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General McChrystal

Stan McChrystal transformed American special operations, defeated Al Qaida in Iraq, and earned a reputation as one of America’s greatest living soldiers and leaders. When we sat down with Alex Honnold, the greatest-ever free solo climber, McChrystal commented that often leaders “are more worried about being viewed as failing than they are about physical risks to themselves.” Physical courage is rarely lacking, but moral courage is rare. Why? Perhaps the most important reason is that when it’s needed, McChrystal said, “you find yourself rationalizing things that if you really boil it down, it’s your own lack of moral courage, but you will find ways to justify what you do or don’t do.”
McChrystal’s insight shines a light on a central truth about people. Human beings are not rational actors. We are rationalizing ones. We think that we have desires and then act on them. But in reality we take actions, then construct reasons (usually self-justifying ones) afterwards.
This is a truth about human psychology that the wise have known for centuries – it even appears in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Scientists have confirmed it via experiments done with patients where the corpus callosum – the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain – has been severed. The left side of the brain controls language. If you show the patient a picture that can only be seen by the right eye (the brain is inverted – the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa), the patient can describe it normally. Show the patient something that can only be seen by the left eye, and he or she can identify it by pointing to it, but not speak about it. But ask the patient why they’ve pointed, and their left brain comes up with a perfectly plausible explanation – even though it’s completely unaware of what the right brain saw. The brain filled in the blanks to create a plausible, but false, explanation for the actions of the body.
This isn’t just about simple actions. People’s beliefs can be changed this way. For example, simply rewriting a quotation from a book makes someone more likely to agree with what it says, even if they disagreed before copying. The brain decides that any sentiments worth the effort of copying must have value and shifts in response. This is a general principle of the way people think. Why do fraternities and gangs have tough initiations? Because the mind convinces itself that anything that took such suffering to join must have great value, so people who go through them become intensely loyal to the group.

This tendency to rationalize is – as McChrystal pointed out – one of the most important reasons leaders fail. Leaders have to make choices. Sometimes those choices mean making personal sacrifices in order to do the right thing. No one wants to do that. No leader – no matter how well-intentioned – would risk their own interests by preference. This means that a leader faced with such a choice is under enormous pressure to activate those self-serving rationalizations. It’s easy to come up with reasons why what you want to do is the right thing to do – after all, your mind is literally designed to create such explanations.
How then, do leaders fight back against such pressures? How do we know when we’re succumbing to them? West Point’s cadet prayer can help. The prayer includes the sentence “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The harder right instead of the easier wrong. The rationalizations that McChrystal – and modern psychology – warn us against are, in their simplest essence, just ways that people trick themselves into believing that the easy thing and the right thing are the same. Most leaders aren’t that lucky.
So how do you guard against these fatal rationalizations? How do you muster the moral courage to first know what the right thing to do is, and then do it, when you’re under pressure? Remember that the right thing, is almost always, the harder one. Remember that your mind is wired to try and blind you to that fact. And always be on your guard when you’re making the easy choice.

Black man by the name of York. Americsn explorer

Everyone knows Lewis & Clark, but did you know that there was a black man who was also part of the expedition? His name was York.

As William Clark’s slave from boyhood, he participated as a full member of the expedition and was present when the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean.

York was known for his skill in scouting, hunting, field medicine, and manual labor in extreme weather conditions.

Lewis had noted in his journal how York had saved him from certain death from a grizzly bear during the expedition.

The Native Nations treated York with respect, and he played a key role in diplomatic relations, mainly due to his dark skin.

After the expedition returned, every member received money and land for their services, every member except York. York asked Clark for his freedom based upon his good service during the expedition, and Clark refused. York pleaded to be reunited with his wife, who was a slave in Louisville; he even offered to work in Louisville and send Clark all his earnings. Clark still refused, and sold York to a brutal master in 1811, where he remained a slave at least until 1816. No reliable information has been published on York after that year. Today I honor York, a man history books, until recently, have forgotten.

