WHY MEN FIGHT

by George S. Patton, Jr.

1927

(A Posthumous Study)

With the causes and effects of war we are not concerned. Its continued existence is inevitable and its results for good or evil are beyond all human power to avert or change.

Our effort here is rather to seek those fundamental emotions which actuate men as individuals to expose themselves to wounds and death; to trace the growth and development of these emotions and finally to investigate how best they may be utilized and stimulated so as to produce in our armies that fighting spirit which will spell victory in the wars which are to come.

Of prehistoric man we know little, and can but opine that in his infancy he was a fairly strong and relatively intelligent, carnivorous animal.

Speaking generally, present day carnivora are not cannibals. Their innocence is this respect, however, is not the result of qualms of conscience, but arises from the fact that aware of their own powers they respect those of their kindred. Yet, since they must eat to live and kill to eat, they destroy for choice beasts less mighty than themselves and only combat their kindred when driven by hunger, first, to wrest from them their prey, and second, in the stress of famine, to devour them for food.

In primitive man then it would, by analogy, seem all but certain that the primary emotion inciting to combat with his fellows was the instinct to survive; - the belly lust.

The next most powerful emotion inducive to fratricidal strife was sex. In its simplest form this incentive has lost its potency so far as civilized soldiers are concerned, but it is beyond question that it still exercises a strong influence among backward peoples, as, for instance, Mexican bandits.

On the other hand, it is clear that some derivatives of the sex emotion still retain the chief place among the inducements to combat.

In tracing these derivations we must begin at the dawning.

The necessity of fighting for the acquisition and possession of his mate gradually awakened in the budding intelligence of man an enhanced notion as to her value. This in the course of ages limited promiscuous breeding and engendered ideas of a permanent family.

To defend his harem, man fought his fellows. While with the increase of permanent ties his roamings were limited; resulting eventually in the establishment of a cave or den home. Long usage developed the idea that his particular hearth was the best of its sort in the neighborhood while conditions of intense cold gave further point to the notion by the necessity they imposed of having permanent and warm sleeping quarters. To defend his females and his bed, man fought for his home. In other words, the lust of sex eventually evolved into a habit of thought founded on ownership and the obligation to defend it. So was the germ of patriotism conceived.

Eons rolled by and in their course reason and usage developed a tolerance for the young males until at last they were permitted to remain. Since each of these males had in him the same feelings of ownership and obligation towards his home, it came about that when it was attached by beast or man each male reacted identically and so produced unity of action in defense.

Doubtless more ages came and went before the idea of combination in defense produced its corollary, combination in attack. Again this unity of action was likelier due to change than reasoned thought. Stark famine drove men forth and chance presented them with some huge beast on which their separate hungers caused attack. Eventually, they may have been able to apply such combinations against beasts to dealings with their fellows, but it is more probable that some vagary of nature destroyed a cave and that its inmates driven by hunger to individual despair attacked a neighboring shelter all at once and so by lucky combination, won.

By some such steps was the value of combined action discovered until with the dawn of history we find; tribes, city states, and territorial principalities. Yet, nowhere are we told of the causes which had even then clearly set apart the leaders from the led.

Almost indubitably the cause was biological. In the family tribe the patriarch arrogated to himself, by virtue of his might and parenthood, the leadership. In the course of time, selective breeding, due to the appropriation by the chief of the most desirable females, produced some superior individuals among his progeny who, in their turn, gained eminence and repeated the process. In Egypt, and much later in Hawaii, such a system prevailed and produced a definite physical and conjoined mental superiority among the chiefly class.

Such superiority gave added opportunities for its own enhancement while at the same time reacting on the weaker masses to render them still less fit, by limiting their choice to imperfect mates and by depriving both them and their offspring of food either in quality or quantity comparable to that enjoyed by the chiefs.

In the combats undertaken by the tribes, individual vigor was the chief essential to success. This circumstance redounded to the advantage of the well nourished leaders who, by success at arms, not only improved their position, but also enhanced their reputation so that in both fact and theory they were respected as great. It is true that the opulence they acquired often sapped the virility which had procured it, but in the strata just below them were aspirants of equal breeding quick to take their place.

In these early combats the less well nourished of the commons died, while the survivors prospered through both plunder and chiefly favor, secured by association in success; hence finding war profitable they specialized in it and by its practice became the more adept.

Having now, as we believe, traced this evolution of the chief and his immediate followers, it seems pertinent to query what were the causes that still induced the weaker and less vigorous members of the population to fight.

As we have shown, the earlier fights arose from necessity and were persisted in through the pinch of hunger or the urge of lust; causes bearing with equal force upon every member of the community. Occasionally circumstances, or an able leader, caused success of a superior order so that general cupidity was added to the other causes of war. In all the ages during which such simple wars were going on, the chiefly class was developing and with it the habit of fighting under leaders; first spontaneously chosen, then selected for life, and finally born to the job.

