The Elements of Command
Before a collection of men with a common purpose, such as a military body, can act collectively as a whole to accomplish efficiently the desired end, several things are indispensable.
First of all there must be a proficient leader. Without one to hive direction to the combined efforts there cannot be unity of action by the body, nor mutual support between the various parts, anti in consequence energy will be neutralized, wasted and dissipated. By means of a leader the collective effort may be given continuity, and individual or group effort coordinated and thus utilized to the best advantage in the interest of the common purpose.
As a corollary to leadership there must also exist discipline. The principal leader, as well as the subordinate leaders, must have control or authority over each of their juniors, to which all subscribe. If the authority of the leaders he weakened, control over die activities of the body as a whole is correspondingly diminished, and the effectiveness of its actions impaired. Adequate authority for the leaders is therefore necessary as a basis for command.
A further essential to efficient collective effort is organization. There must exist the mechanism through which each man can be individually directed and supervised to the end that each may perform the detailed task for which he is best fitted, and at the same time assist the efforts of all others. To accomplish this end the body of men must be divided into a number of groups, each under its own separate leader, and, if the organization be large, further similar division and subdivision of principal groups may be desirable, each having a separate leader, By such means it is possible to ensure that every man in the organization is working in such manner as will best accomplish the common purpose, and that the effort of all individuals and of all groups is coordinated to the same end.
It is obvious that the collection of men must be equipped with the physical means necessary to the accomplishment of their purpose.
The final requisite is good morale, which may he defined as sustained confidence, combined with an ardent and enduring determination to do the utmost. Much can he accomplished with such a spirit pervading an organization, that is otherwise wholly impossible.
The foregoing five factors are necessary elements of command. When any of them are neglected, the ability of any collection of men to achieve their common purpose during peace or war is correspondingly reduced. When all are highly developed the organization as a whole is necessarily efficient.
The scope of this essay only includes the last-mentioned element, morale.
Whether justly or not, it has always seemed to the writer that our navy has never been quite awake to the profound and direct influence of this factor upon efficiency. Whether the efficiency of a single ship, a fleet, or a large shore station, has been at stake, the “custom of the service” seems to have been to occupy and concern ourselves intensely with almost every other matter except morale, and to allow that to drift for itself. Of course there have been many brilliant exceptions, but as applied to the service as a whole the criticism is believed to be just. Certainly there never has been a widespread consistent effort to build up a high morale in anticipation of the service it will return during war. On the contrary there is undeniably a very general tendency to accept the inherent patriotism and racial characteristics of our personnel as sufficient, and to assume that no constructive work in the field of morale is necessary.
It is difficult to understand how such a tendency has become the rule. Unquestionably it cannot be justified on the ground of experience, for nearly every officer is personally cognizant of the detrimental effects on efficiency of “unhappy” fleets and ships wherein an “ardent desire to do the utmost” is inevitably lacking; without such a desire, confidence in the loyalty and mutual support of all, and in the successful outcome of any undertaking, is impossible. Except where contentment is based on slackness or indiscipline, “happy” ships and fleets are efficient—not that happiness in itself will surely create efficiency directly, but that a carefully nurtured morale unavoidably engenders both contentment and efficiency.
Morale in General
One of the best known and most often quoted sayings of Napoleon is that “In war the moral is to the physical as three to one.” Whether this ratio is mathematically correct is of no material consequence; but from the military point of view it is undoubtedly very important to recognize the fact that the moral side of both peace and war activities is preeminent, and should take precedence over any other factor in the practical side of preparing for and waging war.
In both the planning and the execution of all his operations, strategical and tactical, Napoleon’s principal endeavor was to undermine and shatter the enemy’s morale; and conversely, he took the greatest pains at all times to elevate and sustain that of his own troops, in doing which no leader of history was so astute or so successful. Upon this paramount element of military success every other great leader of history has principally relied for victory. Nelson was second only to Napoleon in his efforts and ability to engender high morale in his own command and to destroy that of his foe. Caesar, Alexander, Hannibal, Wellington, Lee, Moltke, as well as many other great historical figures, appreciated the value of morale and successfully used it as the chief means for accomplishing great achievement.
If Napoleon’s estimate of the worth of morale is accepted, which has been done by all the great writers and students of war, and which is substantiated by the experience of all great leaders and testified to by most of them, then it must be admitted that efficiency in strategy and tactics, gunnery and engineering, seamanship and navigation, radio and signals, cleanliness and uniforms, and in fact in all matters to which intense attention is now directed, are after all of only secondary consequence.
No one will dispute the advantages in war of adequate and efficient materiel, nor of expertness of personnel in its use. These are indeed contributory factors of morale on account of the feeling of confidence which they bring. If, however, morale is neglected for the sake of obtaining such subsidiary advantages, or worse, if the latter are acquired by methods which undermine morale, then we are deceiving ourselves, and such efficiency as has been acquired is without firm basis. In any event the first concern should be the development of morale in a systematic, serious and well digested manner.
Experience has indicated that inherently the fighting efficiency of all the great races of mankind is about equal. The success of one race over another has usually been due to such factors as superior organization, training, leadership and armament. Except under the guidance of a great leader a decided difference in morale between opponents has, as a rule, not existed. Armies and navies have striven to excel their possible opponents in the excellence of their materiel or in the superiority of the training of personnel in its use. Rarely has a systematic or intelligent effort been made to excel through superior morale. This is all the more strange because of the importance of morale and of its relatively undeveloped nature. It would seem logical to suppose that the best chance for superior preparation over any possible enemy lies in the heretofore almost untouched field of morale.
Perhaps the most striking feature, and the greatest military lesson, of the present great war, is the almost unprecedented unity and the intense loyalty of the German nation as a whole, which inevitably extends to and permeates the army and navy of that country. It is far from improbable that when the facts are known it will be found that the German political and military leaders have studiously created this condition in consequence of a concurrence with Napoleon’s belief in the preeminent importance of the moral element.
Much has been written upon the subject of morale, but nearly all such literature has been confined to a consideration of its effects. The question of practical and comprehensive means for creating and developing morale still remains an almost virgin field, to explore which is the main purpose of this paper.
Since morale is essentially an attribute of the mind, it follows that a search for underlying- principles must lead us into the mental sphere. Before the body of officers can be equipped for the practical task of upbuilding morale, it must be well grounded in such subjects as the operation of the brain; the characteristics of the mind, such as feeling, emotion, sentiment; and the psychological qualities of individuals and crowds.
