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"The General Patton Approach to Leadership and Success" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 8:25 p.m. PST

"There are many types of inspirational leaders and you can follow different examples. How to inspire staff and employees all depends on what you mean by "inspire." Essentially, the main purpose of inspiration is to get everyone pulling in the same direction in a cooperative fashion. The direction, of course, is to fulfill the mission and goals of the organization.

Take World War II. General George Patton (1885-1945), for example. He had to inspire an army to perform the scary business of war. His inspirational style came through personal example: "Get up front," he would order his officers. Patton's outright intimidation of subordinates and lexicon of aphorisms are immortalized in a book by one of his staff officers, Porter B. Williamson…."
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 8:55 p.m. PST

This inspired me to go out and start slapping random strangers.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 9:15 p.m. PST

Seems to work for some/many in the business world.

Legion 415 Feb 2020 8:43 a.m. PST

Many in business and sports also read Sun Tzu.

And I would not dismiss Patton's leadership style, etc. out of hand. He did get things done. And as I and others know in the military you don't have to like your superiors. Just hope they demonstrate tactical and technical expertise, etc.

It's not a popularity contest. It's about getting the job done and done right.

Wolfhag15 Feb 2020 9:23 a.m. PST

I used to thump guys in my squad when they deserved it. Worked for me. They were mostly Mental Category 4's that to get the best out of them you needed a cattle prod.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 10:47 a.m. PST



Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 3:23 p.m. PST

Ralph, not discussing his ability in a military sense but his record for adding trauma to PTSD victims. Not his finest hour.

Legion 415 Feb 2020 3:49 p.m. PST

Not his finest hour.
Never said it was … but at that time little was known about PTSD or whatever they called it back then. I have heard it called various terms in both world wars.

This inspired me to go out and start slapping random strangers.
I feel the same every time I watch the daily news feeds … But they wouldn't be random. I'd know them by name and or on sight. evil grin

Wolf you know better than I. That with draft take many who really shouldn't have been in the Military. But more like in prison, needing metal health screening, seeing a shrink, etc. But again we all know to fill the ranks in all the US units worldwide, including in SE Asia, along with Europe, the Pacific, etc. The standards were lowered and in some case it seems far too much.

In late the '60s and early '70s. That is when among other things "fragging" officers and NCOs increased. As units with almost all of the members being draftees and only very few professionals/volunteers. Now some of those draftees did their job. But as we see not all.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 5:39 p.m. PST

Everyone knows the slapping stories, Ralph. But Patton was a deeply unpleasant man.

I looked up this quote in a book I have on him:

"If you have two wounded soldiers, one with a gunshot wound to the lung and the other with an arm or leg blown off, you save the sonofabitch with the lung wound and let the goddam sonofabitch with an amputated arm or leg go to hell. He is no goddam use to us anymore".

advice given to a medic by General George S. Patton

Now, as a former leader of men, do you endorse Patton's advice?

I feel the same every time I watch the daily news feeds

I was being ironic. Slapping people isn't really de rigueur.

Blutarski15 Feb 2020 6:00 p.m. PST

"…Patton was a "deeply unpleasant man."

Really? Exactly how well did you know him? Did you know him for very long? What were the circumstances of your relationship with him?

Cherry-picking a quote 75 years after the fact and offering it up totally sans context is a very easy way to vilify just about any individual.


Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 10:39 p.m. PST

Needlessly confrontational as usual, B.
Pretty hard to discuss anything with you because of such.

And are you really suggesting that no single historical character can be assessed after research? That one must have a personal knowledge of him to render a valid judgement? Clearly, time to burn all my books on Alexander. And I'd better not hear a word against Hitler.

I would respectfully suggest your historical method has, again, proven to be flawed.

4th Cuirassier16 Feb 2020 3:40 a.m. PST

@ ochoin

The obvious problem with Patton's philosophy there is of course that if word gets round that there'll be no help for you if you're wounded in the "wrong" way, then you will avoid getting wounded at all. Which is completely counter-productive.

Taken to its logical extreme, there should be no medical facilities at all. The sonofabitch doctors would be of more use fetching ammunition up for the as-yet-unwounded sonsofbitches who can still fight.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 4:31 a.m. PST

@ 4th Cuirassier. Did he really expect to be taken at his literal word? Surely not. But Patton's blow-hard attitude is off-putting. Bradley, Hodges &, of course, Ike didn't need the theatrics and were excellent generals.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 6:02 a.m. PST

While perhaps overly harsh I read the quote another way. In modern times the concept of triage is well established based on its first use in the military and being adopted by civilians in disaster situations.