Even with the early appearance of the hereditary chiefs, the optimism of youth (few savages grow old) and the unstable nature of society induced men to fight. They saw the returned soldiers richer and more important; while of those who failed at war they saw nothing and soon forgot their curtailed existence. Thus, optimism combined with habit to produce recruits while the carnal recompenses of victory and the cheapness of life produced hardihood in the actual fight.

Other causes evolved concurrently. Man and the lion possess in common the love for slaughtering the unresisting. It behooved men then either to be strong or else to seek the protection of those who were. For the privilege of existence, the unwarlike sold the birthright of independence. The more largely the weak lost equality, the more largely did its emoluments bulk in the perspective of their minds and the more strongly did the less base among them yearn for its possession. In strife these saw a door leading to the fulfillment of their desire.

Another cause for fighting found its source in the horrid monotony of pauperous existence. A certain amount of culture was, however, necessary before the mind could harbor this feeling for monotony, and could hardly have found place in those earlier times when each day's existence was but a dubious gamble with remorseless nature.

The situation at the dawn of history was then the result of the evolution of the hereditary chief supplied with soldiers whose incentives were, speaking generally, greed, the necessity for protection and habituated obedience; tinctured to a degree by ambition and spurred on to seek the romance of war by the prodding heel of impecunious monotony. While in the actual combat they were all held up by sex lusts, greed, and the mass instinct flowing from a multitude of communal emotions.

With the continued development of the intelligence, man evolved new names for old emotions while the brain children so conceived produced in their adolescence new conditions leading still more inevitably to war.

Since mating originated in violence, the females developed, or always possessed, a partiality for strength and ardor. This basic fact impinging on the mind through all its progress produced the notion that to be successful with the other sex man must possess might and violence. War was the natural place to demonstrate these traits. To disseminate the facts as proved, man had to appear well to his fellows so that they, in turn, would sing his praises to the shes. Thus was self respect, fear of fear, in a word courage (as a mental trait) evolved.

To fan the flame of this emotion came the bard, a dirty fellow probably, loath to fight, yet who found fat living by the simple feat of telling other men how great they were.

The courage above described is purely mental and hence requires conscious thought to make it operative. Its possession induces man to enter or seek danger, but it will not maintain him in its actual presence since there imminence of death stuns reason. Still, as the pride of valor is based on desire to appear well to others, the more conspicuous a man is the more is his pride sustained and buoyed up, the longer is he brave. This fact explains the invariably higher percent of casualties among leaders.

In addition to the above type of courage, there are two other sorts. First, the fortitude of experience as illustrated by old soldiers. This sort sprints not from any particular virtue, but rather from the knowledge that battle is less dangerous than it seems. Second, the courage of the cornered rat, when either fear or rage obliterates intellect and the creature fights insensate in a blind effort to survive or slay.

The first of these two lesser classes is based on mental courage since clearly this was necessary, in the beginning, to get them to endure the scenes to which later habit mad them casual. Since long association with fighters and military surroundings produces a sort of reflected image of this courage in the minds of men who have not, in fact, experienced the realities of war, and since in combat the nonchalance of veterans is imparted to recruits, the courage of experience is of vital military importance, and is the chief argument for professional armies.

The second sort of courage is purely individual and is the result of emotions not susceptible to prearranged stimulation, so is of no military value. It may be suggested that fear of punishment will arouse this animal courage. This is not so. To be influenced by the threat of punishment, man must retain his memory; this is inimical to the state of frenzy we have tried to describe.

Success, in any pursuit, but whets the appetite to greater desire, so the leaders who succeeded, and survived, yearned ever more strongly for war while with their increasing capacity their ambitions grew apace; instead of caverns, provinces became their goal. In like manner, but in lessening degree, the same feelings permeated the masses of their followers.

Before proceeding with the development of our subject, it is well to pause and here recapitulate the fundamental emotions which up to this point seem to have been proven the impulses which cause men to suffer wounds and death.

These are: hunger; sex and its simpler derivatives; unity of action, due to unity of impulses; biologically produced leaders; greed; the need for protection; ambition; romance; monotony and habit.

Not wholly unworthy, perhaps, of the ends they produce, yet, in their nakedness, devoid of those subtler emotions and roseate lights with which legend, art, and history have invested the.

We have adverted to the genius Bard of which Homer was among the earliest and most notorious example. But, it was to the institution of chivalry that the Bard, now a minstrel, owed his greatest eminence. Indeed, whether the minstrel was the child of chivalry and the grandchild of Christianity, or whether Christianity, through the bard, made chivalry, is a moot question. But the devices they two evolved, the minstrel and chivalry, to deck with wreaths the bloody hand, and raise the eminence the dripping lance, lived long after they themselves were sped. Truly, the knightly belt and golden spurs with the aura attaching to them have never been surpassed as a means of raising man above himself to deeds of selfless heroism. But we must not forge that broidered belt and gilded iron were but as worthless dross save when the eyes of lovely demoiselles flashed on those tinseled gauds, the glory of their age-old blandishments. And medals of today derive their potency from just that source; - sex.

In addition to the effulgence which chivalry imparted to war, necessity and logic added to it utilitarian, but non-fundamental, restrictions and doctrines to which usage has assigned the force of law.

