LTC Pete Kilner, “A Moral Justification For Killing Enemy Combatants In War”
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kilner is an Army officer and Academy Professor at West Point, where he serves as Director of the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning. A 1990 graduate of West Point, he has served in a variety of Infantry assignments, including leading an Infantry platoon in Germany and commanding a heavy-weapons company in the 82nd Airborne Division. Since 2006, he has served on the faculty at West Point. He holds a masters degree in Philosophy from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Design from Penn State.
Lieutenant Colonel Kilner’s interests and expertise are interdisciplinary, covering military ethics, the design and facilitation of online learning communities, and peer-to-peer leader development. He currently teaches both Philosophy and Military Science at West Point and conducts action-research on the development of Army cadets and junior officers. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2007 and to Afghanistan in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and has conducted more than 370 in-depth interviews of junior officers about their combat-leadership experiences.
He is a thought leader on the moral justification for killing in war and its possible relationship to post-combat psychological trauma. His 2002 article in Military Review, “Military leaders’ obligation to justify killing in war,” identified a shortcoming in military training, and his 2010 article in Army, “A moral justification for killing in war,” offered a solution. His explanation has been adopted as part of the curriculum at West Point and is referenced widely across the military. He maintains a military ethics blog as http://soldier-ethicist.blogspot.com.
His military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Air Assault Badge, the Senior Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He is a distinguished honor graduate of both the Infantry Officer Advanced Course and the Department of Defense Public Affairs Officer Course.
LTC Kilner is active in the Catholic community at West Point, where serves on the parish council, prepares youth to receive the sacrament of confirmation, and trains and coordinates the altar-server ministry. He has been married to his West Point classmate, the former Cathy Orpen, for 21 years, and together they are raising four sons.