Quotes - Discipline (page 1)

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The relationship between officers and men should in no sense be that of superior and inferior, nor that of master and servant, but rather that of teacher and scholar. In fact, it should partake of the nature of the relationship between father and son, to the extent that officers, especially commanding officers, are responsible for the physical, mental, and moral welfare, as well as the discipline and military training of the young men under their command. - Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune, 1920

Discipline can only be obtained when all the officers are imbued with the sense of their awful obligation to their men and to their country that they cannot tolerate negligence. Officers who fail to correct errors or to praise excellence are valueless in peace and dangerous misfits in war. - Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself. - Major General John M. Schofield, Address to the United States Corps of Cadets, 11 August 1879

The core of a soldier is moral discipline. It is intertwined with the discipline of physical and mental achievement. Total discipline overcomes adversity, and physical stamina draws on an inner strength that says "drive on." - Former Sergeant Major of the Army, William G. Bainbridge

Our success over our enemies will depend upon the degree of development of certain essentials of military personnel:
        1.     Skillful and resolute leadership.
        2.     A high morale.
        3.     Well organized and disciplined troops.
If we have the first of these three we are bound to have the last two. - General Alexander M. Patch

Knowledge is the surest guarantee of self-confidence, self-control, and self-discipline. From his knowledge, the leader will acquire three fundamental qualities necessary to lead men: flexibility of mind, common sense, and confidence. Common sense is the assimilation of knowledge which expresses itself by the ability to compare, to discriminate, and to judge accurately. Nobody is born with it; it is acquired through experience, studies and readings Enough common sense is genius. - Captain M. Rioux, RCA

Everyone recognizes that the priceless qualities of leadership are not possessed by everyone. In the best leaders, certain fundamental qualities such as competence, clear-thinking, self-discipline, impartiality, and decisiveness are apparent. These characteristics give a leader an ability to inspire confidence in his subordinates. It takes these qualities, plus training and experience, to develop good leadership. Should we fail to develop leadership, we are lost. - Assistant Secretary of the Army Hugh M. Milton II

Remember as you follow where you may be led to regard discipline and vigilance as of first importance, and to obey with alacrity the orders transmitted to you; as nothing contributes so much to the credit and safety of an army as the union of large bodies by a single discipline. - Archidamus, King of Sparta, exhorting the Spartans & allies at the start of the Peloponnesian War (Thucydides)

If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and unless submissive, they will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.
Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory. If in training soldiers, commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well disciplined. If the general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual. - Sun Tzu

What was expected of a Sergeant-Major in the XVIIIth century is disclosed by the following from Simes' "Military Course" (1777): "He should be a man of real merit, a complete Sergeant and a good scholar, sensible and agreeable in conversation, in order to attract the eye of the N.C.O's.; he should be a person who has discovered an early genius for discipline; he must be ready with his pen." - Major T.J. Edwards, "The Sergeant-Major", Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, Vol LXXIV, February to November, 1929

Prestige is the basis of discipline, "for we shall not lead our men by force or by fear, but solely by the prestige which we hold." - from "L'Ame du Soldat," quoted in Captain J.F.C. Fuller, Training Soldiers for War, 1914

Discipline is no longer a matter of flog or hang as it was a century ago. We all remember how Candide was taught military discipline by the Bulgarians: "he was made to turn to the right, to the left, shoulder his musket, order it, take aim, fire, break into double time, and he was given thirty blows with a stick; the next day he carried out his drill a little less, and he only received twenty blows; the day following he was only given ten, and he was looked upon as a prodigy by his peers." - Voltaire, "Candide ou l'Optimisme", quoted in Captain J.F.C. Fuller, Training Soldiers for War, 1914

One great secret of discipline for officers and non-commissioned officers is for them to know how to make the most familiar intercourse with their men compatible with absolute authority; for if you attempt to keep up discipline by all in authority holding aloof from those under them, you will maintain discipline by fear, and not the true discipline inspired by confidence and affection. To quote Napier . . . . 'Who shall say that the British soldier can only be worked on by fear because he is insensible to honour? Shame on such a thought? Fear is a thing he is most insensible to.'" - Lieutenant-Colonel W. Clark, The Maintenance of Discipline, 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry Chronicle, 1894

