Military Commanders: Building a Legend or Sitting in HQ?

“There are always moments when the commander’s place is not back with his staff but up with the troops. It is sheer nonsense to say that maintenance of the men’s morale is the job of the battalion commander alone. The higher the rank, the greater the effect of the example. The men tend to feel no kind of contact with a commander who, they know, is sitting somewhere in headquarters. What they want is what might be termed a physical contact with him. In moments of panic, fatigue or disorganisation, or when something out of the ordinary has to be demanded from them, the personal example of the commander works wonders, especially if he has had the wit to create some sort of legend round himself. (Rommel, 1953, p.241).

Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox), World War I junior officer and World War II General, considered a brilliant military commander; adored by his troops and feared by his enemies.

Reference

Rommel, E., Liddel Hart, B.H. (ed) & Findlay, P. (trans) (1953) The Rommel Papers. St James’s Palace, London: Collins.

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