LTG H.R. McMaster

Norwich University ROTC Centennial Symposium Tradoc Keynote Address

delivered 22 April 2016, Fort Knox, Kentucky

Audio mp3 of Address

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio and edited for continuity]

[MAJ GEN] Peggy [Combs], thank you so much and thanks to all of you for the privilege of being with you.

So Admiral and Mrs. Schneider thank you; General Sullivan, one of my heroes here; General Todd, what a privilege it was to meet you tonight; Admiral Gilmore, one of our greatest allies, here from Australia; and then all fellow general officers; but really, mainly cadets, faculty members, those who really make this great university work and make ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] this awesome program work for not just our services but for our nation as well.

So it's a privilege to be with you to celebrate the last hundred years but then also to talk about really the next hundred years and what lies ahead, I think, for our nation and how ROTC will play a critical role to ensuring that our nation will remains secure -- that we are prepared to deter war which is really what we want to do to, right? But when that fails, to be able to fight and win in a future armed conflict and protect our fellow citizens.

So as a cavalry officer, I've long admired Norwich as a great cavalry tradition. And Major General Ernest Harmon is my hero. I mean he really is my hero.

When I first learned about General Harmon, I was about ready to deploy to Desert Storm, Desert Shield at the time, and my Executive Officer -- our troop Executive Officer in each troop of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment -- was cleaning out his office. And the XO's [Executive Officer] office has a little bit of everything -- smoke grenades, whatever things that weren't suppose to be there. But behind of one of the drawers he pulls out this paper and the title is Notes on Combat Actions in Tunisia and North Africa1 by General Ernest Harmon, written by General Harmon based on Second Armor Divisions' experience in World War II in North Africa to help all the other divisions prepare for the invasion of Normandy.

You must read it. Every cadet, you have to read it.  It's brilliant.  It is the best preparation for combat that our unit had, and we distilled out of that so many lessons. Fundamentally, it was: the division will succeed only as the platoon succeeds. So all of you [who] are going to be lieutenants in any of our services, what that means is you're not apprentices; you're not novices; you're combat leaders. Everybody will look to you when things get tough in battle, so you have to be a leader in all things from day one.

And so, I could go on and on about his many observations. The most important thing to do as a leader is put leaders in positions of leadership. And then he had great advice on how to fight. One of his axioms was, "If he takes a toothpick, use a baseball bat." But I really recommend this paper to you.

And so I grew fond of General Harmon and I read his memoir as Combat [Commander]. I took it with me to Iraq and it got destroyed there. It was out of print but a good friend of mine replaced it for me, thank goodness.

But anyway, it's such a privilege to be here as a cavalry officer. You can't help but absorb the cavalry spirit.

You had General [Mark] Milley here, right? Yesterday?  And I should tell you -- he should have told you himself -- but I'll have to let you in on this: He really wants to be a cavalry officer. He really does; he really, really does. And so, he is very covetous of the cavalries. You can't blame him, right? And so, we fought together in South Baghdad. His brigade had been there for about eight months. We were just getting in the so-called Triangle of the Death area of Mahmoudiyah, Latifiyah, and Yusufiyah, and that guy is a great combat commander. He was forward with his soldiers everyday; and our regiment learned so much because they had already been there for eight months. And he'd have air tanks and aircraft and Bradleys, and we cut them to him. We didn't have infantry. He cut infantry to us. And we just got after the enemy together.

But one day we have one of our meetings about how we match up our capabilities together and how we get after the enemy, and he was walking kind of awkwardly out of the regimental headquarters. And I said, "Mark, what are you doing?" And he was stealing the Saber of Command, General Patton's saber from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment; he had stuffed it in his pants. So of course I couldn't blame him. I said, "I know you really do want to be cavalry but give me the saber back, damn it."  So what a great opportunity here from him as always.