Discipline is no longer literal obedience but intelligent obedience, for discipline aims at obedience coupled with activity of will. Once discipline weakens and vanishes, as it does towards the latter stages of the fire fight, and the crowd instinct possesses the soldier, then will he, if training has formed those necessary mental reflexes, surrender himself to the will of his leader; this is where leadership supplants discipline without destroying it. - Captain J.F.C. Fuller, Training Soldiers for War, 1914

There is discipline. There is drill. . . . When you are relying on your mates and they are relying on you, there's no room for slackness or sloppiness. If you're not prepared to accept the rules, you're better off where you are. - British army recruiting poster, 1976

The General Order is always to manoeuver in a body and on the attack; to maintain strict but not pettifogging discipline; to keep the troops constantly at the ready; to employ the utmost vigilance on sentry go; to use the bayonet on every possible occasion; and to follow up the enemy remorselessly until he is utterly destroyed. - Lazare Carnot (1753-1823), French revolutionary, military strategist. First Order of the Day, 2 Feb. 1794, to army commanders

Slovenly drill is worse that no drill at all, for it will make men slovenly soldiers just as quickly as smart drill will make them smart. - Brevet Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, D.S.O., "Moral, Instruction and Leadership," Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXV, February to November, 1920

What does discipline depend on? Will power and knowledge. You can do nothing without these two. A man who has no will power is an idiot; a man who has no knowledge is a fool. If a situation finds you with an empty skull it is too late to fill it. To go into action ignorant of what is required of you is as disastrous as to go into action without ammunition. - Brevet Colonel J.F.C. Fuller, D.S.O., "Moral, Instruction and Leadership," Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXV, February to November, 1920

Years ago it was sufficient if the soldier gave a more or less rigid, unwavering, physical adherence to his leaders and comrades. Nowadays, however, his adherence must be mainly intellectual. Standing in line to meet the massed attacks of advancing battalions required another type of discipline--which we are not losing very fast. The absolute subordination of the man was the only criterion of those days. Individuality was ruthlessly suppressed, and if at times it did display itself, it was in spite of, and not because of, the system of training then in existence. Marching, shooting, and obedience were about the only things which a soldier of former days had to learn. To-day the soldier is, comparatively speaking, an intellectual giant. To-day, our soldiers are not only required to march, shoot and obey, but they actually dabble in the realms of science. They study physics, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and what not. Men who are able to tackle such subjects cannot be disciplined by the old methods of constant soul-killing drill. Instead of instilling in the soldier the fear of punishment we must inculcate ideals of conduct and achievement; we must develop his mental faculties and we must encourage a display of reasonable judgment and initiative. There must be an appeal to the soldier's intelligence and our training must be moral training of the highest type. - "Discipline and Personality," by Sergt.-Major E.J. Simon, R.C.R., Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 3, April, 1925

But first let us be quite clear in our minds about the word discipline, because in military parlance it has two meanings: First, the degree of compulsion required to control a soldier's behaviour in his daily life; and, second, the measures required to school that soldier into a perfect fighting unit. Discipline of the first kind is of course as important as ever. Smartness off and on parade; saluting and general turnout; these are still vital to the credit and good name of the Regiment; but with the spread of modern education, and the increase in intelligence of the British soldier, they are perhaps easier of inculcation than formerly. But the need of discipline of the second kind is greater and more urgent than ever before in our history... - "Drill and Discipline," by Major-General J.H. Beith, C.B.E., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXXXIV, February to November, 1939

...the roots of soldiering, which are these:--
    (a)     The soldier's pride in his own personal smartness and efficiency, and in the unit to which he belongs. Many a time in the history of our Army pride of Regiment alone has steadied men in a tight corner.
    (b)     Instinctive ability both to obey and to command. The soldier is always doing one or other of these, and intensive drill is the best method of accustoming a commander to impress his will upon those under him, and them to obey instinctively and smartly. .
    (c)     Adaptability. A soldier must instantly be ready to take orders from his commander of the moment, however frequently the hazards of battle may transfer that command; and be equally ready to take command himself should occasion arise.
    (d)     The sense of Order and Discipline. This enables troops to be assembled and manoeuvred rapidly and without confusion at moments of emergency.
    (e)     Resiliency, or quick power of recovery, which restores the morale of disorganised troops in the shortest possible time.
    (i)     Physical and mental endurance, which enable a soldier,
however desperate the situation, or however exhausted he may be, to carryon far beyond the limits of his normal strength and courage.
Such are the qualities of the true soldier; and experience has proved that they are best and most lastingly ingrained by simple routine exercises in the elements of soldiering, continually and patiently repeated. So trained, a soldier will be able, whatever the danger and distractions about him, to concentrate steadily on his duty, whether it is to lead, or follow, or act upon his own initiative. Then it is that he will appreciate the value of his early and, at times, perhaps ruthless training, for it will have made him a keen, flexible and fully tempered instrument. - "Drill and Discipline," by Major-General J.H. Beith, C.B.E., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. LXXXIV, February to November, 1939

