Battle Briefs

Military history lectures to pique your interest in the past.

Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick the Great agreed that to master military science, a student must study the campaigns of the great generals and admirals before him. In that spirit, this section contains slide presentations that have been used effectively in teaching military principles. They describe battles and campaigns in military history.

Trafalgar 1805

WW2 – D-Day – 6 June 1944

WW2 – Guadalcanal Campaign

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Integrity and Leadership

How important is integrity, really, in leadership? Why? How can we find leaders with integrity? We must begin with integrity in ourselves. 

In the fall of 1996, several allegations of sexual misconduct between Army leaders and their subordinates became public.  The ensuing investigations found many cases in which the allegations were true, and trust began to erode within and towards the US Army.  As a result, the Army sought to clarify and promote the values which have been at the heart of American military service for over 200 years.  Leaders felt that by emphasizing the values that we held, fought for and died for, they could produce a better fighting force.  The mnemonic “LDRSHIP”, pronounced as “leadership”, communicated what the Army was all about.

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The Informative Brief

How can we effectively brief our bosses, our peers, and other stakeholders to educate them on important issues, and in the end, achieve our goals? 

A senior civilian official in the military health system was at a surgical conference with a young Navy colleague. They chatted, and in the course of their conversation the Navy surgeon mentioned some exciting things that he was doing in his clinic to improve access, operating room utilization and quality of care.  The civilian official asked the younger man to prepare a talk to present to a group of senior leaders. Eventually word of this arrangement spread throughout the levels of command and my team was tasked with making sure that the brief accomplished its purpose.

The Navy surgeon was smart, industrious, and enthusiastic about his team’s accomplishments. Their record was impressive, providing more patient care with better outcomes, higher satisfaction and fewer resources than before. Operating room utilization improved, and the surgical fellowship, threatened by poor case mix and volume, was on firmer ground.

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DOTMLPF-P Analysis and Military Medicine

A comprehensive and highly useful military model for analyzing and addressing problems that does well in non-military settings as well.

My staff and I were meeting at the end of a long day. As representatives of the regional headquarters they had been working with their counterparts at our subordinate medical facilities on an important project with a tight suspense, and they had met resistance. One exasperated lady at a hospital said, “Tell your boss that we have full time jobs already!” Another one said, “This regional initiative just isn’t my top priority right now”, and one of my staff said “Sir, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Everyone who has worked long in leadership and management has heard these complaints time and again.

There is always a temptation to ignore such concerns and keep pushing, but that is rarely the right thing to do. One concern from my staff is that they did not feel as though their counterparts in the clinics and hospitals considered them value added. They wanted cooperation on these vital projects but did not perceive that they had much to give in return. This is a perpetual problem and when I worked in a hospital, I felt the same way about the regional staff.

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Getting People to Answer

What do you do when people in the workplace ignore you, even though you need them for work? How can you use influence when you don’t have raw power, to get answers?

A Navy Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) came into my office recently. “Sir, I have emailed Lt. Col X several times and she hasn’t answered yet. All I get is radio silence. Could you help?” This young officer was voicing a concern that I hear frequently; someone that they are trying to work with, or get something from, wasn’t answering. Or at least they weren’t answering fast enough to suit us at higher headquarters. When faced with such a problem, many junior staffers go to the Boss, hoping that he or she will contact the person and get immediate results. Sometimes if the issue is urgent that is the right approach. Sometimes even going directly to the boss of Lt. Col X is the best approach. Often, however, it is better for the junior staffer to get the information themselves, and there are many ways to do that. I have been faced with similar problems in the past and have learned the hard way that, unless the issue is urgent, I need to exhaust my options for resolving problems, such as radio silence from someone I am supposed to work with, before going further up the chain.

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Gettysburg Sesquicentennial 2013

Photographs of the re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War, Sesquicentennial June

2013

Useful Quotations on World War 2

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

Many Japanese believed the United States to be a hollow shell, it’s people divided politically, softened by luxurious living and decadent morals, no match for the tough, disciplined men of Japan. Gordon Prange, author of At Dawn We Slept

Japan has faced many worthy opponents in her glorious history – Mongols, Chinese, Russians – but in this operation we will meet the strongest and most resourceful opponent of all. Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of Japanese combined fleet prior to Pearl Harbor

It is the custom of bushido to select an equal or stronger opponent.  On this score you have nothing to complain about – the American navy is a good match for the Japanese navy. Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of Japanese combined fleet prior to Pearl Harbor

What a strange position I find myself in – having to pursue with full determination a course of action which is diametrically opposed to my best judgement and firmest conviction. That too, perhaps, is fate.  Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of Japanese combined fleet prior to Pearl Harbor

Since even one or two reshuffles in the high ranking posts would influence the morale of the whole fleet, I do not want to see any change at this moment.  Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of Japanese combined fleet prior to Pearl Harbor

Too many steersmen will send the ship climbing the mountain. Japanese proverb

Even a rabbit will bite if it is fooled three times. Japanese proverb

Living History at Gettysburg on the Sesquicentennial

A once-in-a-lifetime chance to revisit one of the most important battles in American history. 

Some families enjoy history. Mine has reconnoitered the fields at Saratoga, examined the batteries at Fort McHenry, walked the decks of the USS Wisconsin, and explored the beaches at Normandy.  On Independence Day weekend my oldest son David, my oldest daughter Anna, and I enjoyed another famous battlefield, Gettysburg.

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