Once these principles are well understood, the deductive processes necessary to their practical application, are relatively simple.
The Organization and Operation of the Brain
I he human body is a great community of vitalized separate cells, similar in origin and general characteristics, but differing considerably in detail according to the function which each class has been developed to perform.
The nervous system, which includes the brain, is made up of those cells which have become specialized in the work of controlling and coordinating the activities of the rest of the body. The function of the cells of the lower nerve centers is to control the interior mechanism; such as respiration, digestion, circulation, etc. As is well known these duties are carried on automatically, and independently of consciousness. The specialty of the highest nerve centers is, however, quite different. Their function involves thinking and reasoning, by means of which the actions of the person in relation to his environment are regulated and controlled. Three things are necessary before an individual can act through his highest nerve centers:
(1) Acquire information through the senses.
(2) “Associate” the data as knowledge and bring it into relation with previous experience.
(3) Transform the product into appropriate actions. .
A cycle of this sort, leading up to an action, is accompanied by certain physiological changes in the material substance of the brain cells, so that it results in a physical impress upon the brain of long duration. Consequently when a mental process has occurred once, a similar process will subsequently occur more easily. After numerous repetitions of the same process, the action is made practically independent of reasoning, and its control becomes the charge of lower nerve centers, whose operation is automatic.
The lowest nerve centers have control of what is known as “reflex action,” which consists of such processes as the contraction of the pupil of the eye, shivering, etc.
The brain processes as a whole may be diagramed as shown in the accompanying sketch.
The mental processes above described are intimately affected by certain general conditions of consciousness which are unanalyzable. These are known as “affects,” which originate in consequence of the interaction between an individual and his environment, and may be pleasant or unpleasant, pleasurable or painful, agreeable or disagreeable.
An affect which is simple in character causes what is known as “feelings.” For instance the sound of a fog whistle or the firing of a gun may cause a feeling which is disagreeable to the extent of being even painful. Should the incident be more complex, for example if the sound of the gun was accompanied by screams or by the sight of blood and wreckage, the idea of an accident would arise in the mind, and the result would be a state of consciousness known as “emotion.” A situation involving still more complex interaction between the individual arid his environment, such as the sound of gun-fire combined with screams, wreckage and blood, and with the knowledge of the presence of an enemy, would give rise to “sentiments,” such as honor, patriotism, etc.
Under the influence of feelings, emotions, arid sentiments, the normal operations of the brain may be greatly disturbed; this is particularly true of emotions. Physically, a marked change in blood circulation takes place, due to physical commotion in the brain cells, which liberates energy and creates a greater demand for nourishment. This results in increased heart .action and an expansion of the blood vessels of the head and brain. Increased circulation induces accelerated breathing. We are all familiar with the increased heart and lung action immediately following the inception of emotion.
In addition to these physical phenomena, others of a more profound nature take place in the nervous and muscular systems when feelings, emotions, or sentiments are experienced. Most important is the interference with the functioning of the higher nerve centers of the brain, which accompanies nearly all of the emotions, by which the process of reasoning is restrained and the influence of elementary instinct and of the trained lower centers promoted; this fact is an exceedingly important one for the military student to carefully note. The detailed manner in which it is brought about is unknown, but it is certain that emotion is not localized and does not affect one section or compartment of the brain alone. On the contrary its effects are diffused throughout the higher nerve centers, and in excessive and sudden emotion the functioning of these higher centers may be even completely arrested. It may be noted in passing that the same condition is brought about by excessive physical exhaustion.
When the efficiency of the higher centers decreases, due to the brain disorganization caused by feelings, emotions, and sometimes sentiments, or by physical exhaustion, control of conduct through thinking and reasoning becomes greatly impaired—in extreme cases it becomes practically paralyzed. The function of directing conduct is then taken up by the lower centers alone; that is, by that portion of the brain which has been previously trained to automatic action by repeated performance. Under these conditions it may he said, diagrammatically at least, that the higher nerve centers have been short circuited (see diagram). In such case the efficiency of the lower centers is also impaired, because of the general diffusion of the emotion already mentioned; but except as the result of physical shock these lower centers are probably never badly disorganized.
Reflex action remains operative, as a rule, even after loss of consciousness or other cause of “short circuiting” of the lower brain centers.
It is evident that in battle, or other emergency, the reason cannot be relied upon to govern conduct. In the earlier stages fear and other emotional excitement may throw partially out of gear the operation of this normally paramount function, and actions will then be controlled primarily by habit up to the point when severe physical shock may be experienced—after which reflex action alone will be in charge.
The effect of emotion in general upon the brain processes, and consequently upon the action of the individual has been noted above. It is not necessary to examine in detail all of the emotions, but some of them are so closely allied to the subject under discussion that they will bear close scrutiny.
The most important of these is the emotion of fear. The desire to live is basic, and is independent of all intelligence. Fear is the defensive form of the instinct of self-preservation. It takes precedence over all other emotions, and is the most difficult to Control.
In fear the muscular nerve-control, both voluntary and involuntary, is greatly diminished, due to partial or complete cessation of the functioning of the higher brain centers. As a result, “the flesh cannot be suppressed,” the blood and other fluid vessels spasmodically contract, the heart becomes spasmodic in its action, shivering and pallor occur, secretion of the saliva and other fluids is retarded; one experiences “goose flesh,” cold sweats, bristling of the hair, respiratory oppression, etc. The voice becomes hoarse and broken, voluntary movement is restrained and in extreme cases entirely arrested; the pupil of the eye expands, thus interfering with accurate vision; and other “reflexes” occur. Obviously, unless controlled, fear will profoundly affect the precision and rapidity of loading; the accuracy of pointing, range finding, sight setting and spotting; the transmission of signals and radio messages; the satisfactory execution of tactical maneuvers; the judgement of captains and admirals; and in fact the efficient performance of every duty, great and small.
Our interest in fear, one of the greatest of all obstacles to military success, lies chiefly in understanding it, that we may induce it in the enemy and provide against it in our own forces. In addition to being caused by the instinct of self-preservation, fear is induced by weakness and by fatigue. Physical strength and freshness therefore contribute to its avoidance.
