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Lesson 127 “Personal from General Eisenhower...”

Lesson 127 “Personal from General Eisenhower...”

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soldier in his command. The message combines approval, evaluation, assessment, and thanks, with a look toward the future:
Personal from General Eisenhower to all men and women of the American Military and Civil Forces in the North African Theater: We have
reached the first anniversary of initial British-American landings in
this theater.
You came here to take part in a crusade to eliminate ruthless
aggression from the earth and to guarantee to yourselves and to
your children security against the threat of domination by arrogant
despotism.
During the year just past, you have written a memorable chapter in the history of American arms, a chapter in which are recorded
deeds of valor, of sacrifice, of endurance and of unswerving loyalty.
You have worked effectively and in friendly cooperation with the
Armies, Navies and Air Forces of our Allies and have established in
a foreign land a reputation for decency and dignity in conduct. Hour
by hour your efforts are contributing toward the ultimate defeat of
mighty military machines that hoped to conquer the world. You are
just as surely the protectors and supporters of American democracy
as your forefathers were its founders.
From my heart I thank each of you for the services you have so
well performed, in the air, on the sea, in the front lines and in our
ports and bases.
All of us salute with reverence the memory of the comrades we
have lost, as we earnestly pray that Almighty God will bring comfort to their loved ones.
But we must now look forward, because for us there can be no
thought of turning back until our task has been fully accomplished.
We are on the mainland of Europe, carrying the battle, daily,
closer to the vitals of the enemy. More Americans and more of our
Allies will continue to follow steadily into the fight. All of us will
work together as one. With the gallant and powerful Russian Army
pounding the European enemy on the East and with growing forces
seeking out and penetrating weak spots in his defenses from all other

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directions, his utter defeat—even if not yet definitely in sight—is
certain. Victory will likewise be ours in the far off Pacific, where
Allied Forces are already on the offensive and where unconquerable
China, awaiting the time when the full power of the Allies may
come to her assistance, continues to defy one of the most powerful
and vicious of our enemies.
The heart of America supports our every endeavour. Reports
of sporadic troubles on the home front are occasioned by the illconsidered actions of a relatively few individuals. Let us always
remember that our great nation of 130,000,000 people is ceaselessly
working and sacrificing to provide us weapons, equipment and supplies, and to send us an increasing flow of reinforcements. Our Allies
march forward with us. The God of Justice fights on our side.
Let us, then, strengthen ourselves for the tasks yet lying ahead.
With high courage let us redouble our efforts and multiply the fury
of our blows so that we may the more quickly re-cross the seas to our
own homeland with the glorious word that the last enemy stronghold has fallen and with the proud knowledge of having done, in our
time, our duty to our beloved country.






Lesson 128
Teach a Practical Lesson
If I were teaching military hygiene, I would simply take
[the example of] an infantry company from the time it was
mobilized on through its training period into a campaign,
and describe all the things the officers and men had to do
to preserve their health.
—Letter to his son, John S. D. Eisenhower,
December 3, 1943

Ike good-naturedly kidded his West Point cadet son about a low
grade in a subject called “military hygiene.” After admitting that his

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own standing in the subject was probably lower than his son’s, he
went on to offer as a criticism of “much of our training program . . .
the uninteresting way in which subjects are presented. I personally
see little use in the ordinary officer being able to identify the various types of mosquitoes. He hasn’t time to do it even if he could.
The important thing is to consider all mosquitoes as enemies and
take the necessary steps to get rid of them and guard against them.”
Ike thought military education should be practical and directly
relevant to the needs of the student. “Any student learns anything
easiest when he is most interested.” Education is a leadership responsibility, and an effective leader will want to create a program of
effective education. The goal is not so much to keep it simple as it
is to keep it useful, which means relevant, which means interesting.






