Veterans For Peace

Military Culture


Induction in the Military
  • Boot camp/Basic Training Prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental, and emotional
  • Training in the basic tools necessary to perform in bbraranch-specific roles during their tour of duty
  • Combination of physical training, field exercises, and classroom time
  • Ranges from 6.5 – 12 weeks depending on the branch of service
Each branch has its own training program tailored to the its role.
Goal is to make individuals strong and capable.
Followed by formal training in specialized areas.

Basic Tenets of Military Culture
  • "Duty, Honor, Country"
  • The military emphasizes discipline and hierarchy, prioritizes the group over the individual,
  • uses specific rituals and symbols to convey important meanings and transitions.
  • Military law requires commanding officers and those in authority to demonstrate virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination in all that they do.

Elements of Military Culture
  • Discipline
  • Professional Ethos
  • Ceremony & Etiquette
  • Cohesion
  • Additional subcultures Type of unit (e.g., fighter squadron)
  • Branch (e.g., Infantry)
  • War Fighting community (e.g., aviation, submarine, special operations)

  • Enlisted (84%) –Includes noncommissioned officers and petty officers;
  • Warrant Officers (2%) – highly specialized experts performs specific job functions,
  • Commissioned Officers (14%) – management and leadership roles, need bachelors degree or higher
  • 60% Caucasion, 40% Ethnic Minority; 85% Male, 15% Female
  • Average soldier is an E-4, 27 years old, been ~ 4 years in the military, H.S. education, married w/2 children old, is p $2K/mo.

Aspects of Military Culture and Life

  • Anonymity
  • Depersonalization
  • Expendability
  • Hard Work
  • Boredom
  • Teamwork
  • Camaraderie
  • Stoicism
  • Loneliness
  • Trust
  • Orderliness
See the associated file: Aspects of Military Life - Examples


Army's Mission: “To fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.”
Motto: This We’ll Defend.
  • Responsible for land-based military operations
  • Largest and oldest branch
  • 539,675 Active personnel 557,375 Reserve personnel
  • Active Duty, Army Nat’l Guard & Army Reserves
7 Core Values
  • Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and fellow Soldiers.
  • Duty – Fulfill your obligations. Accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care.
  • Respect – Treat others as they should be treated.
  • Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
  • Honor – Live the Army Values.
  • Integrity – Do what's right, both legally and morally
  • Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral.


  • The sea branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Three primary areas of responsibility: The sea branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Three primary areas of responsibility: "The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war" .
  • "The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy"
  • "The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements".
Core Values: Honor, Courage, Commitment
Motto: Semper Fortis, “Always Courageous”
Navy Mission: “To maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”

Sailor’s Creed
I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and all who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

Marine Corps

(operates administratively under the Navy and are called marines, not soldiers)
Motto: Semper Fidelis, “Always Faithful”
Marine Corps Mission: The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns. The development of tactics, techniques, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces. Such other duties as the President may direct. (National Security Act of 1947)
Marine Corps Values
Same as Navy, Honor, Courage, Commitment

Air Force (USAF)

Motto: Above All
Air Force Mission: “To deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests to fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace.”
AD, AF Reserves, Aerial Nat’l Guard
Air Force Core Values: Integrity, Service Before Self, Excellence in all we do

U.S. Coast Guard

Motto: Semper Paratus, "Always Ready"
Coast Guard Mission: “To protect the public, the environment, and the United States economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways.”
Core Values: Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty
Special Forces such as Green Berets, Rangers, Seals, 82nd ABN Division and others

The Combat Warrior Paradigm (*)

Combat, the preparation for and conduct of war, is the military’s core activity, and its overwhelmingly primary reason for being.

As an institution, it has historically and continues to be comprised primarily of men, and soldiering has been viewed as a traditionally male role, with the resultant culture and belief system.

(* this insert by Don Chapin) Basic training is often when/where the enlistee realizes, as Dorothy says, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas (or Louisiana, Tennessee, S. Detroit, or the Bronx) anymore!” It is when/where the enlistee realizes that the “slant,” “gook” or “raghead” he/she is now being taught to hate and kill looks remarkably like his/her friends in high school or college… it is where he/she may begin to realize that the taxpayer funded computer war games leave out the actual cries of the wounded, the blood, separated limbs and exposed intestines from real-life combat… you look “the enemy” in the eye as you sink your knife or bayonet into him/her… where, as one Vietnam medic complained, that he couldn’t get rid of the “constant, all-invading smell of blood, piss and shit.” Before you sign up, check out our page on “Learning To Kill - Combat Training.” Some experienced and more sensitive combat veterans feel as if they experience a little piece of their own soul go with each kill they make.

This, basic training, is when/where the high “Administrative Discharge” rate begins and you need to REALLY review your DD-214 for those Discharge Codes that we point out on this website BEFORE you sign it and, if you don’t know or agree with it, DEMAND the definition and justification for that code.

Oh, so you’re going to be a drone “pilot” (where you can wear the highly-debatable flight wings) and not going into a “physical-contact combat” role, where “combat´ is like the computer games you used to play. Then you find out that “strike” you participated in so proudly on the other side of this planet actually wiped out a funeral, or a wedding party, or a group of journalists holding cameras, not weapons. The drone pilot programs of both the Air Force and CIA have a HUGE retention problem.

“As to pilots who fly unmanned aircraft, the Air Force says it’s still in the middle of a “get-well” plan officials launched more than a year ago when it announced retention bonuses to encourage exhausted pilots to stay in the military. Since then, the remedies have expanded to mobilizing more National Guard and reserve personnel and, for the first time in 70 years, training enlisted personnel to fly aircraft. The first class of enlisted RPA pilots is set to begin their training in October.” (quote from:, August 11, 2016.

At present, this paradigm may be changing with the expansion of women’s roles and an increased diversity… a broadening of the uses of the Armed Forces, to increasingly encompass humanitarian support, disaster relief, and peacekeeping roles.

Military Conformity Reflecting Masculine Cultural Norms:
  • Winning
  • Risk-Taking
  • Emotional Control
  • Pursuit of Status
  • Violence
  • Dominance
  • Playboy
  • Self-Reliance
  • Primacy of Work
  • Power Over Women
  • Disdain for Homosexuals

Films Depicting Military Culture
Band of Brothers (2001)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Viet Nam
Full Metal Jacket (1987) ®The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Hurt Locker (2008)

Other Sources for Military Culture Information, by Don:

What You Don't Know About ROTC

An ex-Army Ranger's new mission to educate students considering joining the ROTC.

Who Benefits From War

Safeguard Young Adults From Military Recruitment

Public schools in the Unites States of America are a prime marketing target for military recruiters. (read more)