The effects of surprise are closely akin to those of fear.
While fear is the defensive form of the instinct of self-preservation, the offensive form of the same instinct is manifested in the emotion known as anger. It is a strange fact that, while both fear and anger have their origin in the same instinct, their effects upon the brain and body are the antithesis of each other. In anger the functioning of the higher brain centers is stimulated and the muscular nerve-control increased. Circulatory vessels are dilated and muscular activity is induced in all parts of the body. In consequence aggression, strength, pride, and feelings of power and superiority are awakened.
It is clear, therefore, that to incite anger is fundamentally one of the best methods for quelling fear. The enemy will furnish a convenient object of anger.
A third form of the instinct of self-preservation is found in the emotion of ego, or “self-feeling,” A feeling of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with one’s self gives rise to a consciousness of strength or weakness, and a resulting desire for appropriate action. It follows that a well developed ego is a military asset, and will assist in the subordination of fear.
Another emotion which military students should not ignore is the sexual instinct, which Ribot says “remains the center round which everything revolves; nothing exists but through it. Character, imagination, vanity, imitation, fashion, time, place, and many other individual circumstances or social influences give to love— as emotion or passion—an unlimited plasticity.” Naval administration which attempts to ignore or violate this instinct is insecurely based. It may be utilized to promote contentment during peace and inspiration during war.
A strong will is the keystone of military character. It is the great bulwark against the detrimental effects of emotion. No great leader has been without one, and the amount of determination permeating the personnel of an army or a fleet is one principal measure of their capacity for sustained confidence, and consequently one of the greatest factors in morale and victory.
We are prone to regard strength of will as an inherent quality, acquired only through heredity and incapable of material change by training. In so far as the effect of training is concerned, quite the contrary is the case.
Through our senses the brain receives constant, innumerable bits of information concerning our environment, which originate thought and stimulate many passing impulses and tendencies to action. These stimuli are so numerous and frequent, that it is obviously impossible for the resulting tendency from each one to be carried out in conduct. It is necessary that the brain exercise some sort of selection to determine which stimuli shall be followed by action, and which ones shall be suppressed or “inhibited.” “This process of the attentive selection of one way of action as against another” is a will process, the degree of which depends upon the capacity for concentration of attention. Our conduct is thus governed by the power of the mind to exclude or inhibit all tendencies which it does not desire and to concentrate attention upon a chosen tendency. The power of concentration is a quality which can be readily developed by repeated exercise in concentration; and by so doing will power is directly strengthened.
It is difficult to concentrate the mind, no matter how great the desire to do so, unless the subject is a matter which excites interest. Consequently, whatever means may be employed to develop concentration and will, they should be made as interesting as possible. Interest is invariably increased by responsibility; hence the latter is one instrument of will building.
The will is also dependent upon past experience.
We can directly will an act only when we have before done that act, and have so experienced the nature of it. (Royce.)
From the preceding it follows that great will power may be acquired by developing a strong power of inhibition, i. e., the ability to concentrate exclusive attention upon a selected objective. Also, that no matter how great the will power, it is impossible to will an act with which one is not familiar. The military application of these principles is obvious. We must familiarize ourselves and our men with the duties that will be required of us in war, and in all drills and exercises the greatest possible interest should be stimulated, and the strictest attention must be insisted upon. Mental familiarization with the processes involved is the great value derived from sub-caliber work of all sorts, including work on the tactical maneuver board and with the strategic chart maneuver. The Swedish system of physical exercises furnishes an excellent means for developing concentration and will power. If in battle we have the capacity for great mental concentration, and can furnish an urgently necessary and familiar act as the object of such attention, it must follow that mentally disorganizing emotion will be minimized through inhibition of the unfamiliar sounds and scenes of battle.
The principal reason why surprise, the great ally of strategy and tactics, is such an effective moral factor, is because it diverts the attention of its victims; thus undermining their will and opening the gates to a flood of emotion, which latter directly prevents efficient mental operation.
In any effort to combat the disorganizing effects of emotion, the will may be greatly aided by sentiments. In such sentiments as pride, self-confidence, confidence in one’s companions or leader, self-respect, valor, a sense of duty or of honor, conviction of the utility of discipline, patriotism, a spirit of devotion or of sacrifice, and loyalty to a cause, the physical responses are similar to those* induced by anger; that is, the wits are sharpened through a stimulation given to the activities of the higher brain centers, muscular nerve control is increased, and circulatory vessels are dilated and muscular activity induced.
To reach a high state of development in many of these sentiments, it is essential that the foundation he laid by moral training begun at an early age; while the individual is under the paternal roof, and while he is at school.
It has unfortunately come to be the fashion in our country, which we naval officers have sworn to defend, for parents and educators to seriously neglect the development in children and youths of those sentiments which are most necessary from the military point of view. Worse yet, in many quarters such tuition is even discouraged and discredited. Consequently it is true as a general statement, though naturally there are a great many exceptions, that our average recruit and midshipman is deficient, as compared with those of a highly military nation, in such fundamentally important sentiments as a sense of duty, conviction of the utility of discipline, loyalty, a spirit of devotion or of sacrifice, and even patriotism.
These facts undoubtedly constitute an element of grave danger to the national existence; more especially so when the necessity for stimulating such sentiments in our personnel is not recognized by the body of naval and military officers. At the present time the tendency in both services is to accept the material as we find it. in this respect, and seemingly to believe that such mediocre development as has been done previous to entering the service, combined with a spirit of adventure and the pugnacious instincts of the race, is sufficient, in so far as morale is concerned, to achieve victory.
No greater mistake could he made; as we shall doubtless learn to our sorrow if ever our armed forces are pitted against a service imbued with high morale.
No other part of an officer’s duty, in peace or war, afloat or ashore, in whatever circumstance he may be placed, is so important as the creation of high morale within his command.
With respect to the inculcation of sentiments, the task of creating high morale is rendered difficult by our racial aversion to sentiment in general, and by the deficiencies of early education previously mentioned. This is all the greater reason for giving serious and analytical study to the matter, in order to evolve practical means for accomplishing the desired end. Making due allowance for differences in national character, it will be useful to know the methods used in foreign services to develop the essential military sentiments.
