Serve to Lead The Arrse Book.

The following is the entire text of Serve to Lead. I thought it would be handy for all soldiers to know the standards the British Army aspires to. On a lighter note, since it is now online it will be easier to revisit our favourite parts.

For those of you who may have not read it yet please take the time. It's a riveting and humbling read.


Pvt Pile.


‘Sound leadership - like true love, to which I suspect it is closely related -
is all powerful. It can overcome the seemingly impossible and its effect
on both leader and led is profound and lasting’.
Sydney Jary MC 18 Platoon.

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Serve To Lead. Those three words that appear on your cap-badge are the motto of Sandhurst. They tell you a lot about where you are, and about what it means to be an officer. If this short book helps you to understand that, then it will have achieved its purpose. This is the new revised edition of the anthology of sayings and writings from people who have understood that very well indeed, including some of the most distinguished officers that the British Army has produced, and compiled by the staff of the Department of War Studies here at Sandhurst. You will find in it some passages that are thousands of years old, extolling the eternal truths of soldiering, and some from people that you will meet and talk with, possibly while you are still here. We give a copy to each of our new officer cadets, for you to dip into and read, and to take away with you when you leave to start your own career as an officer. By the time that you have left Sandhurst you will have read this book through probably several times. You will find much in it that is helpful and inspiring, and probably some things with which you will disagree as well. Make a point of re-reading it just before your passing out parade, and see if you still agree with yourself when you first arrived. Passages and phrases that you have read in it will echo in your mind almost every day in your career as an officer, however long and distinguished that might be, and they will usually come to you when you need them most. Serve To Lead.

Serve To Lead - Introduction to the 2nd Edition

Shortly after the amalgamation of the Royal Military College Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in 1947, the new academic staff compiled an anthology designed to introduce cadets to the complexities of military leadership. They chose as the title the motto of the new Academy, “Serve To Lead”. This was a paradox, but one which was immediately understood by a generation which had grown up in the First World War, had suffered economic privation in the Depression, had fought in the Second World War, and had then voted en masse in 1945 for Atlee’s Labour Party. By the end of the twentieth century, upwards of 50,000 British officers had received copies. To many it became a treasured
possession, an old friend to whom one could turn in times of need. Indeed, more than one very senior officer referred to it as ‘the Bible’.

But like the Bible, by the beginning of the third millennium Serve to Lead was beginning to show its age. It contained extracts from histories popular in the 1940s, but subsequently shown to be factually flawed, written by men like Sir John Fortescue and Sir Arthur Bryant. Also included were extracts from radio broadcasts made by generals like Slim, Montgomery and Harding to help Britain through post war austerity. In language redolent of the time before the First World War, they exhorted the youth of the nation to ‘play up, play up and play the game’. Slim, for one, had made these broadcasts out of a sense of duty, but was a little embarrassed by the result. He confided to a friend that it was ‘all
jolly hockey-sticks’ and ‘carry on St Hildas’; it is difficult to believe that men with Montgomery’s and Harding’s acerbic wit did not feel the same. Perhaps most importantly, Serve to Lead failed to address an extensive critique of military leadership which had begun in the middle of the nineteenth century, and had been reinforced by disasters of the Boer War, the First World War and the early years of the Second World War. Clearly the editors of the anthology hoped that if they did not afford the critics space, they would be ignored.

The core of Serve to Lead, the distilled experience of some of the best soldiers Britain has ever produced, is pure gold and has been kept intact. Men like Slim, Montgomery, Harding and Hackett fought in actions of an intensity and commanded formations of a size which it is improbable (though not impossible) that any British commander will see again. Much of Fortescue, Bryant and some others has been discarded. Their place has been taken by the best of recent scholarship, for example, the letters of Ivor Maxse, the most brilliant trainer of men Britain produced during the First World War, the diary of Alan Brooke, the CIGS for much of the Second World War and the primary architect of victory, and, at the other end of the military hierarchy the recollections of Lieutenant Sydney Jary, MC, the only platoon commander in British 2nd Army to survive from Normandy to the German surrender in command of the same platoon. The new edition has also included the thoughts of officers who fought in the campaigns, both conventional and unconventional, of the second half of the twentieth century, men like Julian Thompson, John Kiszely, Hew Pike and Rupert Smith. It has also extended the range of the extracts. The editors of the original edition failed to include a single instance of women exercising leadership, even though there were many examples to hand, SOE operatives like Odette Churchill and Nancy Wake. It seems equally perverse that an anthology on British military leadership should not include the thoughts of Oliver Cromwell, George Anson, Sir John Moore, Ernest Shackleton and several others of like stature, all of whom have many interesting things to say on the subject.. So, too, does Xenophon, whose experiences recounted in his Anabasis, written at the beginning of the 4th Century BC, leap across the centuries. Many of the problems faced by Xenophon in the mountains of Anatolia are exactly the same as those faced by young officers in the mountains of Afghanistan at the dawn of the third millennium AD.

Having just emerged from an era of total war, and expecting the outbreak of the Third World War at any moment, the editors of the original anthology selected extracts which dealt almost exclusively with behaviour on the battlefield, or directly related to sustaining forces on the battlefield. The material chosen for the new anthology reflects the much more complex world of the 21st Century. Like their predecessors the officers of today require physical courage, but just as important, and much more difficult, is moral courage. The anthology includes examples of individuals who placed their careers on the line in defence of a greater principle, but there are just as many examples of individuals who failed the test. The reader will quickly discover that a major difference between the enthologies is that the new edition balances the positive with the negative. Indeed, examples of what not to do are sometimes the more important.

During the past fifty years the motto Serve to Lead, and all it stands for, has been an object of ridicule for some sociologists, psychologists, and social historians. For example, the author of the Peter Principle, the Canadian psychologist Professor Lawrence Peter, once queried “serve to lead” with the question “Why should the ability to lead depend on the ability to follow? You might as well speak of the ability to swim depending on the ability to sink”. “Serve to lead” is, of course, a paradox, but it is a paradox which should be understood by every officer cadet after each has completed the first command task on Barossa. If cadets have not understood the meaning of the paradox, they have no business
aspiring to be officers in the British Army.

‘Leadership is a process by which a single aim and unified action are
imparted to the herd. Not surprisingly, it is most in evidence in times or
circumstances of danger or challenge. Leadership is not imposed like
authority. It is actually welcomed and wanted by the led’.
Correlli Barnett Address to the Army Staff College 1977.

A Simple Truth?

Discussion of leadership is so often overloaded with vague but emotive ideas that one is hard put to it to nail the concept down. To cut through the panoply of such quasi-moral and unexceptionable associations as “patriotism”, “play up and play the game”, the “never-asking-your-men-do-something-you-wouldn’t-do-yourself” formula, “not giving in (or up)”, the “square-jaw-frank-eyes-steadfast-gaze” formula, and the “if... you’ll be a man” recipe, one comes to the simple truth that leadership is no more than exercising such an influence upon others that they tend
to act in concert towards achieving a goal which they might not have achieved so readily had they been left to their own devices”.
Norman Dixon, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (1975).

Clearly Expressed

‘Leadership is the phenomenon that occurs when the influence of A (the leader) causes B (the group) to perform C (goal-directed behaviour) when B would not have performed C had it not been for the influence of A’.

WH Henderson Cohesion: The Human Element in Combat (1985).

Or Not So Simple? And Not So Clear?

Unlike characters in novels and films, most men react nervously to real battle conditions. Discipline and regimental pride are supports but, in decisive moments of great danger, the grip of the leader on the led is paramount. Infantry section and platoon commanders must possess the minds and hearts of their soldiers. Strength of character is not enough. Successful leadership in battle, although complex and intangible, always seemed to me to depend on two factors. Firstly, soldiers must have confidence in their leaders’ professional ability and, secondly,
they must trust them as men. It helps, too, if a leader has the reputation of being lucky.
Sydney Jary MC 18 Platoon (1987).

Leadership and Management

We do not in the Army talk of “management”, but of “leadership”. This is
significant. There is a difference between leadership and management. The leader and the men who follow him represent one of the oldest, most natural and most effective of all human relationships. The manager and those he manages are a later product, with neither so romantic nor so inspiring a history. Leadership is of the spirit, compounded of personality and vision: its practice is an art. Management is of the mind, more a matter of accurate calculation, of statistics, of methods, timetables and routine; its practice is a science. Managers are necessary; leaders
are essential.

Address to the Australian Institute of Management 4 April 1957 by Field Marshal Sir William Slim Governor General of Australia.
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In A Nutshell

Fixed (things) - management
Variables (people) - leadership

Major General Julian Thompson, Commanding 3 Command Brigade in the
Falklands Conflict 1982.

Being a Leader - The Desiderata 401BC

When on active service the commander must prove himself conspicuously careful in the matter of forage, quarters, water-supply, outposts, and all other requisites; forecasting the future and keeping ever a wakeful eye in the interest of those under him; and in case of any advantage won, the truest gain which the head of affairs can reap is to share with his men the profits of success.

Indeed, to put the matter in a nutshell, there is small risk a general will be regarded with contempt by those he leads, if, whatever he may have to preach, he shows himself best able to perform.

If, further, the men shall see in their commander, one who, with the knowledge how to act, has force of will and cunning to make them get the better of the enemy; and, if, further, they have the notion well into their heads that this same leader may be trusted not to lead them recklessly against the foe, without the help of Heaven, or despite the auspices - I say, you have a list of virtues which makethose under his command the more obedient to their ruler.

