Quotes - Duty (page 3)

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"Loyalty to one's superiors is never anything but a conditional relationship predicated upon the continuing perception of his subordinates that he is acting honorably in his position of command." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978


"The Greeks developed the notion of military service as a moral obligation of the citizenship that rests at the base of nationalism. Without this, the modern nation state could not have emerged in the form that it did." - Richard A. Gabriel, The Culture of War, New York) 1990


"At the same time, within the limits of the task assigned him, every commander must show all possible independence, boldness, and resourcefulness. And again, within the limits of his task, each commander is responsible for the control of his subordinates to the point where he must concentrate all his initiative and resourcefulness on this. On the other hand, every junior commander must have a good understanding not just of his own task but of his superiors' general mission and must keep himself in the broader picture. In this way, in the even of an unexpected breakdown of all communications with his superior commander, he will be in a position to take independent decisions which conform as closely as possible to the general situation." - from Questions of Higher Command (from the book of that name published in 1924), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"Men who have been in battle know from first-hand experience that when the chips are down, a man fights to help the man next him, just as a company fights to keep pace with its flanks. Things have to be that simple. An ideal does not become tangible at the moment of firing a volley or charging a hill. When the hard and momentary choice is life or death, the words once heard at an orientation lecture are clean forgot, but the presence of a well-loved comrade is unforgettable." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


"Yet above and beyond any symbol - whether it be the individual life or a pillbox commanding a wadi in Sahara - are all of the ideas and ideals which press upon men, causing them to accept a discipline and to hold to the line even though death may be at hand." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


"Only the officer who dedicates his thought and energy to his men can convert into coherent military force their inarticulate thoughts about thier country; nor is any other in a position to stimulate their desire to be of service to it." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


Another patient [in the Wynburg hospital] whom I remember distinctly was a South African Volunteer Colonel; he hailed from Kimberley, where he owned a pub. I was told that he was wildly keen on soldiering. He would drill his men until they had worked up a thirst fit to parch the Niagara Falls, and then would dismiss them outside his establishment. This done, he would run through a side door, tie an apron over his uniform, and work the beer pumps until he nearly died of exhaustion. He was evidently a man who knew how to combine service to self with service to King and Country. - Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, The Last of the Gentlemen's Wars; A Subaltern's Journal of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, Mcmxxxvii


"He wore a uniform rather as a priest wears vestments. Duty was his ever-present thought. He could forgive his men for relaxing their sense of duty when not under fire - drinking and a little quiet looting and attempted rape - but an officer and gentleman in uniform was, in his opinion, never off duty." - Anthony Adamson, describing Agar Adamson (PPCLI), quoted in Sandra Gwyn, Tapestry of War; A Private View of Canadians in the Great War, 1992


The habit of war consists in learning to ... [guard] oneself as much as possible from the effects of bad weather; and in avoiding in action all loss which is not absolutely called for by the object of the fight or by honour. This is even a duty. For the man who allows himself to be killed out of carelessness or bravado, when his death is unnecessary, does a wrong to his fatherland, which he thus uselessly deprives of a soldier. - Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe Ingelfingen, Letters on Infantry, translated by Lieut.-Col. N.L. Walford, R.A., 1905


"What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?"
"The difference," I answered carefully, "lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not." - Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, 1959


Outside Montevideo, 1806 - This was the first blood I had ever seen shed in battle; the first time the cannon had roared in my hearing charged with death. I was not yet seventeen years of age, and had not been six months from home. My limbs bending under me with fatigue, in a sultry clime, the musket and accoutrements that I was forced to carry were insupportably oppressive. Still I bore all with invincible patience. During the action, the thought of death never once crossed my mind. After the firing commenced, a still sensation stole over my whole frame, a firm determined torpor, bordering on insensibility. I heard an old soldier answer, to a youth like myself, who inquired what he should do during the battle, 'Do your duty.' - Journal of a Soldier of the Seventy-First Regiment, Highland Light Infantry, from 1800 to 1815, including particulars of the Battles of Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, The Pyrennes, Toulouse and Waterloo etc., Edinburgh 1822, quoted in T.H. McGuffie, M.A., F.R.Hist.S., Rank and File; the Common Soldier at Peace and War 1642-1914, 1964


Except for the scientific arms, engineers, and artillery, the function of British officers was to lead their men and, if necessary, to die well; the bulldog spirit was more important than technical expertise. - James L. Stokebury, Military Leadership, 1981


The more helpless a position in which an officer finds his men, the more it is his bounden duty to stay and share their fortune, whether for good or ill. It is because the British officer has always done so that he possesses the influence he does in the ranks of our army. The soldier has learned to feel, that come what may, he can in the direst moment of danger look with implicit faith to his officer, knowing that he will never desert him under any possible circumstances.

