The Minute Book
Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Making Good as a Soldier
Topic: Drill and Training

Making Good as a Soldier

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 2, of 30)

Discipline is not only essential in developing the army, but also in developing your own character as a soldier. "The soldier who is by nature brave, will by discipline become braver."

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 28 August 1917

The national army, in which you are to take your place, truly expresses the American character and ideals. It is a great democratic army. It includes men of all degrees of wealth and education, chosen through fair and open selection by lot. All are brought together on terms of equality. There has been and there will be in this great national army no favoritism and no "pull." The poor man will drill side by side with the man who has been raised in luxury. Each will learn from the other. The place each man makes for himself will be determined by his own work and ability.

The question as to whether it is better to join the colors now or with a later contingent is not worth arguing, since the decision has been made for each man by lot. An ambitious man, however, will be glad to join now. It gives him a better chance for promotion. The commissioned officers of the first contingent are picked men who have voluntarily gone through the hardest king of training.

In order to make good in the national army you must, first of all, fit yourself to carry with credit the simple title of "American Citizen-Soldier"—one of the proudest titles in the world. This means that you must develop in yourself the qualities of the soldier. The more quickly and thoroughly you cultivate them, the greater will be your satisfaction and success.

elipsis graphic

Three Basic Qualities

There are three basic qualities, without which no man can be a real soldier even though he may temporarily wear a uniform. They are:

  • Loyalty,
  • Obedience,
  • Physical Fitness.

A man without these qualities is in the way and is a source of weakness to an army, both in the camp and on the field of battle.

The articles of war of the United States set forth the military crimes which are punishable by heavy penalties. Among these crimes are desertion, cowardice, insubordination, drunkenness while on duty, sleeping while on duty as a sentinel, disclosing the watchword, and giving aid or comfort to the enemy. Run over this list and you will see that every one of these military crimes can result only from the absence of one or more of the three basic qualities of a soldier.


A soldier's loyalty governs, first of all, his feelings and actions toward his country. There can be no such thing as half-way loyalty. The slightest compromise opens the door to treason.

But a soldier's loyalty does not stop here. It governs also his feelings and actions towards the army and towards all the officers under whom he serves, it absolutely forbids disobedience among both officers and enlisted men, or disrespect towards those in authority.


The second of the soldier's basic qualities is obedience, based on discipline. Without obedience and discipline an army cannot long continue to exist; it will quickly degenerate into an armed mob. As the infantry drill regulations put it, discipline is "the distinguishing mark of trained troops."

Military discipline is always impersonal. Obedience is required not merely of you, but of every man in the army. It is required of officers by their superiors with fully as much strictness as it is required of you. It will become your duty, whenever you are given authority over other men, to demand from them the same full measure of obedience that other will require of you.

Discipline is not only essential in developing the army, but also in developing your own character as a soldier. "The soldier who is by nature brave, will by discipline become braver."

The third basic quality, physical fitness, is so essential that a large part of the time devoted to your training will be spent in building it up. Physical fitness includes not only muscular development, but good health and endurance as well. It is a quality which every man who passes the physical examinations can develop in himself by reasonable care and by obedience to instructions.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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