And so with so many other Norwich graduates who have come across my career: second Lieutenant Michael Hamilton. I think he was probably class of '89 -- Brian? -- I think he was. He was a great hockey player here. We called him "Bullwinkle" because his head was not unlike a moose's rack. It was a very large head. I mean we were concerned that we might not be able to find a combat vehicle crewman helmet to fit his head. Actually, the one we did find, the largest one, it was like a yarmulke on the back of his head -- appropriate for Passover, but it was on the back of his head. But what a great combat leader, a great combat Norwich leader.

Bryan Radliff. Bryan, where are you? Raise your hand. Okay, awesome. Another one of my lieutenants. Great. And then Major with us at the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Great combat leader. Awesome combat leader.

Scott Breckenridge, who all you know here at your ROTC department. Where's Scott?  My first company commander as a tank platoon leader.

And one of our lieutenants stupidly said, "Hey, I think, like, lieutenants need an office." And so Breckenridge at the time, Captain Breckenridge, reached behind him -- he had one of this heavy, like Samsonite briefcases. He said, "Lieutenants don't need an office. They need the front slope of your tank.  And he hurled the Samsonite briefcase at one of my unfortunate colleagues. He was able to deflect it luckily and survive the experience. But I learned so much from that guy.  What a great, great leader.

I could go on and on about Michael Krauss and so many just great, great Norwich graduates who had a huge impact on me.

But okay.

Last week, though, I was at Carnegie Mellon University and I ran into one of your most recent graduates from the Class of 2015. Her name is 2nd Lieutenant Maria Luvosci [ph] who is our Army's new Cyber Branch. And so I said, "Hey I'm going to Norwich. I'm going to your old school. Let me know what you thought about the experience and everything."

So she wrote to me -- and I think it says everything about ROTC and about Norwich. She wrote:

I can honestly say that going to Norwich has led me to where I am today, and I would not have the work ethic and motivation I have if it weren't for attending Norwich.  Norwich makes you want to be the best you can be everyday.

And so we read a lot today, right, about differences in generations, [unclear at 7:01] and everything. I don't buy into it because I think that there's a lot more continuity across generations, especially among those who volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces; and there are a lot more continuities than differences, I think, among these generations.  Our military is a living historical community. And ROTC -- one of the key things that ROTC does is that it helps us to preserve the legacy of honor, courage, and selfless service that we have inherited from those who have gone before us.  Some of those at this front table who are heroes of mine, heroes like General Ernest Harmon.

So when Captain Alden Partridge planted the seeds of ROTC, when he founded what became Norwich University in 1819, his goal was to prepare citizen-soldiers to defend our Republic through a national system of education of professional and militia officers.  Later in the 19th century, angered in part by the defection of so many West Pointers -- I hate to say that -- to the Confederacy during the Civil War, Congress included the requirement for military training in the Morrill Act of 1862; and so, too, they established the land-grant universities.  So you see this expanding of training citizens to become soldiers in the professional Armed Forces and in the militia -- or the full time Armed Forces of the militia.

In 1916, of course, General Leonard Wood, as he watched the carnage of the Great War in Europe from afar, he wanted to create a body, a body of reserved officers to enable the Army to expand, should the United States be drawn into another war.  The National Defense Act established ROTC as a formal program on to that war or subsequent wars.  So, that system for training and educating civilian-volunteers to become leaders and warriors in our Armed Services is as vital to our nation's security today as it was throughout the 20th century, the century that was the bloodiest in human history.

And that is because the stakes today are high; they're very high. Threats to national security and all humanity are increasing, and our military is shrinking.  And so the need for ROTC is certain to grow. It is certain to grow because our nation will have to respond to those threats and is likely to struggle to develop the capabilities and regain the size and strength necessary to secure our nation.

The stakes are high today because we are engaged, as previous generations were engaged, against enemies that pose a grave threat to all civilized peoples.  We must defeat modern day barbarians like Daesh and Al-Qaeda, who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to perpetuate ignorance, incite hatred, and commit the most heinous crimes against innocents.