The French are sufficiently emotional to respond readily to emotional orations; and French leaders, notably Napoleon, have raised the sentiments of their personnel to the highest pitch in this manner. The men were persuaded of the greatness and attractiveness of the mission upon which they were embarked, and were appealed to in winning terms to give their loyal support and utmost endeavors. Recent practice in France prior to the present war was for officers to have frequent conversations with the men upon subjects calculated to instill discipline, patriotism, respect for their profession and uniform, and affection for their flag and country. These talks included examples of conspicuous French sacrifice, gallantry, and achievement; more especially by men of their own corps. The following quotation is from the introduction to a former edition of the French Infantry Drill Regulations:
Moral powers are the mightiest pillars of success. Honor and patriotism fill troops with the noblest devotion. The spirit of self-sacrifice and the determination to win ensure success; discipline and steadiness guarantee the influence of the leaders and the cooperation of all elements.
Many years ago, when German militarism was at a comparatively low ebb, Scharnborst, protesting against a condition in the German army which is not without its parallel in the American military services to-day, wrote “We have begun to place the art of war higher than military virtues; this has been the ruin of nations from time immemorial.” To-day the German love of the fatherland and of the Kaiser is extraordinary, and is the motive for prodigious feats of valor and examples of self-sacrifice. The German men idolize the Kaiser and their officers, and have absolute confidence in them. They believe implicitly in the justice of their cause, and that they will surely win. What methods have been employed to bring about this condition are unknown to the writer. The London Times of March 25, 1915, published the following as being an extract from a German brigade order:
We must do everything possible to prevent the men becoming dull and lethargic. I recommend that the men in rest billets should be given stirring history lessons, and, in particular, accounts of the present campaign. All officers must take an active interest in cheering up their men and in drawing together the various classes. Encouragement of every sort prepares the way to victory.
The British training manuals of various dates indicate in a general way the methods employed in their military services. Some of the objects of training stated by them are as follows: to develop a soldierly spirit in the recruits; to help the soldier to cheerfully bear fatigue, privation and danger; to imbue him with a sense of honor; to give him confidence in his superiors; to increase self-confidence and self-restraint; to produce a high degree of courage and disregard of self. The men are instructed in military history, particular attention being given to instances of conspicuous valor. Emphasis is laid upon the privileges inherited as a British subject, and the honor which flows from serving king and country.
In an article written several years ago, Lieutenant Dewar of the British Navy says:
The cultivation of morale is not merely commendable, it is a necessity, and it cannot be done by lectures and blackboards alone. It requires a close association between men and the right kind of officers … The real solution is to choose good petty officers and officers and give them a very free hand … This question of ideals is just as important as questions of rate of pay, for if you have no ideals, expressed or subconscious, more pay simply spells more beer.
In the Japanese service great attention is given to the elevation of morale. To indicate their methods of inculcating military sentiments, the following extracts are made from their “Regulations for the Instruction of the Personnel in the Japanese Navy,” published several years ago:
They (officers) should fortify themselves in the sentiments of honor.
The basis of the instruction of the petty officers and men is to make them acquire the disposition and the indispensable talent for battle, so that they may completely fulfil their mission and duties. At the same time with the moral instruction will be given them the habit and familiarity of the weapons of war.
The moral instruction of the personnel should seek to develop the sentiment of military honor and obedience to the will of the Emperor.
The principal parts of the moral instruction refer to the following topics:
I. The reading and explanation of the imperial decrees delivered to the military, and to men of arms generally.
II. Conferences on the constitution and the history of the empire, to cultivate in the seamen sentiments of fidelity to the person of the Emperor, and to form in them just conceptions of patriotism.
III. Duties of the military to the state. Explanations regarding the use of the national flag on board vessels of war and its signification. Explanation of the signal flags, and tile part that these have played in past wars, successes of the signalmen, and the heroism displayed by them in battle, and the dependence upon signals of the fleet in battle. To speak always to the men with the idea of stimulating their sense of valor.
IV. Conferences on naval history and notable deeds which are mentioned in it, sea and land battles and acts of heroism of celebrated warriors, to inculcate the spirit of valor.
V. Conferences on discipline, and special instruction upon the obligation of obedience in military men, habits and customs which they should observe to distinguish them from the rest. Explanation of laws and regulations and customs which refer to discipline so that each person may possess the qualities in keeping with the noble and self-denying profession of the soldier and sailor. Considerations on the moral conduct of the individual in his service life respecting the rights of others; and in respect to public virtue. The obligations of courtesy inherent in all Japanese, and the observance of good conduct.
To put in practice the moral instruction, it is necessary always to find the favorable occasion to have appropriate conferences; it is necessary to observe constantly the conduct of petty officers and sailors so as to make them follow always the right path.
The naval and military men should ever have a firm resolution and should have besides an esprit de corps, for without it the moral instruction will have no result.
The sentiment of loyalty is so exceedingly important from a military point of view that it calls for special consideration.
Human nature is so constituted that an individual cannot he contented unless possessed of a settled plan of life which includes a cause to which complete loyalty is given. This is true because each person within himself is a complex maze of inherited instincts, modified by whatever training has been received. Many conflicting impulses result which render'd impossible to find a fixed plan based wholly upon inward desires. If a plan is sought from outside sources, some encouragement is found, due to instinctive imitativeness; but this soon results in a degree of self-consciousness, and causes an individualistic, critical, and rebellious frame of mind; and the imitativeness is brought into conflict with the stronger instincts of independence and self-reliance. The individual is thus thrown hack upon his inner resources, which as pointed out are alone unsuited to the furnishing of a satisfactory basis for a settled plan, and the cycle of looking outward is of necessity repeated. Meanwhile the person experiences restlessness and discontent with life. The deadlock can he broken only by the selection of a cause, being loyal to that cause always, and the adoption of a settled plan of life in harmony with the cause.
Whoever is loyal, whatever he his cause, is devoted, is active, surrenders his private self-will, controls himself, is in love with his cause and believes in it. The loyal man is thus in a certain state of mind which has its own value to himself. To live a loyal life, whatever he one’s cause, is to live in a way which is certainly free from many well known sources of inner dissatisfaction. Thus hesitancy is often corrected by loyalty; for the cause plainly tells the loyal man what to do. Loyalty, again, tends to unify life, to give it center, fixity, stability … Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living. You must find then, a cause. (Royce.)