Lesson 129
The Greatest Blunder
The greatest blunder in war is indecisiveness, slowness and
hesitation. The leader that will take upon his own shoulders the
awful burdens of battle responsibility and still act quickly and
decisively saves lives—all others, even if personally kind
and sympathetic—are guilty of useless expenditure of life.
—Letter (marked “Personal and
confidential”) to June Jenkins Booth,
December 14, 1943

“For certain types of action,” Eisenhower wrote in Crusade in Europe,
George S. Patton Jr. “was the outstanding soldier our country has produced.” For the role of army commander, “he personally was ideally
suited.” But he was also one of the most difficult of the legion of very
difficult people Eisenhower had to lead and had to manage. As with
a hero of Greek tragedy, the very elements of Patton’s genius in war
were nearly his undoing in public. Ike understood this. He continued

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in Crusade in Europe: “His emotional tenseness and his impulsiveness
were the very qualities that made him, in open situations, such a remarkable leader of an army. In pursuit and exploitation there is need
for a commander who sees nothing but the necessity of getting ahead;
the more he drives his men the more he will save their lives.”
Tenseness and impulsiveness. From July 10 through August 17,
1943, Patton drove the U.S. Seventh Army relentlessly through the
difficult but triumphant invasion of Sicily, not only defeating the
Italians and Germans but also besting his British rival, Bernard Law
Montgomery, whom he beat to the key Sicilian port of Messina.
Then, near the very pinnacle of his triumph, on August 3, Patton
called at the front-line Fifteenth Evacuation Hospital to visit with
wounded troops. Amid the shattered young men was one Private
Charles H. Kuhl, without apparent injury.
What was the problem? Patton asked him.
“I guess I can’t take it,” Kuhl replied.
That answer was the match to a fuse.
Patton exploded in curses, called Kuhl a coward, and ordered
him out of the hospital tent. Stunned, the private did not move.
The general, who was holding his leather gloves in his hand, lashed
out. Some witnesses later reported that he struck Kuhl across the
face with his gloves. Others, with greater accuracy, noted that the
slap was across Kuhl’s helmet and delivered with sufficient force to
knock it off his head. All agreed that Patton then lifted Kuhl by the
shirt collar and sent him out of the tent with a kick in the rear.
Outrageous as this incident was, it received no immediate public notice. But then, on August 10, during a visit to another evac
hospital, Patton encountered another victim of battle fatigue.
“It’s my nerves,” Private Paul G. Bennett complained to the
general.
“What did you say?”
“It’s my nerves. I can’t stand the shelling any more.”
“Your nerves. Hell, you are just a goddamned coward.”
Laying his hand on his trademark ivory-handled Colt revolver,
Patton muttered, “I ought to shoot you myself right now.” He

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unholstered the weapon, waved it in front of the terrified soldier’s
face, then delivered a sharp slap.
This second incident was impossible to keep quiet, and it ignited a firestorm of public and professional criticism even from the
highest levels. Eisenhower’s boss, army chief of staff General George
C. Marshall, left the decision to Ike, but the pressure mounted on
all sides to relieve Patton of command.
Eisenhower resisted the pressure. He directed (but did not order)
Patton to make the rounds of every Seventh Army unit and apologize for the incident. Eisenhower knew it was a humiliating punishment intensely painful to Patton, but it was better than firing a
commander he believed would continue to prove among the Allies’
most effective instruments of war.
Once Ike had decided to retain Patton, no other military commander dared to second-guess him, but doubts, criticism, condemnation, and concern continued to pour in from politicians, the press,
and private individuals. One communication Eisenhower received
was a letter from a lady named June Jenkins Booth, who wrote that
she had one son in the service and another slated to go the following year. She hoped that Patton would not remain in command,
where he might “repeat his fits of temper on another unfortunate
victim.” She appealed to the supreme commander, writing that she
would “die of worry” if her sons had to serve under “such a cruel, profane, impatient officer.”
Eisenhower not only took the time to read Mrs. Booth’s letter
but answered it “within the hour of its arrival at my Headquarters.”
He wrote:
As a matter of fact, no mother of an American soldier has yet written me a letter who did not receive a prompt reply, because no one
can be more appreciative than I of the tremendous sacrifices made
by the mothers of America for the cause for which we fight. My own
son will take his place in the battleline next June, which is an added
reason for my feeling very close to those other parents whose sons
are already in or are soon to enter the armed services.

