Advice To Officers
Categories: OFFICERS' RESERVE CORPS
Military Handbooks: The Plattsburg Manual
A company of infantry is composed of three officers and one hundred and
fifty non-commissioned officers and privates. What a shame to have a
private the mental and moral superior of those above him!
The average American makes a first-rate soldier. He wants his officers
to be efficient and high-toned leaders. It thrills him to have their
actions pitched in a high key. He wants to be well instructed. He wants
to be led with tact and diplomacy. He wants them to be neat, to dress
immaculately, and to be military in bearing. He wants to feel that
there is no favoritism; that justice prevails.
Be stern in discipline. Exact nothing less than the best in a man.
Tolerate no slovenliness. Deal laziness a sharp rebuke. The great
majority of your men are doing their level best. Let them know that this
is what you expect, but at the same time you appreciate them for it.
When a thing is wrong, say so. Explain the correct method. Do so calmly
and efficiently. You have made worse mistakes yourself. Your men did not
want to make the mistake. They did so from ignorance. It is possible
that you have not made the matter clear to them, or the fault is yours
Don't be too intimate with your men. Experience has proven that you
cannot fraternize with an enlisted man one minute and then punish him
for misconduct the next.
When you discipline a man, first make him see his error from your point
of view, and then, reprimand him or decide on his punishment in an
absolutely impersonal manner.
Grow impatient, become excited, and irritable, rebuke too severely an
uninstructed man who has made a small, unintentional mistake, use any
words unworthy of your position--and you demonstrate clearly to your men
your unworthiness to hold your office.
When there is peace and harmony and efficiency in your organization, you
are responsible for it. When there are grumblings, lack of enthusiasm
and esprit-de-corps, be honest and sensible and see if you are also
not responsible for it. No matter how badly things are going at drill,
never lose your temper with the company.
When things are going well, let your men feel that you are proud of
them. A company should be like a good football team: every man in it
right behind the captain.