Xenophon, Kyrou Anabasis (400 BC).

Being A Leader - The Desiderata - In All Times

Perfect your military knowledge, study the use of weapons, their tactical handling, the enemy’s character and methods, and the way to make use of ground.

Study the men under your command. Know them well and be known to them. Gain their confidence by your knowledge, energy and skill, and by your interest in their welfare. Always be cheerful with them, however you may feel. Teach yourself to think out reasoned appreciations leading to clever but uncomplicated plans quickly but unhurriedly.

Study methods of deception and make full use of them. Always aim at misleading the enemy. Always seek surprise. Keep your object clearly before you. Concentrate your efforts and resources at the decisive point. Always think well ahead.

Work out the best methods of control in different tactical situations. Practise them constantly. Study the situation carefully. Don’t waste any time. Make up your mind and stick to it. Get out your orders quickly. Make certain that everyone clearly knows what you intend to be done.

Maintain the initiative. Make opportunities and seize them at once. Don’t wait for them to come. Be prepared to take risks, but don’t be foolhardy. Know your commander’s intention and act in accordance with it. Don’t wait for orders. Inaction is always wrong.

Never take counsel of your fears. Think of the enemy’s difficulties and how you can take advantage of them. Remember that it is willpower that wins. Never relax your efforts until victory is won. Attend to the comfort of the troops before you think of your own.

Be loyal to your superiors and to your subordinates. Express your views clearly and frankly, but when a decision has been reached support it fully, and stop all criticism. Never take shelter behind others when things for which you are responsible have gone wrong.

Refrain from jealousy, resentment and self-seeking. Be tactful. Never make friction. Be thoughtful and considerate, but maintain firm discipline. Never order troops to do what you are not prepared to do yourself. Never give an unnecessary order. Never overlook failure to carry one out.

Keep fit yourself and make certain that your men do, too. Keep your own nerves under control and study your men’s.

Last of all remember that success in war depends more than anything else on the will to win.

Brigadier Maunsell, an extract from The RMA Sandhurst Study Morale,
Leadership, Discipline (1947).

Three Types of Leader

‘Institutional leaders, who maintain their position by virtue of the established social prestige attached to their office.

Dominant leaders, who maintain their position by virtue of their personal capacity to impress and dominate their followers.

Persuasive leaders, who maintain their position by virtue of the personal capacity to express and persuade their followers.

FC Bartlett, Psychology and the Soldier (1927).

I said that leadership was concerned with getting people to do things. What I meant was getting them “To do things willingly”. What then must there be to a leader if he is to secure this willing acceptance of what he wants? He must be able to offer to those under him what they need. First of all they need direction in the execution of a common enterprise. But they have other needs and these of course will vary. It may be courage when they are afraid. It may be perception when they are muddled and confused. He must give them this. But above all, he must be able to take upon himself some part of their trouble and so help to secure their release from a burden which can be intolerable. He must be the possessor of qualities which are relevant to the task with which his men are concerned, skills and qualities which they respect. Even at the lowest level of military leadership the leader may not have all the relevant skills. It does not matter: what the group wants is a leader not a paragon.

He must have understanding. It is worth remembering that military practice
is group practice. Many of the military forms which look so unnecessary or
even absurd, the worship of regimental totems, the eccentricities of dress and custom, the cultivation of a separate identity for the group - these have been developed and are still dedicated precisely to the creation and maintenance of that coherence on which the effective performance of a group under pressure depends. The leader must realise this.

He must be able to manage fear, first in himself for if he cannot then his
leadership must begin to fail: but in others also for otherwise they may collapse. He must also be able to manage failure as well as success, for failure is seldom final and the man helped on from one failure may well fail no more.

The personal qualities required are not found everywhere. A few people are born with them but too few, for the Army as for any other enterprise where leadership is wanted. Men who might be leaders have therefore to be sought out, and then trained and helped to form the habit of acting as the leader should.

I would add only this. A man really only gets a full response from the men he leads by something approaching a complete fusion of his own identify with the whole that he and they together form. This demands a great deal of the leader.

General Sir John Hackett C-in-C British Army of the Rhine February 1968.
(Transcript of BBC broadcast Looking for Leadership, February 1968).
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There are some people who believe that leadership is something which is inborn, or which you acquire automatically at a public school; but neither of those things is true. There are certain fundamental qualities which affect leadership and which depend to a very large extent on upbringing and the moral and spiritual values which you learn in your family and in your environment as a young man; but there is no special way, nor is there any special cast or class, which has the prerogative of leadership.

There are many forms of leadership. Political parties have their leaders; every big organisation in industry or commerce, all have their leaders; and, at the other end of the scale, so do dance bands, and so do gangs of thieves and smugglers. There are many qualities that apply equally to every type of leader, but you and I are concerned with one particular type of leadership - to my mind the highest type of all - and that is leadership on the battlefield; and I believe it to be of the highest type because it has to be exercised under conditions of great difficulty and considerable danger. I would like you to be quite clear about the conditions under which you will have to exercise leadership. You will frequently be tired. You may also be cold and wet, and hungry, and thirsty. You may be dripping with
sweat, or you may be freezing with cold. You won’t know precisely what is
going on; you won’t know exactly where the enemy is; you certainly won’t know what he is going to do, or what is capabilities are of doing anything. You may not know where your own people are, or what they are going to do. To put it briefly, you have got to be able to exercise leadership in conditions of fatigue and fear, uncertainty and ignorance, and often in isolation. That is what makes it extremely difficult, and that is why leadership on the battlefield calls, in my view, for the very highest qualities.

Now, you have got a good deal to help you. You have got the comradeship of your men and, I hope their confidence; you have the traditions and the
reputation of the Regiment or Corps to which you have the honour to belong; and, above all, you have the knowledge that what you have to do, however difficult and dangerous it may be, you are doing as your duty in the service of your Queen and your country, and even above that you have the knowledge of your duty to God. So that you have many beliefs and factors to help you in this particularly difficult job, and it is always as well to remember that when you talk about the difficulties.

Many qualities are required in a leader. Different people have different views about which are the more important. In my opinion there are five outstanding - mental and physical, moral and spiritual - qualities without which you cannot hope to be successful and a good leader on the battlefield. The first of those qualities is a mental and physical one, and that is fitness - absolute fitness of mind and body. If your brain is not clear, you cannot control it and make it think logically and quickly and come to sound conclusions: then you cannot make the plans or the decisions that are required of a leader of men in battle. If your body is not absolutely fit so that you can force out of it that last ounce of effort that is needed to carry through your job, or to achieve success - well, you won’t succeed. So absolute fitness of mind and body is essential.

Then I would say that you have got to have complete integrity. You have got to be honest, not only with yourself but with the men you lead and the people with whom you work; and honesty and integrity are things that you cannot compromise with - you cannot alter; if you do, you will lose confidence and you will not be able to lead. You must have complete integrity.

Next after that - not in any order of priority, but this is how I have put them down to keep them in my own mind - there is an enduring courage. Pretty well everyone can be brave for a few minutes. Most of us can, if we steel ourselves to it, take one plunge, or make one decision, or incur one risk But the sort of courage you must have to lead on the battlefield is an enduring courage, and one that will go on when other people falter; one that will enable you to do what you know to be right, irrespective of the danger or the difficulty, often contrary to the advice of well-meaning friends.

Then you must have daring initiative. Initiative means doing right away what you might, if you had time, think of doing a few minutes later. If you wait for things to happen to you, they will happen all right - and here I am quoting the words of my predecessor, also spoken here: they will happen to you, but they won’t be what you like, and they certainly won’t bring you success. Initiative means seeing at once - and very quickly - what needs to be done making up your mind to do it, and then seeing it through right to the bitter end.

Then you must have undaunted will-power. The will-power is the motive power; it is what enables you to make yourself fit in mind and body; to produce in you - in your heart - the courage, the enduring courage that I spoke of; to give you the courage to do your duty and to make the sacrifice that may be called from you. It is the will-power that forces you to take the initiative, to make the plan, to do what is required, and to see it through: and that willpower must be “undaunted”, it must never allow itself to be overcome or subdued. It is the will-power that is superior, that can wrest victory in the teeth of odds - that is the type of will-power that has got to be developed in a leader on the battlefield.

Now I would like you to notice not only the qualities that I have mentioned,
but the adjectives I have applied to them, because in those adjectives are
implied a great many of the other qualities. I spoke of “absolute” fitness, of
“complete” integrity, of “enduring” courage, of “bold, daring initiative”, and
of “undaunted” will-power; and there is a great deal of meaning in the adjectives as well as in the nouns which I would like you to remember.

There are other requirements that are needed as well. There are many of
them, but there are three that I would like to mention to you here this afternoon. The first is knowledge. If you are to have the courage to take the initiative, to produce the will-power that is needed, you must have knowledge. You must know more than those under your command - a good deal more. You must know the power and the capabilities of the weapons at your disposal. You must know how the other resources that you can rely on to help you can best be used. You must know how much you can ask of your men. You must know what the enemy’s capabilities are. You must know how best all arms can cooperate and combine to gain success on the battlefield. You must know how to use the ground and any other aids there may be. You must know what support you can count on from the air and other supporting weapons. All that requires a great deal of study and thought, and practice and experience.