My reading is you can only save one you save the one that is most likely to survive and return.

And Legion4 is correct about PTSD being poorly understood back then, In fact the most prescribed treatment was to treat the soldier as near the front as possible and to return him to his unit as fast as possible.

Wolfhag16 Feb 2020 7:02 a.m. PST

Everyone has their own style of leadership. Part of being a leader is to get your troops to perform beyond what they think they are capable of. There are different ways to do that. What works for one leader may not work for another.

I always tried to keep the morale up in my unit by having someone go on a beer run when we were out in the field. There was a road going to the airbase nearby. Sometimes at night when patrolling we'd "ambush" cars and air wingers going down the road with blanks and BFA's and then disappear. I came back to the CP and the MP's were waiting and my LT asked me if I knew anything about some officer's car being shot at. Fortunately, I was able to keep a straight face and lie. Some guys liked me, some didn't. I really didn't care but treated everyone the same. I wanted to get the job done but have fun too.


Legion 416 Feb 2020 7:09 a.m. PST

I was being ironic. Slapping people isn't really de rigueur.
As was I … my humor does not always come across well on the net …

I do know when I first got out of the Army after 10+ years in the Infantry. There were times when I was working at the gym shortly after I became a civilian. That I'd get so angry at some of the juicers/metal head who thought they were tough guys because they had muscles. I'd start to shake a bit and had to leave the room as I'd get so mad/get blood simple. I was going to use my combat training on these morons.

My one buddy who was a city cop said to me after one of these "events", "You were going to kill him, I could see it in your eyes!" …

And yes for brief moment I probably was, without thinking I would have smashed his head in with a 45lbs plate. After kicking him in the groin then taking out his knee. As he flopped around on the ground, crying for his mommy.

As a side bar both my girlfriend's son, former USMC with 11 year. He & I have the same shrink at the VA. evil grin

They put us on some nice meds … to keep our emotions in check. Nice and even, calm and happy. Those type meds are the #1 treatment the VA give many of us Vets … I guess for a good reason.

Many always note that I am always in a good mood, pleasant and humorous. I guess without the VA's help … I, like Patton, could a deeply unpleasant man.

evil grin


Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 11:24 a.m. PST

Ralph, your post above is one of the sadder things I've read on TMP. Take care.

Marcus Brutus16 Feb 2020 11:53 a.m. PST

I agree with Blutarski ochoin. Taking one quote from 75 years ago with no context does not qualify you to make such a declaration as "Patton was a deeply unpleasant man."

Legion 416 Feb 2020 3:52 p.m. PST

Ralph, your post above is one of the sadder things I've read on TMP. Take care.
No sweat … I [& the VA] got it under control !

But thanks for your concern. I don't find it sad. Just it is what it is. I have many friends and comrades that are Vets. As I said my girlfriend is a Vet as well as her son. We have a very good time together. I belong to a number Vet organizations, e.g. the Military Officers Assoc. of America. We met a few times a month. We are a band of brothers so to speak. We "get" each other … grin

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 11:31 p.m. PST

Hanging around like-minded people is one of the blessings of life. I think you & I don't agree on everything but we can sometimes find common humanity. Thanks for your reply, Ralph.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 11:38 p.m. PST

Gee, Marcus Brutus. This is a discussion forum not a dissertation for a PhD. So how many quotes makes "my"* assessment of Patton valid?

Does this one help?

"In the second place, Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals."

Diaries, General Patton : A Soldier's Life (2002) by Stanley P. Hirshson, p. 661

As should be clear, I am not commenting on his military abilities.
His braggadocio is off putting. His callous disregard is disquieting. His casual racism is distasteful. I am sorry if I am attacking a hero of yours. He is no hero of mine.

* when I write "my" I actually mean several historians who have produced compelling theses, using source material, IMO.

Legion 417 Feb 2020 6:31 a.m. PST

Ochoin +1 thumbs up

Wolfhag17 Feb 2020 8:59 a.m. PST

I've read some of the details and accounts of the individuals Patton slapped, mostly with his gloves. They all appear to be soldiers that appeared fine physically but had confirmed cases of stress, dysentery, fever, etc. The offenses seemed to take place at an evacuation hospital. It does not appear he was attempting to physically harm them.