The stakes are high because battle grounds overseas are inexorably connected to our own security.  We see those connections as the Islamic State controls territory to plan and prepare for mass murder in France, Belgium, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and across the Greater Middle East and Africa.2  We see connections as these terrorists entice masses of disaffected young people with the sophisticated campaign of propaganda, disinformation, and brain washing.  We see connections as terrorists, along with the brutal actions of the Assad regime, Iranian proxies, and Russian forces in Syria, caused the greatest mass migration and humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.3

And because the stakes are high today, as they were in the previous century, we need ROTC to do two fundamental things, not only for our military but also for American society: first, preserve our warrior ethos; and second, help warriors remain connected to their fellow citizens, those in whose name we fight and serve.

So the warrior ethos is a covenant; it's a covenant between all of us in the military, comprised of values such as honor, duty, courage, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.  But our warrior ethos also depends on our military's connection to our society.  That is because when we in our military are valued by our fellow citizens, we value ourselves.  Ultimately, it is the warrior ethos that permits service men and women to see themselves as part of the community that sustains itself through sacred trust and a covenant that binds them not only to one another but also to our society and to our nation.

The warrior ethos is important. It's important because it's what makes units effective in combat.  It's also important because it's what makes war less inhumane.

We need ROTC more than ever because the warrior ethos is at risk.

The warrior ethos is at risk because fewer and fewer Americans are connected to our professional military.

The warrior ethos is at risk because fewer and fewer Americans understand what is even at stake in the wars in which we are engaged today.  How many Americans could, for example, even name the three Taliban groups4 that we've been fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001?

The warrior ethos is at risk because some argue that victory over an enemy or winning in war is an old idea that is no longer relevant in today's complex world.

The warrior ethos is at risk because some continue to advocate for simple, mainly technological, solutions to the problem of future war -- ignoring war's very nature as a human and political activity that is fundamentally a contest of wills.

The warrior ethos is at risk because popular culture waters down and coarsens the warrior ethos.  Warriors are most often portrayed as fragile, traumatized human beings.  Hollywood tells us little about the warrior's calling or commitment to his or her fellow warriors, or what compels him or her to act courageously, endure hardships, take risks, or make sacrifices.

So ROTC is indispensable today to help both future officers and our fellow citizens understand war and understand warriors.  And we need ROTC more than ever to help keep our military connected to those in whose name we fight. And that's because in our democracy if society is disconnected from an understanding of war, or is unsympathetic to the warrior ethos, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the fundamental requirements of military effectiveness, and to recruit young men and women into the military service.

So we might emphasize above all to our cadets and to our citizens that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen are both warriors and humanitarians.  They're warriors and humanitarians because they fight in places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq against those who commit mass murder and genocide, torture and enslave, rape, and commit the worst kinds of child abuse.  They are warriors and humanitarians because they defend our children and our way of life on modern day frontiers between barbarism and civilization.

So what might the ROTC curriculum emphasize in the next 100 years to preserve our warrior ethos and help our military stay connected to our society?

The opportunity to study war and warfare and warriors across the curriculum, not just in ROTC programs, holds promise for enabling cross- discipline, interactive, reflective learning in a way that accomplishes both objectives.  Historical experience and military history in particular is an ideal vehicle, not only for preserving the warrior ethos and connecting warriors and citizens, but also for enriching and connecting military instruction with the study of other disciplines -- other disciplines such as philosophy, theology and law with an emphasis on applied ethics -- as General Cones already mentioned -- Just War Theory, military honor, and stoicism, and what that means to the warrior ethos and to our professional ethic; language, geography, and aerial studies -- as General Cones already mentioned as well -- to understand and develop empathy, empathy for the cultures and historical experience of the peoples among whom wars are fought; literature -- literature to reflect on examples of positive and negative leadership, as well as the human experience and morality and immorality of war; leadership -- to understand the importance of setting the example, to determining a vision, team building, keeping soldiers informed, and managing combat stress;  math, science, and engineering -- to consider technological and scientific change, in context though, of human, political, cultural, and psychological continuities in war; physiology and psychology -- to understand how to improve human and team strength, performance, and resilience.