The next quality that I wish to mention is judgement. You have got to have judgement. You have got to be able to assess values, and assess them quickly and under difficult circumstances, and that calls for judgement , and judgement is only learned by experience and practice. You will never learn to judge and to assess value if you are afraid of making mistakes - never. So don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You will find the principles of war are frequently in conflict in any particular problem which you may be faced, and you have to weigh up and decide
which in the particular circumstances is the more important of the principles - which you can stick to, which you can discard - and that needs judgement. That judgement only comes from knowledge, practice and experience.

The third thing I would like to mention this afternoon is the team spirit, because you cannot get success on the battlefield by yourself; you have got to work with other people. You have got, in the first place, to get the full confidence of the men under your command; you have got to train them to work as a team, and you have got to lead them as a team leader. Then your team has to fit in with other teams, and so on all the way up, and throughout the whole business of life, and training, and war. The Army - throughout every part of it - has got to work as a number of teams, and these teams have got to work together to one common end,
and so the team spirit becomes of supreme importance: and it is only as a member - as a leader - of a well-trained, confident, highly skilled team that you can exercise successful leadership on the battlefield.

Success in battle really comes from a combination of the skill and daring of the leader and the skill and confidence of the led, and we, the British nation, have produced in the past many great and splendid leaders. The one that is outstanding in my mind as an example of what I have been trying to say to you this afternoon in regard to skill and daring and confidence is Nelson. You will wonder why I have quoted a sailor to an audience of soldiers, but it doesn’t matter what service he comes from - the three Services have got to work together. If you study Nelson’s battles you will see that in every case he gained his victory by his skill, his knowledge, his boldness, and by the confidence that everyone who served
under him had in his judgement and in his decisions: and that is the standard at which we have all got to aim to obtain victory in battle.

There is one other thing that I would like to say to you. As British officers, you will never have all you want, all you need. You will be short of this, or that, or the other. Sometimes you will be short of men; at other times your equipment or weapons may not be as good as you think they ought to be, nor will you have as many as you would like. You may be short of ammunition. You may also be short of food and water, or other necessary things. When these circumstances arise - as they will do often throughout your service, both in peace and war - there is only one motto, and that is to make certain that you do the very best you can with what you have got. Don’t bellyache about what you have not got, but get on and make certain that you do your utmost with what you have got. It is very important for British officers, in whatever arm or branch of the Service they may be, to make up their minds that that is what they will always do: and that is
what I hope all of you here will always make your motto in the years to come.

Now, to sum up what I have tried to say to you this afternoon, I would like to put it like this. First, keep fit - absolutely fit. Then, be honest - honest with yourselves and honest with all those with whom you work. Then, have courage - and make it an enduring courage. Next, be bold, be daring, and when there is a choice take the bold and daring course. Make the very most always of what you have got.
And never, never, never give in.

Field Marshal The Lord Harding of Petherton, addressing the Senior Division
when C.I.G.S., July 1953.
Leadership, Learning and Intellectual Development

Theory Before Practice

Officers are here reminded, that it is only by the theory and just reading that the first principles of all professional subjects are in general attained by the majority of mankind. The practical part may be afterwards successfully pursued.
Sir John Moore (1803)

Great Military Genius

‘Intellectual power makes up a large part of what we term “great military genius”, and for this reason the officer who is training for high position in war should endeavour to develop his reasoning powers. But he must do this through constant critical examination of the past and present, rather than through metaphysical speculation...
Generalmajor Hugo Baron von Freytag-Loringhoven The Power of Personality in War (1911).

A Little Learning

‘At a university a student only comes to post-graduate research after he has a general grounding in history as a schoolboy, and then, as an undergraduate, has developed this background by the study of the constitutional and economic aspects, and of special periods. Yet the military student, who comes late to his subject, when his mind is less supple than in adolescence, is expected to begin at a point
corresponding with post-graduate research’.

Basil Liddell Hart’s The Decisive Wars of History (1929).

The Little Grain of Mustard Seed

The officer must, of course, have the knowledge and qualities of a leader, which are defined in the text-books; these, I think, we all know well and recognise. But he must also, as our Training and Manoeuvre Regulations wisely enjoin, have a broad outlook and wide general education; and this is where the average officer at present is apt to fail. The new system of education at the Royal Military College and at the Royal Military Academy will undoubtedly tend to eliminate this weakness, if the little grain of mustard seed implanted there is kept watered during early military life, and weeded later on.

Colonel Archibald Wavell, Royal United Services Institute (15 Feb 1933).

Too Clever By Half?

But I slowly realised that I was going against the Army tide of the time, which emphasised older commanders and de-emphasised education and broadening experiences. It was a time of the “country-boy” and “jes’ plain soldierin’”. Lots of people with fancy masters degrees and PhDs kept it quiet if they could. It was the Vietnam backlash, though it took a long time to develop. I couldn’t help what I had already done or how I had worked my way up. After the Rhodes scholarship and finishing at the top of the class in the Command and General Staff College, I had gotten an Army-wide reputation, and I was stuck with it, for better or worse.

General Wesley K Clark Waging Modern War (2001).


Trained in Peace to Use Their Wits

Success in war cannot be expected unless all ranks have been trained in peace to use their wits. Generals and Commanding Officers are therefore not only to encourage their subordinates by affording them constant opportunities of acting on their own responsibilities, but they must also check all practices which interfere with the free exercise of their judgement, and will break down by every means in their power the paralysing bait of an unreasonable and mechanical adherence to the letter of orders and to routine.

Lord Roberts (1902).

A Wee Bit Puzzled

In 1903 Major Ernest Swinton, a 35 year old engineer officer wrote the first
instalment of The Defence of Duffer’s Drift for Blackwood’s magazine. Based on his own experiences in the Boer War, Swinton condemned his anti-hero Lt ‘Backsight Forethought’ (BF - bloody fool in polite Edwardian parlance) to relive the same tactical disaster each day until he finally gets it right. In the following sequence Lt BF muses on the inadequacies of his military educationas he prepares for his disastrous first action.

Between you and me, I was really relieved to be able to put off my defensive measures till the morrow, because I was a wee bit puzzled as to what to do. In fact, the more I thought, the more puzzled I grew. The only “measures of defence” I could recall for the moment were, how to tie “a thumb or overhand knot”, and how long it takes to cut down an apple tree of six inches diameter. Unluckily neither of these useful facts seemed quite to apply. Now, if they had given me a job like fighting the battle of Waterloo, or Sedan, or Bull Run, I knew all about that, as I had crammed it up and been examined in it too. I also knew how to take up a position for a division, or even an army corps, but the stupid little subaltern’s game of the defence of a drift with a small detachment was, curiously enough, most perplexing. I had never really considered such a thing. However, in the light of my habitual dealings with army corps, it would, no doubt, be child’s-play after a little thought.

‘Backsight Forethought’ (Lt Col Ernest Swinton) The Defence of Duffer’s Drift (1903).

The Worst Instructed Youths

Their methods, whereby the majority of the candidates for the Army, as is clearly proved by the last Qualifying Report, are the worst instructed youths of their rank and means in any civilized community, have recently been criticized with amazement and shame by the Public Press.

In regard to the Promotion Courses in Military History, the fantastic fashion in which they trifle with a subject of the first importance to officers, is an insult to the intelligence of our race. They enact that a fragment of a campaign, at most five weeks out of four years in America, and less than five weeks out of six months in France, shall serve for two examination papers, a “general” and a “special” for lieutenants and captains of our army. I need scarcely say that such a course for any one examination would be laughed at by a West Point cadet, or by a German one-year volunteer. It is simply preposterous. The Courses are altered
every year in a whimsical fashion, with utter indifference to the interests of military literature, and with ruinous results to the enterprise of publishers.

Thomas Miller Maguire The Franco-German War (1909).

Dysfunctional Training

In the inter war period of the last century training at Britain’s premier military institutions fell behind the demands of modern war.

The Royal Military College at Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy at
Woolwich produced young officers who were physically fit, who could perform polished drill, and who felt themselves to be members of an elite. ‘Life at Sandhurst’, according to a cadet who graduated in 1929, ‘was tough but it was exhilarating and the cadets were a dedicated corps d’elite’. The constant hustling to which the cadets were subjected ensured that they could work satisfactorily under pressure. What the colleges did very imperfectly was to encourage cadets to use their initiative and think for themselves, or to train them in leadership skills as tacticians. It was only when they arrived at their regiment that young officers began to learn how to lead men, usually under the benign tutelage of their platoon
or troop sergeant. The purely educational content of the syllabus was increased in the 1920s at the expense of military training but, even so, a cadet who passed through Sandhurst in 1935 recorded that ‘Independent thinking is frowned on as heresy - no divergence from official view allowed. The initiative and intellectual curiosity that was supposed to be imparted by the educational syllabus was largely nullified by too much time spent on the parade ground. A Staff Sergeant curtly informed a cadet who tried to express an opinion that ‘You are not allowed to think, Sir!’. Out of a total of 1,350 training hours, no less than 515 hours were
spent ‘producing the private soldier cadet’. This was a dysfunctional approach to training. It ill-fitted officers to deal with the unexpected calls which were going to be made on them on the battlefield.

David French Raising Churchill’s Army: The British Army and the War Against Germany 1919-1945 (2000).

The training received by British Officers left them at a distinct disadvantage when they engaged in combat with the Germans.

