This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
For the last three or four years, journalists, politicians, psychologists, and educators have seized on the theme of “leadership” to deal with a variety of social ills. The word now aches from overuse. In the effort to bend and stretch it to fit elegant theories, it has lost much of its substance, and the result has been a vague and confusing notion of what leadership actually means. For the military leader, whose responsibilities demand a particularly lucid understanding 0 leadership, the confusion is especially vexing.
A way to recover the essence 0 leadership is to shine a light on the so-called leadership crisis, which, ,n the military, has grown out of a creeping disregard for the basic motivation of both the leaders and the followers- It is precisely on such elemental mot1 vation that military success depends, whether the war is hot or cold. It 1° lows that leadership is, in part, the ability to expose that motivating con viction, that moral lode. Definm? leadership in those terms, pointing t0 its absence, and exploring some causes of its decline lead to fundament3 questions about the nature of off>cer education.
It is a severe truth that the concept of leadership in the military is rnu easier to pinpoint during war than during peace. In war, the fact of m1
tary life—the prospect of death m
line of duty—is clearly exposed. That
reality raises questions that hav^.
gnawed on men since the beginning
time. What, for instance, makes
individual willing to die for such an ° 11 \\C
abstraction as idealism? Why follow one man into certain physl? danger, and continue to follow hi^ And how does he resolve the moral lemma of taking another human 1 For some men, the answers are se evident. For others, their solution quires an agonizing emotional en And there are a few for whom
questions are too enormous,
are questions that are essential to exercise of leadership. Those who s ceed in dealing with these quest* exhibit a concrete integrity, the rg adherence to what is right, the re to bow to moral expediency
fuse to confront them at all. But
ertitude and unshakable integrity, problem, of course, is that the ation of these questions of moral
“The military services, when not actually fighting, become more or less corporations with white-collar executive structures necessarily geared more toward persuasion, compromise, and political maneuver than life-or-death conflict.”
sh°rt, moral leadership.
The concept of moral leadership is not new—it is fundamental and alWays has been. Many of the great military leaders in history took pains develop an intellectual foundation the moral aspect of their leader- *P- General George Patton, for ex- arnple, was famed for blood-and-guts 'tteverence; but underlying his chain triad was a sensitive, philosophical reader of classics and the Bible. Admiral Chester Nimitz, also, was an av*d reader, as conversant in the sub- ’ects °f books and history as on the position of aircraft carriers. Simi- arly> Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, Charlemagne, and Alexander • e Ureat were all men of conspicuous nteIlectual ability as well as legendary _ , ership. But even the great leaders
were not noted for formal learn- were consistently men of moral
ship cannot wait until the out- of war. The military goal of ^ Pared ness does not simply apply to condition of equipment and the ^ ning 0f personnel; it means also j at Baders be morally prepared for t7- Today, this leadership pre- the dness‘s sl>Pping away, not only in military community, but also in Vp’an society as well, inh art t^le Pr°blem l*es with the
trent nature of the peacetime mili- The military services, when not Coa y lighting, become more or less tive°rat'°nS whh white-collar execute Structures necessarily geared more u persuasion, compromise, and
c°nfl maneuver than life-or-death t| lct- American society is tradi- ta . y suspicious of a standing mili- vj. lnstitution. As a result, the indies 3 S W^° steP out °fi rhe civilian rai^at'0nal process to fill military |tas^S °fien dispose themselves to be StC afifasive to popular fashions and Ceptards, both for survival and for ac- per, nce- This phenomenon has been sin a^S most noticeable in the decades tj^6 Korean War. Leadership of Q^^jUpe is not based on unswerving 1pij 'ence and confidence in the
cader y •
and U depends, rather, on cajolery teward, as in the fragile
agreements between labor and management in civilian industries. The implications here for military effectiveness in battle are unnerving.
