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Using Character Development and Education to Combat Partisan Polarization in the Military

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Using Character Development and Education to Combat Partisan Polarization in the Military

Political partisanship and polarization in the military have become worrying at best and downright dangerous at worst. For instance, worrying evidence reveals that partisanship is a factor leading troops to decline the COVID vaccination.1 On the “dangerous” end of the spectrum, threats of extremism in the ranks prompted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to direct “stand-downs” across the Defense Department to address the problem.2 While Austin and others have emphasized the importance of leadership engagement to allay the problem, leader emphasis on character development and education is the long-term answer.

Evidence suggests that partisan polarization is a problem military leaders should pay attention to and address. Failure to do so may lead to the erosion of internal and external trust and, ultimately, an erosion of the military’s ability to perform its constitutional duties. Character development and education can counter this polarization by providing a common framework that subordinates disparate partisan values to the military’s shared value system.

Using Character Development and Education to Combat Partisan Polarization in the Military
 
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