The Armed Forces Officer - Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-2
by U. S. Department of Defense
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Department of Defense

United States Government Printing Office Washington: 1950



November 1950

This manual on leadership has been prepared for use by the Department of Army, the Department of Navy, and the Department of Air Force, and is published for the information and guidance of all concerned.


Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-2, The Armed Forces Officer, is issued for the use of all concerned.

By Order of Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army:

MAXWELL D. TAYLOR, General, United States Army, Chief of Staff.


JOHN A. KLEIN, Major General, United States Army, The Adjutant General.




































Upon being commissioned in the Armed Services of the United States, a man incurs a lasting obligation to cherish and protect his country and to develop within himself that capacity and reserve strength which will enable him to serve its arms and the welfare of his fellow Americans with increasing wisdom, diligence, and patriotic conviction.

This is the meaning of his commission. It is not modified by any reason of assignment while in the service, nor is the obligation lessened on the day an officer puts the uniform aside and returns to civil life. Having been specially chosen by the United States to sustain the dignity and integrity of its sovereign power, an officer is expected so to maintain himself, and so to exert his influence for so long as he may live, that he will be recognized as a worthy symbol of all that is best in the national character.

In this sense the trust imposed in the highest military commander in the land is not more than what is encharged the newest ensign or second lieutenant. Nor is it less. It is the fact of commission which gives special distinction to the man and in turn requires that the measure of his devotion to the service of his country be distinctive, as compared with the charge laid upon the average citizen.

In the beginning, a man takes an oath to uphold his country's Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, to bear true faith and allegiance, and to discharge well and faithfully the duties of office. He does this without any mental reservation.

Thereafter he is given a paper which says that because the President as a representative of the people of this country reposes "special trust and confidence" in his "patriotism, valor, fidelity, and abilities," he is forthwith commissioned.

By these tokens, the Nation also becomes a party to the contract, and will faithfully keep its bond with the man. While he continues to serve honorably, it will sustain him and will clothe him with its dignity. That it has vouched for him gives him a felicitous status in our society. The device he wears, his insignia, and even his garments identify him directly with the power of the United States. The living standards of himself and of his family are underwritten by Federal statute. Should he become ill, the Nation will care for him. Should he be disabled, it will stand as his guardian through life. Should he seek to advance himself through higher studies, it will open the way.

Other than the officer corps, there is no group within our society toward which the obligation of the Nation is more fully expressed. Even so, other Americans regard this fact with pride, rather than with envy. They accept the principle that some unusual advantage should attend exceptional and unremitting responsibility. Whatever path an American officer may walk, he enjoys prestige. Though little is known of his intrinsic merit, he will be given the respect of his fellow citizens, unless he proves himself utterly undeserving.

This national esteem for the corps is one of the priceless assets of American security. The services themselves so recognize it. That they place such strong emphasis upon the importance of personal honor among officers is because they know that the future of our arms and the well-being of our people depend upon a constant renewing and strengthening of public faith in the virtue of the corps. Were this to languish, the Nation would be loath to commit its sons to any military endeavor, no matter how grave the emergency.

The works of goodwill by which those who lead the national military forces endeavor to win the unreserved trust of the American people is one of the chief preservatives of the American system of freedoms. The character of the corps is in a most direct sense a final safeguard of the character of the Nation.

To these thoughts any officer who is morally deserving of his commission would freely subscribe. He will look beyond the letter of his obligation and will accept in his own heart the total implications of his new responsibility.

So doing, he still might see fit to ask: "But to what do I turn my thoughts? How do I hold myself so that while following the line of duty, I will also exemplify those ideals which may inspire other men to make their best effort?"

It is suggested that there is a one-word key to the answer among the four lofty qualities which are cited on every man's commission.

That word is Fidelity.

As for patriotism, either a man loves his country or else he would not seek commission at its hands, unless he be completely the rascal, pretending to serve in order to destroy.

Valor, on the other hand, can not be fully vouchsafed, since it is not given to any man to know the nature and depth of his personal courage.

Abilities vary from man to man, and are partly what heredity and environment have made them. If nature had not imposed a ceiling, mere striving would make every man a genius.

But Fidelity is the derivative of personal decision. It is the jewel within reach of every man who has the will to possess it.

Given an officer corps composed throughout of men who would make the eternal try toward bettering their professional capacities and furthering the working efficiency and harmony within all forces, the United States would become thrice-armed though not producing one new weapon in its arsenals.

Great faith, rightness of mind, influence over other men, and finally, personal success and satisfaction come of service to the ideals of the profession. Were these strengths reflected throughout the officer body, it could well happen that because of the shining example, the American people would become more deeply conscious of the need to keep their own fibers strong than has been their disposition throughout history.

Accepting these truths as valid, a man still must know where he stands before making a true reckoning of his line of advance. This entails some consideration of himself (a) as to the personal standard which is required of him because of his position in relation to all others (b) as to the reasons in common sense which make this requirement, and (c) as to the principles and philosophy which will enable him to play his part well.

The military officer is considered a gentleman, not because Congress wills it, nor because it has been the custom of people in all times to afford him that courtesy, but specifically because nothing less than a gentleman is truly suited for his particular set of responsibilities.

This is not simply a bit of self-adulation; it is distinctly the American tradition in the matter. The Nation has never attempted to draw its officers from a particular class. During World War II, thousands of men were commissioned in our forces who had enjoyed little opportunity in their earlier environments. They were sound men by nature. They had courage. They could set a good example. They could rally other men around them. In the eyes of the services, these things count more than any man's blood lines. We say with Voltaire, "Whoever serves his country well has no need of ancestors."

On the other hand, from the time of the Colonies, this country has despised press gangs, floggings, martinetism, and all of the other Old World military practices which demeaned the rank and file. Its military system was founded on the dignity of man, just as was its Constitution. The system has sought ever since to advance itself by appealing to the higher nature of the individual. That is why its officers need to be gentlemen. To call forth great loyalty in other people and to harness it to any noble undertaking, one must first be sensible of their finer instincts and feelings. Certainly these things at least are among the gentle qualities which are desired in every military officer of the United States:

1. Strong belief in human rights.

2. Respect for the dignity of every other person.

3. The Golden Rule attitude toward one's daily associates.

4. An abiding interest in all aspects of human welfare.

5. A willingness to deal with every man as considerately as if he were a blood relative.

These qualities are the epitome of strength, not of softness. They mark the man who is capable of pursuing a great purpose consistently in spite of temptations. He who possesses them will all the more surely be regarded as a "man among men." Take any crowd of new recruits! The greater number of them during their first few days in service will use more profanity and obscenity, talk more about women and boast more about drinking than they have ever done in their lives, because of the mistaken idea that this is the quick way to get a reputation for being hard-boiled. But at the same time, the one or two men among them who stay decent, talk moderately and walk the line of duty will uniquely receive the infinite respect of the others. It never fails to happen!

There is the other matter about how a man should feel toward his own profession. Simply to accept the fact that the bearing of arms is a highly honorable calling because the book says so should not suffice one's own interest in the matter, when a little personal reflection will reveal wherein the honor resides.

To every officer who has thought earnestly about the business, it is at once apparent that civilization, as men have known it since the time of the Greek City States, has rested as a pyramid upon a base of organized military power. Moreover, the general possibility of world cultural progress in the foreseeable future has no other conceivable foundation. For any military man to deny, on any ground whatever, the role which his profession has played in the establishment of everything which is well-ordered in our society, shows only a faulty understanding of history. It made possible the birth of the American system of freedoms. Later, it gave the nation a new birth and vouchsafed a more perfect union.

Likewise, we need to see the case in its present terms. One may abhor war fully, despise militarism absolutely, deplore all of the impulses in human nature which make armed force necessary, and still agree that for the world as we know it, the main hope is that "peace-loving nations can be made obviously capable of defeating nations which are willing to wage aggressive war." Those words, by the way, were not said by a warrior, but by the eminent pacifist, Bertrand Russell. It does not make the military man any less the humanitarian that he accepts this reality, that he faces toward the chance forthrightly, and that he believes that if all military power were stricken tomorrow, men would revert to a state of anarchy and there would ensue the total defeat of the forces which are trying to establish peace and brotherly love in our lives.

The complete identity of American military forces with the character of the people comes of this indivisibility of interest. To think of the military as a guardian class apart, like Lynkeus "born for vision, ordained for watching," rather than as a strong right arm, corporately joined to the body and sharing its every function, is historically false and politically inaccurate. It is not unusual, however, for those whose task it is to interpret the trend of opinion to take the line that "the military" are thinking one way and "the people" quite another on some particular issue, as if to imply that the two are quite separate and of different nature. This is usually false in detail, and always false in general. It not only discounts the objects of their unity but overlooks the truth of its origins.

