Leadership and Loss

9 months ago

There is one, single thing that moved me the most during the France Tour to honor the selection of the World War I Unknown Soldier.

I wandered around all those First World War grave markers and saw nothing but US Army Privates; rarely a Corporal, Sergeant or a Lieutenant...but mostly Privates. Those poor souls had no training, no leadership and no time to acquire even a rudimentary knowledge of combat. They got to France a few weeks or months before being thrown into a trench to wait for massive frontal assaults with poorly executed senior and local intelligence, engineer and artillery support.

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery

Certainly, there were potential small-unit combat leaders among those Privates. What carnage on a grand scale. It screamed to me that the Army lacked enough experienced NCO and officer leadership to recognize good, combat leaders among that vast array of Privates and promote them to Corporal or Sergeant. It was leadership….again.

Then I walked through the cemetery at Omaha. I couldn’t help but notice all the PFC’s, Corporals, Sergeants, Lieutenants. But by 1944 there had been some time to develop those instincts among the NCO/officer corps to recognize those junior leaders and, in my mind, the results speak for themselves.

Normandy American Cemetery

COL (Retired) William King

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