In the past, the American military community has consistently rebounded from such periods of peacetime lassitude. But what is disturbing today is the leadership vogue that grew out of the early Sixties, both in the military and civilian worlds. The new doctrine has been analyzed by Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, whose educational background in history and philosophy simultaneously endured and grew throughout his eight-year experience in the crucible of a North Vietnamese jail cell. He calls practitioners of the new wave “gamesmen.”1 Gamesmen preach the doctrine of compromise, avoidance of conflict, and maximization of personal ease. They compose the me- generation,” a generation which necessarily crosses the boundary into military ranks.
The gamesman doctrine is one that challenges the principles of honor and ethics which predate the rise of Anglo-Saxon civilization. The games- man doctrine has led to a wavering foreign policy stance in government and to a tendency toward abdication of international and domestic respon sibilities in favor of avoiding conflict and shying from the strenuous exercise of moral strength. The effect of the gamesman doctrine on the military has been no less profound, not only because of the ultimate authority of civilian policymakers, but also because the military’s leaders are necessarily drawn from American society one that has collectively subscribed to gamesmanship. As Admiral Stockdale suggests, education is the key to successful leadership, and it follows that the leadership crisis of gamesmanship stems from some failure of America s
That failure rests on two causes. On the one hand is a preoccupation with technology. The fund of man’s knowledge about science has multiplied geometrically over the past few decades. Departments of engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology are the heavies on most campuses, while the liberal arts, once the sparkling centerpiece of higher education, often recede, in the popular view, to the category of irrelevant intellectualism. The problem with this, of course, is that even while science grows by leaps and bounds, man continues to be man, and in order to deal with him—especially to lead him—it is essential to understand his collective historical experience, his motivating philosophy, and his moral platform. It is, furthermore, essential to understand oneself and to establish some sort of personal, ethical boundaries of conduct. Yet, colleges and secondary schools are bowing to a burgeoning demand for technical knowledge at the expense of the humanities.
The academic curriculum for military officers has fallen into this new pattern as well. In an analysis of the training of officers in the three military academies, Jeffrey Record wrote: “The empirical record of the past has given way to war technology and techniques of command as objects of inquiry. The focus is on tactics, strategy, logistics, the marshalling of hardware, and the organization of ever-unfolding technology . . . [This] has encouraged a mentality characterized by unwarranted confidence in the malleability of war, and by a faith that most, if not all, problems on the battlefield are susceptible to technological or administrative solutions.”2
In the naval service, the problem can
"And now that the junior officer ranks are filling with expertise in technology instead of humane wisdom, a vacuum of moral leadership is a disturbing possibility
American history and our social pt‘ lems, but had heard it all bef°rej knew both sides of every story, thought we were on the right trao Then, there was the third categ01^ "The ones who were in trouble 55 . the high school graduates who ^ enough sense to pick up the innuen ^ and yet not enough education t0 ^ commodate it.” This analysis based on a psychologist’s study or rean War POWs. If repeated today-
would have to include a fourth c
• • u bee*1
gory: those individuals who have ^
actively inculcated throughout c
be further distilled to the institutional emphasis on the officer corps as a technical profession. The “eighty- twenty split”—whereby 80% of all NROTC and Naval Academy students must pursue a technical major— discourages the exploration of moral
and historical issues which always have and always will bear enormously on the outcome of war. Intangible contemplation df human nature is not generally an object of engineering inquiry; it is, however, an essential aspect of the art of inspiring and leading men. And now that the junior officer ranks are filling with expertise in technology instead of humane wisdom, a vacuum of moral leadership is a disturbing possibility.
Even the media, in their perpetual debate over national defense, dwell on numbers and specifications: How many ships? How many tanks? What range missiles? How many helmeted heads? And when the subject turns to the quality of the troops, the debate is more likely to turn on their ability to deal with complex circuitry than on their moral fiber, their confidence in and commitment to the national cause.
