Battalions certainly differed in their character and their competence both from others and within themselves over time. Battalions are much like an organic family. They are held together by intangibles - leadership, comradeship, motivation, morale - that defy quantification or even easy description. In good units, soldiers feel - know - they are in the best section in the best company, in the best battalion. Many veterans cite the character and capability of the commanding officer as vital factors in shaping a battalion's collective character. - Terry Copp and Bill McAndrew, Battle Exhaustion; Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Canadian Army, 1939-1945, 1990
With a decent troop officer, when we rode up to an outlying pub on the edge of a village, he'd say, 'It's all right to go in for a drink.' ...... After several grand days like this we'd ride back into Tidworth camp, and probably see the wretched infantry fellows staggering in off a route march to reach our horses' water-troughs. They'd dip their heads right inside the trough to get a drink and to get cool, and as I sat on my horse watching them struggling I thanked my lucky stars that I was a cavalryman. There was a saying then which was to be greatly used in the War when cavalry NCOs were offered commissions in the infantry: 'A third-class ride is better than a first-class walk any day.' - John Cusack, MM, and Ivor Herbert, Scarlet Fever; A Lifetime with Horses, 1972
[The platoon commander] must have in a supreme degree ...the will to win. The thirty men whom he leads take their inspiration from him; they will be lions or lizards in harmony with the tune he pipes. - Colonel W.N. Nicholson, C.M.G., D.S.O., Behind the Lines, 1939
"To see what is right and not do it is want of courage." - Confucius
Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 14, May 1942
48. An Army leader, more than a leader anywhere else, must be a leader in every sense. And for such a leader to help his men in everything but in their thinking is for him to avoid one of this chief responsibilities and to neglect one of the chief methods in which he can serve his men, his Army, and his country. By his education, his training, his very position, it is his duty to assist his subordinates in clarifying their thinking and in reaching an understanding of the purpose for which their Army exists. MAJOR EDWARD L. MUNSON (in the Infantry Journal)
"Effective, professional military leadership requires that certain standards of officer behaviour be met. Officers' attitudes, actions, and abilities contribute to the formation of unit integrity. At a very minimum, these standards do not permit soldiers to be 'used' in pursuit of an officer's career." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978
"Certainly a main factor in the cohesion of the primary group in the German Army, namely the company, was the sense of responsibility, performance of duty, and willingness to take combat risks demonstrated by German officers. The data on the readiness of the officers and upper classes to die in battle support this assertion. The concern of German officers for their soldiers was reciprocated by their men, reinforcing the cohesion of combat units that remained so high in the German Army right to the end. To a great extent then, military cohesion can be seen as a function of the quality of the officer corps, its skill, dedication, and its readiness to sacrifice." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978
"In an word, a good officer realizes that his men will follow his judgment if they are convinced that he too is prepared to risk his life in their defense." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978
"The intelligent leadership of troops, and the ability to appreciate and predict the way operations develop call for firm and precise direction of forces. Any suggestion of the exercise of independent command by junior commanders is unacceptable. Not knowing the general situation, junior commanders are likely to take decisions incompatible with it; and this may engender a catastrophe. It may cause a boldly conceived and executed operation, requiring precise co-operation between its component parts, to start coming apart at the seams." - 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
"For these reasons, the 'principle of the object' will come to have many times its former importance in instruction to all ranks. The need for a clearer concept of it, however, is not greater than the need for junior commanders who will take a keen interest in the larger affairs of war and for higher commanders who make it a practice to get down to their troops. More appropriate to what we will know in the future that to what we have experienced in the past is that old truth: It is not always possible to lead from behind." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947
"Leaders must talk if they are to lead. Action is not enough. A silent example will never rally men." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947
"Though the old military maxim that 'the weakest point always follows success' applies with especial emphasis to the operations of minor tactical forces, it might more sensibly be rewritten that the weakest point is when the leaders relaxes. This being the natural reaction of troops, there is no safeguard against it other than double vigilance on the part of those who command." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947
"The art of leading, in operations large or small, is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them, but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problem." - 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
"War is much to brutal a business to have room for brutal leading; in the end, its only effect can be to corrode the character of men, and when character is lost, all is lost. The bully and the sadist serve only to further encumber an army; their subordinates must waste precious time clearing away the wreckage that they make." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947
Good followers do not become good leaders. To be sure, the good follower may win many promotions, but that does not make him a leader. Most hierarchies are nowadays so cumbered with rules and traditions, and so bound in by public laws, that even high employees do not have to lead anyone anywhere, in the sense of pointing out the direction and setting the pace. They simply follow precedents, obey regulations, and move at the head of the crowd. Such employees lead only in the sense that the carved wooden figurehead leads the ship.
