Quotes - Discipline (page 4)

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You will be expected to set an example at all times, in all military acts and virtues, in smartness and discipline, intelligence and general conduct, but particularly in courage and tenacity in moments of crisis and adversity. - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, while reviewing 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, on 31 May, 1980

13. VIII. 1915. Nairobi [General W.] Malleson [brigade commander, East Africa] is beside himself with rage. He has received a postcard, purporting to come from von Lettow [Commander, German forces] and with a very good imitation of his signature, simply saying: "Thank you." Some young officer has a keen insight and though it betrays a lamentable lack of discipline, it displays a marked sense of humour. The card in question has been sent to me and I am supposed to find out who sent it. I shall take no action beyond posting the card above my desk. - Colonel R. Meinertzhagen, CBE, DSO, Army Diary, 1899-1926, 1960

Good officers are made through the exercise of discipline upon themselves and those under them, courtesy, tact, and, above all, experience in the handling of men. This means hard work, but the respect of men, so necessary to a successful officer, cannot be gained by social charm and good birth credentials. - Customs of the Service (Advise to those newly commissioned) by A.H.S., 1939

In one of his handwritten memos to himself entitled "Things Worth Remembering" the methodical Arthur Currie had included as Item 3: "Thorough preparations must lead to success. Neglect Nothing" and as Item 19: "Training, Discipline, Preparation and Determination to conquer is everything." - Pierre Burton, Vimy, 1986

The final cause of discipline is the efficient use of arms on the field of battle. - A Handbook of the Boer War, 1910

The real secret of leadership is the domination of the mass by a single personality. Influence over subordinates is a matter of suggestion. Discipline acquired peace and the power of personal example are both used to exact great sacrifices. - Major General Baron Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven, The Power of Personality In War, 1911 (translated by the Historical Section, [US] Army War College, 1938; pub 1955)

The senior combatant officer present at mess is responsible for the maintenance of discipline. - The King's Regulations and Orders for the Army, 1908

The troops who fight the best do so, not because of their nationality, but because at that specific time they are the best trained, the best disciplined and the best led on the field. - Strome Galloway, The General Who Never Was, 1981

There is no feature of training known to any company commander I have met which enabled him to determine, prior to combat, which of his men would carry the fight for him and which would simply go along for the ride. Perfection in drill is not the key. The most perfectly drilled and disciplined soldier I saw in World War I was a sergeant who tried to crawl into the bushes his first time over the top. Some of the most gallant single-handed fighters I encountered in World War II had spent most of their time in the guardhouse. - S.L.A. Marshall, MEN against FIRE, 1947

Without troop discipline and strong leadership, the structure of our forces crumble, and our ability to do our duty is compromised. We must not lose sight of the operational imperatives of our mission. We still need to be combat-capable, and ready at all times to go to war, if necessary. We are, first and foremost, a fighting force. - Admiral J.R. Anderson, CDS, to Candidates on the Senior CWO/CP01 Course, CFB Borden, Sep 30, 1993

You do well apprehend that good order and military discipline are the chief essentials in an army. But you must ever be aware that an army cannot preserve good order unless its soldiers have meat in their bellies, coats on their backs and shoes on their feet. All these are as necessary as arms and munitions. I pray you will never fail to look to these things as you may do to other matters ... - Marlborough, to his Quartermaster-General, Dec 1703, quoted in J.M. Bereton, The British Soldier

"A good soldier obeys orders without question ... and keeps his buttons bright." I always did both ... until I gradually found out that some orders are criminal nonsense. - Strome Galloway, The General Who Never Was, 1981

The German military system during the war years tolerated physical violence and humiliation as disciplinary techniques, and yet many armies, including Canada's, have been admirers of what German military discipline accomplished. - Desmond Morton, Silent Battle, Canadian Prisoners of War in Germany 1914-1919, 1992