In war there are shirkers and people that need more motivation than others, that's the role of NCOs and officers. However, prowling though evacuation hospitals filled with confirmed cases that admitted them, making a diagnosis on the spot and then slapping them (that's an offense) is uncalled for. I know NCOs in VN that kicked guys in the ass to get them to fire their weapons. It happened to me in training! I won't even go into what happened in Boot Camp but if you kept your mouth shut and did as you were told you had no problem.

There is a time and place for hands-on motivation and an evacuation hospital is certainly not the place! I'm wondering if Patton himself was suffering from some level of PTSD but that should not be an excuse for a general officer.

Society changes over time. What was acceptable behavior 50 years ago may not be acceptable now. You need to play by the rules.


Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2020 11:46 a.m. PST

if Patton himself was suffering from some level of PTSD but that should not be an excuse for a general officer.

Now that is an interesting speculation. TBH I think it *would* be an acceptable excuse.

Legion 417 Feb 2020 2:44 p.m. PST

Society changes over time. What was acceptable behavior 50 years ago may not be acceptable now. You need to play by the rules.
Wolf +1

Fred Cartwright17 Feb 2020 5:27 p.m. PST

Well apart from the slapping incidents there is the case of the US soldier he killed by hitting him over the head with a shovel during WW1. The more I read about Patton the less I warm to him as a human being. Conversely the more I read about Monty the more I warm to him. Reading "With the Jocks" at the moment as there is an incident recounted where during Operation Blackcock Monty arrives hands out booze and cigarettes, gives a pep talk to the troops before moving on, doing much to improve morale when they are having a tough time. He seems to have been able to motivate men without the need to slap them or beat them over the head with a shovel.
For a view of how the British treated Battle Fatigue cases you could do worse than read Spike Milligan's account of what happened to him.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2020 5:52 p.m. PST

@ Fred. Monty had his issues but at least he cared for his troops. Good story.

I'd read about the shovel incident. My detractors (above) would be correct about "cherry picking" if there was but one negative story about Patton but I've read quite a lot of fairly dodgy things he did and said.

Although we'll never know the truth about him having PTSD, it would excuse some of his later rantings.

USAFpilot17 Feb 2020 7:29 p.m. PST

Letter to his son, on D-Day, June 6, 1944
"…there are apparently two types of successful soldiers—those who get on by being unobtrusive and those who get on by being obtrusive. I am of the later type and seem to be rare and unpopular, but it is my method. One has to choose a method and stick by it. People who are not themselves are nobody."

Blutarski18 Feb 2020 7:02 a.m. PST

Wolfhaf wrote – "Society changes over time. What was acceptable behavior 50 years ago may not be acceptable now."

….. or acceptable behavior 75 years ago, or 100 years ago

Once again ….. CONTEXT

+1 from me as well.


Wolfhag18 Feb 2020 12:00 p.m. PST

Thanks Blutarski.

Remember Patton and the Bonus Army of WWI? It was a messy affair for everyone. Patton, a man who revered duty, had mixed emotions, calling it a ‘most distasteful form of service.' Within months he criticized the Army's tactics, believing they violated every precept of how to handle civil unrest. Still, he commended both sides: ‘It speaks volumes for the high character of the men that not a shot was fired. In justice to the marchers, it should be pointed out that had they really wanted to start something, they had a great chance here, but refrained.' And while Patton was disgusted that ‘Bolsheviks' were in the mix, he considered most of the Bonus Army ‘poor, ignorant men, without hope, and without really evil intent.' To his dismay, the routed marchers included Joseph Angelo, who 14 years earlier had saved the wounded Patton's life by pulling him to safety from a foxhole.

So again we can blame Patton for more violence towards soldiers or maybe we can compliment him for obeying an order and executing an action that could have easily gotten out of hand and resulted in a massacre.

I'm sure we have some former military officers in the forum. How would you have handled an incident like this if ordered to disperse a few thousand Gulf War vets on the capitol mall?


USAFpilot18 Feb 2020 12:09 p.m. PST

From the same letter to his son, I found this next part interesting:

"To be a successful soldier you must know history. Read it objectively—dates and even minute details of tactics are useless. Weapons change, but man, who uses them, changes not at all. To win battles you do not beat weapons—you beat the soul of enemy man…"

Legion 418 Feb 2020 2:52 p.m. PST

I'm sure we have some former military officers in the forum. How would you have handled an incident like this if ordered to disperse a few thousand Gulf War vets on the capitol mall?
I'm glad we/I never had to find out …

Marcus Brutus18 Feb 2020 7:52 p.m. PST

Again, like Montgomery, Patton was a complex personality that deserves more than passing glosses. I am not a big fan but I would have rather served in the US 3rd Army than any other US army formation.