So encouraging universities to offer, and cadets to pursue, an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of war will help integrate academic, military, and physical development to produce leaders of character who possess the intellect and the determination to win, to win against these enemies we're facing and to win in this complex world.  It would provide an opportunity for future military leaders and fellow students to discuss what they might expect from each other.

Those discussions might provide a corrective to the tendency in our country to confuse military studies with militarism.  As the English theologian, writer, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton observed: "War is not the best way of settling differences but it is the only way of preventing them from being settled for you."5  And as George Washington once observed: "To be prepared for war is [one of] the most effectual means to promote peace."6  So we ought to study war in a way that is analogous to what Raymond Bradbury was trying to do in the great novel Fahrenheit 451.  When he was interviewed, the interviewer said, "Are you trying to predict the future?" He said, "Hell, no. I'm trying to prevent it."7 And so the study of war is important to the preservation of peace.

So those discussions could promote moral conduct by generating empathy for others -- as General Cones already said -- in an effort to prevent war or at least make war less inhumane.  As the Roman Emperor and stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius observed: Respect becomes concrete through empathy.8  Empathy developed through the study of war is important not only to the development of military leaders, who are both warriors and humanitarians, but also to the preservation of our identity and strength as a nation.

Those discussions, between young men and women in our universities, could help young cadets and young students understand and respect their roles -- their roles as warriors, humanitarians, and citizens.

Those discussions, about the study of war and warfare from an inter-disciplinary perspective, will provide future officers not only with a strong understanding of their profession but also a solid foundation for further education and self-development.

The goal should be to spark intellectual curiosity.  It would be consistent with [what] Clausewitz said about military theory. It's not to accompany you to the battle fields to make your decisions for you; but it's just as a wise teacher guides a student in their self-education.  Your knowledge of war is not to lead you by the hand but to allow you to deal with complex situations, ask the right questions, and to learn across a career of service.

So ROTC graduates, you don't have to be experts.  But ROTC graduates must know enough to be humble and sensitive to the limits of reasoning by historical analogy; but also confident -- confident enough to continue learning and to be engaged on contemporary issues of national security.

So unless future officers study war and warriors, lessons from even our most recent military experiences will, in the words of great historian Carl Becker, lay "inert in unread books".  That would not only be regrettable, it would be dangerous -- dangerous to the national interest and dangerous to those who do the fighting.

Humanity needs American warriors now more than ever.  The stakes are high but we should be confident; confident because ROTC, and the universities like this great university that host ROTC, will continue to develop young men and women who are warriors and humanitarians; confident because ROTC will help keep our service men and women connected to their fellow citizens.

So to cadets here this evening, and ROTC leaders, and the faculty and staff who are training and educating our next generation of Army leaders: Thank you for your service to our nation and humanity.

And thank you for the great privilege of being with you to celebrate this awesome anniversary.

Thank you very much.

 

Moderator: General, I can't think of any better way to wrap this up, but he's willing take questions for a few minutes, maybe 10 or so.  There's one mic tonight. This is a small, intimate wardroom or mess tent party.  So, would anyone like to step up to the mic?

Question:  Good evening, Sir.  I'm Cadet [Mickey] Wallbridge. I'm a junior here in the Corps of Cadets, and I'll hopefully be commissioning in the United States Air Force next year.  I also work for Google, as a part-time job, as a student ambassador for our university on their tech side of everything.  And one thing Google teaches us is, it is okay to fail as long as you pick yourself up and learn from that.  What words of wisdom would you be able to give all of us -- both cadets, adults, professionals, and fellow generals -- that other people would consider your biggest failure or one of your biggest failures, but that you saw as a learning experience, that you picked yourself up and continued to move on.