Maybe they should be invited to go to the root of the word. The true meaning of "populus," from which we get the word "people," was in the time of ancient Rome the "armed body." The pure-blooded Roman in the days of the Republic could not conceive of a citizen who was not a warrior. It was the arms which a Roman's possession of land enabled him to get that qualified him to participate in the affairs of state. He had no political rights until he had fought. He was not of the people; they were of him! Nor is this concept alien to the ideals on which the Founding Fathers built the American system, since they stated it as the right and duty of every able-bodied citizen to bear arms.

These propositions should mean much to every American who has chosen the military profession. A main point is that on becoming an officer a man does not renounce any part of his fundamental character as an American citizen. He has simply signed on for the post graduate course where one learns how to exercise authority in accordance with the spirit of liberty. The nature of his trusteeship has been subtly expressed by an Admiral in our service: "The American philosophy places the individual above the state. It distrusts personal power and coercion. It denies the existence of indispensable men. It asserts the supremacy of principle."

An understanding of American principles of life and growth, and personal zeal in upholding them, is the bedrock of sound leading in our services. Moral and emotional stability are expected of an American officer; he can usually satisfy his superiors if he attains to this equilibrium. But he is not likely to satisfy himself unless he can also achieve that maturity of character which expresses itself in the ability to make decisions in detachment of spirit from that which is pleasant or unpleasant to him personally, in the desire to hold onto things not by grasping them but by understanding them and remembering them, and in learning to covet only that which may be rightfully possessed.

An occasional man has become wealthy while in the services by making wise investments, through writings, by skill at invention, or through some other means. But he is the exception. The majority have no such prospect. Indeed, if love of money were the mainspring of all American action, the officer corps long since would have disintegrated. But it is well said that the only truly happy people on earth are those who are indifferent to money because they have some positive purpose which forecloses it. Than the service, there is no other environment which is more conducive to the leading of the full life by the individual who is ready to accept the word of the philosopher that the only security on earth is the willingness to accept insecurity as an inevitable part of living. Once an officer has made this passage into maturity, and is at peace with himself because the service means more to him than all else, he will find kinship with the great body of his brothers-in-arms. The highest possible consequence can develop from the feelings of men mutually inspired by some great endeavor and moving forward together according to the principle that only those who are willing to serve are fit to lead. Completely immersed in action, they have no time for smallness in speech, thought or deed. It is for these reasons that those who in times past have excelled in the leadership of American forces have invariably been great Americans first and superior officers second. The rule applies at all levels. The lieutenant who is not moved at the thought that he is serving his country is unlikely to do an intelligent job of directing other men. He will come apart at the seams whenever the going grows tough. Until men accept this thought freely, and apply it to their personal action, it is not possible for them to go forward together strongly. In the words of Lionel Curtis: "The only force that unites men is conscience, a varying capacity in most of them to put the interests of other people before their own."

The services are accustomed to being hammered. Like other human institutions, they are imperfect. Therefore the criticisms are not always unjust. Further, there is no more reason why the services should be immune to attack than any other organic part of our society and government.

The service officer is charged only to take a lively interest in all such discussions. He has no more right to condemn the service unfairly than has any other American. On the other hand he is not expected to be an intellectual eunuch, oblivious to all of the faults in the institution to which he gives his loyalty. To the contrary, the nature of that loyalty requires that he will use his force toward the righting of those things which reason convinces him are going wrong, though making certain that his action will not do more damage than repair.

His ultimate commanding loyalty at all times is to his country, and not to his service or his superior. He owes it to his country to speak the truth as he sees it. This implies a steadying judgment as to when it should be spoken, and to whom it should be addressed. A truth need not only be well-rounded, but the utterance of it should be cognizant of the stresses and objectives of the hour. Truth becomes falsehood unless it has the strength of perspective. The presentation of facts is self-justifying only when the facts are developed in their true proportion.

Where there is public criticism of the services, in matters both large and small, the service officer has the right and the duty of intervention only toward the end of making possible that all criticism will be well-informed. That right can not be properly exercised when there is nothing behind it but a defense of professional pride. The duty can be well performed when the officer knows not only his subject—the mechanism itself—but the history and philosophy of the armed services in their relation to the development of the American system. Criticism from the outside is essential to service well-being, for as Confucius said, oftentimes men in the game are blind to what the lookers on see clearly.

The value of any officer's opinion of any military question can never be any greater than the extent and accuracy of his information. His ability to dispose public thought favorably toward the service will depend upon the wisdom of his words rather than upon his military rank and other credentials. A false idea will come upon a bad fate even though it has the backing of the highest authority.

Only men of informed mind and unprejudiced expression can strengthen the claim of the services on the affections of the American people.

This is, of itself, a major objective for the officer corps, since our public has little studious interest in military affairs, tends ever to discount the vitality of the military role in the progress and prosperity of the nation and regards the security problem as one of the less pleasant and abnormal burdens on an otherwise orderly existence.

It is an explicable contradiction of the American birthright that to some of our people the military establishment is at best a necessary evil, and military service is an extraordinary hardship rather than an inherent obligation. Yet these illusions are rooted deep in the American tradition, though it is a fact to be noted not without hope that we are growing wiser as we move along. In the years which followed the American Revolution, the new union of States tried to eliminate military forces altogether. There was vast confusion of thought as to what freedom required for its own survival. Thomas Jefferson, one of the great architects of democracy, and still renowned for his "isolationist" sentiments, wrote the warning: "We must train and classify the whole of our male citizens, and make military instruction a regular part of collegiate education. We can never be safe until this is done."

None the less, the hour came when the standing Army was reduced to 80 men. None the less, the quaint notion has survived that an enlightened interest in military affairs is somehow undemocratic. And none the less, recurring war has invariably found the United States inadequately prepared for the defense of its own territory.

Because there has been a holdover of these mistaken sentiments right down to the present, there persists in many military officers a defensive attitude toward their own profession which has no practical relation to the strength of the ground on which they are enabled to stand. Toward any unfair and flippant criticism of the "military mind" they react with resentment, instead of with buoyant proof that their own minds are more plastic and more receptive to national ideals than those of any other profession. Where they should approach all problems of the national security with the zeal of the missionary, seeking and giving light, they treat this subject as if it were a private game preserve.

It suffices to say of this minority that they are a barnacle on the hull of an otherwise staunch vessel. From such limited concepts of personal responsibility, there can not fail to develop a foreshortened view of the dignity of the task at hand. The note of apology is injected at the wrong time; the tone of belligerency is used when it serves no purpose. When someone arises within the halls of government to say that the military establishment is "uneconomic" because it cuts no bricks, bales no hay and produces nothing which can be vended in the market places, it is not unusual to hear some military men concur in this strange notion. That acquiescence is wholly unbecoming.

The physician is not slurred as belonging to a nonproductive profession because he contributes only to the care and healing of the body, and through these things to the general well-being of society. Respect for formal education, organized religion and all of the enterprises built up around the dissemination of ideas is not the less because the resultant benefit to society is not always tangible and saleable. Hence to say that that without which society could not endure in its present form is "uneconomic" is to make the word itself altogether meaningless.

In that inner power of courage and conviction which stems from the spiritual integrity of the individual, lies the strength of democracy. As to their ability to produce toward these ends, the military services can stand on the record. When shortly after World War II, a census was taken among the returned men, 60 percent said that they had been morally strengthened by their military service in the American uniform. About 30 percent had no opinion or felt that military life had not changed them one way or the other. An insignificant minority considered themselves damaged. This is an amazing testimony in light of the fact that only a small fraction of American youth is schooled to believe that any spiritual good can come of military service. As to what it signifies, those who take a wholly materialistic view of the objects of the Republic are entitled to call the military establishment "uneconomic." The services will continue to hold with the idea that strong nationhood comes not of the making of gadgets but of the building of character.

Men beget goodwill in other men by giving it. They develop courage in their following mainly as a reflection of the courage which they show in their own action. These two qualities of mind and heart are of the essence of sound officership. One is of little avail without the other, and either helps to sustain the other. As to which is the stronger force in its impact upon the masses of men, no truth is more certain than the words once written by William James: "Evident though the shortcomings of a man may be, if he is ready to give up his life for a cause, we forgive him everything. However inferior he may be to ourselves in other respects, if we cling to life while he throws it away like a flower, we bow to his superiority."