Discipline does not mean fear of punishment, but the cheerful and willing obedience of commands because the recipients are confident that orders given by their leaders are for the good of the individual and the team; it goes even further--it entails the desire to find out the right thing to do and to do it and see that others do it so as not to let the team down. - "Morale," by Lieut.-Colonel J.G. Shillington, D.S.O., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCV, February to November, 1950

It is nothing but common sense for a junior officer to be tactful toward superior officers and especially so toward his commanding officer. He should always carefully observe the rules of military courtesy down to the minutest detail. If his commanding officer has special likes or dislikes concerning certain rules of discipline or camp regulations, the junior officer should use his best efforts to see that such rules are observed. But in this connection we must realize that tact is certainly not to be confused with flattery, or with "boot-licking" or "apple-polishing." - "Military Leadership," The Infantry School Mailing List, Vol XXVI, July 1943

Ceremonial Drill is not merely a collection of movements designed for the improvement of discipline and to test. The steadiness of the men in the ranks. Our modern "Infantry Training" deserves a little study.
    There is the "Advance in Review Order," which is nothing more than a rehearsal of the attack for the benefit of the reviewing General. Arms are presented at the close as a sign that the movement is completed. It used to be the last of eighteen complicated manoeuvres performed by a battalion when tested as to its preparedness for war. In this process was included an advance in line, a volley fired obliquely to the right, another to the left, a further advance and two volleys to the front, officers and colours then took post, the whole moved forward fifty paces and the inspection concluded with a Royal Salute. The last movement is now all that remains.
    (From a related note: The Chairman; The Hon. J.W. Fortescue, C.V.O.:-- The eighteen manoeuvres did not come in till 1781, and were invented by David Dundas in the first drill-book issued for the whole Army written by a private individual and sanctioned by authority. Everybody had his own drill book before that and did what was right in his own eyes. The eighteen manoeuvres became famous because officers considered that they were the beginning and end of their duties. You remember the remark Sir John Moore made to Dundas : ..Your drill book would have done a great deal of good if it had not been for those damned eighteen manoeuvres;" whereupon Dundas replied: ..Blockheads do not understand. That is the danger of making a drill book.") - "Old Military Customs Still Extant," by Major C.T. Tomes, D.S.O., M.C., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. LXX, February to November, 1925

An army is a fighting weapon moulded by discipline and controlled by leaders; the essence of the army is discipline. - Montgomery


1.     Legionnaire : you are a volunteer serving France faithfully and with honor.

2.     Every Legionnaire is your brother-at-arms, irrespective of his nationality, race or creed. You will demonstrate this by an unwavering and straight forward solidarity which must always bind together members of the same family.

3.     Respectful of the Legion's traditions, honoring your superiors, discipline and comradeship are your strength, courage and loyalty your virtues.

4.     Proud of your status as a legionnaire, you will display this pride, by your turnout, always impeccable, your behavior, ever worthy, though modest, your living-quarters, always tidy.

5.     An elite soldier : you will train vigorously, you will maintain your weapons as if it were your most precious possession, you will keep your body in the peak of condition, always fit.

6.     A mission once given to you becomes sacred to you, you will accomplish it to the end and at all costs.

7.     In combat : you will act without relish of your tasks, or hatred ; you will respect the vanquished enemy and will never abandon neither your wounded nor your dead, nor will you under any circumstances surrender your arms.

Embassy of France in the United States - February 26, 2001

Drill in close order is of the first importance in producing discipline, cohesion, and the habits of absolute and instant obediance to the orders of a superior. - Infantry Training (4 - Company Organization), London, 1914

An army is composed for the most part of idle and inactive men, and unless the General has a constant eye upon them, and obliges them to do their duty, this artificial machine, which with greatest care cannot be made perfect, will very soon fall to pieces, and nothing but the bare idea of a disciplined army will remain. - Frederick the Great, Military Instruction from the King of Prussia to his Generals, c.1745:I

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