LTG McMaster:  Okay. Well, the older you get the better you were. So it's harder to come up with, as you look back in retrospect.  But, gosh, I'm sure there are a lot of failures in my career. But I was very fortunate to grow up in an environment where leaders underwrote mistakes and encouraged you to make mistakes of omission. So, in the cavalry our culture is that the only mistake you can make is to say you're "waiting for orders," right?  And then leaders underwrite the mistakes of leaders, if they're taking risks to try to maintain the initiative over the enemy and so forth.  We actually ought to, really, push the limits of our capabilities and recognize that good units occasionally fail because they do push their units to the limits of their capabilities, so they can get better in training and not have to pay the cost in blood in the future.  But, gosh, I mean there are probably hundreds of failures I could tell you about in my career but not one I can think of that's really worthy of an object lesson at this moment. But great question.

Moderator: Great. Next?

Question:  Good evening, Sir. My name is Liam Carroll. I'm a junior cadet here at Norwich.

Moderator: A little louder, Liam, please.

Question:  Excuse me. I'm a junior cadet here at Norwich.  I was wondering what you think the biggest threat is facing our Army today?

LTG McMaster:  Okay. I think the biggest threat facing our Army today, in terms of external threats -- it's very hard to predict, obviously, where the next war is going to be -- but we're already at war against a resurgent Taliban that have regenerated, and continue to regenerate, across the border in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And of course, the stakes are high there for the nation but also for our soldiers who are fighting there alongside Afghan soldiers, because you could be faced with the prospect of the return of the safe haven -- a support base -- or a weak and criminalized narcotics state that could fund transnational terrorist organizations who already want to kill our children.

The stakes are extremely high in the Greater Middle East with the establishment of the terrorist proto-state in the Greater Middle East, and this humanitarian catastrophe I mentioned; but also this very destructive civil war between the Sunni and Shia Arab populations there. It's even more complicated than that, obviously, when you throw in the ethnic aspects of the conflict; and then, of course, Russia's intervention with what you might call an axis of Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime.

I think what Iran is trying to do is apply the Hezbollah model to the Middle East broadly, where they have weak governments in power; they're dependent on the Iranians for support; where they grow militias and other groups that can be turned against those governments if those governments take action against Iranian interests.  So the situation in Iraq, where the Iraqi government and security forces are in large measures subverted and infiltrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and their proxies. The pressure that President Haider al-Abadi10 is under on right now really begins with Iran, who is raising the problems and really trying to besiege him through the [unclear at 28:14] and so forth.

But we have problems from other nation states as well.  And I think that the prospect for great power conflict or for a major international military crisis is larger today than it has been since after World War II.  And the reason is you have revisionist powers that are surrounded by weak states, that are taking aggressive action and are trying to remake the global political economic and security order in a way that is a disadvantage to U.S. interests, and to reorder those arrangements in favor of their interests. And that's Russia, China -- and of course it's hard to understate the problem associated with North Korea and the danger.

To the Army itself, I think we are facing a kind of a triple whammy, as one reporter called it recently, where we have a very significant draw-down in the size of the force -- I think way too small.  I think an active of Army of 450[000], based on what's going on in the world, is too small to secure a nation -- toward a force of 980,000.  And so Army forces are increasingly committed, which means fewer and fewer land forces are available to surge to Contingency Operations. And if you combine that large draw down in the size of the force with the huge cut in the modernization budget. 150th of the procurement budget in the Department of Defense is for land systems.  But that's where we're fighting today.

And so our enemies, who have been studying us very carefully since the Gulf War, have been adapting and improving their militaries; and we have not modernized to fight those kinds of enemies.  And so, our budget is down when the need to modernize to stay ahead is very great.

So what will we do about that?  Well, in a democracy you get the Army that the American people are willing to pay for, right?  And it's our job, as general officers and leaders, to do the best you can with what you've got.  So our Chief has prioritized readiness first. And what we need to do is make a sustained case to our leaders and to the American public on why their sons and daughters in the Army need the benefit of probably some additional sources; and more men and women standing next to him, so we have sufficient depth and capacity in the force.