Obviously, then, we need to have the quality of loyalty instilled in our personnel in order to ensure their contentment. That is a vital matter. More important still, it is of inestimable value in promoting unity of action and proper coordination in the execution of a plan; if its value in this connection be truly appraised, no one will gainsay that it is a military necessity of the first order. But above all, loyalty is needful to elevate morale; loyalty to a cause has been the underlying reason for some of the most astonishing sacrifices in history. One has but to review the lengths to which loyalty led the early Christians, the Puritans, the band of Garibaldi, the American Confederates, the English militant suffragists, etc., to understand the inspiration which loyalty to a cause gives, and its inestimable potential value as a moral factor in military operations.
It is most unfortunate that this priceless trait is lacking as a national characteristic in Americans. We are “untamed, restless, insatiable in our private self-will.” Our form of government, our political system, our press, our ideas of the rights of the individual, and our lack of appreciation of the responsibilities which truly should be associated with such rights, all tend to undermine a spirit of loyalty. Indeed, we have even formed the habit of making light of it.
Hut all sound human beings are made for it and can learn to possess it and to profit by it. And it is an essentially accessible and practicable virtue for everybody. (Royce.)
What is loyalty, and how may it be created and fostered?
Loyalty is the “willing and practical and thorough-going devotion of a person to a cause.” It is never mere emotion, because the type of devotion required involves a degree of restraint and subordination of natural desires to the cause. “The loyal man serves.” The exercises such self-control as may be necessary to inhibit impulses which are selfish or in any way contrary to the dictates of the cause.
Loyalty is contagious. It infects not only the fellow servant of your own special cause, but also all who know of this act. (Royce.)
A suitable cause to call forth genuine loyalty must be external to the will of the loyal individual, and must appeal to him as something “larger than his private self”; it must also include a tie which requires cooperation with other persons.
Before an individual is ready for true loyalty he must he capable of conceiving the nature of the cause, be self-disciplined, and have learned fidelity.
Loyalty means giving of self to the cause. And the art of giving is learned by giving. Strain, endurance, sacrifice, toil, … these are the things that most teach us-what loyalty really is … The partisans of war often glorify war as a moralizer of humanity, because, as they say, only the greatest strains and dangers can teach men true loyalty … Fair play in sport is a peculiarly good instance of loyalty … The coach or the other leaders in sports to whom fair play is not a first concern, is simply a traitor to our youth and our nation … As to other ways in which the loyalty of our youth can be trained, we still too much lack in this country, dignified modes of celebrating great occasions. (Royce.)
The methods of training for loyalty may be summarized as follows:
1. By the influence of personal leaders. These should he eager, earnest, and enthusiastic, and if possible convinced—or at least capable of conveying the impression of being convinced. They should be persistent and fittingly aggressive.
2. By idealising the cause. This is most important.
3.By subjecting the loyalized persons to “great strains, labors, and sacrifices in the service of the cause.” In this way loyalty is perfected.
Another potent sentimental factor is tradition; which is very valuable in itself to stimulate morale directly, and is also useful to the same end indirectly through feelings of loyalty which are fostered by it. Merely because they are not generally well known to the service, the very fine traditions of the American Navy arc almost valueless to the present day personnel. There is every reason why this important moral asset should be utilized to the limit of its possibilities.
We officers must prepare ourselves for the work of leaders. We must formulate the cause or causes, idealize them, cultivate high traditions; and then labor continuously and faithfully at the task of creating and fostering a spirit of true loyalty in the service, to the end that, in peace or war, contentment may prevail, proper initiative he permitted, effective unity he obtained, and a high morale dominate the naval service.
Mental Quality of Recapitulation
In the development from infancy, each one of us passes through certain mental epochs, which correspond to the epochs through which the race has passed in previous ages. Depending upon the individual and his environment, some may pass through these epochs quickly and some slowly, but it should be recognized that each step is necessary and cannot be skipped. The key to a proper estimate of a person, and his successful handling and direction, may often he found by determining the epoch through which he is at the time passing, which in many cases does not coincide with the epoch due to age in the normal person. To attempt relations which presuppose a more advanced epoch must result in failure.
This theory is clearly expounded by Professor G. W. Fiske in his work “Boy Life and Self-Government,” in which he gives substantially the following table, for the normal person:
Stage of life
Savage kinship, clan
The gang period
The tribal period
Personal loyalty, obedience
Self-reliance through struggle
Revolutionary or constitutional monarchy
The cooperation period
Leadership, resource, firmness
The republic. Social-democracy in a self-governing state.
Suggestion, as it Relates to the Individual
If an action tie proposed to a person in a normal state of mind, lie may or may not adopt the suggestion, according to whether or not he sees any objection to the proposed action and has any impulses favorable or contrary to it. In exercising his volition in the matter, the person will most likely use his reasoning power and his will, modified to some extent perhaps by sentiment and emotion.
Should the person he in a state of absent-mindedness, or he in the act of concentrating his attention deeply on something, his will power and reasoning faculties will he partially eliminated from participation in determining the acceptance or declination of the proposal. We have all seen illustrations of this principle. Suppose for example it should he said to a man who is “wool-gathering,” or to one who is playing a game of chess, “Have a cigarette.” Often times the person addressed under such circumstances will take a cigarette, and then after taking it say something to this effect: “I really did not want this cigarette, and don’t know why I took it.”
In the condition of mind just illustrated, where the will and the reason are partly inhibited, a person is said to have “increased suggestibility”; by which is meant that he is more likely to respond to a suggestion of action, than when his mental faculties are wider awake. The degree of suggestibility depends directly upon the degree of inhibition of the reason and the will.
In addition to the situations mentioned, suggestibility is increased materially under the influence of emotional excitement, over-fatigue, alcohol, and certain drugs.
The maximum of suggestibility is reached when a person is under a hypnotic spell, because in that condition the will and reasoning processes arc practically wholly suppressed.
A naval officer’s professional interest in the foregoing is limited to noting that states of concentrated attention, emotional excitement and over-fatigue, produce in the individual a condition of increased suggestibility that is in an increased readiness to adopt propositions for action.
The Psychology of Crowds
Anyone taken as an individual is tolerably sensible and reasonable. As a member of a crowd he at once becomes a blockhead.
This old statement by Schiller has its basis in certain psychological principles, the reasons for which are not easy to understand, but which nevertheless are well established, and should be perfectly well known to anyone who has to deal with or to lead any form of crowd.