When manoeuvre is required, so is speed and imagination and initiative. I never thought our system was perfect for breeding those qualities. Individuals possessed them - splendidly. But the system itself was differently designed.

Peter Carrington Reflect on Things Past: The Memoirs of Lord Carrington (1989).
jew_unit said:
I'll probably screw it up if I do it myself (so I haven't, yet), but should this be made into an arrsepedia page?
Doing it now.

Edited to add - with significant help from Proximo (and a bottle of Rag claret)
A Grim Price in Blood

Possibly, like most of our infantry, they (the battle school directing staff) suffered from the consequences of the pre-war shortage of creatively intelligent regimental officers. Too few of them were professionally dedicated to the extent that they could visualise how battles would be fought and identify the problems that might arise when planning them. They seemed to lack the capacity to think relentlessly through these things until solutions were found. Much of their time had been spent policing the British Empire. Also, unlike the Germans, we British instinctively avoid displays of keenness. The enthusiast, particularly if he is innovative, is an
embarrassment. Thus the battlefield became our teacher and, inevitably, it exacted a grim price in blood and time.

Sydney Jary MC 18 Platoon (1987).

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The Leadership Qualities of Commanders. Commanders at all levels must be placed in circumstances where they must make Decisions and live with the consequences. They must know they have the confidence of their superiors to make honest mistakes. In War, leaders are killed at a greater rate than subordinates and the service expands. In peace, training should be organised so that at every possible opportunity those suitable to take greater responsibilities are identified. To do this training should give an opportunity for judgements to be made of one, some, or all, of the following factors. Has the Commander in question :

(1) The moral and physical courage to carry greater responsibilities? In
battle the successful commander is not seeking a consensus.

(2) Calmness and decision in a crisis?

(3) The necessary balance of professionalism, intelligence and practicality
to carry the added breadth and weight of the responsibilities that go with

(4) The ability to innovate successfully and confidently rather than
implement another plan? This factor is of increasing importance as the
subject rises in rank.

(5) The willingness, of more importance at higher ranks, to delegate
and work through others? We have all seen the officer who by working
very hard produces an excellent performance but on promotion fails to
maintain his promise. He reached that rank because he was clever enough
not to need to delegate, he failed because he did not have the sense or
character to know that he should.

Major General Rupert Smith GOC 1st British Armoured Division 1991 Gulf War.


A Few Honest Men

I beseech you be careful what captains of horse you choose, what men be mounted; a few honest men are better than numbers ... If you choose Godly honest men to be captains of horse, honest men will follow them, and they will be careful to mount such ... I had rather have a plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else. I honour a gentleman that is so indeed.

Oliver Cromwell, (1643).

Being Straight

“There is one trait in the character of a leader that above all things really counts, and it perhaps counts in the war even more than in peace. Being straight. No amount of ability, knowledge, or cunning, can ever make up for not being straight. Once those under him find out that a commander is absolutely straight in all his dealings with them, and free from the slightest trait of self-interest, other than the self-interest of which we are all guilty when striving for the victory of causes we believe to be right, they will love him as their leader, trust him, work for him, follow him - and should occasion arise die for him, with the fundamental ability of the British soldier which comes to the surface when things are at their worst”.

“Basilisk” Talks on Leadership.

Being Crooked - A Sickening Story

That summer of 1970, the Army War College issued a scathing report -commissioned by General William Westmoreland, who was now Chief of Staff -explained a great deal of what we were seeing. Based on a confidential survey of 415 officers, the report blasted the Army for rewarding the wrong people. It described how the system had been subverted to condone selfish behaviour and tolerate incompetent commanders who sacrificed their subordinates and distorted facts to get ahead. It criticised the Army’s obsession with meaningless statistics
and was especially damning on the subject of body counts in Vietnam. A young captain had told the investigators a sickening story: he’d been under so much pressure from headquarters to boost his numbers that he’d nearly gotten into a fistfight with a South Vietnamese officer over whose unit would take credit for various enemy body parts. Many officers admitted they had simply inflated their reports to placate headquarters.

General H Norman Schwarzkopf It Doesn’t Take a Hero (1992).

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Six Bags Full

The promotion policies of the US Army in the Vietnam era bedevilled post war attempts at reform.

The practice of purging the ranks of “difficult” subordinates - people who question the wisdom of conventional thinking, who challenge their superiors, who do not automatically salute and say “yes sir, yes, sir, six bags full”, when their superiors speak - over the years has produced a crop of senior officials long on form and short on substance. The long-term result of stifling dissent and discouraging unconventional views, while rewarding those who conform, is an officer corps that is sterile, stagnant, and predictable. Promoting clones, while purging mavericks, is tantamount to incest. We all know the possible long-term effect of generations of incest - feeblemindedness, debilitation, and insanity’.

Colonel James G Burton, The Pentagon Wars (1992).

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Taking Responsibility

The Men May Lose Confidence

You cannot fight machine-guns plus wire, with human bodies. Without the wire to check them the men would have tackled machine-guns in spite of their losses. As it was, they tried heroically to tackle both. This was humanly impossible.

The Division only took over at 10 o’clock on the 11th and attacked at dawn on the 12th. Whatever the obstacles might have been on our front, it was too late to deal with them by artillery preparation. We as a Divisional Staff, assumed that the wire had been cut. Assumption in war is radically wrong if by any means in your power you can eliminate the uncertain ...

In this case I got sufficiently accurate information as to the state of affairs, but 24 hours too late to be of any use. Had it been received 24 hours earlier one would have been in a position to ask for an extension of time before attacking to deal with the difficulty ...

We cannot always expect to succeed, but I feel very sorry about it all when I think of the numbers of men who were lost. My chief fear is that the men may lose confidence in the arrangements made for them as they had always been taught that, provided the Staff arrangements are good, they are able to do anything that is asked of them.

In these days of Parliamentary criticism, questions may be asked as to the operations I refer to. The somewhat bald and concise statement I have made above accurately represents the position.

Major General Sir Andrew Russell to Colonel James Allen New Zealand Minister of Defence 7 Nov 1917. From Peter H Liddle (ed) Passchendaele In Perspective:The 3rd Battle of Ypres (1997).

The Tongue-tied Soldier

‘The culmination of the day was a field firing exercise on Hohne ranges. On
arrival at what was clearly a pre-rehearsed event, I was shown a section of Royal Highland Fusiliers being briefed by a Lance Corporal for an attack. On completion of his orders he asked a young Fusilier to confirm the simple instructions that he had received. The young soldier had been clearly overwhelmed by the presence of so many senior officers and could remember nothing of what he had been told by his section commander. He went red in the face, and looked shamefully at the ground - no doubt thinking that he was letting down his section and his Regiment. Instead of censuring or humiliating him - as so many of us would have done - his
section commanders looked at the next man with an encouraging grin and said “Go on, help him out”. In doing this, he showed himself to be a true leader who was not interested in covering his own position, and by asking another member of the section to help the unfortunate young man, he was also able to strengthen the trust between members of the section’.

General Sir Michael Rose

I felt so Responsible

In her small desert boots with a red Arab scarf on top of her camouflage gear, short, dark, tousled hair, and wearing sunglasses, Lieutenant Smart just about reached the chest height of some of the men she commanded. In guts, she probably equalled them. Certainly, her staying power for three months so far as second-incommand of headquarters company of The Royal Scots in the desert showed that. On G-Day, 24 February, the day the groundwork began, she was in charge of the lead vehicle in a convoy of food and water trucks which followed a few miles behind the front-line fighting troops and tanks into Iraq. They travelled through the breach in the enemy’s defences in their chemical warfare suits and gas
masks in the dark and rain, avoiding cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines littering the track, hearing the roar of battle a few miles ahead, watching the flash of explosives ripping across the black sky, feeling the vibrations through the ground. Sometimes the trucks behind would get bogged down in the soft sand and they would have to wait for them to catch up. ‘I had a grid point on the map where we were supposed to be and a compass, and if I got the distance and bearing wrong, we could have ended up in enemy lines. So it was on my head’. She had been too
anxious to sleep for more than one or two hours as her convoy travelled almost non-stop for four days and nights. ‘I worried more about the boys than myself. I felt so responsible’.

From Kate Muir, Arms and the Woman (1992).

It’s About People

Nothing more radical is suggested here than that the leader who would make certain of the fundamental soundness of his operation cannot do better than concentrate his attention on his men. There is no other worthwhile road. They dupe only themselves who believe that there is a brand of military efficiency which consists in moving smartly, expediting papers, and achieving perfection in formations, while at the same time slighting or ignoring the human nature of those who they command. 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 problems. These are the real bases of a commander’s major
calculations. Yet how often do we hear an executive praised as an “efficient
administrator” simply because he can keep a desk cleared, even though he is despised by everyone in the lower echelons and cannot command a fraction of their loyalty!

SLA Marshal Men Against Fire (1947).

