Why Accountability Is Important It is important to note first, what accountability is. I will state why it is important as well as go over scenarios in dealing with accountability. Accountability means being liable to being called to account; answerable. A good military definition of the word would be and usually means to be liable for paperwork and or property, and personnel; usually of lesser grade and rank. When dealing with army leadership and duties; being a soldier and or a leader means being accountable for what you do or don’t do as well as implied duties and responsibilities.
As a leader, being one means to be accountable not only for one’s actions, but for the actions of the soldiers for which you are assigned. One is to be accountable for equipment that is assigned to one’s-self as well. The department of defense states and defines accountability to be an obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds.
Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safe-keeping. But again, let us not get the definitions confused. The term accountability differs from the term of responsibility. There is a big difference. There are reporting procedures and processes for recording and accounting for personnel and equipment. There are different types and ways of reporting within different sizes and types of elements of a command.
There are also ways in which one will report to one who is in a designated duty position and or of higher rank and grade within different elements of commands. The ways in which a soldier may report can be orally or written in order to account for property, equipment, and or personnel. Soldiers must always be accountable for their actions. For every action there is a reaction. Soldiers are to be held to accountable for their actions because they represent the United States of America within the states as well as overseas in other parts of the world.
Sometimes, we are the only source of information as to how people may think what our behavior is and how all other Americans may behave in their own country based off of even one soldier’s sole actions whether negative or positive. We must be accountable for what we do or don’t do. If we, as soldiers, are assigned a task that is to be completed, but we fail and do not get it accomplished, then we have to account and answer for it. If we lose a piece of equipment, it becomes lost or destroyed, we have to be held accountable for it and solve the problem to correct the situation however it may need to be corrected.
Mission readiness is the answer to why accountability is so important. We must accomplish the mission at all costs with the least amount of loss whether it be soldiers or equipment. Without all of the soldiers or equipment present the mission may not be able to be accomplished. Even if only one soldier or piece of equipment is not present the mission may not be fully capable of being accomplished as the lack of either one would be detrimental to the mission.
If a piece of equipment or a soldier is not on time at the start or finish of a mission, it may determine the outcome of the mission in regards to it being accomplished and a success or not. Either way, to be accountable for the pieces of equipment or the lack of soldiers present means providing an answer to someone else whom will have to be accountable for them to another. One will wish to know why a mission was not accomplished. A superior ranking individual will wish to know for sure. One who is accountable must have an answer.
If we are not held accountable for our actions then someone else takes the blame or we never except responsibility for them and may become a pattern. If this happens, then we cannot correct the problem that causes the accountability error from the start. This would be due to a cognitive lethargic display of thought processes and or apathy. If it is not the sole cause, but a contributing factor then other problems that affect a soldiers or leaders life may be the main causal factor in not being held accountable for their actions. Someone is always accountable and answerable to the next one in a chain of command.
When the answer is needed, an entire chain of command as to why and how a mission did not attain a status of successful or completed, it affects the entire chain of command and the army itself when you really think about it. One could debate about it in regards to the butterfly effect; or the chaos theory. The theory that one small move such as the flap of a butterfly wing or a car accident effects all of us on a world-wide level even though it may seem miniscule in nature. Leaders must be accountable for discipline, leadership, and training of the soldiers.
While soldiers are accountable for their actions, equipment, and sometimes when directed, the actions of others; so are leaders for their subordinates actions and so forth up the chain of command. This is all an example of accountability. If we did not have this accountability in process as a standard in the United States Army then we would not be the successful fighting force that we are today. Leaders are under the most stress as they are held accountable for more actions than their soldiers. They are also responsible for training and mentorship of soldiers.
They must lead and develop them to become better soldiers and future leaders themselves. Leaders have many duties and responsibilities that they must be accountable for. Keeping accountability of not only people, but equipment also helps cut down on waste. Fraud waste and abuse is a big deal in the army as there are rules and regulations to address these concerns within the army as it is written doctrine. Do you have any idea how much it would cost to replace all the equipment and people lost if leaders simply never noticed they were gone and constantly had to replace them?
One of the United States military’s biggest concerns is to never leave a man behind, dead or alive. It is perhaps this knowledge that they will never be left which keeps many troops confident in their job. How hard would you fight if you knew that your life was expendable and should you go missing, you would be written off and forgotten? I know for myself that I would not fight very hard if nobody cared about me in general. Accountability is one of those ways to show subordinates that you do care about them. Others may look at it in a negative way.
They may say that, “Man, he is always on my case about where I am and this and that”, but this is a way to know that one is being cared for. Knowing where items and troops are keeps superiors able to know what can be accomplished and planned as far as missions and tasks. How could a plan be carried out to its full potential if the equipment type and capability and an account for soldiers is not known as well? It would be impossible to get an accurate account in order to plan with without knowledge of this information. Having an account of this information also keeps the army nformed of how many more or less soldiers are needed to accomplish a mission or task. There is paperwork to be processed to help keep accountability for all of the personnel and equipment within any given unit or command group. If property is lost damaged or stolen, one will be held accountable for those issues in regards to them as well. If there is an investigation on the soldier(s) or piece(s) of equipment, CID will be in charge and held accountable for the investigation. Everyone plays a part in accountability on some level, one way or the other.