Excluding people drafted, isn't a soldiers life less important than a civilians. Otherwise what is the point of protecting them. A good mother would give her life to protect her child because the child's life holds more value right? Or am I misunderstanding why one sacrifices ones self.also if a person joins the military but isn't willing to go through whatever (torture, death etc..)is required doesn't that make them cowards or even something worse.

I think we can begin with this premise: a soldier's life is every bit as important as a civilian's. The fact that soldiers volunteer to protect civilians doesn't give us any reason to believe otherwise. Many soldiers believe that serving their country is a higher cause, and worth sacrificing their lives for if that's what circumstances demand. That's not a judgment about the comparative value of their own lives compared with the lives of the civilians they save. In fact, it's perfectly consistent for someone to think that any able-bodied citizen should be willing to sacrifice his or her life for the good of the country, if that's what's called for.

Good parents may well be willing to give their lives for the sake of their children. But that's not a judgment about whose life is worth more. Related but not the same: Mary may be willing to die to save her child. She might not be willing to die to save a stranger's child. But that doesn't mean she thinks her children are more valuable than children she doesn't know. Rather, it's that those children aren't her children. She doesn't love those children; she loves her children. She wouldn't be devastated by the deaths of children she doesn't know in the way that she'd be devastated by the death of her children.

This isn't the same as the case of the soldier, and it isn't intended to be. It's just another way of making the point that being willing to die in order to save others isn't the same as judging whose life is worth less.

There's another issue raised by these examples, though not the issue you raised. It's about the proper place of partiality in the moral life. I would be more willing to serve in the military of my ow country than in the military of some country I have no connection with. I would be more willing to sacrifice on behalf of my own children than on behalf of children I have no special connection to. There are certain crude versions of utilitarianism and related doctrines that see this as morally suspicious at best and more likely just wrong. My own view is that only someone deeply on the grip of a dubious theory could see things that way. But that's another topic.

Read another response by Allen Stairs
Read another response about War