Theodore Roosevelt once said that if he had a son who refrained from any worthwhile action because of the fear of hurt to himself, he would disown him. Soon after his return to civilian life, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke of the worthwhileness of "living dangerously." An officer of the United States armed forces can not go far wrong if he holds with these ideas. It is not the suitable profession for those who believe only in digging-in and nursing a soft snap until death comes at a ripe old age. Who risks nothing gains nothing.

Nor should there be any room in it for professional smugness, small jealousies, and undue concern about privilege.

The regular recognizes as his peer and comrade the officer from any of the civilian components. That he is a professional does not give him an especial eminence, but simply a greater measure of responsibility for the success of the total establishment. Moreover, he can not afford to be patronizing, without risking self-embarrassment, such is the vast experience which many reservists have had on the active field of war.

Toward services other than his own, any officer is expected to have both a comradely feeling and an imaginative interest. Any Army officer is a better man for having studied the works of Admiral Mahan and familiarized himself with the modern Navy from first-hand experience. Those who lead sea-going forces can enlarge their own capacities by knowing more, rather than less, about the nature of the air and ground establishments. The submariner can always learn something useful to his own work by mingling with airmen; the airman becomes a better officer as he grows in qualified knowledge of ground and sea fighting.

But the fact remains that the services are not alike, that no wit of man can make them alike, and that the retention by each of its separate character, customs and confidence is essential to the conserving of our national military power. Unification has not altered this basic proposition. The first requirement of a unified establishment is moral soundness in each of the integral parts, without which there can be no soundness at all. And on the question of fundamental loyalty, the officer who loves every other service just as much as his own will have just as much active virtue as the man who loves other women as much as his own wife.



Any stranger making a survey of what Americans are and how they get that way would probably see it as a paradox that within the armed establishment the inculcation of ideals is considered the most vital of all teaching, while in our gentler and less rigid institutions, there is steadily less emphasis on this subject.

He would be entitled to the explanation that it is not so done because this has always been the way of Armies, Navies, and other fighting forces, or because it is universal in the military establishments of the twentieth century, but because nothing else would better suffice the American military system under present conditions.

There are two main reasons why.

The first is that we are an altogether unregimented people, with a strong belief in the virtues of rugged individualism and in the right of the average man to go along about as he pleases, so long as he does not do actual injury to society. Voluntary group cooperation rather than absolute group loyalty, developing from a strong spiritual bond, is the basic technic of Americans in their average rounds. It is enough to satisfy the social, political and economic needs of a democracy, but in its military parts, it would be fatally weak. There would be no possibility of achieving an all-compelling unity under conditions of utmost pressure if no man felt any higher call to action than what was put upon him by purely material considerations.

Military ideals are therefore, as related to this purpose, mainly an instrument of national survival. But not altogether so, since in the measure that they influence the personal life and conduct of millions of men who move in and out of the services, they have a regenerative effect upon the spiritual fiber of the Nation as a whole.

There is the second and equally important reason that, whereas wars have sometimes been fought for ideal causes, as witness the American Revolution and Civil War, war itself is never ideal, and the character of our people is such as to insist that from our side, its brutalities be minimized. The barbarian who kills for killing's sake and who scorns the laws of war at any point is repugnant to the instincts of our people, under whatever flag he fights. If we did not have some men of this type among us, our penitentiaries would not be filled. The ravages which they might commit when all of the barriers are down on the battlefield can be prevented only when forces as a whole believe that armed power, while not ideal in itself, must be made to serve ideal ends.

To speak of ethics in the same breath with war may seem like sheer cant and hypocrisy. But in the possibility that those who best understand the use and nature of armed power may excel all others in stimulating that higher morality which may some day restrain war lies a main chance for the future. The Armed Services of the United States do not simply do lip service to such institutions as United Nations. They encourage their people to take a deep personal interest in every legitimate activity aimed to bulwark world peace. But while doing this, they keep their powder dry.

Military ideals are not different than the ideals which make any man sound in himself, and in his relation to others. They are called military ideals only because the proving ground is a little more rugged in the service than elsewhere. But they are all founded in hard military experience; they did not find expression because some Admiral got it in his head one day to set an unattainable goal for his men, or because some General wished to turn a pious face toward the public, professing that his men were aspiring to greater virtue than anything the public knew.

The military way is a long, hard road, and it makes extraordinary requirements of every individual. In war, particularly, it puts stresses upon men such as they have not known elsewhere, and the temptation to "get out from under" would be irresistible if their spirits had not been tempered to the ordeal. If nothing but fear of punishments were depended upon to hold men to the line during extreme trial, the result would be wholesale mutiny and a situation altogether beyond the control of leadership. So it must be true that it is out of the impact of ideals mainly that men develop the strength to face situations from which it would be normal to run away.

Also, during the normal routine of peace, members of the Armed Services are expected to respond to situations that are more extensive, more complex, and take longer to reach fulfillment than the situations to which the majority of men instinctively respond. Even the length of the enlistment period looks like a slow march up a 60-mile grade. Promotion is slow, duty frequently monotonous. It is all too easy for the individual to worry about his own insignificance and to feel that he has become lost in the crowd. Under these conditions a man may go altogether bad, or simply get lazy and rock with the grain. But nothing except a strong belief in the ideals he is serving will make him respond to the larger situation and give it his best effort. Ideals have the intensely practical end of strengthening men for the better discharge of duties which devolve upon them in their day-to-day affairs.

What is the main test of human character? Probably it is this: that a man will know how to be patient in the midst of hard circumstance, and can continue to be personally effective while living through whatever discouragements beset him and his companions. Moreover, that is what every truly civilized man would want in himself during the calmer moments when he compares critically what he is inside with what he would like to be. That is specifically the reason why the promulgation of military ideals is initially a problem in the first person, singular. The Armed Services have in one sense a narrow motive in turning the thoughts of younger leaders toward a belief in ideals. They know that this is a lubricant in the machinery of organization and the best way to sweeten the lives of men working together in a group toward some worthwhile purpose. But there is also a higher object. All experience has taught that it is likewise the best way to give the individual man a solid foundation for living successfully amid the facts of existence, irrespective of his situation. The military system of the United States is not committed to grinding out warriors per se, but to the training of men in such manner that they will be able to play a better part anywhere, and will find greater satisfactions in what they do. All the time, when the service seeks to emphasize to its ranks what is the "right thing to do," it is speaking of that course of conduct which in the long run is most necessary and useful to the individual.

As to what one man should seek in himself, in order to be four-square with his own life and all others who are related to his personal situation, it is simple enough to formulate it, and to describe what constitutes maturity of character. In fact, that can be done without mentioning the words "patriotism" and "courage", which traditionally and rightly are viewed as the very highest of the military virtues.

No man is truly fit for officership unless in the inner recess of his being he can go along with the toast known to every American schoolboy: "My country, in her intercourse with other nations may she always be in the right! But right or wrong, my country!" And he will never do a really good job of supporting her standards if, when the clutch comes, he is lacking in intestinal fortitude.

But there is this to be said about the nature of courage and patriotism, in the same breath that we agree they are essential in an officer of the fighting establishment—neither of these qualities of itself carries sufficient conviction, except as it is the product of those homelier attributes which give dignity to all action, in things both large and small, during the course of any average work day.

When Dr. Johnson remarked that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel he was not belittling the value of love of country as a force in the lives of men, but to the contrary, was pointing out that a profession of patriotism, unaccompanied by good works, was the mark of a man not to be trusted. In no other institution in the land will flag-waving fall as flat as in the Armed Services when the ranks know that it is just an act, with no sincere commitment to service backing it up. But the uniformed forces will still respond to the real article with the same emotion that they felt at Bunker Hill and Manila Bay.

There is a Civil War story from one of the campaigns against Stonewall Jackson in the Valley. A Confederate who had had his leg shot away turned on his pallet to regard a Union private who had just lost an arm, and said to him, "For what reason did you invade us and make all this trouble?" The boy replied simply: "For the old flag." That may sound like sentiment from a distant past. But turn to the story of Major Devereux and the Marine defense of Wake Island. He wrote that the "music" had always gone sour, and had invariably broken down when he tried to play "The Colors." But on the morning of Pearl Harbor, when the flag was raised, the garrison already knew that the war was on. And for some reason which no man could account for, the bugler rose to the occasion, and for the first time, every note came straight and true. Devereux said that every throat tightened and every head went higher. Yet Devereux was a remarkably unmelodramatic fighting man.

But to get back to those simpler virtues which provide a firm foundation for patriotism and may become the fount of courage, at least these few things would have to be put among the fundamentals:

1. A man has honor if he holds himself to a course of conduct, because of a conviction that it is in the general interest, even though he is well aware that it may lead to inconvenience, personal loss, humiliation or grave physical risk.

