Fort Benning

U.S. Army Fort Benning and The Maneuver Center of Excellence


Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)

The Profession of Arms

Students in classroom Human Rights Photo

WHINSEC exists to share the vocation of the Profession of Arms with the security forces of U.S. partner nations. The Institute has developed and implemented meaningful and effective training in the Profession of Arms that includes democracy and human rights, ethics, and stewardship, making its program among the best offered by military educational institutions anywhere.

The Ethics Program

The Ethics Program consists of three lessons taught by the Institute's chaplain and other trained instructors in ethical decision-making. These lessons incorporate moral, ethical, personal and professional values, and the Just-War Doctrine. Students learn to assess the conditions of the Army's professional environments in terms that affect soldier thoughts, behavior and ethical decision-making. Through facilitated discussion, vignettes and case studies, students develop ways to apply the concept of the Ethical Battlespace to a soldier's moral development. As students progress through the training, they learn to improve ethical decision-making and become familiar with the concepts of moral character structure and development in order to apply them in the Ethical Battlespace.

The Democracy and Human Rights Program

The Democracy and Human Rights Program promotes understanding and respect for democratic values and institutions, human rights, the rule of law, and civilian control of a nation's armed forces. Offered when each student arrives at WHINSEC, these classes portray how deeply embedded U.S. values have maintained a strong constitutional democracy and uninterrupted civilian control of the military throughout our history.

The Democracy class focuses on the proper role of the Armed Forces in a democracy and the importance and advantages of maintaining civilian control over the military. Students reflect on core U.S. values of limited government, federalism, and individual rights codified in the U.S. Constitution. Students learn that the Constitution vests Congress with the power to create and fund the U.S. military and to declare war, and that the President, also an elected official, is Commander-in-Chief. Finally, the class studies laws enacted by Congress to bolster civilian authority, the role of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs. Case studies of civilian control of the military are presented.

The underlying goal of the Human Rights Class is to inculcate in the student a heartfelt appreciation for human rights. The class uses case studies, exercises, and student experiences to cover three Congressionally mandated topics—International Human Rights Law, Due Process of Law, and The Rule of Law. The first topic addresses the lawful use of force in security-force operations, the universal prohibitions against torture, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, and special protections required for vulnerable groups of persons. The second topic covers the human rights of those persons detained or arrested during operations. The third topic focuses on applying the law fairly and equally to all persons and the importance that this has to democratic forms of government. The Rule of Law also focuses on the professional and ethical obligations to carry out only lawful orders and to report abuses and violations.

The Field-Studies Program (FSP) in Support of the Profession of Arms

The Department of Defense-mandated Field-Studies Program (FSP) introduces students to U.S. democratic institutions, customs, and traditions outside the classroom environment. To reinforce the self-learning available to each student, the Institute has structured events to ensure that key points of classroom instruction are emphasized. While all students take trips to local and state agencies, students of the Command and General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) and of the Maneuver Captains Career Course-WHINSEC (MCCC-W) take part in trips to Washington, D.C., where they see the United States Federal Government in operation.