The most important of these principles is that suggestibility is greatly increased in any close collection of persons having an interest in common; such as a mob, a crowd, a theater audience, a turret crew, a regiment, a ship’s company, a fleet.
We are all familiar with the phase of crowd psychology manifested in a theater. Through increased suggestibility persons of unemotional temperament will laugh or cry for reasons which, were the crowd not present, would he entirely insufficient to cause such effects.
The closer the contact between individuals of a crowd, and the stronger the bond of common interest, the greater will he the resulting susceptibility to suggestion. In a fleet the larger units of the personnel are separated by the distance between ships, and in a ship by smaller distances and by bulkheads, and these facts reduce the suggestibility; but on the other hand the strength of the bond of common interest and of unified effort increases the suggestibility. Nelson’s famous signal before Trafalgar was a suggestion which fell on ground fertilized in accordance with the principles of crowd psychology.
Suggestions once conveyed to a crowd are extremely contagious, and spread throughout it like wildfire on a prairie.
The increased suggestibility of a crowd renders it receptive to two forms of suggestion: (1) a suggestion of immediate action, and (2) a suggestion that it believe in certain ideas or doctrines which are affirmed.
(1) The most effective means of conveying to a crowd a suggestion of immediate action is by example—more especially the example of a recognized leader possessing high prestige. Another means is by verbal direction or persuasion.
The cry of “Fire!” in a theater will at once transform a crowd of persons, who may be fairly self-contained, reasonably clearheaded and cool in the face of moderate danger, into a mob of apparent lunatics, so panic-stricken that they will wildly rush in a body to the exits, thus creating a situation of graver danger than that due to the fire itself. Incidents of this sort are of frequent occurrence notwithstanding the fact that the dangers of being crushed and trampled at the exits are well known; and often times the people who rush to escape from the building do so in spite of a previous deliberate and contrary strong resolve.
All that is necessary to stampede the audience in this senseless way is for one person to suggest, verbally or by example, that a move should he made to the street. There is a case on record of a singer, on the stage, who averted a catastrophe at the exits, by beginning to sing in a loud voice, thus suggesting to the crowd that no danger was imminent and that they should keep their seats.
The famous reply of John Paul Jones to a demand for the surrender of his vessel, “We haven’t yet begun to fight,” was an inspiring suggestion to his own crew, and a discouraging one to that of his opponents, which, according to the principles of crowd psychology, doubtless contributed in no small measure to ultimate victory for him. Farragut’s, “Damn the torpedoes; go ahead!” was no less an inspiriting suggestion than an order; as was also, to the ships which were following, the action of his flagship in steaming boldly through the mine fields.
(2) If the object he to impregnate the crowd mind more slowly, with ideas, doctrines, or beliefs, other means should he employed. In the first place simple affirmation, free from reasoning, is a very effectual method. The affirmation should be repeated at intervals; if other impressions intervene between the repeated affirmations, the effect is three times as powerful as if the repetitions were not relieved of monotony by varied impressions. The effect of the last impression given is very great; it is said to be three times as powerful as the combined influence of repeated affirmations with intervening impressions.
These methods are employed by nearly all great speakers. Most of the epoch-making speeches of history are in accordance with such rules; that by Patrick Henry with the theme “Give me liberty or give me death,” being a notable example in American history. In naval matters the methods could be used to advantage in “indoctrinating” a turret crew, division, or ship’s company. Doctor Levs has pointed out the possible application of the same principles under the conditions attending a destroyer making a night torpedo attack:
The officers repeat from time to time, “We’ll have them just where we want them bye and bye.” This and similar suggestion's are frequently made. When the time has come to advance to the attack, the order for speed and helm is accompanied with the suggestion, “Now we’ve got them.” Under such conditions each man will he inspired by the suggested confidence in the result.
Similar methods may easily be devised for a turret or broadside battery crew, while standing by for, and beginning, action.
In general, both for individuals and crowds, certain conditions are more favorable than others for increased suggestibility. They are as follows:
1.A state of concentrated attention on a subject to the exclusion of all else.
2. Monotony—external surroundings remaining the same; such as engine vibration, the roar of blowers, the sound of waves, etc.
3. Restriction of voluntary bodily movement, such as obtains in turrets, conning towers, etc.
5. Emotional excitement; more especially fear of the unknown. 'Phis latter very readily leads to panic, and should be particularly guarded against by acquainting all in moderate terms with what is about to happen, as far as can be done.
6. Immediate execution. This is most important in suggestions for immediate action. Should an appreciable pause be introduced after the receipt of the suggestion and before execution begins, then the reason becomes operative and the will prescribes the procedure to be followed.
Another cardinal principle of crowd psychology is that persons comprising it lose their sense of individual responsibility. The individual consciousness is replaced by a sense of being but one grain in a sand-heap. In military services this effect is, however, considerably modified by discipline and training, as a result of which in battle and other combined evolutions the individual feels a degree of responsibility to perform the duties assigned him, even though such feelings may possibly be less than under normal circumstances. In any event the previously mentioned mental tendency to automatically do what one has been habituated to doing, even when the higher brain centers become paralyzed, largely eliminates the danger to military success incident to the reduction of the sense of responsibility.
The collective mind of a crowd lacks those higher brain centers whose function is to reason. Of the higher centers it possesses only those relating to emotion, and consequently acts only on instinct, as modified by emotion and suggestion. As previously explained, the lower brain centers of the individual automatically carry out, in response to stimuli from the senses and in harmony with the decisions of the higher centers, certain actions which habit has prepared them to do. The “crowd mind,” through its lower centers, acts in a similar way. The tendency of discipline is to inhibit emotion, but rarely can it wholly do so. Under the tenseness of battle, emotion may become so great as to completely suppress the emotional centers of the crowd’s mind, and hence cause conduct to be governed wholly by the lower centers; that is, by habit.
Still another principle is that crowds possess fundamentally the quality of fanaticism in their loyalty to a cause. This extremely valuable quality should be used to the utmost by officers, in their endeavors to attain military success.
