Evening Lectures - Pensacola

Leonard Wong

THE TALK: Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession

September 7, 2016


This talk examines the findings of a recent U.S. Army War College study that found that many Army officers, faced with an overwhelming amount of training and administrative requirements, have become ethically
numb as they put their honor on the line to verify compliance with all the requirements. As a result, an officer’s signature and word have become tools to maneuver through the Army bureaucracy rather than being symbols of integrity and honesty. Sadly, much of the deception that occurs in the profession of arms is encouraged and abetted by the military institution as subordinates are forced to prioritize which of the myriad requirements will actually be done to standard and which will only be reported as done to standard. Consequently, untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it.


Leonard Wong is a research professor in the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College. His research focuses on the human and organizational dimensions of the military and includes topics such as leadership development and the military profession. He is a retired Army of cer whose career included teaching leadership at West Point and serving as an analyst for the Chief of Staff of the Army. His research has led him to locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Vietnam. He has testi ed before Congress and his work has been highlighted in media such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New Yorker, CNN, NPR, PBS, and 60 Minutes. He is a Professional Engineer and holds a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Business Administration from Texas Tech University.

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