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Advice To Officers

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

not theirs.

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.