Importance of Accountabilty in the Military

8 August 2016

Accountability is defined by answering or accounting for one’s actions and results. It is something every leader should aspire to obtain and uphold. Accountability is easily talked about but can be very hard and uncomfortable to apply to one’s self. You will rarely hear someone stating that they should be more accountable for their actions, yet we do hear that from our peers and leaders on how we should take more accountability for our day to day actions and how they could eventually affect our futures. In the Army it is extremely important to be accountable for one’s self and their soldiers.

From the purposes of a squad leader it is always important to know where and what your soldiers are doing. Prime case is if you notice that your soldier is not at accountability formation and they never have missed that formation before it would probably behoove you to try and get in contact with the soldier. Granted their tardiness most likely may be due to something as trivial as oversleeping, forgetting to turn on or wake up to their alarm or being stuck in traffic on slight chances it could be something terribly worse such as hospitalization or death.

Importance of Accountabilty in the Military Essay Example

In my own experience I have seen a stellar soldier who one day did not show up to morning formation and his squad leader failed to recognize his absence and towards the end of the day is when everyone found out that the same soldier had committed suicide the night prior. I am not saying that the squad leader is at fault in any way for the soldier’s choice to take his own life, however his entire chain of command failed to recognize his absence which could have resulted in an earlier reorganization of the tragedy.

But I digress from my tangent and shall go on further to discuss the importance of personal accountability ranging from the lowest ranking private to the highest ranking officer. The bottom line is that accountability means letting your actions rise above your excuses. In the midst of everything accountability is really about being specific. Specific expectations and specific outcomes and specific consequences. All soldiers have learned since the beginning of their time in the military that there are certain expectations of them and the core facts are to be in the right place at the right time in the right uniform.

If one soldier is constantly late or doing the wrong thing than as a leader it may be easier to turn a blind eye to the actions and dismiss them for forgetfulness but regardless of that one mustn’t sweep poor performance under the rug because it could cause friction in a unit or team. When one person’s performance is not up to par it brings the group down and gives the impression that this behavior is acceptable when in reality it is not, especially in the military world.

As a leader you must always make your standards very clear and follow through with rewards and punishments, and that can only be done by being specific. Never beat around the bush about what your expectations are or what information needs to be put out. Failure to inform and plan is planning to fail. We tend to think of our actions and shortcomings as consequences to the now and that they may not have any effect on us in the future. Which in all means could be true but it might just be the seed to bad habits forming.

Doing something mistakenly wrong once and never receiving reprisal may give the weak willed the false idea that they may repeat said actions and receive the same results, which could in turn show peers that this same behavior is tolerable and then it becomes a habit in the organization and reflects on leadership. When soldiers realize that their actions no matter how small either help or hinder their unit or organization and not just themselves their personal accountability becomes evident like a slap in the face.

Once that becomes clear a soldier will recognize that their performance directly impacts their developmental opportunities which could include promotions, awards or schools. In all ones performance is a direct reflection of their commitment to their self and job. In the army one of the most important time of the day is morning accountability formation. It is where you get your orders and outlines of the day. For leaders it is pivotal for sending up personnel whereabouts. If a soldier is not present and it is not due to being on leave or on detail then there could possibly be a big problem.

Accountability and duty go hand in hand. The Definition of that Army value is to fulfill your obligations and to accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care. To find ways to improve yourself for the good of the group. It also is very similar to integrity by basically understanding that from bottom to top and left to right and anyway in between everyone is going to and willing to do what is right even when no one else is looking. Even when taking personal accountability into mind you must always keep an eye out for your buddy and hold them accountable also.

Doing the job correctly and ensuring others do it as well and do it safely, because we all know that even when not in combat we could potential be in a very dangerous situations given with our various equipment, weapons and training environments. Certain examples include live fire ranges- needing to be accountable of where you are and that you have the right equipment on. If you do not have your plates in your vest and heaven forbid a misfire happens and you are struck there is no one to blame but yourself and lack of personal accountability.