As illustrative of this last statement, attention is called to the fact that now care and respect for the wounded seems a noble and righteous act, whereas it is but the result of expediency and self interest. All might some day be wounded so the slaughter of the injured by the whole could well result in a similar fate to the slaughterers, when maimed. Help for the helpless springs from love of ourselves, not of our foes.

Fear of retaliation has in the same way modified the usage accorded enemy non-combatants. Also, experience showed that indiscriminate looting hindered more than it helped military operations and, in the case of a retreat over the ruined area, might well prove fatal to the over-thorough devastaters.

Long adherence to such conventions has now formed a mass conscience so that violations of such self-imposed rules would react profoundly against the violators. Witness the Lusitania.

Having noted the fundamental causes inciting the individual, and later the mass, to combat and having also examined to a degree the growth of sundry artificial incentives and restrictions incident to the waging of wars, we shall now investigate the agencies evolved to retain and stress the primitive emotions of individuals under circumstances which caused their spontaneous manifestation to become less and less a natural process.

As the everlasting strife went on, it became evident that certain individuals were more apt to it than were others. Also, as civilization improved, the power of resistance grew with it. More time was required to overrun a province or capture a town. The lengthening of operations led to a cooling of ardor; men were abundant who could take a day off to storm a cave, but were less numerous who could take a year off to capture a city.

Further, as the technique of killing improved, the fact developed that numerous unskilled amateurs were relatively less efficient and more costly than were fewer skilled professionals. As a result of this knowledge, leaders have at different epochs reduced their demands for quantity and satisfied themselves with quality.

When this project was first essayed it became patent that the naturally adept at war were insufficient in numbers to wholly replace unskilled hordes so the natural fighters were augmented by a certain number of the less efficient. In utilizing this system the further fact developed that something was lacking, particularly with the inapt portion of the force, this lack manifesting itself in diminished enthusiasm in the mass, arising from the nonexistence of that community of the sundry individual emotions formerly actuating its members.

The man who fights for a living must, unless he is a very rare person, live in order to profit by his fighting.

The fact that, from the beginning, valor has been the chief theme of song and story proves beyond question that at no time has its possession been a common attribute. This circumstance became strongly impressed on the leaders with the inception of semi-permanent forces and led to a quest for means to produce artificial traits whose result would simulate valor or replace the lack of the one-time individual emotions of lust and cupidity.

Eventually, this search led to the empirical discovery of habit. Means were adopted by which the incessant repetition, in peace training, of specific warlike acts produced so strong a habit, so stimulated, that is the automatic reflexes, that in combat the acts learned were performed subconsciously. But, like all hypnotic functions, the balance of this automatic state proved so finely adjusted that under sufficient stress, the hypnosis of habit (discipline) crumbled and men suddenly realizing their peril fled in as violent a manner as they had previously fought.

To counteract this tendency other means were evolved among which the most usually employed were: the strengthening of habit by still more rigorous rehearsals, the increased use of long service soldiers possessing the hardihood of experience, the infliction of savage punishments, the inflaming of men's minds with race and religious antipathies, the utilization of first local, then unit, and finally national patriotism.

Further, full advantage was at all times taken from a modified use of the allurements inherent in lust, cupidity, fame, and finally by the example of the few natural leaders and fighters whose acts, and the rewards conferred for them, aroused emulation.

In consideration of the foregoing, it appears that the habit forming repetitions called drills, and its various adjuncts called discipline and morale, are in effect but an attempt to produce a fictitious courage.

In order to give emphasis to our subsequent remarks, we repeat that the whole function of drill was to so fully impregnate men with the forms of combat, as practiced in training, that in battle they would still function. That the whole purpose of discipline and morale was to first induce men to go to war and, more important still, to so bolster up the habits formed by drill that in combat they would the longer endure.

Where the method was the phalanx, the phalanx was practiced with its ordered files and cadenced step. When the bow was in vogue, its use was rehearsed on foot or horseback according to the race and period.

Bowmen did not practice endlessly the evolutions of the hoplite nor mounted knights those of the legionary.

However, with the hunger for precedent awakened by the renaissance and stimulated by the printing press, a subtle change occurred. When Gustavus, Maurice, and Conde began to utilize small arms fire in ever increasing degree, the short range and low rate of their weapons made it vital that rigid linear formations be maintained so that the pikes and shot could mutually support each other and no opening be left wherein the hostile cavalry, hovering near, could insert itself.

With Frederick and his perfection of muzzle-loading fire the same causes, though in modified degree, still prevailed; rigidity was still essential. The successes he achieved and the notoriety attendant on them attracted many copyists so that though, in each succeeding war the necessities of the case grew ever less, his mechanism still prevailed until that luckless day when some pedant gave his system of close order seeming immortality by coining the phrase, Disciplinary Drills. Not only was this expression of itself alluring, but the inherent laziness of man seized upon it as a panacea for thought. The parrot like mastering of words of command, and tricks of execution, took little effort and no imagination. Phonographic drills boring to all concerned were executed in the soothing belief that by such acts the full duty of a soldier was accomplished.