2. He has veracity if, having studied a question to the limit of his ability, he says and believes what he thinks to be true, even though it would be the path of least resistance to deceive others and himself.

3. He has justice if he acknowledges the interests of all concerned in any particular transaction rather than serving his own apparent interest.

4. He has graciousness if he acts and speaks forthrightly, agrees warmly, disagrees fairly and respectfully, participates enthusiastically, refrains from harboring grudges, takes his reverses in stride, and does not complain or ask for help in the face of trifling calamities.

5. He has integrity if his interest in the good of the service is at all times greater than his personal pride, and when he holds himself to the same line of duty when unobserved as he would follow if all of his superiors were present.

The list could be longer, but for the moment, we can let it go at that. These standards are not counsels of perfection; thousands of officers have adhered to them. But it should be said as well that if all leaders at the lower levels in all of the services were to conform in the same way, the task of higher command would be simplicity itself. The cause of much of the friction in the administrative machinery is that at all levels there are individuals who insist on standing in their own light. They believe that there is some special magic, some quick springboard to success; they mistakenly think that it can be won by bootlicking, apple-polishing, yessing higher authority, playing office politics, throwing weight around, ducking the issues, striving for cheap popularity, courting publicity or seeking any and all means of grabbing the spotlight.

Any one of this set of tricks may enable a man to carry the ball forward a yard or two in some special situation. But at least this comment can be made without qualification: Of the men who have risen to supreme heights in the fighting establishment of the United States, and have had their greatness proclaimed by their fellow countrymen, there is not one career which provides any warrant for the conclusion that there is a special shortcut known only to the smart operators. True enough, a few men have gained fairly high rank by dint of what the late Mr. Justice Holmes called "the instinct for the jugular"—a feeling for when to jump, where to press and how to slash in order to achieve somewhat predatory personal ends. That will occasionally happen in any walk of life. But from Washington, Wayne, and Jones down to Eisenhower, Vandegrift, and Nimitz, the men best loved by the American people for their military successes were also men with greatness of soul. In short, they were idealists, though they likely would have disclaimed that label, since it somehow connotes the visionary rather than the intensely practical man.

But it isn't necessary to look at the upper brackets of history to find the object lesson. The things that any man remembers about his own father with love and reverence have to do with his forbearance, his charity toward other men, his strength and rightness of will and his readiness to contribute of his force to the good of other people. Or if not his father, then it may be an uncle, a neighbor or one of his schoolmasters.

In one way, however, it illuminates but half the subject to reflect that a man has to find purpose in himself before he can seek purpose in any of the undertakings of which he is a part or in the society of which he is a member. No man is wholly sufficient unto himself even though he has been schooled from infancy to live according to principles. His character and the moral strength from which he gains peace of mind need constantly to be replenished by the force of other individuals who think and act more or less in tune with him. His ability to remain whole, and to bound back from any depression of the spirit, depends in some measure on the chance that they will be upgrading when he is on the downswing. To read what the wisest of the philosophers have written about the formation of human character is always a stimulating experience; but it is better yet to live next to the man who already possesses what the philosophers are talking about. During World War II, there were quite a few higher commanders relieved in our forces because it was judged, for one reason or another, that they had failed in battle. Of the total number, there were a few who took a reduction in rank, went willingly to a lower post in a fighting command, uttered no complaint, kept their chins up, worked courageously and sympathetically with their commands, and provided an example of manhood that all who saw them will never forget. Though their names need not be mentioned, they were imprinted with the real virtue of the services even more deeply than many of their colleagues who had no blemishes on their records. Their character had met the ultimate test. The men who had the privilege of working close to them realized this and the sublime effect of this personal influence helped strengthen the resolve of many others.

Because there is so much at stake in the matter, the services cannot depend solely upon such influence as would be exerted on their affairs by the occasional idealist, but must work for that chain reaction which comes of making the inculcation of military ideals one of the cardinal points of a strong, uniting inner doctrine. It is altogether necessary that as a body, the power of their thought be shaped along ideal lines. The ideal object must be held high at all times, even though it is recognized that men are not perfect, and that no matter how greatly they may aspire, they will occasionally fail. Nor is the effort to lead other men to believe in the transcendent importance of goodwill made less effective because the leader has a conscience about his own weakness, provided he has the good sense not to flaunt it. He need not be a paragon of all the virtues to set an example which will convince other men that his ideas are worth following. No man alive possesses perfect virtue, which fact is generally understood. Many an otherwise ideal commander is ruthless in his exactions upon his staff; many a petty officer, who has won the absolute love of all men with whom he served, has found himself in the middle because he couldn't think straight about his debts. But these things do not lessen the impact upon men of thinking together about common ideals and working together toward the fulfillment of some high obligation. The pursuit of ideals culminates in the experience of mutual growth. If that were not so, men who have served the arms of the United States would not continue to have a special respect for the uniform, and an extra reverence for the flag, for years after they have passed from the service. These emotions are not the consequence of habit, but come of having known the comradeship of other men whom they loved and respected, who shared these same thoughts, and believed in the same body of ideals.

Any normal man loves his country and it is natural in him to regard highly the symbols through which this affection is expressed. An American child of kindergarten age already feels an emotional attachment for the national emblem. The recruit who has just entered upon service can begin to understand that his regard for his uniform must be a far different thing than what he felt about his civilian dress, since it is identified with the dignity of the Nation. His training in military ideals starts at this point, and for the main part is carried forward subtly, by transfer of this same feeling to all other objects associated with his military life. His perseverance in the care of weapons, in keeping his living quarters orderly and in doing his full share of work is best insured, not through fear of punishments, but by stimulating his belief that any other way of going is unworthy of a member of a fighting service.

Precision in personal habits, precision in drill and precision in daily living are the high road to that kind of discipline which best insures cool and collected thought and unity of action on the field of battle. When men, working together, successfully attain to a high standard of orderliness, deportment and response, each to the other, they develop the cohesive strength which will carry them through any great crisis. For this reason mainly, military life is far more exacting than civil life. But the services hold that what is best for the many can be achieved without cramping the personal life or blighting individuality and initiative. Within the frame of our system, we can achieve obedience and discipline without destroying independence and impulse.

This is idealism, though we seldom think about it in that light. Further, it is all the better that in the beginning these impressions are developed obliquely, rather than through the direct approach of reading a lecture on ideals and ethics, since it means that the man is assisted to reach certain conclusions by himself, and as Kant has said, those things which a man learns pretty much on his own become the ideas that he is least likely to forget.

Looking at this subject in its largest aspect, it should be perfectly clear that any institution must know what its ideals are before it can become coherent and confident, and that there must be present in the form of clearly available ideas an imaginative conception of the good at which the institution aims.

This is fully recognized in the American armed establishment. For many years, the program of indoctrinating military ideals has been inseparably linked with instruction in democratic ideals, teaching as to the American way of life and clear statement of the policies and purposes of the Government of the United States in its relations with all others powers and peoples.

Moreover, it is an accepted principle in all services that this mission can not be carried forward competently except by those officers who are directly in charge of forces. It is not a job for chaplains or orientation specialists, because it cannot flourish unless it is in the hands of those leaders whom men know well and in whom they place their confidence. When men are well led, they become fully receptive to the whole body of ideas which their leaders see fit to put before them.

There are two points which follow, as a matter of course.

An officer's ability to talk effectively on these or other subjects to his men can be no better than his information, irrespective of his zeal or of his own firm belief in the ideals of his country and service.

All other things being equal, his effectiveness will depend on the extent to which he participates in all of the other affairs of organization. If he is remote from the spirit of his own unit, and indifferent to the varying activities which enter into the building of that spirit, he will not have a sympathetic audience when he talks to men about the grand objectives of organization. There is something terribly incongruous about a man talking to troops on the ideal purposes of the military service if all they see of him convinces them that he is loyal only to his own rank and his pay check. It can be said without any qualification that when an officer's interest in the unit is limited strictly to those things which have to be done in line of duty, even though he attends to them truly and well, he will never have a strong hold on the sympathy and imagination of his men. When he takes an enthusiastic part in the sports program of the ship, the company, the squadron or the battalion, even though he has no natural talent for sport, when he voluntarily helps in furthering all activities within the unit which are designed to make leisure more enjoyable, and when he is seen by his men attending religious exercises, his magnetism is increased. It was noteworthy during World War II that church attendance among enlisted personnel took a tremendous bound forward when it was seen that their officers were present at church services. This provided tremendous support to those chaplains who were intent not only on praising the Lord but on passing moral ammunition to all ranks so that they would be better prepared for the ordeal ahead.