Another example is out in a field exercise- making sure you bring all the necessary equipment and that you have ensured that it has all of its components and is in working order. If you fail to do so you could put your health at risk in regards to sleep tents, extra clean clothing and weather appropriate clothing articles. In leadership accountability plays a special role in setting standards of behavior and actions that will ensure that they, their peers and subordinates operate with integrity and great moral values.

With this in mind as a leader you should always lead from the front and never put yourself in situations that you yourself would punish a subordinate for. Leading by example provides junior soldiers a person to aspire to be and what a great leader looks like. In my years in the military it has been like finding a needle in a haystack when it comes to finding great non-commissioned officers. Too many are taking the easy road and falling well under the expectations that they themselves have imposed on their soldiers.

I feel in the Army today many are too willing to become non-commissioned officers for the money and are not really thinking about the fact that they are leaders and they have to be the example. However, I have been honored to have to the experience of learning from a few great non-commissioned officers who have always tried to do the right thing at all times and are not afraid to admit when they are wrong or when they just don’t know, but they will find out. Keeping the mindset that you are now and forever, as long as you wear the uniform and those stripes, under a microscope be mindful of the actions you possess and the words that you say.

Your actions justify to newly soldiers of what may or may not be right. Your words can both uplift and encourage or they can tear down a soldier’s views or spirit. Accountability formation is important for many reasons. It lets the commander and command team know where all of their soldiers are at that precise moment. It is also essential because it lets leadership know how many people are available for the day to perform daily duties or how many people they have readily available for additional tasking’s. At this formation most information on daily activities are put out.

In this formation it is vital for leaders to look at their soldiers and assure that they are in accordance with all grooming standards held in AR 670-1. During this time there could also be a time for the urine lottery of a urinary analysis, if you are not at the formation to hear your name there could possibly be some consequences. Other types of accountability are with your gear for example weapons and ammunition. It is important that if you are entrusted with a weapon and ammunition to keep track of it and never leave it lying around.

If there is a time that you are not able to keep up with these items you should either secure them in a locked safe place or entrust one of your fellow soldiers to keep track of it for you, this is a short time period solution. Losing or misplacing these things can get yourself in really hot water. Not only will you definitely be receiving punitive punishments for your ignorance you can also be allowing the military to take money from you. If it is lost you are going to pay in sweat, tears and cash.

Looking beyond the fact of punishments that would immediately follow your actions what if that gear landed in the wrong hands. It could very well cause a very bad situation. Accountability doesn’t just mean showing up on time. It means responsibility. It means that if you fail your small part of the mission (to be on time), you must be held liable for your failure. Let’s say you were supposed to depart for a mission outside the wire on a deployment. You are late to the convoy brief, the convoy brief must be given to you again, everyone is late to mount up, and the convoy misses its SP time (departure).

The Infantry unit waiting to link up with your convoy for additional protection might get ambushed because your convoy is late. All because you didn’t arrive on time. I know that this example is a bit of an overreaction especially if you are just late or miss PT formation nevertheless it just goes to show a slippery slope that all actions have to impact the others around you. Accountability is the act of taking responsibility for that which falls under your domain—in other words, it’s doing what you say you’re going to do.

Accountability is the cornerstone of integrity, which is the result of consistent honesty and responsibility in your actions. In the military, it is absolutely imperative that you do what you say you’re going to do and that you agree to be held accountable for those orders that are directed specifically to you or those in your command. A breakdown in leadership and responsibility can be bad anywhere, but it has the potential to be downright catastrophic in the military.

Being in the military, you’ve obviously built some level of trust with those above and below you in order to get to your current rank. For those just starting out, the time in training helps superiors gauge your abilities and your commitment to the whole. Aside from all this, you have to build a trusted reputation with those with whom you work directly and are of equal rank. In the case of armed encounters, these are the people who will cover your back, and who need to be able to trust you to cover theirs. Nothing breeds trust like consistent, sustained accountability.

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