York statue – Louisville, KY

New pt test usna

Midshipmen will be hit with two big changes on this week’s Physical Readiness Test as the Naval Academy adopts new exercises leaders say better measure future officers’ fitness levels.

Cadence push-ups and planks will be required when prospective Navy and Marine Corps officers take their biannual fitness test on Saturday. Midshipmen have been testing the new exercises in physical training courses and other venues for about a year, and members of the academy’s class of 2023 took the fall PRT using cadence push-ups and planks.

In November, the Naval Academy announced in an official instruction from the athletic director that the exercises would officially be added to the PRT.

Now, instead of cranking out as many push-ups as possible during the test, midshipmen will perform the exercise “in time with a two-second cadence,” a statement about the changes provided to says.

“This allows for a maximum of 60 push-ups and provides a more accurate picture of a midshipman’s leading edge of physical education in the Navy,” it adds. “The cadence is included to ensure that all participants perform to the same standards.”

The academy is also adopting the plank in place of the crunches, ahead of Navy plans to make the same change. Midshipmen will be required to hold a front-plank exercise for as long as possible during Saturday’s test. That exercise replaces curl-ups, or sit-ups, which officials said can cause injury if done repeatedly.

Navy leaders announced in May that sit-ups would no longer be used on the Physical Readiness Test. The service is currently studying how that event will be scored on the revised test, which is expected to be adopted this year.

Related: Navy’s Fitness Test Overhaul Enters Next Phase

Cmdr. Joseph “Jody” Smotherman, deputy director of physical education at the Naval Academy, said in a statement that the school wants midshipmen to be “the leading edge of physical education in the Navy.”

“At the Naval Academy, as initial entry training, the PRT is an internal process, so we can make these changes before the rest of the fleet,” he said.

It’s not immediately clear whether the Navy will follow the academy’s switch to cadence push-ups.

Lt. Cmdr. Martin Wright, human performance lab director at the Naval Academy, said the exercise done with a cadence has “been shown to be a more valid test for upper body muscular endurance.”

“Through numerous trials with various participants, we found that the cadence greatly improved form and standardized a more complete movement through the full range of motion,” he said in a statement.

Men must complete 60 cadence push-ups to get the full 100 points on that event. Women need 45 or more to earn full marks.

The lowest passing score midshipmen can earn on that event is 60 points, which men will get if they complete 35 cadence push-ups and women if they do 20.

Scores for planks are the same for male and female midshipmen. To earn the full 100 points on the event, they must hold the move for four minutes and 20 seconds. The lowest passing score they can earn is 60 points if they hold a plank for one minute and 45 seconds.

Shoes will be used during both the cadence push-ups and plank portions of the test.

During cadence push-ups, the midshipman’s test partner will remove their right shoe and place it instep-down with toes facing toward their partner’s nose “directly between the participant’s hands, in parallel with the participant’s body.”

During the plank, the shoe is placed underneath the midshipman’s knees, perpendicular to their body, according to the test instructions.

The shoe is meant to “facilitate a more objective test and make sure the exercises are being done properly.” Midshipmen should lower their body until their chest touches the shoe during the push-up portion of the test. During the plank, the midshipman’s body can’t touch the shoe.

Midshipmen also must complete a 1.5-mile run as part of the Naval Academy’s Physical Readiness Test.

Moral courage

The Importance of Moral Courage

This is an excerpt from Ch 14, “Trust: The Key to Combat Leadership” by Colonel (Retired) Patrick Sweeney, Ph.D., from the book “Leadership Lessons from West Point”. The chapter delves into the top ten attributes of a leader who can be trusted in combat as determined by Sweeney’s research on trust and leadership in an actual combat environment during Operation Iraqi Freedom in May 2003. Those attributes, in order of importance, are: competent, loyal, honesty/good integrity, leads by example, self-control (stress management), confident, courageous (physical and moral), shares information, personal connection with subordinates and strong sense of duty.

