Topic: Military Theory
The Eight Principles of War as Applicable to the Platoon Commander's Job
Canadian Army Training Memorandum, No 22, January 1943
Lieutenant W. Smith, a platoon commander, and Sergeant F.G. White, a platoon sergeant, both of The Royal Canadian Regiment, resting after the capture of Pontecorvo, Italy, 24 May 1944.
Photographer: C.E. Nye; Mikan Number: 3202714. From the Library and Archives Canada presentation Faces of War.
1. Maintenance of the Object:
Never forget your job. Remember you are here to turn out a platoon of fully competent soldiers. Stick to it night and day. Before you take time off- Think! Is there anything you slacked on that you could make up Now I Time lost can never be regained, keep on the job.
Are you using all the stores available to you for the job. Are you wasting time on useless "palaver and bitching"? Are your N.C.Os doing their best, are they concentrating on the job? Do you find yourself for hours in the Mess or at the Show. Put all your excess time and energy on your job, that's where it does the most good!
3. Economy of Force
Don't send a man to do a boy's job, a boy to do a man's job. Distribute your N.C.Os to the best advantage. Keep your men fit, in camp a full strength platoon each day. See that your men get only a fair share of fatigues, training is the thing.
4. Offensive Action:
Don't dodge your problems, sink your teeth into them and tear them apart. Work hard! Think hard! Play hard! You are in this thing to win I Give it everything you've got I When the day is done, and your dog tired, the O.C.'s a grouch, the Adjutant is cracked and the Company Commander a bloody fool-forget it! Be a man and give that extra bit to show the world you are.
Get a new idea, surprise the C.O. with a bright suggestion, if you are shy and distant with the platoon-surprise 'em. Show them that you are human- If your crowd is slack-surprise 'em, show them you can crack down. Bowl them over with something new-if it makes sense, you can keep them interested every minute.
Keep your mouth shut, train your men to do the same. Don't be a cad, your rank and appointment gives you the dangerous privilege of knowing information on which may depend the lives of thousands of men, if one dies because you talked, his blood is on your head, you have dishonoured your rank and betrayed your country's trust in you. Be Thoughtful! Be Cautious! Be Honourable!
Do your job with regard to the jobs of others, you are a small cog in the machine but if you don't click the whole machine is out. Think before you curse the Q.M., he's human, think before you call the M.O. a bloody fool, he only has two hands and a small staff. Remember the Adjt. is a harassed careworn individual, when he wants information get it fast and straight. Learn to work with others and they'll work with you.
Keep your mind open and agile. Don't become a slave to Manuals and Pamphlets. Learn to meet the situations as they arrive and be alert to change your plans accordingly-remember a fast mind is often better than a fast vehicle-out of it comes the practicable application of all the other principles.