethics in America
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



How do we wage war when the enemy dresses as civilians and children throw bombs? Generals William Westmoreland, David Jones, and Brent Scowcroft, correspondents Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace, and others question the duty to follow orders and a commander's obligation to protect soldiers.

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL160435

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

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