Legion 419 Feb 2020 6:38 a.m. PST

My Father's 90ID served in Patton's 3rd Army at one time. He remembered seeing him talk to his unit once or twice. My Father, an Inf SGT, never said anything bad about Patton.

LORDGHEE19 Feb 2020 8:00 a.m. PST

My Mom's Cousins served in the 4th armored as a mech infantryman and at a family reunion go to ask " did you ever meet Patton?" My Cousin Stated "Yes I did. WE (the members of his platoon) felt that since we were forced to be there (drafted) we should make the most of the event (WWII) so our track (platoon commander half track) had a bunch of stuff we had acquired to make life more tolerable." Me "like what". My cousin. " well a collapsible bed, chickens, cases of wine. . . our column had stopped and the track was half in the ditch. Suddenly my LT stood at attention ramrod straight. I immediately did the same. yep it was Patton standing on his jeep pulled up beside us. I was facing the wrong way and out of the corner of my eye all I could see was a shiny helmet bobbing up and down. Patton was short. He started off yelling, really squeaking "Who do you think you are a bunch of Bleeped text Italians" and the conversation went down hill from there. He then order my LT. to make this track military and get all that stuff off it "NOW". So we immediately unloaded all the stuff." Me, "and" My cousin,"well when we finished the column had roared off and we where alone. It then accrued to someone that the next time we would probably see the General was at the parade at the end of the war. And we loaded everything back into the track." Me, "even tho you could come under random attack from retreating Germans?" My cousin. "That did motivate us to work fast. Those where good chickens". Me, "Did you see Patton again?". My Cousin. "Yes at the parade at the end of the War. We looked very Military that day. So I do believe that the general did not recognized us as we drove by."

LORDGHEE19 Feb 2020 8:35 a.m. PST

I read a Doctor's assessment (book or article) of Patton. Basically Patton had suffered many head traumas over the years. He fell of his horse many times do to being active in Polo, racing and jumping events (he was a judge at the Olympics). he been shelled many times in France. Reportedly been knock out many times in his life. That his cussing and anger displays where probably symptoms of some form of concussion damage. Wish i could remember where I read this.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

I'm sure we have some former military officers in the forum. How would you have handled an incident like this if ordered to disperse a few thousand Gulf War vets on the capitol mall?

I can only speak to US officers. Training was very clear. We are taught that "I was following orders" is NOT a defense. Carrying out a clearly illegal order was a crime punishable under applicable laws. We were also taught, however, that failure to carry out a lawful order was also a crime and one could be tried under applicable laws. And while cases were used to illustrate both extremes some cases are going to fall into the gray middle area. For those officers who were uncomfortable with this ambiguity it was suggested that they may want to consider another career.

The old saying that many former military will know well, Rank Has Its Privileges has a corollary, Rank Has Its Responsibilities.

Legion 419 Feb 2020 3:44 p.m. PST

That is true Marc. As I was trained the same was a US Army Officer too.

At the Inf Officer Adv Course, in 1983, we spent a couple of days in the class room with the JAG. To make all that clear. With My Lai being an example of what Not to, and why, etc.. And what is a War Crime, etc. We did not want another My Lai to occur. They used the movie Breaker Morant as a teaching aid.

Was some very good training. Plus watching a movie, sitting inside a climate controlled classroom. Was much better than humping the bush with a heavy ruck in the rain … wink

Murvihill19 Feb 2020 6:51 p.m. PST

We were taught that the US military is not used against US citizens.

Fred Cartwright20 Feb 2020 5:18 a.m. PST

We were taught that the US military is not used against US citizens.

The National Guard has been used on a number of occasions though. Are they technically not US Military then?

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2020 5:35 a.m. PST

There is a distinct difference Fred. Day to day the National Guard is under the command of their respective States and the Governor of that State and the National Guard commander. When mobilized by the State they can assist in anything from disaster relief to dealing with unrest in the State. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (amended in 1956 and 1981) exempts the Guard, when acting under State command, from the prohibition of the use of Federal forces in a domestic peacekeeping or law enforcement role.

There are exceptions to the Act. For example President Eisenhower was able to use such exceptions to use Federal troops in the desegregation crisis in 1957 in Little Rock Arkansas.

Of course the Guard, or select portions/States can be Federalized as has been done numerous times in our history. For example there were several National Guard Divisions called up, in whole, during WW II.

They function under the dual control of both the State and the Federal government. They are the State militia and at the same time an integral part of the US Military reserve.