Finally, an essential principle of crowd psychology is the inherent existence of an overpowering craving to be led, which is manifested even in crowds of animals. The psychological influence of a leader upon a crowd depends largely upon his prestige, and is also measured by his words, looks, example, and will. Above all, to effectively sway a crowd, earnestness must be exhibited. Especially in time of danger and other emotional conditions do men instinctively look to their officers or other leaders for guidance, and readily accept whatever suggestion emanates from the latter. Evidences of self-possession, confidence, courage, resolution and decision in the leaders are reflected psychologically among the men. So are the converse undesirable qualities reflected. Vigor of utterance and action are very potent in their influence.
“Prestige is the mainspring of all authority.” It is “a sort of domination exercised on our minds” for reasons of sentiment which cannot be explained. Merely by virtue of the fact that a person holds high office, is influential, has a wide reputation, is rich, or possesses a title, he is invested with prestige irrespective of actual personal merit. A judge’s robes, an officer’s uniform, a policeman’s or a conductor’s uniform, and a secret service man’s badge, are alone sufficient to endow them with a certain degree of prestige.
Prestige also springs from other sources of more meritorious basis. For example, cleanliness and neatness of personal appearance, good manners, savoir-faire, self-possession and poise are instruments of prestige.
Still another form of prestige emanates from personal magnetism. Most great leaders of all ages possessed such magnetism as an inherent quality. It is difficult to acquire through cultivation alone, but like most human qualities may be improved through effort.
To fortify the prestige given them by their uniform and position, all officers should aim to improve their general prestige by cultivating uprightness, justice, character, good manners, self-possession, poise, personal magnetism and forcefulness. The assumption of these qualities, as far as possible, to a greater degree than they actually exist, will assist an officer’s prestige.
In obtaining ready acceptance of a suggestion, or willing obedience to an order, the prestige of a leader is more potent than his intelligence, knowledge, efficiency, paternalism, or severity. Prestige is one of the most essential of all qualities that an officer should possess; and its acquisition should be his chief concern in any effort towards self-development.
All military nations make special efforts to build up and foster the prestige of the officer corps of their military services, Von der Goltz says:
In the most trying situation which is possible in life—namely in the face of death—it (the officer corps) is called upon to lead a mass of men, and still preserve its influence over them. To do this invaluable qualities arc demanded … and this is only rendered possible by the institution of a special class … To the officer there is, accordingly, due of internal necessity, a more favored position in the state. Noblesse oblige. He who is accustomed to regard himself as belonging to a special class will also, in war, consider himself bound to do something special … His duty is to command and to lead and he must therefore feel what he is, and he proud of his position; and there is no harm done if he is somewhat more puffed up with a sense of his own importance than would under other circumstances be absolutely necessary … (It is) more true to-day than when it was spoken in Ruchel’s saying “the spirit animating the officer corps is the spirit of the army.”
Of course the German view-point upon this question is more extreme than could be tolerated in a country of such highly democratic beliefs and institutions as our own. No one imbued with the spirit of America would for a moment advocate copying the methods of Germany or those of any other military monarchy. But we should not close our eyes to the principles which lie back of such methods, nor fail, in our own way, to build up the prestige of our officer corps by means compatible with American customs and ideals.
The Psychology of the Officer
It is obvious that all officers should thoroughly understand the preceding principles if they are to be able to scientifically build up morale during peace, to stimulate it to the pitch required in war, and, during battle, to guard against fear and panic and to inflame the spirit of their subordinates to the extreme degree which the issue of an action, and perhaps the fate of the nation, demand.
It is not sufficient that the officer corps should merely have knowledge of these principles; it should be intimately versed in the practical application of them.
Even more, however, is required of the officer. He is made of the same clay as the men, and consequently is subject to the same human influences and frailties. When present with the turret crew, the division, the ship, or the fleet, he is not immune from the increased suggestibility, the craving to he led, a reduced sense of responsibility, and other psychological characteristics of a crowd. I le experiences the same emotions as the men, and suffers the same difficulties of keeping emotion under the control of the will.
A prime requisite in an officer is will power. I le can never possess too strong a will and therefore should cultivate it assiduously. The means available for developing strength of will through interest and repeated mental concentration have been already explained. Like all other qualities will power cannot be brought to a high state of development unless exercises in it be carried out frequently; the practice of habitual self-control in daily life offers a ready and inexhaustible means for the exercise of it.
This quality, strength of will, is one which will stand an officer in good stead under a great variety of circumstances. In time of peace it helps to combat the tendency towards inertia, experienced under some conditions of service, and to bear up under the strain of exhausting work demanded by other conditions. It assists in inhibiting irritation and depression and in maintaining a cheerful lightheartedness in the face of difficulty and discouragement. The inclination to avoid responsibility may be overcome through it. Will power makes possible the pursuit of a purpose, whether it be great or small, with firmness and tenacity, as well as the maintenance of a conviction of ultimate success in spite of adverse events. Bulow says, “One is never whipped so long as he refuses to believe that he is.”
Even the bravest men often have an instinctive and strong dread of battle, which manifests itself in the form of nervousness on the eve of an action. Preoccupation with various minor duties at such a time greatly helps to neutralize this dread, but a strong will to inhibit thoughts of approaching danger is of greater importance then, and also later when the first emotional impressions of actual battle are experienced. Those in high command require such will power not only to control misgivings on account of danger to their person, but also to sustain their courage to demand great deeds of their subordinates. History shows that men possessing the resolution to demand extraordinary heroism are fewer than those willing to undertake deeds of that caliber.
The need for a strong will is much greater for officers of high rank afloat than for those ashore. The general and even the colonels of an army usually take station sufficiently in rear of the firing line to ensure the normal operation of their mental processes. But afloat the admirals and captains are more exposed to the effects of fire than most of those under their command. Consequently the tendency is strong for the emotions to suppress the higher mental functions and for conduct to be governed solely by the lower, or automatic, brain centers. This tendency can be overcome, and the reasoning powers maintained, only through the exercise of strong will power.
By profession, we naval officers are committed to purposely sacrifice our lives, if necessary, for the benefit of the nation. Should the day of final reckoning find us unprepared? It will so find us unless we are then possessed of great strength of will.
Another form of will power which officers should cultivate is that required to shake off the psychological influences engendered by the presence of a crowd, and to develop in themselves the power of suggestion. To repress in one’s self the suggestibility and other peculiar characteristics created by a crowd demands much practice and a very strong will; but even greater will power is necessary to the person who would command the unflinching firmness necessary to impress his own suggestions upon a crowd. Extraordinary suggestive power is particularly demanded if it be desired to overcome a suggestion already received by a crowd and to substitute a reverse suggestion—for example to stop a panic and transform it into courageous enthusiasm; yet Napoleon, Sheridan, and others, have succeeded in doing so, and anyone’s abilities in this respect may be greatly improved by cultivating will power.
