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LDRSHIP and the Army

            In the throes of civil war when pundits and politicians, scared of the body bags stacking up under Grant’s command begged Lincoln to fire U.S. Grant, Lincoln’s answer was “I cannot spare this man. He fights!” In the end, Lincoln and Grant split the credit when they won the war, neither of them having likely seen the white of an enemy’s eyes in battle. To say Grant “fought” was to say that men fought for him, men that knew full well the costs that might be incurred, who knew well the general’s penchant for creating bloodbaths in battle. Still, they fought. They fought, not for the chain of command, but for the leader. .
             When Eisenhower sent troops to storm the beaches of Normandy, he knew full well that thousands were never coming home. What’s more is that the men knew it too. Eisenhower was so unsure of his plan that he wrote two letters, one praising the valiant men who stormed the beaches in the event of success, the other taking full blame in case the offensive was defeated. The men knew what they were heading into, and they went anyhow; not for a chain of command, but because of complete trust in an inspired and inspiring leader. .
             History books are filled with the stories of brave men who fought for the inspired leaders that sent them charging valiantly and willingly to their deaths for a cause bigger than themselves. Leadership and the army go hand in hand, for men will neither fight nor die for men who simply command them. They fight and they die for those who lead them. Leadership is about serving. It’s about giving away all of the credit and shouldering all of the blame. It’s about making tough choices, but with the understanding that the leader is only as strong as those who follow. .
             Without leaders there can be no army. Without leadership, the chain of command breaks down. Leaders leave no man behind. They let no man straggle alone behind.