So, in answer to your question, I suppose technically they are a hybrid :)

Wolfhag20 Feb 2020 6:51 a.m. PST

Los Angeles Riots in 1992:

I was living there at the time and witnessed some of the first acts of violence when I was downtown and worked near Koreatown.

On the fourth day, 3,500 federal troops — 2,000 soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division from Fort Ord and 1,500 Marines of the 1st Marine Division from Camp Pendleton — arrived to reinforce the National Guardsmen already in the city. The Marine Corps contingent included the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, commanded by John F. Kelly. It was the first significant military occupation of Los Angeles by federal troops since the 1894 Pullman Strike, and also the first federal military intervention in an American city to quell a civil disorder since the 1968 King assassination riots.

In another incident, the LAPD and Marines intervened in a domestic dispute in Compton, in which the suspect held his wife and children hostage. As the officers approached, the suspect fired two shotgun rounds through the door, injuring some of the officers. One of the officers yelled to the Marines, "Cover me," as per law enforcement training to be prepared to fire upon if necessary. However, per their military training, the Marines mistook the wording as providing cover while utilizing firepower (cover fire), resulting in a total of 200 rounds being sprayed into the house. Remarkably, neither the suspect nor the woman and children inside the house were harmed.

A total of 63 people died during the riots, including nine shot by law enforcement personnel and one by National Guardsmen.

Hopefully, this does not happen again.

In 1973 I was stationed at Quantico, VA outside of DC. We trained for riot control to respond to riots in DC. We would put on our fatigue uniform, helmets and gas mask with M-14's. We'd get in a tight line abreast formation and on orders to advance we held our rifles at high port and advanced step by step lifting our feet high up and stomping them into the ground while advancing. The gas masks made us look pretty intimidating and impersonal.


Legion 420 Feb 2020 7:17 a.m. PST

Yes the NG is part of the US Military. E.g. they trained along with us at the Inf Ofr Basic Course. At the completion of the course they went back to their respective state based units. We went to an active duty unit, e.g. the 101 in my case.

So bottom line Fred … Marc and Wolf are correct.

The NG, Res., and Active Duty can generally work together with little to no difficulty. As we all went to the same training. And in the recent wars the US has been involved in, e.g. Desert Storm. About 43% that deployed in some cases were NG and or Res. Most of those that were deployed were Support type units. However, some Infantry, SF, etc. Res. units were there too.

When I was in the 101, my Inf Bn was sent to Ft. Drum, NY in '82. To train a NG/Res unit(s) from NY/NYC. For their annual Summer 2 week Training. The same happened when I was a Mech Co Cdr at Benning. We were sent to Bragg to train a Res. Mech unit in '88.

Also my Mech Co [- our Tracks] was sent to Eglin USAF Base at the US ARMY Ranger Camp Swamp Phase. At Aux Field 6 in the middle of the everglades. To train with an SF Res unit. And provide OPFOR for the troops from El Salvador that were being trained there as well.

E.g. a local Res. FA unit was retrained as an MP unit. The Needs of the military come first. You pretty much learn that about Day 1 when you sign up/join.

USAFpilot20 Feb 2020 7:17 a.m. PST

There is also that line in the oath: "…all enemies, foreign and domestic…". It's the "domestic" part that presents a grey area with Posse Comitatus.

Legion 420 Feb 2020 1:52 p.m. PST

I guess that would be considered a grey area … But as always it's situational.

Wolfhag20 Feb 2020 5:16 p.m. PST

Since when did politicians need to follow the law if they don't want to or can get away with breaking it? Especially if it means negating the rights of its citizens.

Congress can change the law and the President can write a "Secret Executive Order" to cover his abuse.


Legion 421 Feb 2020 7:38 a.m. PST

thumbs up

Blutarski21 Feb 2020 8:19 a.m. PST

Another case of the Federal government officially calling out the US Militia against citizens – the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791.

Also, a relatively little known event in LA in 1943 – the Pachuco Riots (otherwise known as the "Zoot Suit Riots"). The Wikipaedia entry related to this event is IMO heavily politicized and slanted, but it involved the intervention of about 3,000 marines armed with axe handles to end the street disorder. Wiki describes the marines as "a mob"; my understanding is that they had been dispatched on the authority the local marine commander.



Wolfhag21 Feb 2020 6:07 p.m. PST

Wiki describes the Marines as "a mob"

I'm offended! I resemble that remark! That's what my Company Commander called us.


Legion 422 Feb 2020 8:05 a.m. PST

evil grin

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