Military legislation: explaining military officers' writing deficiencies
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In performing jobs related to national security and defense, personnel must comply with rules and decisions communicated in the form of written legislation, which includes directives, memos, instructions, manuals, standard operating procedures, and reports. Incorrect understanding of legislative provisions may lead to disastrous consequences, making clear communication through these documents paramount. The vast majority of military officers write legislation using academic writing skills developed at military and civilian universities. However, academic writing skills do not enable officers to write legislative acts efficiently. Using theories of learning and teaching, the thesis examines the reasons why an academic writing style, everyday military writing, and general writing are inappropriate for preparing officers to write legislation. It identifies the similarities and differences between academic and legislative writing to reveal the skills necessary for both. It then investigates if academic and everyday writing and reading can produce the knowledge required for legislative drafting. Concluding that they cannot, it then explores how multiple environments favor or impede officers in developing legislative drafting skills. It concludes that audience, academic norms, and other environments diminish legislative writing skills. Recommendations are offered for how to teach officers legislative drafting and organize the process of writing legislative documents at military units.
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