Section 5: Military Ethos and the Warrior’s Honour

A warrior’s honour is a slender hope, but it may be all there is to separate war from savagery. And a corollary hope is that men can be trained to fight with honour. Armies train people to kill, but they also teach restraint and discipline.

— Michael Ignatieff, The Warrior’s Honour

Honour and the Military Ethos

The values, beliefs and expectations reflected in the Canadian military ethos are essential to military effectiveness, but they also serve a more profound purpose. They constitute a style and manner of conducting military operations that earn for soldiers, sailors and air force members that highly regarded military quality — honour.

Honour itself flows from practising the military ethos. It comes from being loyal to your unit and faithful to comrades in fulfilling your duties. It comes with adhering fully to the law of armed conflict, especially in the humane treatment of prisoners of war. Honour insists that all non-combatants be protected and accorded the dignity and other considerations their situation may entitle them to.Footnote 8  In total, honour is earned by the men and women of the Canadian Forces when they uphold the values and beliefs of the Canadian military ethos.

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