Recognizing that instruction in the duties of citizenship, and providing information which will enable Americans to have a better understanding of their national affairs, is part of the arch of morale and of a strong uniting comradeship, the Armed Services nevertheless hold that the keystone of the arch, among fighting forces, is the inculcation of military ideals and the stimulation of principles of military action. Unless orientation within the services is balanced in this direction, the military spirit of all ranks will suffer, and the forces will deteriorate into an assembly of Americans who, whatever their enthusiasms for the nation, will lack an organized capacity to serve it efficiently along the main line of resistance.

To round out any discussion of how military ideals are formed, much more needs to be said about the nature of courage on the battlefield and, in preparation for it, about the winning and meaning of loyalty within the Armed Services and how instruction on these points and all related matters is best advanced within the organization.

But the object of this chapter is to define certain governing principles. The substantive parts of the subject can be more clearly presented further along in the book.



There is a common saying in the services, and elsewhere, that greater privileges grow out of larger responsibilities, and that the latter justifies the former. This is part truth and part fable.

In military organization, as in industry, business, and political life, the more important a man's position, the more lavish he is likely to be in his office appointments and living arrangements, and the greater the care that is apt to be taken in freeing him of trifling annoyances.

But that is only partly because of the need for him to conserve his time and energy. When men are successful, they like the good things of life. Why deny it? Not one individual in 10,000 would aspire to power and authority if it meant living like a hermit.

There is no way that the military establishment can denature human nature, and change this determining condition. Nor is there any reason why it should wish to do so. Its men, like all others, develop a sense of well-being from those advantages, many of them minor, which attend, and build prestige, both in private and in official life. The incentive system by which our country has prospered has always recognized that privilege is a reward for effort and enterprise. The American people have always accepted that reasonable, harmless privileges should attend merit. It is by enhancing the prestige of leaders and by making their positions attractive that the Armed Forces get better officers and men.

One of the keenest-minded Americans of our time has said: "Responsibilities are what devolve upon a person, and privileges are what he ought not to have, but takes." In a perfect universe, that would be a perfect truth. But men being as they are, prideful and desirous of any mark of recognition, privileges are the natural accompaniment of rank and station, and when not wilfully misused, may contribute to the general welfare. At all levels, men will aspire more, and their ambition will be firmer, if getting ahead will mean for them an increase in the visible tokens of deference from the majority, rather than simply a boost in the paycheck. To complain about this quality in human nature is as futile as regretting that the sun goes down.

However, since it is out of the abuse of privilege that much of the friction between authority and the rank-and-file arises, the subject can't be dropped at that point. What puts most of the grit into the machinery isn't that privileges exist, but that they are exercised too often by persons who are not motivated by a passionate sense of duty. For it is an almost inviolable rule of human behavior that the man who is concerned most of all with his responsibilities will be fretted least about the matter of his privileges, and that his exercise of any rightful privilege will not be resented by his subordinates, because they are conscious of his merit.

We can take two officers. Lieutenant "A" enters the service with one main question in mind: "Where does my duty lie?" So long as he remains on that beam, he will never injure the morale of the service by using such privileges as are rightfully his as an officer. But in the mind of Lieutenant "B" the other idea is uppermost: "What kudos do I get out of my position?" Unless that man changes his ways, he will be a troublemaker while he remains in the service, a headache to his fellow officers and a despoiler of those who are under him.

In recent years, we have learned a lot about American manpower. We have seen enough of the raw material under testing conditions to know that, with the exception of the occasional malcontent who was irreparably spoiled before he left home, American young men when brought into military organization do not resent rank, and are amenable to authority. Indeed, they expect that higher authority will have certain advantages not common to the rank-and-file, because that is normal in our society in all of its workday relationships.

But they do not like to have their noses rubbed in it by officers who, having no real moral claim on authority, try to exhibit it by pushing other people around. And when that happens, our men get their backs up. And they wouldn't be worth a hoot in hades if they didn't.

Even as privilege attends rank and station, it is confirmed by custom, and modified by time and environment. What was all right yesterday may be all wrong tomorrow, and what is proper in one set of circumstances may be wholly wrong in another.

Take one example. In Washington's Continental Army, a first lieutenant was court-martialed and jailed because he demeaned himself by doing manual labor with a working detail of his men. Yet in that same season, Major General von Steuben, then trainer and inspector of all the forces, created a great scandal and almost terminated his usefulness by trying to rank a relatively junior officer out of his quarters. Today both of these usages seem out of joint. Any officer has the privilege of working with his men, if he needs exercise, wishes to see for himself how the thing is done, or feels that an extra hand is needed on the job at a critical moment. As for any notion that his quarters are his permanent castle no matter who comes, he had best not make an issue of the point!

But to emphasize it once again, duty is the great regulator of the proper exercise of one's rights. Here we speak of duty as it was meant by Giuseppe Mazzini, Italy's great patriot of the early Nineteenth Century, when he said: "Every mission constitutes a pledge of duty. Every man is bound to consecrate his every effort to its fulfillment. He will derive his rule of action from the profound conviction of that duty." For finally the key lies in this, that out of high regard for duty comes as a natural flow that sense of proportion which we call common sense.

Adjustment and dignity in any situation are impossible when minds are bent only on a code of conduct rather than on action which is consistent with the far objectives. In the early stages of World War II, it was not unusual to see a junior officer walking on the public sidewalk, hands free, and looking important, while his wife tagged along, trying to keep step, though laden like a pack mule. This was because someone had told him that it was not in keeping with an officer's dignity to be seen heavily burdened. In the nature of things, anyone so lacking in gallantry as that would stimulate very little respect for the officer corps.

Actually, in these times, there are relatively few special privileges which attend officership, and though the war brought perhaps a few excesses, the post war trend has been in the other direction.

Normally, an officer is not expected to buck a chow line, or any other queue in line of duty, if he is sensibly in a rush. The presumption is that his time is more valuable to the service than that of an enlisted man. Normally, an officer is not expected to pitch a tent or spend his energy on any hand labor incidental to housekeeping. Normally, he has greater freedom of action and is less bound by minor restrictions than the ranks.

But the accent in these things is decidedly on the word normally. If a mess line were in an area under general fire, so that added waiting meant extra danger, then only a poltroon would insist on being fed first. And while an officer wouldn't be expected to pitch a tent, he would dig his own foxhole, unless he was well up in grade. At that, there were a few high commanders in World War II who made it a point of pride to do their own digging from first to last. Greater "freedom of action," too, can go out the window, for conditions arise, particularly in war, when freedom of action can not be permitted anyone except the very top authority. When a general restriction is clamped down, the officer caught violating it is in more serious jeopardy than the enlisted offender.

As the entire body of this book is directed toward the consideration of the fundamental responsibilities in officership, the special comments in this chapter will relate mainly to propositions not stated elsewhere.

Though it has been said before, even so, it can be said again: It is a paramount and overriding responsibility of every officer to take care of his men before caring for himself. From the frequent and gross violation of this principle by badly informed or meanly selfish individuals comes more embarrassment to officer-man relationships than perhaps from all other causes put together. It is a cardinal principle! Yet many junior officers do not seem to understand that steadfast fidelity to it is required, not lip service. "And of this," as Admiral Mahan would say, "comes much evil." The loyalty of men simply cannot be commanded when they become embittered by selfish action.

Then how deeply does this rule cut? In line of duty, it applies right down to the hilt! When a command is worn, bruised, and hungry, officers attend to their men's creature comforts and make sure that all is going well, before looking to their own needs. If an officer is on a tour with an enlisted man, he takes care that the man is accommodated as to food, shelter, medical treatment or other prime needs, before satisfying his own wants; if that means that the last meal or the last bed is gone, his duty is to get along the hard way. If a command is so located that recreational facilities are extremely limited, and there are not enough to go around, the welfare of the ranks takes priority over the interests of their commissioned leaders; in fact, it would be more correct to say that the welfare of men is the prior interest of the officer.

These few concrete illustrations show, in general, what is expected. Once the main idea is grasped, the way of its total application becomes clear. Officers do not go around playing pigtail to enlisted men. But they build loyalty by serving the men first, when all concerned are following a general line of duty together.

It is an incumbent responsibility on all officers to maintain the dignity of the uniform and prevent anyone from sullying it. This means not only the dress of person, but the uniform wherever it is worn publicly by any man of the United States forces. Where the offense is committed by a member of some other service and the disgrace to the uniform is obvious, it is the duty of the officer to intervene, or to bring about intervention, rather than to walk out on the situation. This calls for judgment, tact, nerve. The offense must be real, and not simply an offense against one's private sensibilities. But indecencies, exhibitionism and bawdiness of such a nature that if done on a reservation would warrant trial of the individual for unbecoming conduct will justify intervention by the officer under public circumstances.

