Ian Langford - Offering alternative views

Running time
3 min 1 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


The majority view isn't necessarily wrong but you need to be sensitive to it because, again, it can often conflate to mob rule which can potentially drift away from the difference between right and wrong based on sentiment around, you know, the passion of the moment or some strong individuals that sort of are leading in perhaps not a positive way. And therefore the ability, I think, to be able to resist that temptation to fall in and to offer an alternate view and then to stand by it based on your own set of principles is a really challenging situation, it's never easy.

But there's an element of your personality, particularly as a leader, which I think needs to do that so you can continue to safeguard against the casualisation of, you know, either some sort of drift, or, frankly, you know, a perverse view of a situation. So that's really hard. But that's why we operate in teams.

That's why we have, again, an emphasis on leadership, a training system that helps to make people aware, as support mechanisms through the way we command and lead that gives comfort to those that want to provide an alternative view in the face of what they perceive to be either an ethical or moral drift. And then being able to, again, provide a forum for that view to be exercised. And so in small groups, in extreme circumstances, like combat is really difficult, and it's really difficult, but again, you know, as an institution we need to carry, encourage those sorts of behaviours, to protect ourselves from ourselves.

And again, you know, 99, more than 99% of our people always do the right thing. But that doesn't become an assumption that you can therefore no longer worry about that very, you know, extreme and remote possibility of there being drift. And that's in all institutions, whether it be high level corruption in the commercial sector, whether it be political corruption in the context of how governments function, and whether it be, you know, any sort of perverse behaviour that is clearly wrong in the context of, you know, an ex-post sort of review you see it In sporting clubs and in other institutions.

The reason why it's so profoundly important in the military is because of the level of importance that military service brings, but also the consequences as they relate to armed violence. And I think that's why we, as an institution, put so much emphasis on these skills in order to live up to the values that we subscribe for ourselves.

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