So, today, with this procedure sanctified by years of usage, we find in our ceremonial formations and close order exercises simple copies of the battle formations and evolutions of the great Prussian, but without their raison d'etre, for while with us they are utterly foreign to the battlefield, and may well become equally unadaptable to the march, in 1760 they were the key to victory.

We can but thank an ever just God that the person who invented Disciplinary Drills failed through ignorance or inadvertence to recognize the soul stirring efficacy, from the same point of view, of daily practice in the formation of the Roman tortuga. Had he been more erudite, oblong shields would still be an ordnance issue.

It seems pertinent to relate here, as illustrative of the utter folly with which man pursues means to the disregard of ends, that shortly after the death of Frederick a controversy arose among his officers as to the relative military value of a cadence of a hundred and twenty-two steps to the minute. In attempting to find a solution to this momentous question, many books were written and several duels occurred resulting in the death of three of the contraversionalists.

To return to our subject, it is maintained that these archaic drills in which we squander our time are worse than useless; they are actively harmful.

Battle is an orgy of disorder. No level lawns or marker flags exist to aid us while we strut ourselves in vain display, but rather, groups of weary wandering men seek gropingly for means to kill their foe. The sudden change from accustomed order to utter disorder - to chaos, but emphasizes the folly of schooling to precision and obedience where only fierceness and habituated disorder are useful.

We admit that in extended order we have Drills For Fighting but it is our experience, gained over a period of some twenty years, that the average officer who, as the word indicates, is the most numerous, will, due to his mediocre nature, and consequent lack of imagination and energy, spend at least four-fifths of his time in teaching formations and movements which have far less battle value than leap-frog. Nor is he wholly to blame, nor is the excellent officer immune from censure. Due to tradition, the measure most frequently applied in the determining of comparative excellence is the fictitious yardstick of precision drill. The good ones therefore strive to excel regardless of the futility of the means.

It is true that the theory of the necessity of pomp in war is ingrained in our nature, that we crave display and ceremony, in witness thereof note our countless uniformed marching clubs and societies. It would seem, however, that gala attire mingled in mass formation could satisfy this craving; even the orderly minds of ancient sculptors fail to present a Roman triumph with dressed ranks and ordered spears. Our present system disregards human nature in the infinite pains it takes to mingle Prussian order with Quaker habiliments. Few of the brazen heroes adorning our village monuments have their clothing buttoned or their guns at a right shoulder. Disregarding this fact, we feed the craving for the gaudy and bizarre with doses of somber regularity.

We have already mentioned the fact that in addition to the use of endless repetition in Drills For Fighting, other agencies are necessary to keep man to his gruesome task in the terrible presence of death, and prevent him, particularly in his earlier experiences, from yielding to panic, which always hovers menacingly about even the best troops.

In considering these other means, we come upon certain disheartening tendencies resulting from increased culture.

For example, a survey of military punishments shows an ever diminishing severity caused chiefly by enhanced regard for the individual as such without consideration for the well being of his comrades. While as Christians, we should take comfort from this growth of leniency as an index of morality, and as citizens perhaps glory in it as an evidence of heightened respect for public opinion; as soldiers we must nonetheless admit that its existence makes the winning of battles ever more difficult.

In the World War, we had recourse to the stimulating force contained in hatred. Now while hatred has frequently proven very efficacious when founded on fact, the propaganda sort we attempted failed. We were poor vicarious haters, and had to rely rather on the mental tonic of a sense of duty. This stimulant becomes less and less potent as the enemy is approached because, due to its mental origin, it ceases to function in exact proportion to the shunting out of thought by the increasing imminence of death.

Better results would have been attained if the same public opinion which discouraged physical punishments had been enlisted to insure mental torture. In other words, had pride, a secondary sex emotion, been utilized. Unfortunately, undue consideration for individuals, fear of estranging potential voters, and a silly censorship prevented the people at home from ever knowing whom to honor and whom to blame. Few units would have failed to reach their objectives had their members been sure that the next morning the girls at home would have known. Unquestionably, individual injustice would have been done; such is the nature of war; but the doctrine of the Greatest Good would have justified such a course.

It is interesting to recall that during the Russo-Japanese War, a Japanese regiment which failed at 303 Meter Hill, if our memory serves us, was degraded, formed into a labor unit, and the facts promptly published.

Another impediment to leadership, and hence to success, is inherent in the obliteration of class enunciated in our constitution. However desirable this free and equal idea may be on political and social grounds, it is fraught with serious consequences insofar as the military is concerned.

Members of the gentle or lordly class to whom in peace respect is accorded by virtue of their birth, develop, by induction, a feeling of obligation to be worthy of this respect. Practically their only opportunity to demonstrate this worthiness comes to them in battle or in other times by grave emergency. Witness, for example, the almost universal heroism of the otherwise decadent French noblesse during the terror.

Conversely, the commoner continues to accord to the gentleman, when an officer, the same respect he previously accorded him as a civilian, and this, in its turn, tends to nourish and develop the feeling of leadership still further.