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The all-important details of his business, Eisenhower understood, were the individual lives on which that business depended.
Each life was someone’s son.
“War is a sad, a desperate and a tragic business,” Eisenhower
explained to Mrs. Booth. “The chief concern of any man in my
position is to meet the heavy responsibilities placed upon him by
his government in such a way as to avoid the unnecessary loss of a
single American soldier.”
Business, including the tragic business of war, is always an unyielding economic proposition: the purchase of necessary ends at
the cost of precious treasure. Good business makes this transaction
with the least possible expenditure, and if you are an effective executive, you strive to manage costs while also gaining the necessary
ends. This is the art of realizing maximum value. Yet however you
manage them, you know and accept that there will be costs.
In war, the general explained to the mother, value consists in
achieving victory while avoiding the unnecessary loss of a single
American soldier:
Even with the greatest of skill and the finest of leadership, the cost
is heavy enough for us to bear—both as a nation and individually.
If to these losses are added those that come about through blundering, then indeed does the tragedy become almost unbearable.
The greatest blunder in war is indecisiveness, slowness and
hesitation. The leader that will take upon his own shoulders the
awful burdens of battle responsibility and still act quickly and decisively saves lives—all others, even if personally kind and sympathetic—are guilty of useless expenditure of life.

“The ideal leader,” Eisenhower admitted to Mrs. Booth, “is one
who invariably acts kindly and with consideration and is still decisive and bold.” The implication was unmistakable: Patton had
shown himself to be far from the ideal. “You are quite right in
deploring acts such as his and in being incensed that they could

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occur in an American army.” He continued, “But in Sicily General
Patton saved thousands of American lives. By his boldness, his
speed, his drive, he won his part of the campaign by marching, more
than he did by fighting. He drove himself and his men almost
beyond human endurance, but because of this he minimized tragedy
in American homes.”
In short, Patton had proved he could achieve value. Therefore,
he was himself valuable, despite his formidable liabilities.
“I decided [that Patton] should not be lost to us in the job of
winning this war . . . even though the easy thing for me would have
been to send General Patton home. I hope that, as the mother of
two American soldiers, you will understand.”
Results trump personal peccadilloes. Stand by your man, even
if you sometimes have to hold your nose.






Lesson 130
Grease Each Point of Friction
This is directly contrary to my policies and must cease at once.
—Cable to Carl Spaatz,
December 23, 1943

After hearing that General Carl Spaatz of the Army Air Forces had
reserved recreational facilities on Capri “exclusively for air force
officers,” Ike fired off a cable ordering an immediate end to this and
directing that the facilities be opened to “all British and American
personnel in this area, particularly from combat units.”
Identify even apparently small points of friction, then act to
lubricate them. Seemingly slight affronts have a nasty tendency to
blossom into major insult and injury.






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Lesson 131
Separate Administration from Application
My experience here amply justifies the statement that no man
should be held responsible for the actual handling of an army in the
battlefront and at the same time meet the problems that are constantly arising as the senior American representative in this theater.
—Cable to George C. Marshall,
December 25, 1943

Ike insisted on separating the functions of administration and application. He believed that each of the two functions demanded 100
percent commitment, which was beyond the capacity of any single
commander. The administrator had to operate with regard to those
in the field as well as those in the rear—the politicians and statesmen. The field commander’s responsibility was to his troops below
him and to the theater commander above him. These spheres of
loyalty were frequently in conflict.
Shirtsleeves managers often complain about front-office administrators, insisting that they themselves could do the job better. From
the narrow perspective of a particular department, this may well be
true, at least in the short run. But as Ike discovered through experience, it is far more effective to have at least two layers of leadership—
one hands-on, the other guiding the hands-on leader and coordinating
his efforts with those of other hands-on men. This arrangement
implies—indeed, calls for—a hierarchy of the kind Ike insisted on.






