From my perspective as a former junior officer in the Marine Corps, and my husband's experience as a former junior officer in the Army (including, in his case, service with the 101st Airborne in 'Nam), I have a few things to add to Cohen's analysis. The difference between a military unit and a bunch of armed thugs who happen to be wearing similar clothing is discipline. That discipline includes--has always included--standards of behavior towards both superiors and subordinates. We were taught in OCS and Basic School--and it became obvious later on various assignments--that the higher the rank, the more need to maintain those standards of behavior, including military courtesy.
When a senior (whether NCO or officer) does not adhere to those standards, the effect on the unit is swift and dire. Standards fall not only in the specific area where the leader failed, but in other areas as well. Disrespect of seniors goes right down the chain of command--and spread sidewise to disrespect of other regulations. Leaders must model correct conduct...period. Correct conduct in danger, certainly, but there are other dangers than lead in the air. When personal feelings and opinions are allowed to subvert standards of behavior, the ability of that unit to function--both within itself and in cooperation with other units--suffers. ( Read more...Collapse )