The following two incidents rather aptly illustrate the notion of hereditary superiority and consideration resulting from conditions such as above described.

On reaching London in the spring of 1917, we happened to converse with a withered little man who shared with us a seat on the Underground. In the course of the conversation he remarked that he, a clerk, had lost his two sons in the war, but immediately he added, "But, sir, that ain't nothin' as compared to our gentry. They were wonderful - they are all dead."

About a year later in France there was a long railway queue at a ticked window. Just ahead were two British soldiers. When we had been in line for some time a British subaltern came up and stepped into line ahead of the soldiers. Whereupon one of the said, "'E don't know no better, 'e ain't like our gentlemen hofficers wats dead."

With us and our mono-class system, the officer, particularly the new officer, has no inherent sense of superiority to sustain him and he is therefore either diffident, fawning, or else bolsters up his inferiority complex with undue harshness during training, while in battle he is more prone to forget his obligations and cease to lead.

On the other hand, the soldier seeing, as he often does, one of his sometime cronies made an officer has for him, initially, no feeling of respect, which fact in its turn reacts on the officer to lessen still further his self confidence.

Mobilization plans which contemplate officers and men for reserve units coming from the same localities are defective. The ex-ribbon clerk lieutenant from Mudville, may, for a time, be accepted at his shoulder strap valuation by the private from Swamp Hollow, but never by the men from home.

Of course, proven valor and ability evoke willing emulation and respect, but the proving takes time and opportunity.

The utility of patriotism, be it local, unit, or national, is admitted, but in our opinion not sufficiently explicated. Already, under mental punishment, we have referred to the powerful influence latent in local public opinion and evokable by a pitiless publicity as to successes and failures.

Unit loyalty is most applicable to historic regiments and hence has but a limited application at the beginning of a war where we are dealing with the formation of amateur armies. It is clearly the reason behind the creation of Corps d'Elite. However, it quickly asserts itself; for among beardless veterans, life is vivid and very brief. In our Civil War such a feeling was clearly felt in and for such units as the Stone Wall brigade and the Bucktails, not to mention many others.

National patriotism seems at the present time a waning influence, barely discernible, as a sort of mirage of hot air against the pale pink sunset of masculine virility. This subsidence is partly traceable to socialistic propaganda but chiefly takes its source from the fact that in huge nations local interests supervene to eliminate, either wholly or in part, a just appreciation of national matters. In our own case, this condition is further aggravated by lack of race homogeneity.

Having sketched the sources from which the fighting spirit takes its origin and having further depicted certain of the present day drawbacks to the full utilization of these primary springs, we shall, in closing, attempt to advance some remedies purposed to correct the defects in our system in preparation for that resumption of war which the inevitable cycle of history unmistakably proclaims.

Insofar as the technique of Drills For Fighting is concerned, its nature is too complex for discussion within the space of this article. We, therefore, dismiss it for the present with a simple assertion as to its vital nature. In a subsequent article, we purpose to extend and examine the subject in greater detail

In considering the moral stimulants with which we propose to augment our technique, the first in order is punishment.

Due to maudlin sentimentality it is not possible to cause the mass of a nation to view military punishments from their proper angle, namely as administrative rather than judicial acts, whose purpose in wartime is not to wreak vengeance on the guilty, but, rather, to restrain the innocent.

For example, the idea behind the death sentence for such acts as desertion, sleeping on post, skulking, etc., is not inherent in the offense itself. Desertion has, perhaps, no extenuation but the other offenses usually have.

The poor tired boy who sleeps on his post is more to be pitied than blamed insofar as his individual case is concerned. But the act, harmless in itself, may have exposed scores or hundreds of his equally deserving comrades to capture, wounds, and death. It is for their sakes, not his fault, that the final penalty should be exacted of him.

A man may, under the influence of fatigue, so forget his obligations as to chance a term of imprisonment against a moment's oblivion, but he will think several times before he makes the same gamble with the certainty of death; his own death, not that of his comrades.

So with the skulker; the act in itself may be the natural outgrowth of lifelong teachings in safety first, may arise from the instinct of self preservation, may be the result of nervous collapse caused by fatigue, or may be sheer lack of guts. None of these reasons is in itself very abnormal. Nor, when viewed from the then frame of mind of the skulker, is the resulting act very heinous. Only when we consider the act apart from its results does its enormity become apparent. In the first place, the skulker jeopardizes and may negate the efforts and sacrifices of many gallant comrades. In the second place, he sets an example, which spreading with the rapidity of a prairie fire, sweeps others of his kidney to acts of similar baseness. Worst of all, he cuts the very root of military virtue, which is based on mutual confidence.

The execution of the skulker is necessary, not for his sin, but for his betrayal of his comrades. Judas is execrated for the betrayal of One, should he who betrays hundreds escape?

The man who shirks does so from fear of wounds or death, seldom in actuality, measurable by odds greater than one to five. If he can be assured that the next day his odds will have changed to one hundred to nothing, with the chance of wounds eliminated, he will be more chary in his shirking.

