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Leadership and the Warrior Ethos
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Via Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture, I note that the Superintendent of West Point, LTG Buster Hagenbeck, took the opportunity of the latest defeat during the Army/Navy game as a leadership teaching point. His point, of course, was that regardless of the odds and the mission, leaders don't quit:
We cannot have leaders who quit. Your Soldiers will not survive under it. Our Nation will not allow it. And the Long Gray Line won’t stand for it.
He reminds them of the Warrior ethos, a seemingly simple 23 words which the Army's leaders, at all levels, strive to live up too. Those 23 words are not a simple ethos, but one which embodies a spirit and a dedication which can, quite simply, cost you your life. But it is the basis of every thing every leader in today's Army does. And if the leaders internalize it, so will the soldiers. It is our success in instilling this ethos that makes our Army and our military (all of whom have variations of this ethos at their base as well) the best the world has ever seen:
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
One of the hardest parts of that ethos to learn and implement is the first line. Leaders have a natural tendency to love their soldiers and want to do everything they can to protect them. But when it comes down to mission or soldiers, some horribly hard decisions have to be made, and then lived with - forever. That's what leaders do. Probably the current film that best demonstrates that (and one of the few war flicks worth watching) is "We Were Soldiers Once". You'll see all four lines of that ethos in action.

I remember reading once about one of the things that so surprised the NVA when they first came in contact with American troops. They'd been propagandized to believe that Americans were soft and decadent and would most likely be poor soldiers and give up quickly. Instead they found a tenacious and skilled enemy who would literally fight to the death. It shocked them.

The Warrior ethos is not given lip service in our military. It is the everyday creed of our soldiers. They live it, they train to it, they die with it and they understand its importance, as do our military leaders. If you've ever wondered how we became the best military the world has ever seen, just study those 23 words.
 
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I’m coaching youth (4/5 grades) basketball for Parks and Rec. I only have one hour per week to practice but I was interested in how to instill charaacter and dedication to team in the kids. I purchased Coaching Team Basketball by Tom Crean of Marquette and Ralph Pim of the Military Academy at West Point. Now normally I wouldn’t put this in a QandO post but it seems to follow with your reference to LTG Buster Hagenbeck. Here are some of the people they acknowledge in the acknowledgments. Maj Artie Coughlin, Maj Derrick Stanton, Brig Gen Maureen LeBoeuf, Col Gregory Daniels, Lt. Col Jesse Germain, and Lt Col Joe Doty.
When you look at some of the very successful programs such as Bob Knight’s and Coach K’s at Duke, both of whom coached at the Academy, and the values they pass on to their assistant coaches as they move on to their own head coaching positions. The influence spreads far beyond the military and that is good.
Lance, thanks for sharing that email.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Many people outside the military do not understand the military. Those 23 words you cite is the best way I could ever come up with to explain the essence of what it means to serve in the military.

I am an avid proponent of the all volunteer military. But I recognize that we have lost something in the process of moving away from the citizen army of the draft. Back in the 50s and 60s, the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company could walk into a washroom being cleaned by a janitor and there would be common ground between those two men - military service. You do not see that today. And the gulf that exists between those who serve and the civilian world gets wider and wider with every passing day.

Just look at the membership of the House and Senate. I believe the percentage of those who have served is well below 50%. Now, I do not propose that this is reason to move the military away from civilian control. But it does highlight what i believe is a major reason why there is such mistrust for DoD from many of our Representatives.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell writes:
I am an avid proponent of the all volunteer military. But I recognize that we have lost something in the process of moving away from the citizen army of the draft. Back in the 50s and 60s, the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company could walk into a washroom being cleaned by a janitor and there would be common ground between those two men - military service. You do not see that today. And the gulf that exists between those who serve and the civilian world gets wider and wider with every passing day.
Indeed. It’s getting more and more noticeable. The school systems are becoming increasingly dominated by the Left, especially through their teacher’s unions and in the prevailing multiculturalist "diversity" doctrine, and young people are being taught through cultural osmosis that the military is bad and for stupid people. That throws military culture back to families with strong military traditions and onto recruitment efforts that need to strain to get results.

