Title page for ETD etd-0905102-114913

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author LeMay, Rodney Ray
URN etd-0905102-114913
Title Collaboration or Self-Preservation: The Military Code of Conduct
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stanley Hilton Committee Chair
Karl Roider Committee Member
William Clark Committee Member
  • prisoner of war
Date of Defense 2001-06-16
Availability unrestricted
In 1955, Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson established a special committee to investigate allegations of misconduct by American POW’s during the Korean War. The Communists had used the prisoners for propaganda purposes and extended the battlefield into the POW camp as never before. The committee proposed the Code of Conduct as a means of preventing similar occurrences in future conflicts.

The Code of Conduct puts into words, for the first time, concepts which had evolved from the experiences of American POW’s in the almost 200 years of combat preceding its development. Americans who became POW’s during conflicts after the implementation of the Code have identified its strengths and weaknesses. One of the strengths of the Code is its plain wording. It was put into language that all soldiers could understand. One of the great weaknesses of the Code is the lack of training given to most soldiers, yet the committee that drafted the Code identified training as an essential element to its success.

Another serious weakness is the failure of the military to adapt the Code to the current world situation where mid- and high-intensity conflict are less probable than low-intensity conflict or operations other than war. Because of the inherently different enemies faced in those situations, the training should be changed to reflect the differences.

The Code of Conduct was drafted in order to benefit soldiers. Accordingly, Code of Conduct training should be revamped to accurately reflect the potential POW scenarios facing America’s fighting men and women.

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