A long war, particularly if it is initially unsuccessful, may in the end convince people of the expediency of these views. In the beginning, much inertia must be overcome. The press and public men could aid in forming opinion to support the military - that they will so aid is more than doubtful. So, we are faced with the fact that, in the beginning, our men will skulk and sleep in the usual proportions until the habit of battle and the stern measures adopted by their afflicted comrades enforces some check to their predilections.

Of course a check always exists in the application of those preventive measures euphemistically called Battle Discipline which some few officers and noncoms have the courage to use.

The only immediate and practicable remedy lies in so modified a censorship that a Pitiless Publicity shall expose with equal promptness the doings of the hero and the knave to that most merciless of tribunals - home town gossip. The effects of this device would be most far reaching since the ease and promptness of communication have made available to the soldier the whip lash of home opinion in a degree never before approximated.

Men do not fight for pay - they must have pride. Any system which deprives them of glory while rendering them immune to scorn is absurd.

To maintain the sequence of our previous remarks, we shall next investigate the stimulating power of hatred.

The word is over strong to express those race and cultural differences which the weakening tendencies of modern civilization still permit us to use. Yet, degenerate as they are, they are still worthy of consideration. The best means of emphasizing them is to use racial differences to stimulate the superiority complex. For example, there is no physiological reason why a diet of frog legs should be less manly than one of cows' ribs, yet the constant allusion to their enemies of a hundred years ago as frog eaters undoubtedly inspired the British of that time with a contempt for them. Similarly, a difference of opinion as to sartorial trimming has been used by both sides to bolster up self esteem to the prejudice of their adversaries.

Since the insertion here of similar pertinent remarks as to the gastronomic or other peculiarities of our potential opponents might well unbalance the peace of the world, we shall refrain; but a little forethought could, we feel sure, provide us with many slurring epithets.

In addition to these puerile, but useful, means of developing self esteem, there is the universal device latent in atrocities. Good atrocities are easy to invent and difficult to refute, since in all argument the assertive has it over the explanative. In picking such heinous acts it is best to choose those we attribute to the enemy from among the ones of which we ourselves are the most apt to be guilty, since, if we are caught, we can then explain our acts to be retaliations. On the other hand, since we have never been blatantly guilty of acts against religion, unless it differed from our own, or against women or children, much capital can be made by instantly accusing the enemy of being ungodly and ungallant.

Finally, in the event of wars waged in our own territory, we have the hatred coeval with the race which now, as in the beginning, has ever existed against the attacker of the home.

Under punishments, we have already mentioned the utility of local pride or patriotism, but its potentialities can be still further exploited.

Nations which have created regimental depots have done so with this object in view.

To obtain the best results, recruitment should be done from the area contiguous to the depot and, at it, all recruits should receive their initial training from detachments of the unit they are to join.

At the same time all convalescent wounded should be passed through the depot on their way back to the front. By these means, coupled with great candor and promptitude in the reporting of the current successes and failures of the regiment, civilian interest will be aroused. Due to the presence of the returning veterans, the history, exploits, and traditions of the unit will be earlier imparted to the new soldiers. Further, since veterans are never averse to enhancing their own reputation by stories, true or otherwise, of their recent exploits and, while warmed by the ardor of their recitals, they stress only the glory and excitement of combat, these stories give to the recruit pictures of war which, while illusory, are permanent. So stimulated, the young soldier determines to emulate or surpass his predecessors and having frequently so announced is later deterred from back sliding by the fear of local disgrace with its attendant loss of standing among the fair sex. He thus cultivates in himself prospective hardihood.

Another trait which is played up by the Unit Depot system is the latent desire in all men for posthumous celebrity. For, birth control to the contrary notwithstanding, all men possess that feeling so well illustrated by the story of the soldier who on being called before his captain for fighting a comrade excused himself by saying, "Well sir, it was this way. I was cleaning the latrine and this guy comes by and says to me, 'What are you going to tell your children when they ask you what you did in the great war?' So I hit him."

With the depot system it will be easier for the children to know.

Unit pride is but an extension of the local spirit just described and is subject to the same influences. In addition, it is fundamental to its existence that absolute permanence from both officers and men must be maintained. No claims of economy or expediency can ever be justified where they involve incessant shifting of men from unit to unit until they have no more lares and penates than a traveling salesman.

It is noteworthy that in our present general mobilization plans, a replacement for a Texas division may well come from Boston.

With the Regular Army this system could be inaugurated in peacetime, for when the exigencies of the service demand that Captain John Doe be detailed in a staff corps or department he should carry with him his identity by the use of the title and insignia of Captain John Doe, Nth Infantry, Q.M.C., etc. The formation of such a system would require some bookkeeping but with the restrictions as to the number of battalions in a regiment removed, mobilization would always find more than enough places in the old regimental home for all its wandering children.

While the following remarks are probably as unattainable as Moore's famed republic, we cannot refrain from inserting them. We believe that much better results would be attained if the present pompous and empty Organized Reserve divisions, brigades, and regiments were scrapped and the units of that force were limited to battalions; while the battalions, themselves, should be made integral with existing regular regiments as 4th, 5th, etc., Battalions, Nth Infantry. As a prerequisite for such an arrangement the regular regiments should be localized for recruiting and the subjoined Organized Reserve battalions be given identical localities.

