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Philosophy on Soldiering

This is taken from the book About Face:The Odyssey of an American Warrior. The author is Col. David "Hack" Hackworth, one of the most decorated soldiers in the history of the United States. He served in post-WWII Europe in Trieste, spent two tours in Korea during the Korean War, was on the line in Germany during the Cold War, and fought in Viet Nam. He was described by many as a "soldier's soldier." Unfortunately, Hack passed away in May of 2005 due to cancer, possibly caused by Agent Blue, one of the defoilants like Agent Orange used in Viet Nam.

This basic philosophy of soldiering comes from one of Hack's commanders, Col. Glover S. Johns, whom Hack described as the finest senior infantry commander Hack had ever seen. Hack took these bullets from Col Johns' farewell speech. These are taken verbatim from Hack's book because I doubt I could write them any better.
  • Strive to be small things well.
  • Be a doer and a self-starter - aggressiveness and initiative are two most admired qualities in a leader - but you must also put your feet up and think.
  • Strive for self-improvement through constant self-evaluation.
  • Never be satisfied. Ask of any project, How can it be done better?
  • Don't overinspect or oversupervise. Allow your leaders to make mistakes in training, so they can profit from the errors and not make them in combat.
  • Keep the troops informed; telling them "what, how, and why" builds their confidence.
  • The harder the training, the more troops will brag.
  • Enthusiasm, fairness, and moral and physical courage - four of the most important aspects of leadership.
  • Showmanship - a vital technique of leadership.
  • The ability to speak and write well - two essential tools of leadership.
  • There is a salient difference between profanity and obscenity; while a leader employs profanity (tempered with discretion), he never uses obscenities.
  • Have consideration for others.
  • Yelling detracts from your dignity; take men aside to counsel them.
  • Understand and use judgment; know when to stop fighting for something you believe is right. Discuss and argue your point of view until a decision is made, and then support the decision wholeheartedly.
  • Stay ahead of your boss.
Most of these fit in with my own views of leadership from my four years at The Citadel and from my four years of active duty with the US Air Force. They also fit with many of the tenets my father taught me as I was growing up. He is a retired Marine GySgt and spent most of his career leading others in the NCO and staff NCO ranks. The profanity one I'd toss aside, but the rest definitely make up a great philosophy. This philosophy doesn't just apply to the military. It applies to leadership in any arena.

K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


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