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BYU Professors Create Ethics Field Guide To Help US Special Forces

Feb 23, 2021, 6:02 PM | Updated: 10:06 pm

PROVO, Utah – The U.S. special forces are getting help from two Brigham Young University professors to deal with critical ethical dilemmas.

The professors teach business ethics, and they never dreamed they would be called upon to help with top military operations.

“The military plays a very special place in my heart,” said Brad Agle, who’s been teaching business ethics and leadership at BYU’s Marriott School of Business for 32 years. His father was in the Navy, so he said he grew up as a military brat. 

“Being able to work on this was an incredible honor,” said Aaron Miller, who has been teaching business ethics at BYU for 15 years. “The reality is ethics is a set of skills. It’s something you have to get better at with practice.”

Several years ago the two professors wrote a book called “The Business Ethics Field Guide” — a guide that breaks down common ethical dilemmas into 13 categories. Never did they think a top military official would come across this book and want to adapt it for U.S. special forces. 

They were trying to figure out how do we help our special operators do the right thing, said Agle.

Miller and Agle took the same 13 ethical dilemmas business leaders face and custom fit them for the military after making several trips to Florida to meet face-to-face with top military officials. 

The field guide is really to help them make those split-second decisions, to build the moral reflexes, to be able to ask the right questions, to be able to think about the pitfalls of particular types of action, said Agle. 

Their new book is called “A Special Operations Forces Ethics Field Guide.” It breaks it all down into 13 drills. 

Drills one through three involve showing courage, four through seven are about getting the job done, eight through 10 are about balancing and the last ones are about judging, said Miller. 

The sacrifice we don’t think about is the sacrifice they make to carry out the things that we as a country have asked them to do. And some of those are very hard, said Agle.

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BYU Professors Create Ethics Field Guide To Help US Special Forces