There’s also the fact that schoolkids are no longer being taught American history, but rather a "we’re guilty for everything" dogma that specifically excludes heroism and sacrifice for country.

I don’t know where the counterforce is going to come from, but it wouldn’t hurt to start with teaching American history with a full military history component in schools. As things stand now, our public schools are killing us.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
What happens when "I will never leave a fallen comrade" conflicts with "I will always place the mission first" ?

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
The human brain (if not public school administrators) can deal with ambiguity, conflict, and how to resolve them. It’s a design feature.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I second Grimshaw’s question.

Is that a list in priority or general commitment, etc.?

Also, I was just reading about the early months of the Korean War, and we had trouble with a US warrior ethos that came up with the term "bugging out." I am surely glad that this has been fixed.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Is that a list in priority or general commitment, etc.?
The mission always comes first, but you strive to do all 4. Obviously there are situations where any and all may become all but impossible. But that’s covered by number 3.
Also, I was just reading about the early months of the Korean War, and we had trouble with a US warrior ethos that came up with the term "bugging out." I am surely glad that this has been fixed.
Yup - that was a real debacle and interestingly, when we were first forming the volunteer army, I was at Ft. Benning and the new commander of the Infantry School and Ft. Benning was MG Latham. Latham had been an LT with the 7th Cav when it was overrun in Korea - much of it due to poor physical conditioning. He had vowed then that if he was ever in a position of authority he’d institute a program so that would never again happen. He did. Very stringent PT with 5 mile runs and a 25 mile forced march with equipment every quarter. It worked.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Back in the 50s and 60s, the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company could walk into a washroom being cleaned by a janitor and there would be common ground between those two men"

Amen. That is one thing that males of a certain age had in common. Either they served, or at least had a friend or relative who had, and were always aware of the possibility of being drafted. The draft was, oddly enough, a unifying force even for the Vietnam generation. That is one of the things I thought was beneficial about the draft. I know I certainly grew to know, respect, and sometimes even sleep ’cheek to cheek’ with individuals from groups I would never have associated with in civilian life. It was sometimes shocking, sometimes unpleasant, but always educational.
Some time ago I read about some school(s) requiring school uniforms in order to eliminate contentious differences and promote harmony and judging people by their character and not their clothing. It works.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Given that the military has fallen so far out of the experience of most Americans and that love of country and warrior values are not socialized as they once were, how do young men and women today choose the military?
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Given that the military has fallen so far out of the experience of most Americans and that love of country and warrior values are not socialized as they once were, how do young men and women today choose the military?

Family tradition and economic necessity...Dude, being a soldier is a LEARNED skill. You might join for the job or the educational benefits, but along the way the military WILL inculcate you...It’s a "Corporate culture" and one that can be learned.

Bottom-line: People don’t join to be Warriors, that just happens along the way, if it happens.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I can see family tradition playing a part, and economic necessity in some cases, but that can’t be the whole story given the high quality of our current soldiers. Surely many or most of them could manage economically without joining.

Clearly a few of them like Mark Daily who was killed a year ago joined out of conscience to fight in Iraq.

I suspect too that some people are warriors by tempermeant and will be naturally attracted to the military. Granted, the military will inculcate its culture but not with equal success to all who join.


 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I will be conquered; I will not capitulate. - Samuel Johnson
 
Written By: nico
URL: http://
Yo, Nico:

I will NOT be conquered; I will not capitulate. - Samuel Johnson
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
"how do young men and women today choose the military?"

"Join the Navy, see the world."
"We do more before 9:00 AM than most peopld do all day"
"Fun, Travel, Adventure."

Some old recruiting slogans. The last, abbreviated FTA, was modified by some disgruntled, vulgar individuals who evidently did not have all the Fun or Travel they desired and probably had more adventure than they anticipated.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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