Admiral Mullen Cites Need for “True Compass”

In a recent address at the National Defense University, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said this in response to a question about whether the “tolerance…has changed regarding ethics” in the military:

We have to have a true compass ethically. We have to have a true compass morally. We have to have a true compass inside our profession.

He’s right, of course.  No one has ever debated the need for a moral standard by which military members must live and serve.  The question, however, has been what defines the truth of that “true compass.”  “True” implies the presence of “right,” or “correct” — even “wrong” or “false.”  So what is the standard upon which Mullen’s compass is based?  Unfortunately, he doesn’t say.

Even the ADF’s Alan Sears recently wrote that the military hands its troops a ‘compass’ — but one without a ‘true North.’

With the repeal of DADT, we are handing the men charged with protecting our borders and defending our freedoms a moral compass with no “magnetic north.” We are telling them to “be good” in the ways we want them to be, and to ignore “bad” as it suits our politically-correct purposes.

And that is not because we as a nation are no longer sure of what is “moral” and right, but because we do know – and are agreeing to ignore the truth that is in us.

Ever tried navigating with a compass without magnetic North?  Imagine what it would be like to wage a war without a moral standard.


  • Again, this only shows the urgent need to prevent people who have divorced and remarried from entering the military. By allowing those immoral adulterers to serve, you are totally destroying any moral compass that once existed in the us armed forces.

  • He didn’t say what standard(s) his compass is based because those are his personal standards and his alone. And we debate moral standards all the time; who or what do we base moral standards for the Military on anyway?

    With the repeal of DADT we are allowing true patriots the honor of serving this great country regardless of their sexual orientation…not to mention not lying to hold a job with a security clearance amongst other things…ah, a magnetic north…wahoooooooo!

    Don – I don’t understand why divorced persons serving in the military is wrong to you. Most divorces are from irreconcilable differences. Please explain.

  • watchtower,

    I learned the phrase ‘that is not an appropriate question’ in basic. I know that ‘no comment’ can be made to mean just about anything, but the military does teach how to answer a difficult question honestly and legally (at they did to me).

  • He didn’t say what standard(s) his compass is based because those are his personal standards and his alone.

    He said: “We have to have a true compass inside our profession.

    That’s not a personal standard. It’s the statement of a military leader about the profession he leads.

  • Well, the point has been made that somehow homosexuality counts as being “immoral”. The only justification I have seen offered for that claim of immorality is based on Christian beliefs. According to Jesus, who is, I believe, something of a Big Cheese in this whole Christianity thing,getting remarried after a divorce counts as adultery and adultery is immoral. Hell, even looking at a woman with lust (such as, I don’t know, Playboy centrefolds) is immoral according to this Jesus fellow. So, naturally, allowing people who do these immoral things to serve in the military would count as “handing the men charged with protecting our borders and defending our freedoms a moral compass with no “magnetic north.””. Of course, it COULD be that the people who oppose homosexuals serving openly in the military are hypocrites and are just trying to come up with a way of saying “Ewwww! Gays are icky!!!” without sounding quite so bigotted and/or childish but that wouldn’t be the case would it? So, I am left with the conclusion that the next battle will be to kick people who remarry after a divorce out of the military.

  • JD – I’ve never heard of a true compass inside our profession in the past 35 years. What is that based on BTW? Can you also tell me what the Military bases its moral on too…and I’m not trying to be sarcastic.

    Dealer – OK, but I’ll bet you are older and wiser than the 20 something’s having to deal with this the most. They are scared (ship high is transit) less and based on my experience just want to be left alone and do the best job they can.

    Don – I understand your point. I did something pondering last night and discovered I know more people that actually cheated or did the things you mentioned in your post than actually had irreconcilable differences. I guess I hang out with some very immoral people (in the biblical sense of course) then I thought. But I’m ok with that because they are generally good people, take care of their families and give 110% in everything they do; they are only human.

  • I agree with you about remarried divorced people, they are no more immoral than anyone else. I think the same about homosexuals. In my opinion both homosexual acts and remarriage are morally fine. But the folks who talk about a moral compass mean a compass oinline with their particular religion in regards to gays but not in regard to remarried people. I am showing the hypocrisy.

  • The “true compass” is the one that aligns with the military’s core values: in the Air Force’s case, integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

  • So, that true compass has nothing to do with heterosexual or homosexual.

  • The true compass entry by Phoenix Blue makes sense (for USAF) given that ADM Mullen didn’t address his definition nor did he imply (and Donalbain echo’s) it had anything to do, at least on the surface, with DADT.

    Now Alan Sears wrote about a moral compass with no magnetic north and I think they are separate discussions (True/Moral), although JD ties them together for obvious reasons; I’d say for Christians their true compass is their moral compass…nothing wrong with that either.

  • Nothing would be wrong with it if Christians were not hypocritical about it. You can’t say that homosexual activity is wrong and should not be allowed, because your god hates it, and yet be perfectly happy to allow remarried divorcees to serve.

  • Don,

    Who said Christians were happy with divorce? You have to draw a line somewhere – where do you draw yours?

  • Are Christians trying to get divorced people thrown out of the military? No. So that obviously is not a necessary part of a moral compass for these Christians even though Jesus said otherwise.

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  • While the military does not currently punish people for getting a divorce, it is actively seeking lowered divorce rates – which implies the military sees divorce as being somehow bad. If the military should treat homosexuality and divorce the same way, can it actively seek lowered rates of homosexual members?

  • Are you thrown out of the military if it becomes known that you have had a divorce and remarried? Yes or no.

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