The potent influence of example upon the actions of a crowd has been already explained. Officers must prepare themselves to set that kind of an example through the exercise of will power, and also to show an example in everyday life which will exert constant pressure for the steady upbuilding of morale in general.
Hand in hand with the .development of will power should go the cultivation of those attributes which increase the force of the example set by officers. Every officer should cherish his prestige as second only to his honor; and promote it accordingly. Prestige is established by reputation, successful accomplishment, and personal attainments; and is fostered by self-confidence.
One need not stoop to cheap advertisement, but can further a good professional reputation by devotion to study, and to the naval service, and by jealously guarding his standing on every occasion when it may be even remotely jeopardized. Care should be exercised to successfully complete each task that may be assigned' or be undertaken; otherwise prestige will suffer by each failure.
As for personal attainments, those strictly professional are obviously necessary. But alone they are not sufficient. An officer should enrich his intellect and broaden his outlook along many lines which may be only remotely related to professional matters. This field is almost limitless, but among subjects in this category which are too often neglected, are current events, national arid world politics, good literature, industrialism, finance, economics, psychology, philosophy, etc. The process of self-development of this kind should be carried on both through study arid through association, whenever possible, with men of affairs and people of high intellectual standing.
The value of poise, as an aid to prestige and to the influence of example, is so great that it should be studiously cultivated. Other personal attainments of much importance to an officer are selfconfidence, a vivid imagination, an agreeable manner, a cheerful disposition, a sense of humor, and bodily vigor. Last, but not least, the inspirations and ideals must be kept very high.
By these means may an officer increase the force of the example set by himself.
There is still another phase of the psychology of the officer which is of supreme importance in its relation to morale.
The officer must have a deep emotional interest in his profession and in the navy. It is not sufficient that his interest be based upon such motives as earning a living and promoting his career and position.
But motives on a much higher level, motives which do not refer to the individual as such, hut to ideal aims and purposes must he intimately associated with the personal ones. He must feel joy in the service as such, he must have interest in the details of the work and in the problems which it offers, he must be determined by a consciousness of duty which gives him perfect satisfaction when he is loyal to his task, whatever sacrifices it may demand. (Munsterberg.)
Before an officer can reach such a state of mind it is necessary that he deliberately pass through a period of analytical introspection, and carefully orient himself with respect to the navy, and the navy in relation to the nation. While he may entertain a desire for world peace, it is essential that he become convinced of the impracticability of such a millennium during the present stage of the world’s development, while such great varieties of races, customs, religions and languages obtain, and while populations and wealth are so unequally distributed. It will be still better if he can reach an inward settled belief in the divine utilitarian purpose of war; a conviction that war is but one of many so- called evils, but in reality blessings in disguise, which the Almighty has in his wisdom given to us. It is not an illogical theory that pain, suffering, privation, poverty, sorrow and the like are woven into our lives for the purpose of exercising, and thus developing, our character; nor that war has a similar mission. Remembering the fundamental Christian doctrines of love and self-sacrifice, in connection with the unqualified words of Christ, “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends,” who can say but that participation in a just war is practicing a high form of Christianity.
He (the officer) must grasp the fundamental role of war in history as the great vehicle of progress', as the great eradicator of egotism, and as a great educator to a spirit of sacrifice and duty. (Munsterberg.)
Without some such conclusions, firmly held, a deep emotional interest in the navy is impossible; with them an officer is irresistibly led to an enthusiastic belief in an idealistic mission for the navy, and he can scarcely refrain from zealously adopting the furtherance of the navy’s interests and those of the nation as the idealized cause to which he will give whole-hearted, devoted and life-long loyalty.
Once loyalized through inner conviction in this manner to an idealized purpose the influence of an officer in building up morale becomes very great. No matter how trying or how monotonous his work, “the cause” furnishes inspiration for its perfect performance. His example is contagious to other officers with whom he may be associated, and to men and officers under his command. When the body of officers become ardent disciples of this sort, they will inevitably saturate the entire service with intensified loyalty and virile morale, which must also be reflected in the nation.
A navy so permeated cannot fail during peace to persist in the face of every difficulty to prepare itself for war, physically, mentally, and morally. When war breaks out it will embark upon the campaign, not merely with enthusiastic patriotic fervor, which our own history has shown time and again will cool rapidly under the test of real hardship, but with an inflamed spirit which will be sustained in spite of whatever danger, privation and suffering may be encountered. Our officers and men will then go into battle with irresistible fanaticism, yet with nerves and muscles under such control as to ensure precision of thinking, loading, pointing, sight setting, range finding, spotting, plotting, position keeping, and all other operations essential to efficient fighting. Determination to win will endure, in spite of ghastly casualties, until victory is attained.
The present great war in the Eastern Hemisphere has brought to light and emphasized many new phases of war, the relative importance of which are often over-rated merely because they are novel. Among these may be mentioned submarines, air-craft, and the stupendous use of artillery and munitions. Many prominent men even go so far as to say that war is now principally a question of munitions. No greater mistake could be made than to be misled by these new aspects, and not to recognize the fact that from the dawn of history similar novelties have come to light in almost every great war without changing fundamental principles in any material manner. In common with many other elements, efficient and adequate material is necessary; no one will dispute the fact; but physical means can never rise superior to “the guiding hand and the directing brain.”
Morale is basic. It is of supreme importance, during peace or war, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. These facts have been proven an endless number of times in all ages; they are being demonstrated daily at the present time; they are incontestable.
While few are ready to deny these truths, the problem of how to elevate morale—the practical means of doing so—has been traditionally baffling. It is hoped that the foregoing essay may stimulate interest in this momentous subject and indicate the manner by which high morale may be created and sustained.
Eltinge: “Psychology of War.”
Fiske: “Boy Life and Self-Government.”
Leys: “Mental and Moral Training for War."
Munsterberg: “The Psychology of the Navy.”
Ribot: “Psychology of the Emotions.”
Royce: “The Philosophy of Loyalty.”
White, Or. W. A.: “Outlines of Psychiatry.”