By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today announced his intention to appoint a senior general officer to oversee the effort to strengthen ethical behavior in the Defense Department.
“Competence and character are not mutually exclusive,” the secretary told reporters at a Pentagon news conference today. “They are woven together – they must be. And an uncompromising culture of accountability must exist at every level of command.”
Hagel promised to move quickly to assign to his senior staff a general officer who will report directly to him on issues related to ethics, character and leadership and will work directly with service secretaries and the service chiefs. “This officer will coordinate the actions of our services on this issue, work every day with our services, and we will meet weekly so I can receive reports from DOD senior leadership … on the progress we are making,” he said.
The secretary said the effort will be an “absolute top priority” for the department.
Hagel said Americans are grateful for all the men and women who serve the nation with honor and diligence. “I’m proud to serve with them,” he said. “They have earned the respect and admiration of the American people and our allies and partners all over the world.”
The secretary meets weekly with the service secretaries, and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the last meeting they discussed the problem, which has included instances of cheating on proficiency exams by both Air Force officers charged with overseeing long range nuclear missiles, as well as Navy personnel at a nuclear reactor training unit. “We are going to continue to address it and we are going to fix it,” Hagel stated.
“Ethics and character are absolute values that we cannot take for granted,” he said. “They must be constantly reinforced. It is the responsibility of all of us who ask for the trust and confidence of the American people to assure these values are imbued in all our people and we all live up to them. Ethics and character are the foundation of an institution and a society. They must be constantly emphasized at every level of command and in training, curriculum and all phases of DOD, in both the officers and enlisted corps.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)
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