Take The Men Into Our Confidence

The popular image of British generals in the First World War is that they
were insensitive, incompetent and stupid - the donkeys. The following
document, written in the summer of 1918 by General Sir Ivor Maxse, the
Inspector General of Training, suggests that the stereo-type needs to be

I have already given out the lines on which I want training carried out. You
must remember that the men are tired after a trying time in the trenches - as a rule they don’t look forward to a spell out of the line because they think they will never be left in peace, and that each day and all day will be spent in some tiresome or boring drill or exercise which they have done over and over again - how are you going to get over this? Have any of you thought it out? There is only one way in which we can put this nightmare out of the men’s minds.Take the men into our confidence - explain to them the reason why we do every exercise, let them know that each item will only last a short time and that it is up to them to pay attention to their work and think out what they are doing. When they do anything well - tell them so. If they do not do it well, explain how they could have done it better, and put them at it again. Don’t make any scheme too long - knock off as soon as you see that the men have got the hang of it - then go on with something else.

John Baynes Far From A Donkey: The Life of General Sir Ivor Maxse(1995).

He Treated Them With Warm Consideration

A new commanding officer, Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, arrives at 617 Squadron RAF in 1943.

The aircrews had to face action day after day, week after week, virtually alone, with only their consciences as monitors. The ground crews, on the other hand, were liable to frustrations which could only be soothed if they could be assured of their value, and Cheshire delicately gave them those assurances.

When he landed in the early morning after a raid his driver usually found him under the wing sharing cocoa and sandwiches with his ground crew. As anxiously as they asked him how he had got on he would be asking them if they had managed to get any sleep while he was away, or thanking them for the performance of the aircraft, all with a friendly touch and a few jokes thrown in.

With flying or ground crew he was a leader and never a driver, never bullying, overbearing or petty, though his tongue could be quite devastating if you merited it. His aircrews almost worshipped him, and the ground crews’ feelings were probably deeper because he treated them with warm consideration, and they were not used to it.

Paul Brickhill The Dam Busters


Soteridas’ Shield - an incident during the Anabasis 398 BC

Soteridas, a man from Sicyon, said: ‘We are not on a level, Xenophon. You are riding on horseback, while I am wearing myself out with a shield to carry’.

When Xenophon heard this, he jumped down from his horse, pushed Soteridas out of the ranks, took his shield away from him and went forward on foot as fast as he could, carrying the shield. He happened to be wearing a cavalry breastplate as well, so that it was heavy going for him. He kept on encouraging those in front to keep going and those behind to join up with them, though struggling along behind them himself. The other soldiers, however, struck Soteridas and threw stones at him and cursed him until they forced him to take back his shield and continue matching.

Xenophon, Anabasis (400BC).

HMS Centurian arrives at Tinian 28 August 1742

After a nightmarish voyage around Cape Horn and operations against Spanish colonies along the Pacific coast of South America, the Centurian reached the island of Tinian in the central Pacific with a crew reduced to 199, of who 128 were desperately ill

Numbers of these (the sick) were so very helpless that we were obliged to carry them from the boats to the hospital upon our shoulders, in which humane employment the Commodore himself (Anson), and everyone of his officers, were engaged without distinction.

Anson’s Voyage Around the World (1776).

Know Your People

An American Message to the British

The High Command can do no more than to put you in action in the best
possible way, under the best possible conditions, and to make sure that you are well supplied, well cared for, and everything is done for you in the way of getting you ammunition, food, clothing and everything that you need. But upon your shoulders rests the real responsibility.

You young men have this war to win. It is small unit leadership that is going to win the ground battle and that battle must be won before that enemy of ours is finally crushed. It is up to you men to give your units - whether it is a tank crew, platoon, or becomes a company - leadership, every hour of the day, every day of the week. You must know every single one of your men. It is not enough that you are the best soldier in that unit, that you are the strongest, the toughest, the most durable, and the best equipped technically. You must be their leader, their father, their mentor even if you are half their age. You must understand their problems. You must keep them out of trouble. If they get in trouble, you must be the one to go to their rescue. That cultivation of human understanding between you and your men is the one art that you must
yet master and you must master it quickly. Then you will be doing your duty and you will be worthy of the traditions of this great school and of your great country.

To each one of you I wish Godspeed and Good Luck. If I could have my wish as I stand here today, feeling honoured as I do in the tribute paid me, I would say this: If I could only meet you all somewhere east of the Rhine and renew the acquaintanceship of this pleasant morning.

Good Luck

General Dwight D Eisenhower. Sandhurst 11 March 1944.

A British Message to the Americans

You will soon have bars on your shoulders; I’ve got things on mine that you’ve never seen before - but they both mean that we are officers. We have no business to set ourselves up as officers unless we know more about the job in hand than the men we are leading. If you command a small unit, like a platoon, you ought to be able to do anything you ask any man in it to do better than he can. Know the bolts and nuts of your job, but above all know your men. When you command a platoon you ought to know each man in it better than his own mother does. You must know which man responds to encouragement, which to reasoning, and which
needs a good kick in the pants. Know your men.

Field Marshal Sir William Slim, West Point 1953.
Pile/Idrach - we'll need to rethink the existing AP article.

I'm thinking into page divisions by arbitrary chapter i.e. keep what we have as Page One, the latest can be Page 2 etc.


Little is known about William Shakespeare’s life. There is no absolute proof that he saw active service, but there is considerable internal evidence from his plays that he served in one of the English expeditions to the Netherlands in the early or mid 1580s. For more than 400 years the speech Shakespeare put into the mouth of Henry V has inspired British Servicemen - whether they were facing the French in 1692, 1757 and 1805 - the Germans in 1944 - or the Iraqis in 1991.

Agincourt 25 October 1415.

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are marked to die, we are now
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost:
It yearns me not if men my garments wear:
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honour,
As one man more, methinks, would share from me,
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more:
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart, his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company,
That fears his fellowship, to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian”.
Then will he strip his sleeve, and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day”.
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother: be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentleman in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here:
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispian’s day.

Shakespeare, King Henry V’s speech before Agincourt.

A Weak and Feeble Woman

“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm”.

Queen Elizabeth I address to her Army at Tilbury as the Armada sails up the channel. August 1588.

Alte Fritz - Frederick the Great

“Dogs! Would you live forever!?”

Frederick the Great of Prussia to soldiers reluctant to advance.

Old Nosey - Wellington

The sight of his long nose among us on a battle morning was worth ten thousand men, any day of the week.

Captain John Kincaid, quoted in Thomas Gilby ed Britain at Arms.

Where’s Arthur?

A comrade of his, tells Cooper also, as they were beginning the fight, called out: “Where’s Arthur?”. He meant Wellington. The answer was given: “I don’t know - I don’t see him!”. Rejoined the first private: “Aw wish he wr here!”. “So do I”, comments Sergeant Cooper.

Edward Fraser The Soldiers Who Wellington Led.

Duro, Duro!

We had continued this arduous journey during five hours, when, on reaching the summit of an isolated green hill, at the back of the ridge already described, four mounted officers crossed us, one of them riding a little ahead of the rest, who, on the contrary, kept together. He who rode in front was a thin, well-made man, apparently of the middle stature, and just past the prime of life. His dress was a plain gray frock, buttoned close to the chin; a cocked hat, covered with oilskin; gray pantaloons, with boots, buckled at the side; and a steel-mounted light sabre. There were in the ranks many veterans, who had served in the Peninsula during some of the earlier campaigns; these instantly recognised their old leader, and the cry of “Duro, Duro!” the familiar title given by the soldiers to the Duke of Wellington, was raised. This was followed by reiterated shouts, to which he replied by taking off his hat and bowing.

As I had never seen the great Captain of the day before, it will readily be imagined that I looked at him on the present occasion with a degree of admiration and respect, such as a soldier of seventeen years of age, devoted to his profession, is likely to feel for the man whom he regards as its brightest ornament. I felt, as I gazed upon him that an army under his command could not be beaten; and I had frequent opportunities afterwards of perceiving, how far such a feeling goes towards preventing a defeat. Let the troops only place perfect confidence on him who leads them, and the sight of him, at the most trying moment, is worth a fresh brigade.

George Robert Gleig The Subaltern (1825).

Don’t Leave Us Major!

‘The men in the square were a difficult problem, and so jaded it was pathetic to see them. If one only had a band, I thought! Why not? There was a toyshop handy which provided my trumpeter and myself with a tin whistle and a drum and we marched round and round the fountain where the men were lying like the dead, playing the British Grenadiers and Tipperary and beating the drum like mad. They sat up and began to laugh and even cheer. I stopped playing and made them a short exhortation and told them I was going to take them back to their regiments. They began to stand up and fall in, and eventually we moved slowly off into the night to the music of our improvised band, now reinforced by a couple of mouth organs. When well clear of the town I tried to delegate the function to
someone else, but the infantry would not let me go. “Don’t leave us, Major”, they cried, “or by God we’ll not get anywhere”. So on we went, and it was early morning before I got back to my squadron’.

Major Tom Bridges of the 4th Dragoon Guards recalling events at St Quentin on 28th August 1914, during the retreat from Mons from his memoirs Alarms and Excursions.

We Were in a Mess!

In 1915 Antarctic explorers found themselves in a desperate situation when their ship, the Endurance, became trapped and crushed in an ice floe. Stranded on the ice sheet, their chances of survival were virtually non-existent Fortunately the expedition was commanded by Ernest Shackleton.