It is easy to see how, in such a milieu, the advent of a genuine leader will be feared and resented. This is called Hypercaninophobia (top-dog fear) or more correctly by advanced hierarchiologists the Hypercaninophobia Complex (fear that the underdog may become the top dog). - Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull, The Peter Principle, 1969
In , Lieutenant Frederick Young, ... [led 2000 irregulars against 200] Gurkhas in the hills. Their first showing, when not yet drawn together by any marked esprit de corps, was a poor one. The Gurkhas attacked on sight, whereupon the irregulars incontinently fled, leaving the chagrined Young with a handful of officers where he stood. The amused Gurkhas surrounded Young and asked why he had not fled with his men; to which he replied that he had not come so far in order to run away. The Gurkhas were delighted. 'We could serve under men like you,' they told him. ... On his release Young recruited 3,000 Gurkhas ... later to become the Sirmoor Rifles, the 2nd Gurkhas Rifles. - David Bolt, Gurkhas, 1967
"I will give you two simple rules which every general should observe: first, never to try to do his own staff work; and secondly, never to let his staff get between him and his troops." - Field Marshal A.P. Wavell, Soldiers and Soldiering;, 1953
"What troops and subordinate commanders appreciate is that a general should be constantly in personal contact with them, and should but see everything simply through the eyes of his staff." - Field Marshal A.P. Wavell, Soldiers and Soldiering;, 1953
Late in February 1949 sailors on the Canadian destroyer Athabascan, on a spring training cruise to the Caribbean, staged a nonviolent demonstration, and the following week, in Far Eastern waters, so did about one-third of the 150-man crew of HMCS Crescent. The Athabascan was one of the escorts of the aircraft carrier Magnificent, thirty-two of whose ratings, on 22 March, refused to muster for mess-deck cleaning duty. In all three cases the men had banded together in protest against long work hours, inadequate shore leaves, shortened meal periods, and bad food. One retired Canadian naval commander blamed "poor bloody management by the officers." - Leonard F. Guttridge, Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection, 1992
The first thing a young officer must do when he joins the Army is to fight a battle, and that battle is for the hearts of his men. If he wins that battle and subsequent similar ones, his men will follow him anywhere; if he loses it, he will never do any real good. - Montgomery of Alamein
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
There are of course those parts of the trade, or art, that can be studied, and therefore learned. There have been few great leaders who were not knowledgeable about the mechanics of the business; you cannot be an inspiring leader if you neglect the logistics that feed your men. They will not give you their confidence if you forget to bring up the reserve ammunition, or if you leave them with no way out of an ambush, or even if you consistently schedule two columns to use the same crossroads at the same time. All of that level of operation is subject to scientific principles, and can be taught. Any reasonably intelligent person can learn the routine of siting a battery, or even of administering a battalion. One can go very far on basic managerial skills, and one cannot do much without them. One of the difficulties, in fact, of dealing with the question of leadership is the tendency not to distinguish between the aspects of it that relate to making sound military decisions, and the aspects that relate to leading men in battle. - James L. Stokebury, Military Leadership, 1981
"A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops while . . .an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops" - General John J. Pershing
When you are commanding, leading men under conditions where physical exhaustion and privations must be ignored, where the lives of men may be sacrificed, then, the efficiency of your leadership will depend only to a minor degree on your tactical ability. - General George C. Marshall, speaking to the first graduating class of the Officer Candidate School, Fort Benning, Sept 1941; quoted in Roger H. Nye, The Challenge of Command, 1986
Never allow yourself to become absorbed in the task you have assigned to a subordinate. If you assume the direction of a detachment, you lose your grasp of the proceedings as a whole. The business of the responsible officer is to control the entire concern so that the general combination of efforts shall be concentrated upon the particular object in view. Always command the whole of your company when you can, but never take executive command of any platoon of it. Your business is to give orders to your subordinates, but never to usurp their duties. You cannot direct the whole and at the same time command a part. By all means, being present at the critical juncture and seeing the opportunity, take care that it is seized upon; but let such things be incidents, interfering in no way with your general attitude. Tell Mr. Blank or Sergeant Atkins what to do and be content to see that he does it. - Lieut.-Colonel A.W.A. Pollock, Elementary Military Training, 1915
In the summer of 1918, a group of soldiers of the 301st Tank Brigade, which I commanded, was having 37 mm. gun practice which I was observing. One defective round exploded in the muzzle, wounding two or three men. The next round exploded in the breech, blowing the head off the gunner. The men were reluctant to fire the next round, so it was incumbent on me, as the senior officer present, to do so-in fact, I fired three rounds without incident. This restored the confidence of the men in the weapon. I must admit that I have never in my life been more reluctant to pull a trigger. - George S. Patton, Jr., War as I Knew It, 1947
When the civil leadership is ignorant of military maoeuvres but shares equally in the command of armies, the soldiers get confused. - Sun Tzu
The heart of the matter is to relate the man to his fellow soldier as he will find him on the field of battle, to condition him to human nature as he will learn to depend on it when the ground offers him no comfort and weapons fail. Only when the human, rather than the material, aspects of operation are put uppermost can tactical bodies be conditioned to make the most of their potential unity. - S.L.A. Marshall, Colonel, AUS, Men against Fire; the Problem of Battle Command in Future War, 1947
Message: 'German attack east of St. Eloi. PPCLI relief postponed.' ... That extra sentence seemed a lot to men who had not slept for five days and there was some cursing in the darkness. Colonel Farquhar, following his usual custom of considering the front line as healthy as a village lane, appeared at the back of the trench.
'And how is the merry band of sportsmen?', he remarked cheerfully. No one had heard or noticed his approach, but the replies were ready enough.
'Going strong, sir' - 'Good for another week' - 'Enjoying ourselves, sir.'
The colonel chuckled and departed while the men looked at each other and wondered why they had answered that way. But really there was no other. - Jeffery Williams, First in the Field; Gault of the Patricias, 1995
When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.
--- Chang Yu, fl. 1000
A British General after viewing the work of the Canadians in attack at Paardeberg [sic], said: "Those men can go into battle without a leader, they have intelligence and resourcefulness enough to lead themselves."
They did not stand beside stones waiting for an order to get behind them and save their lives. They saved their lives first and were living to get the order afterward, I am not trying to reorganize the training of the men of the British Army, nor recommending that they all receive their preliminary training in Canada. I only wish to point out clearly why the Canadians, unaccustomed as they were to the work, were able to cope successfully with the competitors taken from the best regiments of the Imperial service. - Stanley McKeown Brown, With the Royal Canadians, 1900