Moral fitness of military personnel in a networked operational environment

Military operational personnel are increasingly confronted with unprecedented complexities in their expeditionary missions. Collaboration between diverse partners is an essential requirement in these operations. Military organisations increasingly make use of network technology to foster information sharing and interactions between the parties in the network. We use the phrase Network Enabled Operations (NEO) to describe the added value of a well-networked operational environment. Mission success is increasingly determined by the soldier’s capabilities to evaluate high-stake situations, to make balanced decisions, and to collaborate in ad hoc alliances. Ethics and morality play a crucial role in dealing with diversity of perspectives and balancing multiple interests of collaborating parties and own interests. This research program will investigate the critical competencies of military personnel needed for moral decision making in network enabled operations. This central question is subdivided into three subquestions: What characterizes moral fitness in a networked operational environment; which are the psychological and social conditions that enable morally responsible decision making in a networked operational environment; and, in what ways does a networked operational environment affect military behaviour? The analyses address three issues in NEO: information sharing, collaboration, and delegation of authority. The aim of this research program is to theoretically analyse and empirically assess the drivers of moral fitness for adequate decision making and collaboration. This should contribute to the strengthening and insurance of morally responsible actions and decisions of military personnel in a networked operational environment, resulting in changes in education, training and mission preparation for military personnel.