Similarly, any officer has a responsibility to any enlisted man who is in personal distress, with no other means of ready help. Suppose they just happen to meet in a strange community. The enlisted man's credentials are shown to be bona fide. But he has had his pocket picked, or has lost his wallet, or has just missed the train that would have carried him back from his leave on time, and he doesn't know what to do. For any officer to brush-off a forthright request for aid or advice under such circumstances is an unofficerly act. Likewise, if one suspects, just from appearances, that the man is in trouble and somewhat beyond his depths, it will be found that, far from resenting a kindly inquiry, he will mark it to the credit of the whole fighting system.

To say that an officer owes a fellow officer no less consideration than this is to state the obvious. Officers meeting in transit usually get into conversation; it is a habit that adds much to one's professional education. When an officer is getting into a strange town, or arriving at a new post, anything done by a fellow officer to help him get oriented, or to make things friendly and easy for him, furthers the comity of the corps. Between officers of differing services these small courtesies are particularly appreciated. Nor does the matter end there. Within Unit A, the officers have the responsibility of continuing support to the officers of Unit C, Unit B, and so on. Though they are in a sense competing, each trying to build higher than the other, they must never forget that the basic technique of organization is cooperation. What "A" knows that has helped his unit, or whatever he can do to assist "B" and "C" without materially depriving himself, it becomes his official and moral obligation to transmit. An officer can never understand his own command problem very well unless he knows, at least a little, of how things are going in other units. And the statement can be reversed. He cannot judge the problems of other people unless he tries passionately to understand his own people.

There are many other minor articles within what is sometimes called the "unwritten code" which help to regulate life in the services, and to sweeten it.

But what counts most is not the knowing of the rule but the sharing of the spirit which gives it meaning and makes its proper administration possible.



The main purpose of this book is to stimulate thought and to encourage the average young officer to seek truth for, and in, himself. It is never a good idea to attempt a precise formula about matters which are by nature indefinite and subject to all number of variable factors.

Thus with respect to career planning, despite all of the emphasis put upon that subject in modern America, it would be plain error to infer that any man can become all-wise, as to the direction which he should take with his own life, simply by steeping himself in all of the information which is to be had on this subject.

That might qualify him to give top-lofty advice to all others on how to make the start up the right ladder, and he would win a reputation as a personnel expert, which in itself is no mean assignment. But in all probability, he would still be doing better by himself than by any other individual.

American library shelves are stacked with such books as "Planning Your Future," "New Careers for Youth," and "The Problem of Vocational Guidance." The pages are laden with sage counsel and bromidic expressions. But their chief public value is that they enabled a writer, his publisher and the bookseller to get a little further ahead in life.

Reflecting the trend elsewhere in the national life, the Armed Services are equipped to give their forces the advantage of career management principles, and to assist their men to plan their professional careers. The opportunities and the job qualifications can be described. Also, somewhat more thoroughly than is done in civil life, the establishment's system of record-keeping throws a partial light on the aptitudes of the individual. The qualified man is soon known by his "spec number" or maybe two numbers. It might seem therefore that things are so well-regulated that the prospect of every man finding his niche is better than even.

The fact remains that the majority of individuals spend the greater part of their lives doing something other than that which would bring out their best quality and give them the greatest satisfaction, mainly because accident, in one form or another, put them into a particular channel, and inertia kept them there.

A boy builds model airplanes. His hobby being a force in his youthful years, he becomes a pilot, and then discovers to his shocked amazement that he does not have his heart in machines but in the management of men. A man who has lived his life among guns, and who enjoys the feel and the working of them, enters the service and permits himself to be made a food procurement specialist, having run that kind of business in civil life only because he had inherited it from his father. An officer assigned to a weapons detail finds it hard going. And the fact that he takes a delight in writing a good paper still does not signal to him that this is his main field and he should exploit it to the fullest!

To what do these things point? In particular, to this, that despite all of the help which may be provided by outside agencies, finding the straight thoroughfare in work is mainly a problem of searching self-examination and personal decision. The impression which any other person may have of our talents and possibilities is largely formed by what we say, think and feel about ourselves.

This does not require that constant introspection which is found in Cecil Forester's nervous hero, "Captain Horatio Hornblower." That man doubtless would have died of stomach ulcers before winning his second stripe. It is not a matter of, "How do I look to someone else?" but of, "What do I know about myself?" The kind of work which one likes best and does with the greatest facility, the avocational study which is pursued because it provides greater delight than an encharged responsibility, the talent which one had as a youth but was dropped because of the press of making a living, the task which looks alluring though one has lacked either the chance, or the courage, to try a hand at it—these are among the more fertile points of inquiry.

Weighing it out, the service officer has an unrivaled opportunity for fruitful experiment.

In the first place, he has made the fundamental decision to serve his country in the profession of arms. The meaning of that decision should not be lost on him. It is by nature patriotic. But if he regards his inheritance simply as a snug berth and the best way to provide "three squares" to himself and family throughout a lifetime, he is neither soundly patriotic nor intelligently selfish.

After signing on the line for his country, the individual's duty to himself is to strive by every honorable means to move ahead of his competition by growing more knowledgeable and better qualified. It is the inherent right of every officer to request such service as he believes will further his advancement, and far from discouraging the ambitious man, higher authority will invariably try to favor him. In no other mode of life are older men so ready to encourage the willing junior.

Gen. H. H. Arnold, the great air leader of World War II, is an inspiring case study with respect to several of these points. He wrote in "Global Mission" how he considered quitting the Army in disgust upon being commissioned in infantry, following graduation, so deeply was his heart set upon service in cavalry. But something held him to the assignment. Some years later he tried to transfer to ordnance because the prospect for advancement looked better. While still ruminating on this change, he was offered a detail to the newly forming aviation section of the signal corps, and took it, not because he had a clear vision of the future, but because it looked like a chance to get ahead. Thus, almost inadvertently, he met the opportunity of which came his world fame.

This emphasizes another peculiar advantage belonging to the young officer who is trying to orient himself toward the line of greatest opportunity. In civil life, the man who flits from job to job is soon regarded as a drifter and unstable. In the military establishment an ability to adjust from job to job and to achieve greater all-around qualification by making a successful record in a diversified experience becomes a major asset in a career. Generalship, in its real sense, requires a wider knowledge of human affairs, supported by specialized knowledge of professional techniques, than any other great responsibility. Those who get to the top have to be many-sided men, with skill in the control and guidance of a multifarious variety of activities. Therefore even the young specialist, who has his eyes on a narrow track because his talents seem to lie in that direction, is well advised to raise his sights and extend his interest to the far horizons of the profession, even while directing the greater part of his force to a particular field.

After all, variety is the spice of life, as well as a high road toward perfection. Of Princeton's 1932 class, 161, or 59 percent, were in the armed services during World War II. Questioned after the war 70 percent of the total number replied that military service was interesting, broadening, and profitable. But the main point was that they said in overwhelming number that its great lure was that they were doing something new. They liked it because it gave them a legitimate excuse to quit their jobs and attempt something different. In the services, a man may give vent to this natural desire without impairing his record, and if he is young and not at all certain what is his favorite dish, the more he broadens his experience, the more likely it becomes that he will sharpen his view of his own capabilities.

The possible hard consequence of looking at service opportunity through any one lens is epitomized in one paragraph of a reclassification proceedings on an officer relieved during World War II while serving as assistant division commander:

"Through no fault of his own, General Blank has never served with troops since he was a captain during World War I. He has been unable to keep pace with the problems of a commander on the battlefield of today. He is unqualified for command of troops due to lack of practical experience."

It is hard to imagine a more dismal ending for a career than that of the man who aspires to rank, without having any honest concept of its proportionate moral responsibilities, particularly when the lives of others are at stake.

So when we say that "career planning" is a springboard to personal success within the military establishment, it is not with the narrow meaning that any officer should proceed to limit his field of interest, decide quickly and arbitrarily where he will put his plow and run his furrow, and then sit down and plot a schedule of how he proposes to mount the success ladder rung by rung. That might suit a plumber, or tickle the fancy of an interior decorator, but it will not conserve the strength of the officer corps. Its consequence would be to stereotype the thinking faculties of a professional whose inner power flows from the questing imagination, eager curiosity and versatility of its individuals. Intense specialization, to the exclusion of all peripheral areas of knowledge, warps the mind and limits the useful action and influence of its owner. Dr. Vannevar Bush was a greater scientist on the day he made his decision to explore the sphere of military knowledge, and greater still when he applied himself to literature.

