Leaders vs. Inertia
Combat Lessons, Number 2, September 1946
Lieutenant Colonel R.E. O'Brien, Cavalry, Observer With Fifth Army, ITALY:
"In spite of the fact that I observed many interesting things in the practice of tactics and technique, still the one lesson that stands out in my mind above all others is the one that is so well known by military men that its statement here amounts to little more than a platitude. I mention it, however, because it had such a profound effect upon me. That lesson is the importance of and need for adequate leadership.
"The effect on most men of the impact of battle is to cause them to want to do nothing. A determined effort must be exerted to accomplish even simple tasks, and men are likely to neglect duties which they know must be performed. There is no force other than a driving leadership to overcome this inertia, this tendency to carelessness, and to infuse a determination to succeed in the minds of the individual men. When this spark of leadership is present the individual knows that others feel it too and that his effort is not alone.
"However, I was not leader in this campaign, so I will quote, an officer who is a successful commander in an Infantry regiment, the wearer of a Silver Star, an officer who has a fine reputation:
" 'Tell your people when you return, that the hardest job they will have here is getting things done. My men know their weapons arid tactics thoroughly. My effort is simply to require them to do the things they know must be done, posting security, dispatching patrols, seeking a field of fire, retaining their equipment and making sure that it is in working order. You have to check all the time.' "