To be sure, technical considerations are extremely important. The phalanx, the stirrup, the pike, the machine gun, the airplane, and the bomb altered the course and conduct of war. But the defense of the Alamo, or the exploits of the Bon Homme Richard, or the grueling advance through the Japanese-held South Pacific, or the Marine Corps stand at Khe Sanh were achievements not of technology, but of human spirit, derived from unswerving commitment, courage, personal integrity, and the Cfertainty that the cause was right. Where did that certainty come from? From Bernoulli’s equation? From the laws of thermodynamics? From an encyclopedic knowledge of ballistics? Clearly not. Those successes of leadership derived both from a sense of national tradition and from rigid codes of personal conduct. Both of these qualities have, until recently, been fundamental in American education.
Admiral Stockdale remarked:
“. . . I believe a good classical
education and an understanding of history can best determine the rules you should live by. They also give you the power to analyze reasons for these rules and guide you as to how to apply them to your own situation.”3
Stockdale is proof that technical ability—which the complexity of a jet pilot’s environment calls for—and an enlightened mind are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are, as Stockdale’s experiences suggest, often interdependent in today’s military community.
The second contribution of modern education to gamesmanship and the leadership crisis is the nationwide experiment in "progressive” educational techniques, along with teachers’ enthusiastic endorsement of revisionist thought. Revisionism is defined by its proponents as a healthy, objective, "new” view of history and its lessons. The accomplished student, they assert, is the one who is taught to deal with an array of historical facts and draw from them his own conclusions. The problem, however, is that the liberal arts are notoriously difficult to present objectively, and a student looking to make sense out of discrete facts must usually turn to the teacher for guidance and for a scale of values with which to measure those facts. Here is where a subjective influence is exerted, and in keeping with the popularity of national guilt and the prevailing liberal ethos of the Sixties and Seventies, the student is often guided toward such conclusions as the “fact” that the Vietnam War was wrong, or the “fact” that the exercise of military power is always immoral, or the “fact” that American democracy is a front for capitalist interests. Thus, the values being taught are often out of line with traditional moral wisdom-
This is the germ that society—mid consequently the military—acquires from educational institutions. There is no way to assess, short of trial by fife’ the effects of this educational backdrop on, for instance, a young Navy pilot tasked with delivering :l load of bombs on a heavily defended bridge somewhere in the Middle East- Was he ever impressed, in his forma' tive years, with the importance 0 duty, honor, integrity, and the tradj' tions of his country? Probably nor, 1 he was born in the late Fifties. M°r^j likely, his friends on campus snickere at the mention of those terms orgroane when obliged to stand for the nation3 anthem. And his teachers, thinking themselves progressive, discoursed 0(1 America’s crimes in the world comm** nity. To be sure, the young pilot proba bly does not share his friends’ standaf of values, otherwise he would not be 13 uniform. But when the missiles an MiGs rise up to meet him, what motl vational base will he turn to? GameS manship or integrity?
Admiral Stockdale points to a stu ) of correlations between the education backgrounds of POWs and their sponses to brainwashing attempt5. The first category was the “redne Marine sergeant” whose flat resp°nSe to the enemy’s denigration of AmeflC^ was “B.S.” “He didn’t give it a seco*1 thought. Not much of a historian perhaps, but a good security ris • Second were the sophisticates. 1 j were the fellows who could be t0 ^
these same things about the horrors
e<Jucational careers with the proposi- tlc>n that the interrogators’ accusations are right. How, we may seriously ask, "ill they react to that brand of moral
These are the obstacles a young man or woman must negotiate if he or she chooses to grapple with the questions 0 moral leadership. There is first the ■nstitutionalized dismissal of classical scholarship. Then, there is the confu- ^■on of values in the new orthodoxy of cnerican education. The effort required to breach those obstacles is enough to discourage too many poten- tlal leaders. Clearly, it would be naive aud inappropriate to expect sweeping anges in the nation's school systems,
but what of the military’s own educa- Budd. This example should be im- tional apparatus? In the Navy’s case, itated by the military academies and the Naval Academy and NROTC pro- ROTC programs. Their purpose should grams exist for the sole purpose of not be to produce officers able to reproducing officers. If the ac- cite stanzas of Platonic verse, but to complished officer is also to be a moral expose future officers to the Western leader, then it is appropriate for the intellectual and moral traditions that Navy to deal energetically with moral have motivated men and women to be leadership in training its midshipmen. effective leaders for centuries—for Stockdale opened the d°or t0 the therein lies the essence of leadership.
