I relieve you. With these three simple words, military commanders across the globe follow a centuries-old, time-honored tradition, when responsibility and accountability for their commands are seamlessly transferred from one to another. The concept of command rests on a foundation of leadership that individuals learn and practice, and that they succeed and fail at time and again. This circuitous path starts from the day officers enter their particular services.
While the qualities that make up this ethereal concept called leadership have been debated since time immemorial, the only true litmus test of its success is the crucible of combat. While preparation can be months or even years in the making, lives depend on a calculus often made in terms of seconds. When commanders are ordered to take their units into harm's way, senior officers expect those individuals to exercise authority and command over their men and women and lead them in accomplishing the mission. When lives are at stake, command is unequivocal and demanding.