Question:  Just a small part two, Sir.  Just given the current circumstances, what do you think we can do on the company and platoon level to affect this?

LTG McMaster:  Well, the mission is simple. Platoons and companies, make your piece in the Army the best you can be, right?  And you can do that even with limited resources.  And so the key is to make sure that you ask yourself everyday, "If we were to go to combat tomorrow, if we're in battle tomorrow what would we most wish we had trained on?"  And so, develop in that unit a commitment to excellence, where excellence is self-sustaining.  Build into your training what happens in combat: bad information, casualties, rush things from time to time. Challenge your unit. Challenge your young men and women. They're soldiers and sailors, airmen, marines, coast guard men -- they expect the military to be hard. They're disappointed when it's not, right? Challenge them. And what you'll see is really a cohesive team come together.

And it's tremendously rewarding.  I mean being a lieutenant and a captain, it is the best job in our military because what happens is you're part of an organization where the man or woman next to you is willing to give everything including their own lives for you.  Where else is that replicated anywhere?  And what you'll see is you'll see that team become a family and they are bound together by that sacred trust and confidence and respect.  And you can foster that through your leadership.

Question:  Sir, cadet Mike Carrera [ph], senior here in the Army ROTC program.  Now you'd mentioned modernization and obviously we many enemies that are in the spotlight right now, such as ISIL or other organizations that cause a lot of "loud noise" on the news we'll say.  Do you believe that we have any more silent enemies that are also modernizing their militaries at this point in time?

LTG McMaster:  Anymore...what? I'm sorry.

Question:  Anymore -- I say "silent enemies"  -- anyone that is kind of hiding in the back, modernizing along with us, that could potentially become a threat to the young leaders.

LTG McMaster:  Yeah. They're not really hiding, right? So, Russia and China, for example, are engaged in activity with the two authors in a recent book called The Unquiet Frontier -- that's Wess Mitchell and Jakub Grygiel; I recommend the book -- they have sort of categorized this strategic behavior that they are engaged in as "probing," which is really trying to challenge U.S. interests at the far reaches of American power; and to create, use a really sophisticated campaign. It's not just military action but it's really unconventional force under the cover of conventional forces, a sophisticated propaganda campaign, and an effort to sow dissent among partners and allies.  And I think you see this where Russia has put on display in terms of capabilities in Syria; but before that, beginning with the invasion of Georgia in 2008, the annexation of Crimea, and then the invasion of Ukraine.

And so, a lot of those capabilities are on display, and I think it's been a bit of wake-up call for us.  Those involve massed artillery fires that are tied to unmanned aerial systems, sophisticated cyber electromagnetic capabilities to disrupt our network systems. You see advanced combat vehicles with active protective systems, improved [unclear at 33:41] in their anti-tank weapons, for example.  So, I think we have learned quite a bit about that already and we're shifting some priorities to make sure that we can maintain or over-match what are increasingly capable enemies, enemies that have not remained static. They've been watching us and are trying to improve. 

I think there are four implications for defense strategy right now based on what we've seen from Russia.

The first implication is allies are more important than ever, right?  And so this is a return of geopolitical theory of the late 19th and early 20th centuries -- [Halford John] Mackinder. These conflicts are occurring in "shatter zones" on the borders of revisionist powers that are trying to remake the world in a way that is more amenable and sympathetic to their interests.  It's a very dangerous time as a result of that.  So allies are very important.

The second thing is that American military power is joint power.  You need synergy between air, land, and sea forces.  I think we have this tendency to invest in high technology, mainly in maritime, aerospace forces, and neglect land forces, even when I think it's quite apparent that we need all capabilities, right?  So I just point out that all the conflicts that you see occurring are about the control of territory. And if ISIL doesn't have a Navy or an Air Force -- they're [still] doing okay.  So, what you need is the synergistic effect of capable air, maritime, cyberspace, and land forces.