There are few men of great talent who initially have an unswerving inner conviction that they possess the final answer, as to themselves. They may feel reasonably sure about what they would like to do, though still reserving an honest doubt about the validity of their instincts and of their power to compete. Even long and successful experience does not always allay this doubt. Said Washington, on being appointed Commander-in-Chief: "I beg it may be remembered by every man in this room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with." Assurance, or by its other name, self-confidence, is only a continuing willingness to keep coming back and trying, without fear of coming a cropper, but with a care to the constant strengthening of one's own resources. The motto of Admiral Robert E. Peary: "I will find a way or make one," is not over-bold; any officer can afford to paste the words inside his own hat. But in the hard game with which Peary's fame is forever linked, there were countless errors, an occasional hit, and at last a run.

The health and progressive spirit of the services come of the many-sided officer who can make not one career for himself but three or four. Had officers from all services been unwilling to go into the industrial workshops and scientific laboratories of the Nation to try their hands at wholly new lines of work, had successful cavalrymen been unable to evolve as leaders of armored forces, had ship captains and ensigns disdained taking to the air, had foot soldiers refused the risks of parachuting and naval officers not participated as observers with the infantry line to further SFC (ship fire control) we would have run out of wind before winning World War II.

Some months after the war ended, the Secretary of the Navy, recognizing the dilemma which confronted thousands of men who were asking whether the wave of the future would be to the specialist or to the all-around man, sent a message which applied not less to the officers of every service:

It is intended that the highest posts will be filled by officers of the highest attainments, regardless of specialty. Be assured, whatever may be your field of endeavor, that your future as an officer rests, as it always has, in your hands. The outstanding officer will continue to be he who attacks with all of his energy and enthusiasm the tasks to which he is assigned and who grows in stature and understanding with his years and with his experience. Responsibility comes to him who seeks responsibility. It is this officer, regardless of his field of effort, who will be called to high command.

There is not a chief of service who would shade the general tone of this paragraph if asked to put before his own officers the one rule which, most closely followed, would most surely bring success. Nothing need be added to it and nothing should be taken away; it states the case.

At the same time, and as the message itself implies, specialization, like sex and the automobile, is here to stay. In the service, perforce, even the balanced, all-around man has his specialty. In the beginning, true enough, he may aspire only to being a soldier, marine, sailor or airman. That is good enough in the cocoon stage. But ultimately he emerges with the definite coloring of a ground fighter, a gunner, an engineer officer, a signals man, a submariner, a weapons man, a navigator, an observer, a transport officer or something else. If his tact, bearing and quick pick-up suggest to his superiors that he may be good staff material, and he takes that route, there are again branch lines, leading out in roughly parallel directions, and embracing activities in the fields of personnel, intelligence, operations, supply and military government. And each one of these main stems has smaller branches, greatly diversified. The man with a love for logistics (and few have it) might some day find himself running railroads or managing a port. The engineer could become a salvage officer working a crew of deep sea divers, or as easily a demolitions expert running a company of dynamiters. The expert in communications? His next task might be setting up a radio station near the North Pole or helping perfect radio control of troops over a 50-mile area.

It is in these things that the privilege of free choice arises, for despite the popular theory that in the services you take what you are given and like it, the placement of officers according to their main aptitudes and desires is a controlling principle of personnel policy. It is recognized throughout the military establishment that, in general, men will do their best service in that field where they think their natural talents are being most usefully employed.

Among the combat line commanders in World War II there were doctors, dentists and even a few ministers. They could have had places in their regular corps, but they were permitted to continue with the duty of their own choice.

Concerning the main problem of the officer, in fitting himself for higher command, the controlling principle is well expressed in the words of a distinguished educator, Wallace B. Donham: "The hope of the wisdom essential to the general direction of men's affairs lies not so much in wealth of specialized knowledge as in the habits and skills required to handle problems involving very diverse viewpoints which must be related to new concrete situations. Wisdom is based on broad understanding in perspective. It is common sense on a large canvas. It is never the product of scientific, technological, or other specializations, though men so trained may, of course, acquire it."

This puts just the right light on the subject. The military officer specializes strictly to qualify himself more highly in his main calling—the management of men in the practice of arms. Becoming a specialist does not ipso facto make him a better officer, or win him preferment. It is part of the mechanism, though not the main wheel. As Admiral Forrest P. Sherman has so well said: "We are not pushed willy-nilly into specialization; there is never an excess of the all-around, highly competent combat officer."

Concerning his choice, all general advice is gratuitous. Whatever might be written here would be worth far less than the counsel or suggestion of any superior, or for that matter, a colleague, who has observed his work closely over a long period, who has some critical faculty, and whose good will is beyond question.

Particularly, the voluntary advice of such a person is worth notice. That which is spontaneous usually has shrewd reason behind it. When counsel is deliberately sought, it may catch the consultant unaware, and in lieu of saying that which is well-considered, he may offer a half-baked opinion, rather than be disappointing. But when another person having one's trust, says: "Your natural line is to do thus-and-so," it is time to ask him why, and check his reasoning with one's own. Worth just as much earnest consideration is his negative opinion, his strong feeling that what one is about to undertake is not particularly suitable.

As for the man himself, it remains to survey thoughtfully the whole range of possibilities, to keep the mind open and receptive to impressions, to experiment but take firm hold in so doing, to tackle each new task with as much enthusiasm as if it were to be his life work, to ask for difficult assignments rather than soft snaps and to be calmly deliberate, rather than rashly hasteful, in appraising his own capabilities.

Self-study is a lifetime job. A great many engineers didn't realize that they were born to make nuclear fission possible until there was a three-way wedding between science, industry and the military in 1940. Many officers who have had a late blooming as experts in the field of electronics and supersonic speeds had lived out successful careers before these subjects first saw daylight.

As Elbert Hubbard said of it, the only way to get away from opportunity is to lie down and die.



The regulations that govern precedence among officers of the same service and among the services in relation to each other have a very real utility not only in determining succession to command and as reminders of the authority to which all persons in the Armed Services are subject but in providing precedent for all official or ceremonial occasions in which officers or organizations of the several services may find themselves cooperating. It is easy to imagine the confusion that would result without such rules, especially if a junior commander of a senior service had to defend the right of his organization to occupy the place of honor ahead of a very senior commander with a detachment from a junior service. These regulations are also the arbiter in disputes arising between officers of equal rank who aspire to command of the same unit.

The legislation which separated the Air Force from the Army again raised the question of precedence in parades and ceremonies. Since the Air Force is the junior service, as to date of recognition, the change indicated the following parade order: (Reference, Federal Register, Volume 14, Number 160, August 19, 1949, page 5203)

1. Cadets, United States Military Academy.

2. Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy.

3. Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy.

4. United States Army.

5. United States Marines.

6. United States Navy.

7. United States Air Force.

8. United States Coast Guard.

9. National Guard of the United States.

10. Organized Reserve Corps of the Army.

11. Marine Corps Reserve.

12. Naval Reserve.

13. Air Force National Guard of the United States.

14. United States Air Force Reserve.

15. Coast Guard Reserve.

16. Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order, respectively.

During any period when the United States Coast Guard shall operate as a part of the United States Navy, the Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Reserve, shall take precedence, respectively, next after the Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy, and the Naval Reserve.

In any ceremony in which any or all of these components act together, the table of precedence in appropriate regulations determines their location in the column.

The ranks and insignia in the Armed Services have been substantially the same since 1883. During World War II there were newly established the five star ranks of general of the army and fleet admiral. After the first World War the rank of general-of-the-armies was created to honor General Pershing, who was permitted to choose the number of stars he would wear. He chose four. After the Spanish-American War the rank of admiral-of-the-navy was established for Admiral Dewey. No one has held this rank since.

On November 15, 1776, Congress established the ranks of admiral, vice-admiral, rear admiral and commodore corresponding to general, lieutenant general, major general, and brigadier general. It also established three grades of naval captains—captain of a 40-gun ship and upward to rank with colonel, captain of a 20 to 40-gun ship to rank with lieutenant colonel, captain of a 10 to 20-gun ship to rank with major, and lieutenant to rank with captain in the Army.

Although the top naval ranks were provided, the only two officers ever to attain a higher rank than captain prior to 1862 were Ezekiel Hopkins, whom Congress on December 22, 1775, commissioned with the rank of C-in-C of the Fleet, and Charles Stewart who was commissioned Senior Flag Officer by Congress in 1859. Hopkins and Stewart were called "commodore" as was any other captain who commanded more than one ship.