Two immediate advantages would accrue from such an arrangement: first, the elimination of Reserve Officers with rank out of all comparison with their experience and abilities; second, a greater stimulus to local civilian interest in both regular and reserve units.

Such a step clearly presupposes the adoption of the so-called British system. It should be recalled, however, that prior to 1898 it was in large measure our own. A further discussion of this subject from a tactical view point will appear in a subsequent paper on Drills and Fighting.

As has already been pointed out, our present bulk makes active National Patriotism largely impalpable. Stress of war, particularly if one of invasion, or one in which we were initially unsuccessful will, to a degree, crystallize this feeling, but in the meantime the situation would be improved if pacifist moves were treated with less tolerance. The prompt shooting of some scores of conscientious objectors would go far towards removing bellicose inhibitions.

Another move which might be easily instituted at the beginning of the next war would be to explain to editors, most of whom are patriotic, that the printing of sob stories amounts to a traitorous act. Men in combat are too weary or excited to entertain the thoughts and emotions attributed to soldiers by the sick brains of unwarlike writers while the pre-battle reading of such stuff by new soldiers simply subjects them to useless and brutal mental torture, as they anticipate feeling these fictitious emotions and, in prospect, suffer many pangs which their actual experience will subsequently prove nonexistent.

In our initial catalogue of inciting emotions we enumerated lust and greed. But today improved culture steps in again to deprive us of the major part of their influence. The sacking of places taken by assault was the chief means of pandering to these crude feelings. Since our civilization cannot now stomach such acts we are forced to abandon them. Certain conditions may, however, yet arise where circumstances of great hardship can be exploited to inspire our men with the hope that success will grant them full bellies and warm clothes. The battle of Gettysburg was precipitated by the rumor that the town contained a large supply of shoes.

The popular expression, "Soldier Boys," has more truth in it than its poetic originator probably guessed. The fighting ranks (or armies) are largely composed of boys, and the simplicity of the life led by men in campaign tends to retain and redevelop their boyish propensities. While the theory, that in passing from the germ plasm to the grave we relive in a brief span the whole gamut of our evolutionary existence, may not be wholly tenable, it is nonetheless certain that the boy is more nearly similar to uncivilized man than is the person of greater age.

For this reason soldiers respond very readily to the simple emotional stimulants which formerly actuated the race. Of these the most potent was the sex originated desire to appear well, to be a hell of a fellow. We see this desire for self expression and laudation evinced in the bizarre costumes, antics, and hair cuts of school and college boys. Putting men in uniform, usually ill-fitting, not only deprives the youth of his power of self expression, but, to a degree, hurts his pride by making him look like his associates.

In the gay uniform given by Napoleon to the Young Guard we find him realizing and profiting by this fact.

The fortune of many Semitic tradesmen was started in 1919 by the sale to returning Heroes of gaudy, but unauthorized and meaningless Campaign Ribbons, bought with no intent to deceive, but purely to please the ladies.

Every recurring election or club convention depicts the same blossoming out of the male population in badges and bloomers.

In the army, the ribbon has replaced the knightly spur and belt and at a greatly reduced cost.

Its possession gives differentiation, distinction, and fame. For the privilege of wearing a dime's worth of taffeta, a man will do deeds which all the treasure of the Incas were impotent to cause him to attempt.

In the World War we increased our decorations from one to three, but it was not enough. And, the parsimony and delay attendant on their distribution took from them much of the effect they were intended to produce. Fearful that one unworthy might be decorated, we examined, hesitated, and hectored our heroes; utterly forgetful of the fact that a coward dressed as a brave man will change from his cowardice and, in nine cases out of ten, will on the next occasion demonstrate the qualities fortuitously emblazoned on his chest.

We must have more decorations and we must give them with no niggard hand. The story of the young soldier who, on being asked by Napoleon what he desired in recompense for an heroic act said, "The Legion of Honor, Sire," and when the Emperor replied, "My boy, you are over young for such an honor," again answered, "Sire, in your service we do not grow old," is as true as it is tragic. Our men will not grow old. We must exploit their abilities and satisfy their longings to the uttermost during the brief span of their existence. Surely a machine gun nest for an inch of satin is a bargain not to be lightly passed up.

The frame of mind which places the invariably unsuccessful attempts to delude the enemy above the inspirational influence of a distinctive uniform is to us incomprehensible. If a chasseur's cap could make a Blue Devil out of a peasant, think what a pink feather could make of our men!

In addition to the present battle honors on the regimental colors, the colors of specially distinguished units should be exempted from saluting while passing in review. Nice distinctions might be made in this privilege, as for example, allowing some only to salute major generals, some more distinguished only lieutenant generals, some generals, and some, the highest, only the president.

Endless other expedients could be enumerated, all tending to produce distinctions based on military merit, to emphasize valor, to vividly proclaim the super-fighter.

