Discipline and standards are measurable for effectiveness

| May 31, 2013 | 0 Comments


Master Sgt. Carl Roesch
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support)

During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington said, “Nothing can be more hurtful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one Army the superiority over another.”

Discipline is a fundamental aspect of the Army that enables the accomplishment of the mission, whether that mission is elaborate or routine.

However, discipline does not exist on its own. It must have some quantifiable measure to gauge its effectiveness. These quantifiable measures are called standards.

To enable further understanding of standards and discipline, they must be defined. Army Leadership (ADRP 6-22) was used as source material for the definitions of both standards and discipline.

Standards. Per ADRP 6-22, standards are defined as “formal, detailed instructions — describable, measurable and achievable. They provide a mark for performance to assess execution of a task.”

Standards come in many forms; Army regulations, policy letters, and the Manual for Courts Martial are a few examples.

ADRP 6-22 also states, “To use standards effectively, leaders know, communicate and enforce high, but realistic standards.” The key take away from this is communicate; an unknown standard leaves subordinates guessing and sets everyone up for failure.

Effectively communicating the desired standard provides clarity and reinforces teamwork in ensuring that the standard is met by all. Soldiers train to meet or exceed the standard; they do not train to meet or exceed their best guess.

Discipline. ADRP 6-22 defines discipline as “willingly doing what is right.” Right is determined by standards. Willingly following and adhering to standards is discipline.

Standards and discipline within the realm of the Inspector General assist in defining whether someone did something right (upheld the standard) or did something wrong (violated the standard).

Confusion regarding standards is not uncommon, especially with all of the regulatory changes over the last decade.

18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) addresses the potential confusion regarding standards through the use of policy letters. Some policy letters are mandatory by regulations and should exist in every unit; additional policy letters address common areas of concern and clarify standards by referencing applicable primary source material — some of the common sources being ARs, Department of Defense Instructions and policy guidance issued by U.S. Army-Pacific.

Policy letters are vetted through multiple staff sections, to include the Staff Judge Advocate and IG’s office, to ensure that the information and guidance is correct, legal, ethical and moral. Authorized guidance from the commander, in the form of approved policy letters, establishes the standard, which is then communicated, distributed and openly published to all Soldiers within the command.

Soldiers arriving to18th MEDCOM (DS) are introduced to all current policy letters during in-processing; any new policy letters are posted within the command area, on the unit’s homepage and sent to each Soldier via email. These policy letters facilitate the Soldiers’ understanding of the standards and what is right.

The Army has changed drastically from its original form in the 200-plus years since Washington mentioned his thoughts on discipline. What has not changed is the importance of discipline in our ranks.

Effective leaders instill discipline in their subordinates by effectively communicating and training to the standard. This method is time proven; it worked for the Army in the Revolutionary War and it continues to work today.

Standards and discipline, as always, ensure our Army will be able to fight and win, anytime and anywhere.

(Editor’s note: Roesch is assistant inspector general at 18th MEDCOM.)

Tags: ,

Category: Standing Columns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *