« To protect the innocent | Main | Pulp [truth is stranger than] Fiction »

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Mission Statement

Most of us work for companies that have nifty mission statements and statements of core values.  I've been in the work force for a lot of years and I can honestly say that I have NEVER read one of my employers mission statements.

The reason for my lack of interest (and likely yours as well) is that the mission statement is something that most companies feel they should have, but it rarely relates to the day-to-day activities of the individual employees.  If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, go to your company's web site, or the web site of any company you may have heard of, and read their mission statement.  It is usually some lofty tome about responsibility to the client and commitment to excellence... my head hurts just thinking about such drivel. 

Now that you've done this little bit of research, you understand why most of us have never given much thought to our company's mission statement.

However, over the past few months, I have received a few e-mails about the perceived conduct of the Israel Defense Forces.  Specifically, there is an impression in leftist circles abroad that the IDF lacks a moral compass to guide it in its daily duties.

So, I started asking some of the soldiers who drive with me on Sunday mornings about the IDF's code of conduct and was pleased that their 'Mission Statement' is much more than a nicely worded plaque in the lobby.  Throughout their training and throughout their army career, members of the IDF are drilled and indoctrinated with their personal, ethical and national responsibilities.  They are constantly reminded of the value of life and the 'purity of arms'.

Rather than try to paraphrase what they told me, I wanted to present here the IDF's 'Mission Statement' (which, along with a lot of other neat information, can be found on their official website):


The IDF Spirit:

The Israel Defense Forces are the state of Israel's military force. The IDF is subordinate to the directions of the democratic civilian authorities and the laws of the state. The goal of the IDF is to protect the existence of the State of Israel and her independence, and to thwart all enemy efforts to disrupt the normal way of life in Israel. IDF soldiers are obligated to fight, to dedicate all their strength and even sacrifice their lives in order to protect the State of Israel, her citizens and residents. IDF soldiers will operate according to the IDF values and orders, while adhering to the laws of the state and norms of human dignity, and honoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Basic Values:

Defense of the State, its Citizens and its Residents - The IDF's goal is to defend the existence of the State of Israel, its independence and the security of the citizens and residents of the state.

Love of the Homeland and Loyalty to the Country - At the core of service in the IDF stand the love of the homeland and the commitment and devotion to the State of Israel-a democratic state that serves as a national home for the Jewish People-its citizens and residents.

Human Dignity - The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.

The Values:

Tenacity of Purpose in Performing Missions and Drive to Victory - The IDF servicemen and women will fight and conduct themselves with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; They will persevere in their missions resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering their lives.

Responsibility - The IDF serviceman or woman will see themselves as active participants in the defense of the state, its citizens and residents. They will carry out their duties at all times with initiative, involvement and diligence with common sense and within the framework of their authority, while prepared to bear responsibility for their conduct.

Credibility - The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks.

Personal Example - The IDF servicemen and women will comport themselves as required of them, and will demand of themselves as they demand of others, out of recognition of their ability and responsibility within the military and without to serve as a deserving role model.

Human Life - The IDF servicemen and women will act in a judicious and safe manner in all they do, out of recognition of the supreme value of human life. During combat they will endanger themselves and their comrades only to the extent required to carry out their mission.

Purity of Arms - The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.

Professionalism - The IDF servicemen and women will acquire the professional knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks, and will implement them while striving continuously to perfect their personal and collective achievements.

Discipline - The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders.

Comradeship - The IDF servicemen and women will act out of fraternity and devotion to their comrades, and will always go to their assistance when they need their help or depend on them, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking their lives.

Sense of Mission - The IDF soldiers view their service in the IDF as a mission; They will be ready to give their all in order to defend the state, its citizens and residents. This is due to the fact that they are representatives of the IDF who act on the basis and in the framework of the authority given to them in accordance with IDF orders.


I would be curious to know how many countries in the world ask their soldiers to be familiar with and adhere to such a code.  I feel confident that none of our enemies are bound by such constraints.


Posted by David Bogner on November 16, 2004 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Mission Statement:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David-Please do post what your trampistim said. I think I would find that much more interesting than the IDF mission statement straight off the Dover Zahal website, especially after you trashed the idea of having a mission statement at the very beginning of your piece. (sorry)

BTW-nice job in the weight loss department. Glad to see you're only looking at the B&J rather than indulging. :)

Posted by: jennifer | Nov 16, 2004 10:35:41 AM

Jennifer... I'trashed the idea of a corporate mission statement because it was susually so disconnected from the daily role of the individual employee. I did so to illustrate by comparison how the IDF's mission statement and statement of values is an intimate part of an Israeli soldier's daily service.

As to my 'trempistim', two of them actually had the IDF code of ethics I mentioned on laminated cards in the plastic folder that contains their army ID card, and they quoted directly from there when I brought up the subject. I don't know if this is required, but it made me proud that the information was so easily accessible to them.

Oh, and thanks for noticing that my number continues to slowly drop.

Posted by: David | Nov 16, 2004 10:54:30 AM

I thought that the instruction to mission-vision was part of the compulsory service in any 'professional' army in this world (and even juntas and putshistim have theirs), because it, too, serves to tune freshlings in to their new mental environment? But I see it with any other mission-vision statement that's made - it is often an ideal that cannot be met.

David, the IDF, as any other army in this world, is no brigade of just angels. They are on a mission that serves the whole of the Israeli state, very true. But I rather don't want to know which §'s of this mission are broken on a daily basis. I have talked to quite a number of soldiers now, on and off duty and across all ranks; the opinions diverge, but the view as such was rather realistic than idealistic.

I am missing an indication of the ranks of your trampistim; I think the rank, too, is making a difference. If I am not mistaken, though, carrying the mission in print when on duty is an order.

As for the mission statements of companies -- I have come to learn that most of them have it because marketing books tell them to. Because it's said to be good for sales figures and business relationships. So no wonder that too many CEOs don't even know what their mission-vision credo is saying really (mine used to joke about their m/v). It's a farce, if anything at all.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Nov 16, 2004 2:46:23 PM

Mademoiselle a. ... You are correct, the Israeli army is made up of human beings, not angels. But the fact that they are well aware of the ethical/moral guidelines of the IDF is quite a bit more than one can say about most other militaries in the world (I was in the US Navy and was never aware of any particualr mission statement or code of conduct beyond avoiding what was likely to land you in the brig).

The soldiers who ride with me range from new recruits all the way up to mid-level officers. Their rank did not seem to influence their view of the code of ethics.

As far as your point about idealism vs. realism. I think it is healthy that the soldier's daily actions be guided by a healthy dose of both... and I think for the most part this is the case.

Posted by: David | Nov 16, 2004 3:00:55 PM

My time in the U.S. Navy began with 8 weeks of boot camp (as I'm sure yours did, too) and during that period, we were required to memorize a SLEW of mission statements from that lofty and boring Code of Military Justice. It was much like a mission statement and completely stated what 'rules' were to be followed while serving.

What it comes down to, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's a matter of personal ethics. It won't matter what rules/mission there are to follow, whether it be at a job or while serving in the military. People will behave as they want to. And the fact that it's mandatory to serve a period of time in the Isreali army, just adds a whole new dimension to the discussion.

You sound like you're idealizing the IDF a bit. The difference may be that where they are, physically, causes them to 'walk the walk', so to speak, as when you live where you live, you deal with the very real threat of violence every day.

When you & I joined the military, the idea of defending our country had an almost joke like quality, as we didn't have to deal with war in a real sense and didn't have to deal with people attacking us in our neighborhoods.

Again, it sounds like the whole "it's better in Israel mantra" underlying this post. Is it?

Posted by: val | Nov 16, 2004 6:57:39 PM

Is this the same IDF tat stormtrooped into the Ozeri house in the middle of the night after they returned from sitting shiva or was it the police? Is it te same IDF that is being told by their superiors not to question orders even when morally wrong? ask your passengers if they would participate in the active and forcefull removal of settlers from Gaza.

Posted by: dave | Nov 16, 2004 8:57:34 PM

Val... Those things you had to memorize in boot camp were your general orders. They dealt with how to conduct yourself on board a ship... they didn't really deal with ethical behavior or purity of arms. Also, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was simply the military penal code.

Today's post was a reaction to the many e-mails and blogs I've read criticizing the actions of the IDF. I was simply trying to show a dimension of the IDF that people outside of Israel would not normally see. You need to stop thinking that every time I say something positive about Israel that I am somehow putting down the US. When I put a country down, you'll know it. :-)

Dave... I'm wondering if you might be painting the IDF with a rather broad brush. And I have to say that using the word 'stormtrooper' in relation to Israel's army is a bit offensive. What you're saying is akin to someone saying all doctors are butchers because of a few particularly grisly malpractice cases. As I said before, the IDF is staffed and lead by men and women, not angels.

You will also notice that one of the guiding principals in what I posted today is that the IDF is subordinate to the civilian authorities. The government has indeed put many soldiers in a very uncomfortable position with the proposed disengagement plan... but there is debate and anguish over the issue, even on the part of those who are in favor of the plan. This is the surest sign that the soldiers and officers have a conscience.

Posted by: David | Nov 16, 2004 9:42:30 PM

Soldiers in the US Army often take mission statements, The Soldier's Creed, The Non Commisioned Officer creed, and the Army Ethics very seriously. All soldiers in my unit have the following memorized and will recite it to you upon request. While they will always error because they are human, they know what the standard is...and continue to strive twords it.

"The Soldiers Creed"

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

"The NCO Creed"
No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as "The Backbone of the Army". I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the Military Service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.

Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind -- accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain tactically and technically proficient. I am aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders!

Army values

Loyalty: Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers.

Duty: Fulfill your obligations.

Respect: Treat people as they should be treated.

Selfless-Service: Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

Honor: Live up to all the Army values.

Integrity: Do what's right, legally and morally.

Personal Courage: Face fear, danger, or adversity (Physical or Moral).

Posted by: jason | Nov 17, 2004 9:29:50 AM

Jason... Having served in the US Military for 4 years, I am familiar with the 'creeds' that you quoted and many others like them. The typical Ameriacan soldier is moral and humane based on his or her upbringing, and not because of the military indoctrination they get. Case in point is the nearly complete absence of any reference to 'purity of arms', 'protection of civilian life and property' and the 'soldier's responsibility to maintain humanity even in combat'. The emphasis is almost completely on completing the mission at all costs.

The two exception are the lines:

"Respect: Treat people as they should be treated." which may or may not refer to people outside the US armed forces.


"Integrity: Do what's right, legally and morally." which is open to wide reading.

On a side note, you and your comrades in Iraq are finding that your values and ethics put you at a big disadvantage to the people you are fighting. They don't have any such moral compass, and in fact will use your morals as a weapon against you every chance they get.

Welcome to the Middle East, my friend.

Good luck and stay safe.

Posted by: David | Nov 17, 2004 9:46:20 AM

purity of arms...good point.

Posted by: jason | Nov 17, 2004 11:13:47 AM

The US Navy's mission statement (taken from their web site -- I don't remember seeing it during my service (40 years ago)) reads:
"The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas."

Posted by: Mike | Jul 17, 2006 10:28:58 PM

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In