...the pronounced emphasis on discipline in the British army. To the average soldier, discipline simply meant the unquestioning obedience to any senior rank, a quality ingrained from the first in all recruits. 'Orders is orders,' was the saying. (Interestingly, the identical sentiment, 'befehl ist befehl', was a common phrase in the highly disciplined German army.) Since most of the men, reared in an age when nonconformity was unfashionable, accepted the system, few fell seriously foul of it. - Alan Lloyd, The War in the Trenches, 1976

Within any infantry company there were men who would be lions in combat and others who would be sheep. A Marine division commander in the Pacific told an Army observer: "About ten percent of a unit do all the fighting and will never cause you trouble --they are the backbone. About eighty percent are half-trained, scared to death, and waiting to see what someone else is going to do. The other ten percent never were and never will be any good." S. L. A. Marshall reached similar conclusions. He estimated that in any battle only about 25 percent of an infantry outfit would fire their rifles; but the basis for his estimate is unclear, and many combat veterans say it is far too low. Marshall also wrote: "Company by company we found in our work that there were men who had been consistently bad actors in the training period, marked by the faults of laziness, unruliness, and disorderliness, who just as consistently became lions on the battlefield, with all the virtues of sustained aggressiveness, warm obedience, and thoughtfully planned action. When the battle was over and time came to coast, they almost invariably relapsed again. They could fight like hell but they couldn't soldier." - Lee Kennett, G.I.; The American Soldier in World War II, 1987

Discipline begins in the Wardroom. I dread not the seamen. It is the indiscreet conversations of the officers and their presumptuous discussions of the orders they receive that produce our ills. - Earl St. Vincent, quoted in E.C. Russell, Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Armed Forces,1980

"La base de la discipline".
        It is the first thing a Legionairre must learn by heart, and woe betide him if he does not know it, it goes like this:
        La discipline étant la force principale des armées, il importe que tout supérieur obtiènne de ses subordonnés une obeissance entière et une soumission de tout les instants, que les ordres soient executées instantanément, sans hésitation, ni murmure, l'autorité qui le donne en est responsable et la réclamation n'est permise à l'inferieur lorsqu'il a obei.

[Discipline being the principal strength of all armies, it is essential that all superiors receive from their subordinates absolute obedience and submission on all occasions. Orders must be executed instantly without hesitation or complaint. The authorities who give them are responsible for them and an inferior is only permitted to make an objection after he has obeyed.] - A.R. Cooper, March or Bust; Adventures in the Foreign Legion, 1972

"He that shall abuse and injure the Sergeant-Major, the Provost Marshal, either by word or deed, if he be a Captain he shall be cashiered, if a soldier he shall pass the pikes. No soldier shall withstand or hinder the Provost Marshal or his men in the execution of their office, upon pain of death."  -- The Disciplinary Code of Conduct of the Virginia Colony, issued 22 June 1611, on the authority of His Majesty King James I.

At that time, the rank of sergeant-major referred to a commissioned officer equivalent to today's major. "Passing the pikes" was a punishment also known as "running the gauntlet" where a soldier was made to run between two ranks of his comrades, who would flog him with belts or rods as he ran past. Today's punishment for obstruction of Military Police (NDA s.102, QR&O 103.35) is somewhat less severe. Submitted by Capt M.E. Motyl, MP Fd Ops O.


        Brig. J. Field, CBE, DSO, ED, 4th Infantry Brigade, in the Australian Army Journal

On the 4th September 1940, Mr. Winston Churchill visited and inspected units of the 2nd AIF then encamped on Salisbury Plain. While passing down the ranks of the writer's battalion, the Prime Minister keenly scrutinized the men, meanwhile asking a number of questions on the state of training, supply of unit equipment and so forth. As is well known, Mr. Churchill was first commissioned in the 4th Hussars and, during the Great War of 1914-18, at one period, he commanded the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers. It was clear that his own regimental training, his possible association with men of the 1st AIF in France, and speculation on the qualities of the new Anzacs, inspired the final question in this interrogation: "How are they on saluting?" The answer to this was followed by one of those inimitable comments which, like so many of the famous statesman's utterances gets down to the roots of the matter in arresting phraseology. He said: "You know, in my young subaltern days, I was always taught that saluting was the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." In May 1944, when. the United Kingdom was crammed with British and American troops in training for D Day, a questioner in the House of Commons asked the Prime Minister if he would consider an order that would eliminate the obligation to salute when off duty. Mr. Churchill's reply is quoted in full: "No Sir: a salute is an acknowledgement of the King's Commission and a courtesy to Allied Officers, and I do not consider it desirable to attempt to make the distinction suggested. If my honourable friend had an opportunity during the war of visiting Moscow he would find the smartest saluting in the world. The importance attached to these minor acts of ceremony builds up armies which are capable of facing the greatest rigours of war."