The third implication for us is that we have really to resurrect deterrence, deterrence theory. We have, I think, bought into this idea that we can deter these powers through the threat of punitive action later, rather than deterrence by denial.  And that means convincing your enemy that [they] cannot accomplish their objectives.  And so I think this argues for the forward positioning of forces along these frontiers where you have forces like Russia, or countries like Russia, that are waging limited war from limited objectives.  Think about what Russia did in Ukraine. They invaded Ukraine at zero cost to them, consolidated gains over that territory, and then portrayed their response as escalatory.  And so the only way really to deter a force that's waging limited war from limited objectives is to ratchet up the costs at the frontier -- like we did with the force that remained in Korea since 1953.

Moderator: This is the last question.

Question:  Good evening, Sir.  Cadet Eric Menzi [ph], senior Air Force cadet here.  Earlier at the panel, General Perkins talked about self- development, and he said you were the "go-to-guy." You had more information on this, and that sparked my curiosity, so I was hoping you could elaborate on self-development, and if there's a formula or ways to promote someone to try and improve each day.

LTG McMaster:  Okay. I would say the key to it is, I think, read military history. And think about it and discuss it.  And then, read it purposely. Read the really good books that are going to help you understand better the experiences of those who have gone before you, right?  Think about how arrogant it would be if we all said, "Hey, I want to lead young men and women into combat, but all I need to know to do that effectively is my own personal experience." No.  You have to learn from others to inform your judgment.  And so, I think the key thing is to read and to read in a focused way.

There's a resource available on the Fort Benning webpage. If you go to the Fort Benning webpage and go to "Leader Development" -- it's called the "Maneuver Leader Self Study Program."  And in that program there's an introduction for each topic. So one of them is how to use history to understand your profession and your responsibilities [Study and Use of Military History] -- that's one of the topics.  Another topic is moral, ethical, and psychological preparation [Moral, Ethical, and Psychological Dimensions of War] of soldiers and teams for combat to operate in environments of persistent danger and uncertainty. How do you preserve the moral character of a unit in those difficult circumstances?

So, those are just examples of the topics. Then there's a discussion on what the topic is, why it's important to leaders, and then a suggestion about how to go about studying it with a reading list.  And I think the way to do it is to read a good book with an article that kind of synthesizes the topic, and then look at films and have a discussion.  The social aspect of it is really key. And you can form a study group just using Facebook or something. You can pick the book; read it; discuss -- even for those of you who are graduating, you stay in contact with each other and do that.  And if you're ever reading a really boring book and it's boring you -- just bag it. Move on to another book, right?  Find the books that interest you, and that you think you can learn from, and you're excited about -- and read those.


1 Source: http://www.history.army.mil

2 See also MENA

3 Possibly, depending on the measures. But see also the sheer scope and size of the India and Pakistan partition.

4 The Quetta Shura, a Taliban group based in Quetta, Pakistan and formerly commanded by Mullah Muhammad Omar; Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin the militant network founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; and the Haqqani Network formerly headed by guerrilla leader Jalaluddin Haqqani. [Source: The New York Times and Aljazeera]

5 Quotation widely attributed to Chesterton and possibly written in one of his columns for the International London News

6 Quotation found in Washington's First State of the Union Address

7 Source unknown, unconfirmed.

8 Discussed here in Nancy Sherman's Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind

9 Becker, C.L. (1931). Annual Address of the President of the American Historical Association. The American Historical Review 37, no. 2, pp. 22136.

10  At the time of this speech, Haider al-Abadi was Prime Minister of Iraq and Fuad Masum its President. 

Audio Source: DVIDS

Transcription Note: Principal transcription work by South Transcription Unlimited, Inc. | www.southtranscription.com | info@southtranscription.com | (+63) 920.921.8709. Supplementary transcription work and editorial oversight by Michael E. Eidenmuller.

Page Updated: 2/20/17

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