The second dimension of leader courage deals with leaders’ moral strength to do the right thing in all situations. Moral courage entails a leader’s strength of character to be willing to incur risk in order to act according to his or her values and beliefs and stand up to authority to protect his or her soldiers’ welfare or defend his or her decisions. Thus, moral courage enables leaders to live with integrity, act to uphold the loyalty to their subordinates, and execute their duties with confidence. Subordinates can trust leaders who have the courage to act in accordance with their values because they know the directives they issue will be honest and based on values. Subordinates will not depend on or trust a leader who possesses good job knowledge, has a good set of values and beliefs, and has loyalty to subordinates but lacks the moral courage to put these skills, values, and beliefs into action. Therefore, a leader’s moral courage provides the force of will to do what is right regardless of the situation and the costs the leader must incur. In combat, this is critical because leaders’ moral courage and integrity define the moral and ethical boundaries that subordinates must operate within.

Furthermore, soldiers’ responses indicated they would trust combat leaders who were not afraid to take a stand for what they believed in, the decisions they made, or what is the proper way to conduct business. Leaders must have the moral courage to handle the consequences of taking a stand with the chain of command to fight for what they believe is right. The following statements illustrate qualities of moral courage that lead to the development of trust:

“[I place a high value on a leader’s] strength when it comes to standing up to the company commander, so that fire-support team members were used properly and not as machine gunners.” – Staff sergeant, infantry company fire support noncommissioned office, Qayyarah West Airbase, northern Iraq

“Courage [is important because] a leader must be able to take risks and not back down from confrontation.” – Private first class, infantry company forward observer radio operator, Qayyarah West Airbase, northern Iraq

Moral courage is equally important to leadership in business, nonprofit, political, or any other type of organization. Group members always expect their leaders to have the moral courage to act in accordance with their own and the organization’s values. Thus, leaders’ moral courage provides group members with a sense of confidence that leaders will behave in a moral and ethical manner and take action to promote the best interests of the organization and its members. This confidence that leaders have the strength to act morally and ethically leads to the development of trust, which increases group members’ willingness to follow.

Enron’s, Tyco’s, and Adelphi’s senior business leaders lacked the moral courage to act in accordance with their own and their organization’s values. The consequences of this leadership failure were devastating to the companies, the employees, retirees, and shareholders. Employees lost their jobs, retirees lost their pensions and sense of security, shareholders lost their equity, and the public lost trust in the companies. Whether these senior leaders actively participated in the fraud or tolerated it by not coming forward, they all lacked moral courage to do the right thing. Thus, the agency that comes with moral courage helps ensure group members that leaders do the right thing by the organization and all people associated with it.

Mad dog on war

Former Secretary of Defence General James Mattis’s no-nonsense approach to life is well-known. Before and during his tenure as SecDef, he pushed for more focus on warfighting and less emphasis on senseless exercises and training. Gauging by his time of military, and now public service, the Secretary of Defense appears to prefer logic, and not necessarily doctrine, in making decisions.

In doing so, he’s created a “Mattis Way of War.”

At least, so argues USMC Major Michael Valenti. And he’s put quite a lot of thought behind this assertion, as he wrote his Master’s thesis on General Mattis and his approach to combat. In the paper, Major Valenti examines Mattis’s time as commander of Task Force 58 in the initial stages of the Afghanistan campaign (our own Brandon Webb had some personal interactions with General Mattis during that time) and as commander of the 1st Marine Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In both campaigns, Major Valenti identifies four key components that can be translated into a “Mattis Way of War:”

  • The use of historical examples to influence strategical and tactical decisions.
  • Properly communicating the commander’s intent to all ranks.
  • A light and flexible command structure.
  • The infusion of selected liaisons in key positions.

In interviews, General Mattis has emphasized the distinction between reading history and studying history. By just reading, you gain information; whereas by studying, you understand information. For example, a person can read a book or an article on the Vietnam War and get an idea of why America lost. But a person can also study a book on the Vietnam War and understand why America lost. A subtle line that can make the difference. War isn’t a quiz. Some prefer to understand a concept rather than simply memorize it.