        To be disciplined does not mean that one does not commit any break of discipline;...does not mean being silent, abstaining, or doing only what one thinks one may undertake without risk; it is not the art of eluding responsibility; it means acting in compliance with orders received and therefore of finding in one's own mind by effort and reflection the possibility of carrying out such orders. It also means finding in one's own will the energy to face the risks involved in execution. - Marshal Foch.


        At a regimental court martial of the 1st Battalion, Royal American Regiment, held at Fort Pitt in January, 1761, a man was tried for stealing a keg of rum from the King's Store. He was found guilty of stealing and drinking the rum and sentenced to receive 500 lashes upon his bare back and also pay 30 shillings by a stoppage of pay. Another man who was tried and found guilty of receiving the rum, knowing it to be stolen, was recommended for mercy because of his good character. He was sentenced to receive only 200 lashes. - Directorate of Public Relations (Army), Army Headquarters, Ottawa.

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.
        Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
        Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
        The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.
        By Method and Discipline are to be understood the marshalling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduation of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. - Sun Tzu Wu, The Art Of War, Trans by Lionel Giles Introduction and Notes by Brigadier General Thomas R Phillips (The Military Service Publishing Company, Pennsylvania) 1949

Indeed the Army began to border on an undisciplined, ineffective, almost anomic mass of individuals who collectively had no goals and who, individually sought only to survive the length of their tours. - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978

"In sum, a well-disciplined, highly cohesive, tradition-oriented military subsystem and the officer corps which provides its leadership is not incompatible with a larger democratic social, political, and economic order." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978

"Disintegration of a military organization can be seen in the prevalence of internal conditions which make effective military operations very difficult if not, in some cases, impossible. These conditions are desertion, mutiny, assassination of leaders, and other factors, such as drug usage, which destroy discipline and combat effectiveness. Unit cohesion is the presence of a set of conditions which create the expectation that a military unit will attempt to perform its assigned orders and missions irrespective of the situation and its inevitable attendant risks." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978

"Small-unit cohesion and discipline within American combat units in Vietnam either were destroyed or were in the process of being destroyed because of the overall weakening of traditional discipline within the military system itself." - Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army; 1978

ref mech forces of blitzkrieg: "Employing either strategic or operational surprise, this force would penetrate to great depth, beyond the enemy reserves, while avoiding battle. This would dislocate the enemy force physically and shatter its commanders psychologically. Any response they could make would certainly be overtaken by events and probably be irrelevant to the German operational aim." - Richard E. Simpkin; Race to the Swift - Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare, 1985

"Discipline, skill, good-will, a certain pride, and high morale, are the attributes of an army trained in times of peace. They command respect, but they have no strength of their own. They stand or fall together. One crack, and the whole thing goes, like a glass too quickly cooled." - Carl Von Clausewitz, On War; ed and trans by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey), 1984

"We are therefore certain that no rules of any kind exist for maneuver, and no method or general principle can determine the value of the action, rather, superior application, precision, order, discipline, and fear will find the means to achieve palpable advantage in the most singular and minute circumstances. It is on these qualities that victory in this type of contest largely depends." - Carl Von Clausewitz, On War; ed and trans by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey), 1984

"In the majority of men the retention of self-discipline under conditions of the battlefield depends upon the maintaining of an appearance of discipline within the unit. Should the latter begin to dissolve, only a small minority of the most hardy individuals will retain self- control" - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947

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