The men had expected to be working in relative comfort in a base camp, or to be doing ship’s work. Instead, they were stranded on a vast, unstable layer of ice that was their only refuge from the depths of the Weddell Sea or, even worse, the jaws of a killer whale or a sea leopard. And it was -16 degrees Fahrenheit. The Boss (Shackleton) gathered the whole group around him and spoke to his men from the heart. He kept his message simple. As he spoke, he appeared calm, confident, and strong. Years later, several of the men would recall how much his words meant to them at that time. ‘There was nothing in the nature of a set speech’, RW James recalled. ‘He spoke to us in a group, telling us that he intended
to march the party across the ice to the west... that he thought we ought to
manage five miles a day, and that if we all worked together it could be done. We were in a mess and the Boss was the man who could get us out. It is a measure of his leadership that this seemed almost axiomatic’.

Margot Morrel and Stephanie Capparell Shackleton’s Way (2001).

It’s Not Over Yet!

Look, we’ve done bloody well today. Okay, we’ve lost some lads; we’ve lost the CO. Now we’ve really got to show our mettle. It’s not over yet, we haven’t got the place. We’re about 1,000 metres from D Company; we’re on our own and enemy has landed to our south and there’s a considerable force at Goose Green, so we could be in a fairly sticky position. It’s going to be like Arnhem - Day 3!

Major John Crossland addressing B Company 2 PARA on the night of 28/29 May 1982 just to the south west of the Goose Green settlement. Spencer Fitz-Gibbon

Not Mentioned in Despaches (1995).

A Brave Face

Officers sometimes find themselves in circumstances which are so dire that they judge it advisable not to tell their troops the whole truth. In effect, they put a “brave face” on the situation.

If, when covering an army during the night, an officer should hear that the army he is covering has decamped, he should not inform his men of this fact, as it might lower their confidence and courage. In other words, he must do nothing to lower the morale of his troops and ever strive to increase it.

Colonel Coote Manningham. A lecture to the Officers of Shorncliffe Camp March 1803. From JFC Fuller Sir John Moore’s System of Training (1924).

Shortly after arriving at Tinian in August 1742, a storm blew the Centurion,
manned only by a skeleton crew, out to sea. Believing themselves stranded on the island, and at the mercy of the Spaniards who would treat them as pirates, some of the Centurion’s complement gave way to despair. The Centurion’s commander, Commodore George Anson, though privately agreeing with their assessment, decided to do some fast talking

He (Anson) represented to them how little foundation there was for their
apprehensions of the Centurion’s being lost: that he should have presumed they had been all of them better acquainted with sea affairs than to give way to the impression of so chimerical a fright: that he doubted not but if they would seriously consider what such a ship was capable of enduring, they would confess there was not the least probability of her having perished: that he was not without hopes that she might return in a few days; but if she did not, the worst that could be imagined was, that she was driven so far to the leeward of the island that she
could not regain it.

Anson’s Voyage Round the World (1776).

Commando Officer Major Peter Young earns his first MC.

“What’s the matter with you! Everyone knows six yards of standing corn will stop machinegun bullets - come on - get up - follow me!”

Major Peter Young, Dieppe 18 August 1942.

A General Briefs A President

It is a grim fact that there is not an easy, bloodless way to victory in war and it is the thankless task of the leaders to maintain their firm outward front which holds the resolution of subordinates. Any irresolution in the leaders may result in costly weakening and indecision in the subordinates.

General George Marshall to President Harry S Truman 18 June 1945.

Lt Barry Advances Through A Minefield

By now Lieutenant Jim Barry’s [12 Platoon] were up and moving. Someone
shouted in his platoon, ‘We’re in a minefield!’ Jim contradicted him, ‘No we’re not, keep going!’. In fact he knew that they were, but it was too late now but to continue. An anti-tank mine suddenly exploded, knocking over Sergeant Meredith, Corporal Barton, Spencer and Curran. Spencer had apparently walked straight into a tripwire. He sat up, dusted himself and continued.

Lt Jim Barry D Company 2 PARA. Darwin-Goose Green early afternoon on
May 1982, from Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, Not Mentioned in Dispatches (1995).

The General Showed No Nerves

In The Residency, Lieutenant General Rupert Smith was calmly keeping track on the final preparations. Some of his staff were shocked when he declared that he expected that the Bosnian Serbs would attempt to level the UNPROFOR Headquarters as soon as the first NATO bombs started landing. Ivanko remembers General Smith telling the RRFOS at Kiseljak that they were to take over running the battle if smoke was seen rising from the Residency. Many of his staff said the General showed no nerves, despite his misgivings about the uncertain political objectives of the coming operation. These he kept to himself and his close advisors.
The die had been cast and he was determined to play to win.

Tim Ripley Operation Deliberate Force. The UN and NATO Campaign in Bosnia 1995 (1999).

I gave the group something else to think about.

On 25 August 2000 a small patrol of the Royal Irish Regiment on a Peace Support Operation in Sierra Leone was forced to surrender to the ‘Westside Boys’, a heavily armed gang notorious for its brutality. The Royal Irish’s senior officer, Captain John Laverty, had to keep his ‘mask of command’ firmly in place.
Otherwise they might not survive.

We could hear screams from an adjoining cell. They went on all night, but it
wasn’t until the following morning that we first saw the victims. There were six left. They had been burnt, badly beaten and sliced by machetes. At dusk the previous evening one had broken free but was shot dead outside the barred window of our cell. I had reached the window first, just in time to see his corpse being dragged away. The men asked me if I had seen anything but I said no. That way while everybody knew there had been a shot, no one knew there had been a killing.

It was a dreadful night. I thought that at any moment the door would open and one of us would be dragged out to become the next victim. As I was lying next to the door I felt particularly vulnerable. We were all physically and emotionally exhausted but we couldn’t sleep. When the men asked me what was going on I did my best to reassure them. I said I thought the West Side Boys had grouped their many malaria victims together, which would account for the wild screams and the frequent calls for a doctor. I am not sure how many believed me at the time and all found it to be untrue the following morning but I’d given the group something else to
think about. I do believe that some of the soldiers found it just plausible enough to allow them to get some sleep. I did my best to sleep but failed. However, I pretended to sleep in the hope that the others would follow suit.

Captain John Laverty Royal Irish Regiment.
Not to be an arrsehole Proximo, but if everyone pushed back with the same enthusiasm as your choice of signature, the world would be a much better and safer place.

Leaves a lot to be desired.

Proximo said:
Pile/Idrach - we'll need to rethink the existing AP article.

I'm thinking into page divisions by arbitrary chapter i.e. keep what we have as Page One, the latest can be Page 2 etc.

Seems reasonable to me - what we would then need to do is to actually rename the current one Page One and have "Serve To Lead" as a contents page with links to the other pages?

Can we also decide to use <blockquote> rather than <pre>?

Putting up Page 2 now - will save then format so don't complain till noon (please, grovel).
Just to throw a cat in amongst the pigeons - why not include some examples from outside the military. It's not like the army has a monopoly on the subject.

msr said:
Just to throw a cat in amongst the pigeons - why not include some examples from outside the military.
Because we are simply pasting up the RMAS "Serve to Lead" book? (and bitching about the formatting :x )

It's not like the army has a monopoly on the subject.
"Of leadership", entirely true. But if you assume the subject is "Serve to Lead": outside of the Armed Forces and, possibly, the Church, there is little of the subjugation of "serve" inside what the business sector (and the CS) laughably call "leadership". They would be more accurate using a description of the order of "marginally competent management".

We complain about Gareth - we also need to realise that David Brent is a archetype rather than a (significant) caricature.
This is not the version I have (got mine in '91). How often is it updated?
angular said:
This is not the version I have (got mine in '91). How often is it updated?
Think this was published in 2004 if I'm right.

(I have omitted the contents page I shall put it up if it helps.)

MSR, you are more than welcome to find information on and write up a book which takes into account all forms of leadership.

I enthusiastically await its publication... until then I'll concentrate on this one.

Thank you and hope you enjoyed the read.

Disbelief and Mental Paralysis

‘Leading in battle is not merely an exam to be passed or failed. A vast majority of soldiers’ first reactions on coming under fire is disbelief and mental paralysis. This has always been the case. This reaction can never be truly replicated by training. What mitigates against the consequences of this reaction is good training, sound knowledge of one’s profession and confidence in one’s self. Accept that your reactions are likely to be less than perfect and concentrate on giving yourself these positive attributes, so
that the next thing you say or do will go a long way to overcome your nervousness and provide encouragement to those you lead’.

Major JC Stuart, Scots Guards.

Chaos Reigns

Just before we cross-decked to HMS INTREPID, I had quoted Brigadier
James Hill, Commander of 3rd Para Bde in Normandy in 1944, to my Battalion.“Gentlemen, despite your excellent training and briefing, do not be daunted if chaos reigns. It undoubtedly will”.

The Bn Log reads - “26 May 2100hrs, CO received warning order for future
tasks. There would be a Battalion raid by 2 PARA into Darwin/Goose Green
settlement. They would then withdraw to San Carlos as Brigade reserve. 45 Cdo would advance on foot to Douglas settlement and 3 PARA would move through them at Douglas to secure Teal Inlet”.

