What Leadership Can Do
Colonel Donald J. Myers USMC (Ret)
I recently finished reading a book on the history of the 82d Airborne Division during World War II, The Sword of St Michael. It was fascinating to learn how often units were led by soldiers junior to what was expected for companies, battalions, and regiments. The percentage of casualties for the leaders was especially high, because they led from the front. I am currently reading the book The Generals that describes generals from World War II to the present time. The theme is always leadership or the lack of it. It was fascinating to relearn how many generals were relieved during that war because they were not getting the desired results. Victory was expected and anything short of that was unacceptable. Victory, now isn't that a novel word that has not been used lately?
General Lewis Wilson became the Commandant of the Marine Corps on 1 July, 1976. At that time, all of the services were having an extremely difficult time with discipline. The entire country was also having a tough time following the end of the Vietnam War and the all volunteer military. When junior leaders questioned the direction of the Corps, they were told that we were merely a reflection of society. General Wilson implemented a new approach and directed units to discharge those individuals who were impersonating Marines. Administrative programs were implemented to discharge those people and the good Marines cheered.
On a national level, our country was experiencing double digit inflation, unemployment, and interest rates when Ronald Reagan assumed duties as our president. He changed the attitude of the people and the country went on a record level of growth and wealth creation. He went to the people with his plan to move the nation forward and congress reluctantly went along. Again, leadership led the way.
During world War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill assumed his duties when
Today, our country continues to move at a snails pace because of all the stupid regulations and road blocks established by the government. Far too often when something stupid occurs, a new regulation is created to prevent it from happening again without ever considering the effects of unintended consequences. Many of our states are moving forward because of their leadership, but it remains difficult. Examples of how to do this are available, but far too many fail to learn while expecting the government to be the ultimate savior. It isn't.
Our history shows the way to success. There are fantastic examples in business, education, politics, military, and any other endeavor one may use. I fear that too little of that is being covered in our schools and far too little is being encouraged throughout society. Show me an organization that encourages that and I'll show you one that is probably very successful. Our system is unique in the world and because of it we continue to develop new techniques in most areas, but that must be rewarded or it will fade. True leaders encourage innovation and experimenting and an overreaching government reduces that. I remain optimistic about this great country, but there is much to fear with the direction that we seem to be moving toward. That is not the
that I served for most of my adult life. There are leaders in the country and it is up to us to select them for duty. America