Effectively communicating the commander’s intent is another point to highlight. Mattis wouldn’t issue concrete orders to his subordinate officers. He would, instead, say what he wished to achieve, and it was up to the officers to make it happen — juxtapose this approach with the macromanaging that often takes place in the military. In doing so, Mattis cultivated and encouraged an environment of intellectual and aggressive leadership the enemy found hard to oppose. His approach was similar to the German Army’s during WWII. Everyone hates micromanaging except the micromanagers.

The paper is available for study on Amazon or online. Major Valenti makes solid arguments that can prove useful not only on the battlefield but also in the boardroom or office.

Iran attacks

Last week President Trump authorized the termination of the Irani General Suleiman bye airstrike. Sulaimani was the chief strategist involved in helping terrorist units outside of Iran attack Western targets.

In retaliation Iran fires missiles yesterday in Iraq. However the Iranians gave warning of the attack and basically and basically hit say Island and basically hit sand and did no and basically hit sand and did no damage and basically hit sand and did no damage and basically hit sand and did no damage and basically hit sand and did no damage and basically hit sand and did no damage or and basically hit sand and did no damage or and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of life and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of life and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of life and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of life and basically hit sand and did no damage or loss of life.

My observation is even though they talked tough they did not want to get out with a full attack on American assets. They did want to show their people they were not afraid of America and this act was in retaliation to the death of one of their top generals.

The liberal news media in the United States foretold that we would start World War 3. However since the Tantrum or good faith showing by the Iranian Iranian government to their people. President Trump has open the door open the door for them to discuss open the door for them to discuss future peaceful negotiations.. However he did warn that if that if they attack American assets there there would be repercussions.




by Steve Balestrieri5 hours ago


Photo of General Patton decorating McAuliffe: U.S. Army

Photo of General Patton decorating McAuliffe: U.S. Army

On this day 75 years ago one of the most famous lines ever uttered by an American military officer was said when the Germans surrounded the 101st Airborne around Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

General Anthony McAuliffe, the acting Division Commander in the absence of General Maxwell Taylor who was in the United States at a conference at the time, was woken from his bed with the news that the German troops, who had encircled Bastogne, had demanded the 101’s surrender.

McAuliffe uttered the answer “Nuts” and would immediately be remembered forever.

In the Ardennes Forest, the Germans had taken the Americans completely by surprise and using their armored reserves attacked the most thinly defended line manned by the green U.S. 106th Division. They easily broke through and created a huge hole, a “bulge” in the allies’ lines.

The 101st Airborne, still recovering from the beating it had taken in Operation Market-Garden, was refitting in France. It was rushed into the breach, short of men, equipment and with nearly a total absence of winter clothing. They were given the task of holding the important crossroads town of Bastogne where seven roads and the railway intersected. The 101st’s defense of the town steeled U.S. resolve during the battle. The unit would forever become famous for holding out against overwhelming odds.

McAuliffe was born in Washington D.C. on July 2, 1898. He attended West Virginia University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating just after World War I ended in 1918. He advanced slowly through the ranks in the small peacetime army. Just before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

By the time of the D-Day invasion, McAuliffe had risen to Brigadier General and was the commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s artillery. He jumped into Normandy with the troops. After the death of the Assistant Division Commander, BG Donald Pratt in Normandy, McAuliffe was given that title.

He took part in Operation Market-Garden and after the battle was the acting division commander while General Taylor was in Washington. When the 101st was alerted, he took the troops into Bastogne. The 101st ABN was joined by Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division.

The Germans surrounded the Americans at Bastogne and had a vast numerical advantage over the lightly armed American paratroopers. The German Corps Commander General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz attempted to get the Americans to surrender. They sent four soldiers, two NCOs and two officers under a flag of truce.