We know that we will be told that Americans do not care for such things, that the supply problems will be made more difficult, that injustices will be done. To such remarks we reply that the Spirit of the Soldier Boy is ever the same, ever the simple, vain, ingenuous savage soul of youth; that supplies difficulties seldom trouble victors, and that war is only resorted to when justice has failed.

You can rely on punishment, habit, and the valor of experience with long service professional armies, such as we shall never have. With amateur armies you must lead by seduction. War may be hell, but for John Doughboy there is a heaven of suggestion in anticipating what Annie Rooney will say when she sees him in his pink feather and his new medal.

"In war," said the Emperor, "men are nothing, a man is everything." All history vindicates the remark. The subterfuges and stimulants we have mentioned arise from and owe their existence to the lack of men of the leader type and all of them are but auxiliary means to which the leader spirit gives life and utility. Mind you, we are not concerned here with the great military luminaries. So far as we can discern, this select group must be classed as biological incidents whose existence is due to the fortuitous blending of complementary blood lines at epochs where chance or destiny intervenes to give scope to their peculiar abilities. What we must acquire to lead our men are the lesser combat chiefs. In this country we start our search handicapped by the absence of potential leaders consequent upon our lack of civilian class distinction. This condition cannot be altered, but other means are at hand among which are the following.

By increasing greatly the number of graduates from the Military Academy and discharging the surplus after a year's service with troops, we will secure a certain number of men who, by education and training, are better fitted for company officers than would be the same individuals fresh from the counter or the farm and minus the ingrained traditions and attached prestige consequent to graduation from that great school.

Additional material is also being accumulated from graduates of the several R.O.T.C. Colleges. Such men have an initial prestige which will help bridge the gap until a reputation of demonstrated ability is secured in battle.

The limited number of noncommissioned officers with Reserve commissions are superior to the college men for while they lack education, they vastly surpass them in experience and assurance.

Reserve corps officers with World War experience are fast becoming useless because, in company grades they are too old, while for field grades, with very few exceptions, they are utterly useless. We base this assertion on the fact that the qualifications for successful leadership in business and war are similar. Due to high competition in business, few successful men in that walk of life can find time to devote to military study and none of them can, in the brief space of summer training, find time or opportunity to master minutiae of war, or attain the habit of command on which military leadership is founded.

Even if all the above sources of supply are developed to the full, the next war will almost surely find us facing a dearth of officers and we will be tempted to have recourse to Training Camps. Now, in spite of our vaunted democracy, there is nonetheless a certain tendency to class distinction based on educational qualifications. The dividing line seeming to sharply separate those who hold and those who do not possess a college diploma. In our experience, this distinction is illusory so far as command ability is concerned. Murat and Villa could never have entered a training camp.

The notion that military ability takes its source in high-powered thinking is very congenial to us, nicking as it does with the national mania for superficial education. The theory is further stimulated by historians, who, being students themselves, are inclined to depict their heroes as being highly endowed with the same traits which in themselves they so greatly reverence. The chance reference to 1870 as the Schoolmasters' War is often quoted by them with complete disregard of the fact that is initial successes were due to the ferocity of the unscholastic Steinmetz. It may well be that the greatest soldiers have possessed superior intellects, may have been thinkers; but this was not their dominant characteristic. With the possible exception of Moltke, all great generals with whom we are familiar owed their success to indomitable wills and tremendous energy in execution and they achieved their initial hold upon the hearts of their troops by acts of demonstrated valor. However, we digress; the great leaders are not our responsibility, but God's.

In the lower grades in a great war special education will be impossible and general education useless. We must commission only brave and energetic men. As the only means of carrying out this notion, it is submitted that there be no training camps, that all commissions after the first battle go to soldiers of proven combat ability, and that all replacements be in the grade of private. In making this assertion it is evident that we are abandoning our thesis as to the advantages derivable from hereditary class distinctions. Such is exactly the case. It is futile to consider conditions which for us cannot exist. What we must do is to go back a thousand years or so and reconstitute in our armies the aristocracy of valor in which all aristocracy originated.

Men commissioned and promoted in accordance with this plan will have, as a start, the aura of proven courage; they will have further the prestige of battle experience. Promotion so gained will arouse in them pride and a sense of obligation to be worthy of the honors conferred. Finally, we shall very rapidly develop a hierarchy of courage and infinite solidarity since the junior will owe to himself his ability and to his superior its recognition; for captured objectives, not mildewed diplomas, will mark the road to preferment. If confirmation for these remarks is necessary, it exists in two statement made by the master of war, Napoleon. "Better, he said, "an army of stags lead by a lion than army of lions led by a stag." And again, "Every French soldier carries in his knapsack the baton of a Marshall of France."

Having completed our investigation, enumerated our difficulties, and advanced ideas for their correction, we close by summarizing the result of our efforts thus.

Nothing new was discovered since the soul of man is changeless.

Our difficulties differ in manifestation but not in nature from those Alexander experienced and Caesar knew.

Our success or failure in the next war will depend on our ability to face the naked facts as they exist, and to utilize our means not as we would, but as we may.

G.S.P.

October 27, 1927