Winning Words From a Warlord


In the very darkest days of the Second World War, when England stood alone, and suffered alone, Prime Minister Winston Churchill replaced his friend General Edmund Ironside, veteran of two wars, as Chief of the Imperial General Staff with General Sir John Dill.  Churchill told Dill:

“We cannot afford to confine Army appointments to persons who have excited no hostile comments in their careers… ┬áThis is a time to try men of force and vision, and not to be exclusively confined to those who are judged to be thoroughly safe by conventional standards.”


But for the leadership in our Armed Forces to embrace such sentiment.

4 thoughts on “Winning Words From a Warlord”

  1. In reviewing a book on COL Greg “Pappy” Boyington, I was reminded that he never would have made Colonel in peacetime. Nor would COL “Bourbon Bob” Sink or COL Edson Raff, or likely hundreds of successful wartime commanders. Heck, one of the commanders in the 82nd dumped all the disciplinary paperwork his soldiers had earned in Italy overboard on the way to Normandy. Traits that make bad garrison commanders can make great wartime leaders.

  2. Fluid nature of warfare all but guarantees that “by the book” commanders will fail. The “book” cannot cover all possible conditions. It takes a commander that is not afraid of taking chances. As the colonel in “Heartbreak Ridge” said: exercise some personal initiative and kick ass.

    1. One of the principles of AirLand Battle Doctrine was “Agility” which, while it encompassed the physical, placed far more emphasis on a commander having and using mental agility.

  3. The German Army kicked initiative downstairs as much as possible. The subordinates knew what the objective was and were expected to act with personal initiative to achieve that objective. As WW2 ground on, that attitude disappeared as Hitler tied the hands of the OKH and OKW. He started during Barbarossa and kept Guderian from investing Moscow, where Stalin was holed up after stating he was not going to leave.

    The US Army can’t be serious on “flexibility” if the junior officers are not allowed some head when it comes to personal initiative. And, they aren’t serious.

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