After five days of constant interference by enemy air attack with logistic
unloading into the Bridgehead - the essential prerequisite to a general advance - the Atlantic Conveyor is hit by an Exocet. Only one Chinook escapes. “No move from the Bridgehead can be contemplated for some days” is the steer you get from your Brigade Commander. Late that night comes a warning order to advance east as soon as possible after first light. You are wrongfooted, and many men are already tired after intensive patrolling in awful weather. Another upheaval at dead of night, another test for the flexibility of your battle procedure. You find the need to challenge the Brigade plan for an advance via Douglas Settlement, yet you must also make your own plans, issue orders, and get the show on the road with everyone briefed, equipped and bombedup for a journey of unknown duration. As you stumble eastwards the following night in driving rain and sleet, over rock, bog and tussock, the thumps and flashes of violence intermittently reach across the night sky, from 2 PARA’s first action at Camilla Creek. You are struck, as never before, by how profoundly reliant you are upon the cohesion of each fire team of four, each section of eight, and especially upon their leaders - tough, determined, confident, youthful corporals. “The first quality of the soldier is fortitude in resisting hardship and fatigue” wrote Napoleon,
“bravery but the second”. This first quality was never more severely tested than on that long haul from Port San Carlos to Teal Inlet, and on again to Estancia House. To add to our discomfort, intelligence was little better than guesswork. We knew very little of what the enemy might do, where and in what strength. Hardship - fatigue - uncertainty. These were our constant companions, the constant, insidious threats to confidence, which must be overcome if the enemy himself was to be beaten in battle.

Lieutenant Colonel Hew Pike, address to the Army Staff College on the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

Snatching Success from Utter Chaos

The battlefield is no place for the perfectionist. Common sense, which develops a finely tuned sense of proportion and balance, must prevail. Snatching success from utter chaos is the name of the game and you may not recognise success when it comes.

Imagine a situation where some of those who you anticipate will perform well go to pieces. On the ground you discover your maps are not accurate. Your supporting armour is delayed for reasons unknown to you. The opposition’s fire power is far greater than you anticipated. General chaos exists. If your school and university record has been one of unparalleled success, giving you no experience of failure, you will find yourself at a disadvantage. ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same’. Never have Rudyard Kipling’s words been more appropriate.

Sydney Jary MC The British Army Review No 29.


“Ten good soldiers wisely led
Will beat a hundred without a head”.


‘The spirit that seeks to triumph in adversity and arms a man against the
shock of battle is called Morale. The Morale of an individual or a group is
not of necessity a measure of happiness or contentment; it is a measure of
the cohesion and power of that individual’s or group’s resolve to pursue
its object come what may’.

General Sir Rupert Smith.


Between 1943 and 1944 Lieutenant General William Slim transformed the utterly defeated British Eastern Army into the ever victorious Fourteenth Army. Here he describes how he helped the men to believe in themselves

Morale is a state of mind. It is that intangible force which will move a whole
group of men to give their last ounce to achieve something, without counting the cost to themselves; that makes them feel they are part of something greater than themselves. If they are to feel that, their morale must, if it is to endure - and the essence of morale is that it should endure - have certain foundations. These foundations are spiritual, intellectual, and material, and that is the order of their importance. Spiritual first, because only spiritual foundations can stand real strain.
Next intellectual, because men are swayed by reason as well as feeling. Material last - important, but last - because the very highest kinds of morale more often met when material conditions are lowest.

I remember sitting in my office and tabulating these foundations of morale
something like this:

1. Spiritual
(a) There must be a great and noble object.
(b) Its achievement must be vital.
(c) The method of achievement must be active, aggressive.
(d) The man must feel that what he is and what he does
matters directly towards the attainment of the object.

2. Intellectual
(a) He must be convinced that the object can be attained;
that is not out of reach.
(b) He must see, too, that the organisation to which he
belongs and which is striving to attain the object is an
efficient one.
(c) He must have confidence in his leaders and know that
whatever dangers and hardships he is called to suffer,
his life will not be lightly flung away.

3. Material
(a) The man must feel that he will get a fair deal from
his commanders and from the army generally.
(b) He must, as far as humanly possible, be given the best
weapons and equipment for his task.
(c) His living and working conditions must be made as
good as they can be.

It was one thing thus neatly to marshal my principles but quite another to develop them, apply them, and get them recognised by the whole army.

At any rate our spiritual foundation was a firm one. I use the word spiritual, not in its strictly religious meaning, but as a belief in a cause. Religion has always been and still is one of the greatest foundations of morale, especially of military morale. Saints and soldiers have much in common. The religion of the Moslem, of the Sikh, of the Gurkha, and of the Hindu.... can rouse in men a blaze of contempt for death. The Christian religion is above all others a source of that enduring courage which is the most valuable of all the components of morale.
Yet religion, as we understand it, is not essential to high morale. Anyone who has fought with or against Nazi paratroopers, Japanese suicide squads, or Russian Commissars, will have found this; but a spiritual foundation, belief in a cause, there must be.

We had this ..... If ever an army fought in a just cause we did. We coveted no man’s country; we wished to impose no form of government on any nation. We fought for the clean, the decent, the free things of life, for the right to live our lives in our own way, as others could live theirs, to worship God in what faith we chose, to be free in body and mind, and for our children to be free. We fought only because the powers of evil had attacked these things .......

The fighting soldier facing the enemy can see that what he does, whether he is brave or craven, matters to his comrades and directly influences the result of the battle. It is harder for the man working on the road far behind, the clerk checking stores in a dump, the headquarters’ telephone operator monotonously plugging through his calls .... the Quartermaster’s orderly issuing bootlaces in a reinforcement camp - it is hard for these and a thousand others to see that they too matter. Yet everyone ... in the army ... had to be made to see where his task fitted into the whole, to realise what depended on it, and to feel pride and satisfaction in doing it well.

Now these things, while the very basis of morale, because they were purely matters of feeling and emotion, were the most difficult to put over, especially to the British portion of the army ... I felt there was only one way to do it, by a direct approach to the men themselves. Not by written exhortations, by wireless speeches, but by informal talks and contacts between troops and commanders. There was nothing new in this; my Corps and Divisional commanders and others right down the scale were already doing it.

We, my commanders and I, talked to units, to collections of officers, to
headquarters, to little groups of men, to individual soldiers casually met as we moved around. And we all talked the same stuff with the same object. Whenever I could get away from my headquarters, and that throughout the campaign was about a third of the time, I was in these first few months more like a parliamentary candidate than a general - except I never made a promise.

I learnt, too, that one did not need to be an orator to be effective. Two things only were necessary: first to know what you were talking about, and, second and most important, to believe it yourself. I found that if one kept the bulk of one’s talk to the material things the men were interested in, food, pay, leave, beer, mails, and the progress of operations, it was safe to end on a higher note - the spiritual foundations - and I always did.
To convince the men in the less spectacular or less obviously important jobs that they were very much part of the army, my commanders and I made it our business to visit these units, to show an interest in them, and to tell them how we and the rest of the army depended upon them. There are in the army, and for that matter any big organisation, very large numbers of people whose existence is only remembered when something for which they are responsible goes wrong. Who thinks of the telephone
operator until he fails to get his connection, of the cipher officer until he makes a mistake in his decoding, of the orderlies who carry papers about a big headquarters until they take them to the wrong people, of the cook until he makes a particularly foul mess of the interminable bully? Yet they are important ...

We played on this very human desire of every man to feel himself and his work important, until one of the most striking things about our army was the way the administrative, labour, and non-combatant units acquired a morale which rivalled that of the fighting formations. They felt they shared directly in the triumphs of the Fourteenth Army and that its success and its honour were in their hands as much as anybody’s. Another way in which we made every man feel he was part of the show was by keeping him, whatever his rank, as far as was practicable in the picture of what was going on around him ...

It was in these ways we laid the spiritual foundations, but that was not enough; they would have crumbled without others, the intellectual and the material. Here we had first to convince the doubters that our object, the destruction of the Japanese Army in battle, was practicable ... It had to be demonstrated practically ... a victory in a large scale battle was, in our present state of training, organisation, and confidence, not to be attempted. We had first to get the feel through the army that it was we who were hunting the Jap, not he us.

All commanders therefore, directed their attention to patrolling. In jungle warfare this is the basis of success. It not only gives eyes to the side that excels at it, and blinds its opponent, but through it the soldier learns to move confidently in the elements in which he works. Every forward unit, not only infantry, chose its best men, formed patrols, trained and practised them, and then sent them out on business ... These patrols came back to their regiments with stories of success ... The stories lost nothing in the telling, and there was no lack of competition for the next patrol ...

In about 90 per cent of these tiny patrol actions we were successful. By the end of November our forward troops had gone a long way towards getting that individual feeling of superiority and that first essential in the fighting man - the desire to close with his enemy ...

Having developed the confidence of the individual man in his superiority over the enemy, we had now to extend that to the corporate confidence of units and formations in themselves. This was done in a series of carefully planned minor offensive operations, carried out as the weather improved, against enemy advanced detachments. These were carefully staged, ably led, and, as I was always careful to ensure, in greatly preponderating strength ... Besides, we could not at this stage risk even small failures. We had very few, and the individual superiority built up by more successful patrolling grew into a feeling of superiority within units and formations. We were then ready to undertake larger operations. We had laid the first of our intellectual foundations of morale; everyone knew we could defeat the Japanese; our object was attainable.

The next foundation, that the men should feel that they belonged to an efficient organisation, that Fourteenth Army was well run and would get somewhere, followed partly from these minor successes ... Rations did improve, though still far below what they should be; mail began to arrive more regularly; there were even signs of a welfare service. An innovation was to be the publication of a theatre newspaper - SEAC ...

