Marine Officers Kicked Out Over Cheating

Just days after noting the ethical challenges inherent in military service, the US Marines have booted 13 officers for cheating during a land navigation exam at Basic Officer School at Quantico.  Among the 8 men and 5 women, at least one was a recent US Naval Academy graduate and football player.

Apparently the officers gave wrong answers to test questions — but they were correct answers to the last version of the test, indicating they had received a copy of (what they thought was) the test.  This gouge (see discussion) was impermissible.

Col. George W. Smith Jr., the school’s commander, gave a poignant description of the severity of their offense, as well as the value placed on ethical conduct in the Marines:

While proficiency with a lensatic compass is important, their moral compass is of utmost importance to our Corps. Their moral compass must unerringly point to do the right thing at all times. Without that, in my strongest opinion, they don’t have the foundation to continue to serve as Marine leaders.

All officers must do the right thing at all times.  Military ethics must be without question.  Is it always easy?  No.  Might moral integrity result in academic failure?  Yes.  Might the military culture even encourage “cheating”?  It may appear so.  As discussed here many times before, officers must decide ahead of time not to compromise their integrity; at the “point of friction,” as Smith said, you must be able to fall back on your basic foundations.