Lesson 132
Protect the Individual, Protect the Organization
[B]e very careful.
—Memorandum to Everett S. Hughes,
December 27, 1943

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Ike sent a brief memo to Everett S. Hughes, his deputy theater commander, which began, “Yesterday I had a letter from the parent of
one of our soldiers, who alleged that her son, a recruit of only 13
weeks’ training, was in this theater and presumably about to go into
combat.”
It was remarkable enough that Eisenhower had taken the time
to read a letter from the parent of a recruit, but far more significant
was the use he made of what he read. Instead of dismissing the letter, however sympathetically, as an expression of concern from just
one more worried parent out of millions, he used it to formulate a
key piece of personnel policy: “I think our replacement system
should be very careful in determining the age and length of the
training period of all recruits so that whenever any of these particular type of cases are uncovered, the man should be sent to a [noncombat] service unit and get out of the rigors of combat until he is
more fully developed.”
Ike’s decision protected the individual as well as the organization. Inexperienced soldiers not only get themselves killed but
endanger others. Inadequately trained personnel do not simply
dilute the effectiveness of an organization; they actively reduce it,
because their uncertainty and their mistakes require labor to fix—
if they can be fixed. The sink-or-swim approach resembles Russian
roulette more than it does bold management.






Lesson 133
Use What Inspires You
A prayer that I once heard a company commander repeating to
his men, on a wet, cold night, just before starting a march to
the front line, struck me more forcibly than almost any other I
have heard.
—Letter to Gerald Mygatt,
December 28, 1943

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When Major Gerald Mygatt wrote to Eisenhower with a request
that he compose a prayer for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Prayer Book
(New York, 1944), the general replied with this:
Almighty God, we are about to be committed to a task from which
some of us will not return. We go willingly to this hazardous adventure because we believe that those concepts of human dignity, rights
and justice that Your Son expounded to the world, and which are
respected in the government of our beloved country, are in peril of
extinction from the earth. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our
country and our God. We do not ask, individually, for our safe
return. But we earnestly pray that You will help each of us to do his
full duty. Permit none of us to fail a comrade in the fight. Above all,
sustain us in our conviction in the justice and righteousness of our
cause so that we may rise above all terror of the enemy and come to
You, if called, in the humble pride of the good soldier and in the certainty of Your infinite mercy. Amen.

Public prayer is not appropriate in most secular enterprises; nevertheless, leaders should recognize and address the spiritual dimension
of any serious endeavor. In leadership, use what inspires you and share
what inspires you. The only influence to avoid is the surely destructive force of cynicism.






Lesson 134
Facilitate, Don’t Aggravate
In giving these views, I merely wish to remove any political difficulties that may occur to you in order that you can launch the
best military operation.
—Cable to Harold Alexander,
December 29, 1943

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By the end of 1943, the Allied invasion of Italy was stalled at
the so-called Winter Line, German defenses just south of Rome.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill sponsored a plan called Operation Shingle, which was seconded by Franklin D. Roosevelt and
Joseph Stalin. The operation, which stepped off on January 22,
1944, was an Allied amphibious landing in the area of Anzio and
Nettuno, Italy, and was intended to outflank the Winter Line. The
operation culminated in the costly Battle of Anzio.
During the final preparations for Operation Shingle, Ike cabled
the overall commander of the Mediterranean theater, the British general Harold Alexander, in response to Alexander’s intention to “employ one British and one U.S. . . . division” in the initial assault. Ike
reminded Alexander of the “disadvantages of employing a mixed
corps”—a corps under one commander but compounded of an American and a British division—disadvantages that “are particularly
applicable” in a “self-contained” operation. Ike “wondered whether or
not” Alexander had been influenced in his decision to use a mixed
corps by strictly political factors. If so, he advised that such factors
should not “be allowed to outweigh the military advantages of launching your assault by any troops you believe best fitted and most available. I hope your decision will be guided solely by your convictions as
to feasibility of the operation and the best way, from the tactical viewpoint, to do it.” Eisenhower stressed that “in giving these views,” he
wanted only “to remove any political difficulties that may occur to you
in order that you can launch the best military operation.”
On the one hand, second-guessing key subordinates, who should
enjoy a high degree of autonomy and autonomous responsibility, is
poor leadership. It not only telegraphs a lack of faith in the subordinate but also betrays the insecurity of the leader. If a subordinate
repeatedly gives you good reason for second-guessing, it is time to
look for a new subordinate. On the other hand, you are not obliged
to leave everything to any subordinate. An effective leader does not
hesitate to communicate advice, provided he or she can do so in a
positive way that facilitates rather than aggravates and that offers