Analysis Of The Goat Herder Dilemma

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Before I joined the Army, one of my mentors sat me down, looked me sternly in the face and said, “Even though you are not going into the infantry, even though you might not deploy, at some point in time the Army may put you in a situation and ask that you take another person’s life. You need to square yourself with that. If you cannot do that and pull that trigger when that time comes, then you should not join.” It is important for new officers to think about how they will make ethical decisions and what choices they may face. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis when faced with two unethical options is an effective way of choosing the “least bad” option and resulting relative cost. The United States has ratified international laws such as the law of armed conflict that govern how and in what manner the United States will conduct warfare. Within these documents are definitions of non-combatants and protected peoples who will not be brutalized or killed during the conduct of war. However, revolutionaries and insurgents frequently use these ethical guidelines against greater powers. Insurgent tactics may include the use of women and children to detonate or carry an explosive or use them as a reconnaissance force. Adhering to the ethical law and rules that guide U.S. soldiers may result in mission failure and the death or some or many of your teammates.
The Goat Herder Dilemma
Ethical dilemmas are a split between two possible moral imperatives. Both choices have
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