During our War of Independence, the Army had the rank of ensign and the Navy did not. The several Army ranks were then distinguishable by the color of the cockade, green for lieutenant, buff for captain, and pink or red for a field officer. As early as 1780 major generals wore two stars on their epaulettes and brigadier generals one. During our quasi-war with France, toward the end of the eighteenth century, Washington was commissioned lieutenant general, our first, and three stars were prescribed to be worn by him.

In the Army Register for 1813 the rank of ensign had disappeared but there were third lieutenants (as in the Soviet Army today) and coronets. In 1832 the eagle was adopted as the insignia of colonel in the Army and in 1857 the lieutenant colonel, captain, and first lieutenant wore the same insignia as today. These insignia were adopted some time in the interval between 1847 and 1857. The gold bar, insigne of the second lieutenant, was authorized just prior to World War I.

The Navy has used the same shoulder insignia as the Army since the Civil War. However, shoulder insignia on blues were discontinued by the Navy in 1911 but the insignia were still prescribed on epaulettes. The Navy adopted the eagle for captain in 1852, twenty years after it had been approved by the Army for colonels.

In the first half of the last century the Navy List contained officers of four grades only. A captain wore three stripes, a master commandant, two (master commandant, established in 1806, was changed to commander in 1837;) and a lieutenant, one. A master had no stripe but three buttons instead. There were midshipmen too, but they were warrant officers and aspirants for commissioned rank as the present French term designates them.

Our first full general was U. S. Grant and our first full admiral, David D. Porter; both won their rank in the Civil War. In that war there was a large increase in the Navy and more naval ranks were established. In 1862 ensign was provided in the Navy to correspond to second lieutenant; and the term lieutenant commanding became lieutenant commander. An ensign wore one stripe as now; an additional stripe was added for each rank till the rear admiral had eight. Since 1869 the senior officers have worn the same stripes as now prescribed. In 1883 the rank "master" was changed to lieutenant, junior grade.

The rank of commodore, which had been abolished, was temporarily revived during World War II. The rank of passed-midshipman was abolished about 1910; thereafter graduates of the Naval Academy were commissioned ensign. The rank of ensign had previously been attained by passed-midshipmen after 2 years at sea and a successful examination at the end of that cruise. The only permanent change in recent years was the addition of aviation cadet to both the Air Force and Navy listings. The warrant rank of flight officer in the Air Force, which was created during the war, has now been abandoned, all the flight officers then holding warrants either being commissioned second lieutenants or separated. The naval rank of commodore was likewise dropped, and brigadier generals of the Army and Air Force now rank with admirals of the lower half.

The following are the present corresponding ranks in the Armed Services:

- - - - - NAVY MARINE ARMY AIR FORCE COAST CORPS GUARD - - - - - Fleet Admiral General of General of the Army the Air Force - - - - - Admiral General General General Admiral - - - - - Vice Admiral Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant Vice Admiral General General General - - - - - Rear Admiral Major Major Major Rear Admiral (upper half) General General General (upper half) - - - - - Rear Admiral Brigadier Brigadier Brigadier Rear Admiral (lower half) General General General (lower half) and and Commodore Commodore - - - - - Captain Colonel Colonel Colonel Captain - - - - - Commander Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Colonel Colonel Colonel - - - - - Lieutenant Major Major Major Lieutenant Commander Commander - - - - - Lieutenant Captain Captain Captain Lieutenant - - - - - Lieutenant First First First Lieutenant (Junior Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Grade) - - - - - Ensign Second Second Second Ensign Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant - - - - - Commissioned Commissioned Chief Warrant Chief Warrant Commissioned Warrant Warrant Officer Officer Warrant Officer Officer Officer - - - - - Midshipman Cadet Cadet Cadet - - - - - Warrant Warrant Warrant Warrant Warrant Officer Officer Officer Officer Officer Junior Grade Junior Grade - - - - - Aviation Aviation Cadet Cadet - - - - -

Officers of all the fighting service, whether regular or reserve, take precedence among themselves according to their dates of rank. Officers take command in their respective services in accordance with their dates of rank in the line, the senior, unless otherwise ordered, taking command, whether regular or reserve. The command of a task force or group composed of commands from two or more services devolves upon the senior commanding officer present in the force or group unless otherwise designated by the appropriate common senior, acting for the President.

The obvious exceptions to this are that officers outside the line (that is, commissioned in specialized branches or corps) cannot command line organizations. They may, however, in the Army and Air Force, command organizations within the structure of their own corps. Non-rated officers in the Air Force and Navy are not eligible to command tactical flying units. As a specialized case of command, the assigned first pilot and airplane commander of any aircraft continues in command even though a pilot senior in rank may be aboard.

Retired officers of the Army rank at the foot of active officers of the same grade; those of the Navy according to date of rank.

Changing personnel policies have been reflected by frequent revisions of the scale and grade given noncommissioned leadership. This subject should therefore be checked against current regulations. But as a rough guide, the following can be taken as the corresponding noncommissioned grades and rates in the services:

- - - - PAY NAVY AND ARMY AIR MARINE GRADE COAST GUARD FORCE CORPS - - - - E-7 Chief Petty Master Master Master Officer Sergeant Sergeant Sergeant - - - - E-6 Petty Officer Sergeant Technical Technical First Class First Class Sergeant Sergeant - - - - E-5 Petty Officer Sergeant Staff Staff Second Class Sergeant Sergeant - - - - E-4 Petty Officer Corporal Sergeant Sergeant Third Class - - - - E-3 [A]Airman Private Corporal Corporal [A]Constructionman First Class [A]Dentalman Fireman Hospitalman Seaman Stewardsman - - - - E-2 Apprentice Private Private Private First Class First Class - - - - E-1 Recruit Recruit Private Private - - - -

[A] Does not apply to Coast Guard.

Enlisted insignia of rank are of cloth, sewn on the sleeve of the outer garment. Army chevrons are worn on both sleeves with the point up, and special devices may be incorporated within the chevron to indicate specialties. Chevrons for combat soldiers are blue on a gold background, and all others are gold on a blue background. Naval chevrons are worn point down. Air Force chevrons have no point, but are a compound reverse curve with the deepest part of the curve worn down; over this is imposed a star within a circle. Marine Corps chevrons are worn on both sleeves with the point up and are gold on a crimson background for the dress blue uniform, green on a red background for the forest green uniform, green on a khaki background for the khaki uniform, and for combat uniforms the chevrons are stenciled on the sleeves in black ink.

All military and naval personnel are addressed in official correspondence by their full titles. Off duty in conversations and in unofficial correspondence, officers are addressed as follows:


All general officers General

Colonels and Lt. Colonels Colonel

Majors Major

Captains Captain

Lieutenants Mister or Lieutenant

Lieutenants in Medical Corps Doctor or Lieutenant

All Chaplains Chaplain

Army nurses Nurse


(Official address) Cadet

(Unofficial address) Mister

Warrant Officers Mister

All sergeants Sergeant

Corporals Corporal

Privates and Privates, First Class Private Jones or Jones When the name is not known, an Army private may be addressed as "Soldier," and in the Marine Corps the term, "Marine," is proper in such a case.


All Admirals Admiral

Commodores Commodore

Captains Captain

Commanders Commander

Lieutenant Commanders, lieutenants, ensigns and midshipmen Mister

All Chaplains Chaplain

All medical officers (to commander) Doctor

Except when in the presence of troops, senior officers frequently address juniors as "Smith" or "Jones" but this does not give the junior the privilege of addressing the senior in any other way than his proper title. By the same token, officers of the same grade generally address one another by their first or last names depending on the degree of intimacy. The courtesy and respect for others which govern the conduct of gentlemen are expected to prevail at all times.

Enlisted men are commonly addressed by their last names. Except in cases where the officer has a blood relationship or a preservice friendship with an enlisted man, the occasions on which an enlisted man can properly be called by his first name are extremely rare. Speaking face to face, it is proper to use either the last name, alone, or the title of rank, or the last name and any accepted abbreviation of the title. In calling First Sergeant Brown from among a group, it would be acceptable to call for "Brown" but better still "Sergeant Brown." In the Navy, the common practice in addressing Chief Pharmacists Mate Gale, for instance, would be either "Gale" or "Chief." On formal occasions, as in calling a senior enlisted man front and center at a formation, the full military title would be used: "Chief Bo's'ns Mate Gale and Master Sergeant Brown, front and center." The longer form of address would also be proper in directing a third party to report to Master Sergeant White.

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