The senior officer was Major Wagner of the 47th Panzer Corps and the junior officer, Lt. Hellmuth Henke of the Panzer Lehr Operations Section. They approached a portion of the American line covered by Company F, of the 327 Glider Infantry Regiment of the 101st. They said they had a written message to be presented to the American commander of the U.S. forces in Bastogne.

The officers were blindfolded and taken to a command post. The message was passed from the Company, Battalion, Regiment and levels and then finally reached the Division commander: McAuliffe was woken from his sleeping quarters next to the Division Communications Center by the Acting Division Chief of Staff, LTC Ned Moore. He was told that the Germans were asking for their surrender. McAuliffe groused, “Aw nuts” and began to crawl out from his bunk.

The staff of the 101st then read the typewritten German demand for surrender.

“December 22nd, 1944

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Ourthe near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two-hour term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.”

McAuliffe left the command post to personally congratulate a group of soldiers who had destroyed a German roadblock. When he returned he received a phone call that the two German officers were still waiting for an answer.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell them.” At that point, LTC Harry Kinnard, the Division’s Operations Officer said, “What you said initially would be hard to beat.” McAulliffe asked “What do you mean?” Kinnard, said, “Sir, you said nuts.” All members of the staff agreed, so McAulliffe wrote it down on a message pad and said, “Have it typed up.”

“December 22, 1944

To the German Commander,

N U T S!

The American Commander”

McAuliffe’s written reply was delivered back down to the Command Post where the German officers were being held, still blindfolded. Asking if it was written or verbal, the German officer was told that the message was written. He was told that it consisted of a single word, “Nuts!” the German officer was confused. “Is that reply negative or affirmative?” The Americans said, “The reply is decidedly not affirmative.”

The Germans were taken back to the front lines were, confused, they again asked what the reply meant, not understanding the American slang. An American enlisted man who spoke German said, “Du kannst zum Teufel gehen.” He told the American officer it meant “You can go to Hell.” Then the officer said to the Germans, “If you continue to attack, we will kill every goddamn German that tries to break into this city.”

Henke replied, “We will kill many Americans. This is war.” The American officer Major Harper then said, “On your way Bud,” and without thinking, added, “and good luck to you.” After Henke translated, the major acknowledged. They saluted and the Germans started to walk away. Harper angrily called out to them, “If you don’t know what I am talking about, simply go back to your commanding officer and tell him to just plain “Go to Hell.”

The Germans didn’t take Bastogne. Soon afterward the skies cleared and American fighter-bombers began to pound the German panzers in the Bulge, while C-47s began airdropping supplies and ammunition to the men of the 101st. On the afternoon of December 26th, the lead tanks of the 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division of the Third Army under General Patton had broken through the German encirclement and created a tenuous lifeline where the most seriously wounded paratroopers could be evacuated. The American lines were restored and the 101st was no longer encircled. Getting back the terrain lost took another month.

The German attack had failed at a tremendous cost. The German reserve armor had been smashed and there were no more to replace them. With the Russians pushing from the east and the Western Allies squeezing them from the Belgian/German border, the Nazis were finished. It was just a matter of time. Germany capitulated on May 7, 1945.

When the Third Army linked up with the 101st, General Patton personally decorated McAuliffe with the Distinguished Service Cross on January 14th, 1945. The next day, McAuliffe was promoted to Major General and given command of the 103rd Infantry Division. He would lead the division against the Germans for the remainder of the war and later liberate the Kaufering concentration camp, part of the Dachau complex. The 103rd would take Innsbruck in Austria and secure the Brenner Pass where elements of the Fifth Army, moving up from Italy, linked up and joined the Italian and Western fronts.

After the war McAuliffe returned to Europe as the commander of the 7th Army in 1953 and in 1955. After being promoted to full General (4 stars), he was named Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army Europe. He retired in 1956.

McAuliffe died of leukemia on August 11, 1975, aged 77. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery alongside his wife, son, and daughter.