possibilities of the moral education of -----------------------------------------------------
leaders with his course at the Naval 0 .... . . , ,. „ _
War College. Under him, officers September ^ p
Studied the philosophies of Plato, 2Record, Jeffrey; “The Fortunes of War,”
Aristotle, Epictetus, and the Bible, Harper’s, April 1980, p. 19.
and the “high-quality ultimate situa- 3Stockdale, James B.; "The World of Epic-
tion literature:” Camus’s Plague, Con- tetus," Atlantic Monthly, April 1978, p. 103.
rad’s Typhoon, and Melville’s Billy *Ibid., pp. 105-6.
Comment and Discussion
q** H. G. Rickover, p.82, January 1981; 1 ^ ■ Loveridge, J. R. McDonnell, and cD" Chirillo, p. 15, March 1981; B. J. ^ yle, J. G. Hazard, W. P. Hughes, and E- Shear, pp. 80-83, April 1981 feedings)
(Continued from page 24)
could reasonably profit from a frank seems to be increasingly run by a exchange of ideas on the subject and group of managers and technicians that progressive and continued efforts who are defaulting most decisions on toward refinement or improvement of the numbers and types of weapon sys- leadership concepts, models, tech- terns, fleet deployments and bases, niques and abilities would clearly be and even tactics during times of ten- in rh<- best interest of the service. sion to the defense department’s civil-
\y/f‘ttn“rlt Commander William G. ^^avy' Operations Officer. William H. Standley (CG- . With all due respect for Ad- Rickover, I am offended by the j tCntions that I am too “young and ature ’ to recognize the essential j0r)ets °f leadership or that my opin- fal) °n t^1‘s "esoteric” subject would j . Ur>der the category of “sophomoric lvel. Although I consider myself no fell C an exPert on leadership than my th 0VV ^ne °^*cers’ ic seems to me cat *eadership is less an esoteric gift le of being understood by a js .t R’w than a practiced art which ^ *n Varying degrees, understandable nir Rreat many, given the opportu- ^ostan^ motivation. 1 believe that lacjJ 'T us, regardless of seniority (or °f it) and level of experience,
ian hierarchy of bright young operational analysts who (eppw nothing “The Education of a Warrior about fighting and winning wars. The (See T. B. Buell, pp. 40-45, January 1981; results of this program have been disR. A. Dun, p. 21, February 1981; J. R astrous. One needs only to look at the
McDonnell, p. 15, March 1981, J-T. country’s military accomplishments Hayward, pp. 21-23, April 1981 Proceedings) J St ’ since Korea.
Captain John E. Lacouture, U. S. Navy In spite of two recent wars-World (Retired)—Commander Buell’s timely War II and Korea-.n which air and excellent article has already stirred superiority and air support were found up both pro and con comments. Ap- to be requisites for success, our mili- parently, the lines are drawn depend- tary leaders gave the go ahead to ing on whether one believes that being Preside^ Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs a good manager and knowing in detail invasion without any air support how a power plant or weapon systen, whatsoever. In Vietnam, the Navy functions will win wars or whether wasted m;my lives and much equip- leadership having the proper types ment bombing abandoned barracks, and quantities of weapon systems, and outhouses, and )ungle canopies with knowing how to fight them in war- liff|e or nP effect on the outcome of time will win wars. the war- Apparently, naval leaders Unfortunately, our Navy today could not sufficiently articulate the
_ , » _______