One of the greatest weakeners of morale had been the state of the rest and reinforcement camps. In these camps on the line of communications all reinforcements to the various fronts were held often for weeks until required ... Almost without exception I found these places depressing beyond words. Decaying tents, or dilapidated bashas, with earth floors, mosquito ridden and lacking all amenities, were the usual accommodation; training and recreation were alike unorganised; men were crowded together from all units. No wonder spirits sank, discipline sagged, and defeatist rumours spread. Worst of all, the commandants and staffs, with a few notable exceptions, were officers and NCOs who were not wanted by units or who preferred the rear to the front. This lamentable state of affairs had to be taken in hand at once. The first step was to choose an officer with energy, experience, and organising ability to take overall charge ... The next step was to select really good officers to command and staff the camps ... Each camp was allotted to a forward division. That division provided its officers and instructors; the divisional flag was flown and its sign worn. Divisional commanders were encouraged to visit their camps, and from the moment a man arrived he was made to feel that he
belonged to a fighting formation in which he could take pride. Training became real, discipline was re-asserted, and in a few months the Fourteenth Army reinforcement camps ... were clean, cheerful, active parts of the Army.

A most potent factor in spreading this belief in the efficiency of an organisation is a sense of discipline. In effect, discipline means that every man, when things pass beyond his own authority or initiative, knows to whom to turn for further direction. If it is the right kind of discipline he turns in the confidence that he will get sensible and effective direction. Every step must be taken to build up this confidence of the soldier in his leaders. For instance, it is not enough to be efficient; the organisation must look efficient. If you enter the lines of a regiment where the Quarter Guard is smart and alert, and the men you meet are well turned out and
salute briskly, you cannot fail to get an impression of efficiency. You are right; ten to one that unit is efficient. If you go into a Headquarters and find the clerks scruffy, the floor unswept, and dirty tea mugs staining fly-blown papers on office tables, it may be efficient but no visitors will think so.

We tried to make our discipline intelligent, but we were an old-fashioned army and we insisted on outward signs ... We expected soldiers to salute officers and officers to salute in return - both in mutual confidence and respect. I encourage all officers to insist whenever possible, and there were few places where it was not possible, on good turn out and personal cleanliness. It takes courage, especially for a young officer, to check a man met on the road for not saluting properly or for slovenly appearance, but, every time he does, it adds to his stock of moral courage, and whatever the soldier may say he has a respect for the officer who does pull him up ...

[Thus] the intellectual foundations of morale were laid. There remained the material ... Material conditions, though lamentably low by the standards of any other British army, were improving.

Yet I knew that whatever had been promised ... from home, it would be six months at least before it reached my troops. We would remain, for a long time yet, desperately short ...

These things were frankly put to the men by their commanders at all levels and, whatever their race, they responded. In my experience it is not so much asking men to fight or work with inadequate or obsolete equipment that lowers morale but the belief that those responsible are accepting such a state of affairs. If men realise that everyone above them and behind them is flat out to get the things required for them, they will do wonders, as my men did, with the meagre resources they had instead of sitting down moaning for better.

I do not say that the men of the Fourteenth Army welcomed difficulties, but they grew to take a fierce pride in overcoming them by determination and ingenuity.From start to finish they had only two items of equipment that were never in short supply; their brains and their courage. They lived up to the unofficial motto I gave them, “God helps those who help themselves”. Anybody could do an easy job we told them. It would take real men to overcome the shortages and difficulties we should be up against - the tough chap for the tough job ...

In these and many others ways we translated my rough notes on the foundations of morale, spiritual, intellectual, and material, into a fighting spirit for our men and a confidence in themselves and their leaders that was to impress our friends and surprise our enemies.

Field Marshal Sir William Slim Defeat into Victory (1956).


In Spring 1943 a Chindit column penetrated deep behind Japanese Lines in Northern Burma. Unfortunately its logistics soon snapped and the Chindits suffered the worst physical deprivation experienced by British troops in the 20th Century.

I don’t think I shall ever grumble about food again. Certainly our men became thoroughly self-sufficient, even the worst of them, whether at cooking, at washing their clothes or anything else. I was immoderately pleased at the tribute of a Commodore of Convoys, who on three separate voyages had brought home Chindits finishing their time. He said that he had never known men so cheerful, so willing, and so well able to look after themselves to their own satisfaction; and he contrasted them favourably with troops drawn from the same kind of homes and environment whom he had taken to south-east Asia each time on his outward voyage, and who, he said, were both helpless and discontented. I suggested that
the reason might be partly due to the fact that the Chindits were homeward bound, and the others war-ward; but he insisted that the difference was more profound that that: it was the difference between men who had been used to having everything done for them and men who had learned the fundamentals.

I would say without hesitation that lack of food constitutes the biggest single assault upon morale. It is rarely noticed in the many books that have been written, and the many speeches delivered, upon that subject. Lord Moran, whose lectures on the subject of courage over many years lately culminated in a book, makes no mention of it. Apart from its purely chemical effects upon the body, it has woeful effects upon the mind. One is the dismal condition of having nothing to look forward to. Man is still an animal, and consciously or unconsciously he is always looking forward to his next meal. In this state, one finds oneself saying: “I’m looking forward to something: what is it?”. Then comes the cynical answer, “Eating; and there is nothing to eat, and there isn’t going to be anything to eat”. Then sets in a dreadful gloom; one wrenches the mind away from it, but in a few
minutes the question asks itself again, and the same answer chills the spirit. At last the thought is there all the time, and only now and then is a new question asked, “Is there no hope of food?”. To this there is one triumphant and tyrannical answer, “None”.

When the hope of food is gone, a new assault develops upon the defences of the mind. This takes the form of a growing dread that soon your weakness may reach the pitch where it will overwhelm you. There is no more heart-rending sight than the man who finally falls, or the man whose struggles to resume his feet are fruitless. You can either remain with him and share his fate, or you must leave him where he lies, assert your leadership, rally your men and push on, one fewer. Your job is to get as many men to safety as you can. There can surely be no greater burden
on the narrowing shoulders of leadership than this experience. I will write of it no more; but I think it proper that the race to which these men belonged should know what they suffered without complaining on its behalf. Of all the men whom I have had to leave wounded, sick or starving, no one reproached me, or made the dreadful duty harder than it already was.

Brigadier Bernard Fergusson The Wild Green Earth.

Defences Are Bad For Morale

I was determined not to give way at this vital meeting and the debate and argument went on for two and a half hours - well into the early hours of December 27. I repeated - once again - all my arguments and the previously mentioned historical parallels, and emphasized the special urgency now of doing everything possible to help the tired, dispirited and (in anti-tank work) inexperienced troops of the Third Indian Corps who had fought and retreated for hundreds of miles before a better trained, better equipped and numerically stronger enemy. Moreover, the enemy were inspired by an unbroken series of victories. I pointed out too that
time was rapidly running out for the construction of permanent field defences on the north shore of Singapore Island; because once any area came under enemy fire civilian labour would vanish.

General Percival still refused to order the construction of defence works. I strongly urged him to reconsider this decision as it appeared to me to go directly against all the military thinking, teaching and experience of the history of fortresses; and said that in none of our several previous discussions on the subject had he ever given me a reason why he was against defence works. I reminded him too that I had been sent to Malaya for the express purpose of creating such works which had been considered necessary by the War Office and that a fortress without defences was a contradiction in terms. General Percival gave me an explanation.
He said, ‘Defences are bad for morale - for both troops and civilians.’

The speaker was the General Officer Commanding in Malaya, and he was speaking not in jest but in all seriousness. Like other commanders, General Percival was a graduate of the Staff College and had also attended other courses for senior officers.It was fair for me to assume therefore that he and many other commanders who were opposed to defence works, had absorbed a view which did not apply to Malaya at that time. Somewhere in their military education such a dictum on morale had been impressed upon them. At this critical stage and because of our apparent weaknesses in every branch of adequate resistance, the GOC.’s statement, quite frankly, horrified me.

From Brigadier (Ret’d) Ivan Simson: Singapore: Too Little Too Late (1970).
Idrach said:
"Of leadership", entirely true. But if you assume the subject is "Serve to Lead": outside of the Armed Forces and, possibly, the Church, there is little of the subjugation of "serve" inside what the business sector (and the CS) laughably call "leadership". They would be more accurate using a description of the order of "marginally competent management".
And what is your experience of this?

Whilst I applaud you efforts to bring this subject to a wider readership, few have experienced the military style of leadership and I doubt that there is a single Officer in the British Army who has had to leave the sick and starving behind.

Whilst I applaud you efforts to bring this subject to a wider readership, few have experienced the military style of leadership and I doubt that there is a single Officer in the British Army who has had to leave the sick and starving behind.


Here I was thinking that was a good thing....

edited to add

"These words of Stonewall Jackson describe ultimately what a military leader must do, or be prepared to do, and that is to fight. Nothing else, when it comes right down to it, matters. The ability to prepare or get ready to fight, skill in actual fighting, and the will to prevail in combat against a foe, are the critical dimensions of leadership. This must hold as true for the general as it does the private, the ordinary seaman, logistician or finance clerk"

It doesnt say you have to have the experience of leaving men behind.
I accept, one who has lost men in battle will be more cautious; which may lead them to be better leaders (Montgomery...egypt's experience, Ike's... no experience). However, just because they havent experienced massive losses it does not mean that our present military officers are not leading the military sense.

Every time they make contact and even more so when they loose a man to the enemy, they experience the military leadership you refer to MSR.

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