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Military messes contribute to fighting power by acting as a nexus point that enhances unit esprit de corps, cultivates leadership attributes, and fosters a binding military ethos. By performing this role, a mess contributes to the development and strengthening of the moral component of fighting power, which ‘embodies those individual and organisational characteristics that are fundamental to success — morale, integrity, values, and legitimacy’ . Regrettably, few authentic messes remain and I believe that as members we have become morally dislocated from institutions that once acted as wardens of tradition and principle. The institution of the mess is an important instrument for the development of leadership, the delivery of professional military education, instilling and fostering of ethos, and developing resilience.

In this paper Benjamin establishes the importance of the military mess by examining the role it plays in three aspects of the profession of arms: soldiering, ethos and behaviour.