It is to this faith of the British soldier in his officers that we owe most of the gallant deeds recorded in our military annals; and it is because the verdict of this Court-Martial strikes at the root of this faith, that I feel it necessary to mark officially my emphatic dissent from the theory upon which the verdict has been founded. - Sir Garnet Wolseley, in his review of the Court Martial findings of Lieutenant Harwood, quoted in Donald R. Morris, The Washing of the Spears; The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, 1965


The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one's country. Hence it is a proud privilege to be a soldier-- a good soldier. Anyone, in any walk of life, who is content with mediocrity is untrue to himself and to American tradition. To be a good soldier a man must have discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and in his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to his comrades and to his superiors, and self-confidence born of demonstrated ability.

There has been, and is now, a great deal of talk about discipline; but few people, in or out of the Army, know what it is or why it is necessary. - George S. Patton, Jr., War as I Knew It, 1947


"We are engaged in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and despatch in our councils and by vigour in our operations, we will teach the enemy this lesson: that a country defended by free men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their King and constitution, can never be conquered." - General Isaac Brock, Speech to Upper Canada Legislature, Jul. 27, 1812


A subaltern [in the 1920s and 30s] could not marry without obtaining permission from his commanding officer. The reasoning was that he might get into debt, for he would not be entitled to either married quarters or a marriage allowance. And he would spend too much time with his wife and neglect his horses, guns, and men. The mess, too, would suffer from his absence. Subalterns were at the bottom of the regimental totem pole. In his senior term at the RMC he had been warned that the first claim on the gunner officer's loyalty and attention was the infantry or cavalry unit that he was assigned to support. Next came the guns with which he gave support, the horses that took the guns into action, and the men in the gun detachments. The battery and regiment embraced all these, and the private affairs or preferences of young subalterns were of no importance. - Dominick Graham, The Price of Command; A Biography of General Guy Simonds, 1993


"The Soldier Trade, if it is to mean anything at all, has to be anchored to an unshakable code of honour. Otherwise, those of us who follow the drums become nothing more than a bunch of hired assassins walking around in gaudy clothes . . . a disgrace to God and mankind." - Carl von Clausewitz, 1832


When considered in isolation, the English officer class nevertheless failed to impress the Europeans. Jakob Mauvillon had seen it at close quarters in the campaigns in the Seven Years War, and he testifies "All their commissions may be obtained through purchase, and the consequence is that their officers do not bother about the service, and (with very very few exceptions) have no understanding of it whatsoever - and that goes for every rank from ensign to general. Their concept of life makes them into lovers of comfort, and they are nearly all given to long periods of luxurious sleep." (Mauvillon, J., Geschichte Ferdinands Herzogs von Braunschweig-Luneburg, 2 vols, 1794, 11, 272). - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987


You must have an active turn of mind. You must rejoice at rising from your night's rest to be in the saddle at daybreak, when you can see with your own eyes the state of your weapons and your soldiers. You must delight in ranging them in rank and file, when you can read on their faces the revival of their hopes and their confidence in success. If you do not respond to such things, the trade of arms is not for you. (Comte de Chabot, quoted in Ray, Chevalier, Reflexiones et souvenirs du Chevalier de Ray, Paris, 1895, 114) - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987


The ancient cult of honour, in all its complexities, gradually crumbled in face of the assaults of the industrial age. The ground that was once the preserve of the principle of honour has since been invaded by nationalism, political ideology or religiously based morality. Honour, which had once been the concern of the individual, now refers to loyalty to the group and the state. It is now tolerable for an officer to ignore an insult, but scarcely thinkable that he should let down the men for whom he is responsible. - Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1987


Sure I am this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us. - Sir Winston S. Churchill


When I am without orders, and unexpected occurrences arise, I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of my King and Country demand. - Horatio Lord Nelson


So it comes that the balance point of discipline has, at least in the British Army, insensibly shifted during the past twenty years. Soldiers of all ranks are being taught the reason why orders must be obeyed; why an unwise command wisely and unanimously carried out will carry further than a wise order hesitatingly executed; why individuals must stoop if they wish the nation to conquer. Force of habit of mind has replaced force of habit of body. - General Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., The Soul and Body of an Army, 1921

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