Morality and the military

I have been very interested in joining as a RM Officer, but have had some doubts about whether i can truly resign myself to entrusting parliament to make the correct move when it comes to using force abroad.
I know we will always try to do the right thing, and it has worked wonders all over, but when things become so vastly complex it can turn nasty.
I know it may sound a bit naive and that i have not done enough research into the actions and re-actions of recent operations.
This only came to me after watching Bitter Lake with Adam Curtis, which was a great watch by the way.
I would just like to be reasured that i would have no moral regrets if i joined.

Has anyone had any simmilar thoughts?
Yours is not to reason why. You just do as you're ordered. You don't have to even think an operation is a good idea (I thought Iraq War 2003 was stupid), but you do have to go and do your job to the best of your ability. For those around you.

Edit- As long as it's not an illegal order (kill all those Jews, murder that old lady etc- apply the Geneva convention etc).


War Hero
I think every reasonably intelligent, free thinking individual is right to have reservations regarding the ability of politicians to make a morally correct decision with regard UK foreign policy.

I've served the last thirty-odd years and like all of us, have seen some absolutely bone decisions made but equally, some reasonably astute. Likewise, I can say the same for the people of higher rank than me within the service. Similarly, I've may a few mistakes myself along the way.

Do I trust politicians? No. Do I trust the military command structure? Yes. None of us are infallible & I'd grudgingly admit politicians are human like the rest of us but they know the stakes are high.

Whether to join: If you are reasonably level headed & aren't a crackpot zeitgeist conspiracy theorist, it's better to be at the forefront of the action & actually know what really is happening than be an armchair Facebook warrior spouting nonsense about the reality. Ultimately, your call - if it turns out your fears were correct, resign your commission.

Good luck.


I agree with NS and as an aside have a question. HMF are the tool of (2nd) choice for UK Foreign Policy. If you don't trust the politicians to make the "moral decision" on the use of force and you choose not to join, does that mean you will become a political activist against the use of HMF abroad (or on that particular Op) or will it no longer be important?

I really appreciate your insight NS and in_my_day has quite rightly put me on the spot.

I suppose the honest truth would be that if I didn't join, I would end up like the majority of civilians who are interested in current affairs but don't do anything, until that is, that something truly ruffles their feathers.
And your point makes me feel bad for the fact that I would end up just being a bystander.
there is only a very slim chance that i would even think of becoming an activist against HMF abroad, if anything I am way more inclined to join HMF, seeming as I have already registered interest.

I think my problem is more of a personal one, where more of my thoughts are pro-enlistment but every now and again friends and family have long talks where they are anti-enlistment and have spread seeds of doubt.
Sorry if this is just another soul searching thread, I just couldn't find any reliable help.
I cant say too much on helping you on a personal level, but I did have a few thoughts similar to yours before starting all the tests (going for pilot). I personally am very pro establishment, it comes mainly from my family, but I would ask you what joining up would mean to you,and what you want from life and how this would help to achieve those aims you have? Sorry if that sounds very deep but that's what I asked myself and found that the navy would give me what I wanted, but good luck with your decisions and I hope you can find what you want. Although this being the internet it is exceptionally hard to find any information which is devoid of opinion.
Everyone has / had their own reasons for joining up, whichever service they chose to enter.

The key question will always boil down to this - will you be able to take a life, when required to do so? If you cannot, or will not, then the armed forces are not for you. Reality is, you may never be placed in a position to do it but by its very nature, it is not beyond the bounds of credibility that you may be called upon to press that button or pull that trigger, or be involved in the process that leads to it being done.

The RN does lots of things, but force projection and being ready to fight are critical ones. That requires everyone to be able and willing to do so, wherever and whenever that may be. If you cannot get into that mindset then do not proceed.
I joined up in a recession (85) I don't think morality even came into my decision? Getting a job when only YTS was available in civvy street (and the mob).

Thought about it later in life, who is responsible for killing baddies? Is it the Pilot, the armourer or was it me who signed the aircraft fit for flight?

Now I work with a foreign Air Force ! So am I guilty if they do it? You can wrap yourself in knots over it!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Last edited:


We need more people with morality serving because we SHOULD absolutely question our orders where appropriate. Those that ask questions of what is required of them are assets.

There are theoretical conflict situations where I would object and wouldn't go. I'd take my prison sentence, leave and sleep at night with my 'white feather'. I don't care, I'm not bayoneting children or torching villages for any rich people. There are also theoretical conflict situations where you wouldn't be able to get me on the battle bus fast enough and I'd willingly lay down my life. There are people out there who need our help.

We need to think about what we do and why we do it. Otherwise we're all fucked. 'Ours is not to reason why' is a load of hoop. We're not animals or morons.

Edited to add. When I was 18 I cared not who I exploderised. Now I'm more choosy.
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
A Miscellaneous 0
C The Corps 6
finknottle Diamond Lil's 9

Similar threads

Latest Threads

New Posts