CDT Mascolo Leadership reaction paper
General George Patton was a powerful and commanding leader. He had a stunning career as an officer who fought in not only World War Two, but World War One as well. Pattons family was of major military background. His great uncle received wound in Pickets Charge and another was a General in the Confederate army during the American Civil war. This all led to Patton striving to be a war hero at a very young age.1 Becoming a hero became an obsession very early. He originally attended the Virginia Military Institute but after a year transferred into the United States Military Academy. When Patton commissioned he was branched Calvary. At this time the Calvary was still on horses and was not yet tank based. Pattons first combat experience was during the Mexican Expedition of 1916.2 Patton was most noted for his ride into a villa, accompanied by only ten other soldiers to find the leaders of the Mexican Army.3 He didn’t specifically find him but he did find one of the personal body guards and killed him in a shoot out.4 This shows the “lead from the front” style of leadership Patton had. However the fact that he was not hurt reinforced the fact that in his mind, he was unstoppable.
The next military conflict Patton was involved with was World War 1. He was an observer of the newly formed Tanks Corps at the Battle of Cambrai. This is where he saw the development of tank tactics at their earliest ages. Patton received the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Cross, a purple heart and was given a battle field of promotion of Colonel.
Between World War One and Two Patton fought for tank funding for the Army. At first he was extremely unsuccessful but when the German Army used blitzkrieg to quickly and effectively advance through Europe the American government decided to allow the first and second armored division to be formed. Before all of this, Patton returned to the horse Calvary.5In this interwar time, Patton still conducted research on tank communication and tank tactics.6 When War broke out in Europe Patton was immediately selected to command the Third Army.7 Patton was known for exploiting German weaknesses and quickly moving across Europe until he found the Buchenwald concentration camp.8 Here he adopted a policy where German locals were forced to tour the concentration camps.9 This set the standard for other commanders. Patton was an extremely tough military commander. He had poor interpersonal skills as he was highly unpopular with his soldiers. He created policies that required soldiers to wear neckties and lace-up leggings.10 These were uncomfortable. His strictness caused his section of the Army to be extremely disciplined. He has been documented that his reason for being forced out of command was for hitting a soldier.11He, ten days earlier had also hit another soldier but it was kept quite because the parents of the soldier did not wish to make trouble for Patton.12However he did make it up on his extremely strong Army dimension of building. Buildingis defined as Spends time and resources improving teams, groups, and units; fosters ethical climate. He was most famous for his view on African American soldiers. He said “Men, you're the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren't good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don't care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons of bitches. Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all, your race is looking forward to you. Don't let them down and damn you, don't let me down!”13 Patton treated every one of his soldiers equally, he trained them equally and he set a standard within his section. It did not matter to him weather or not his soldiers were black or white, it mattered that his soldiers were soldiers. This attitude filtered down through his chain of command to the lowest officer and in turn to the lowest enlisted person. By fostering this ethnic climate Patton allowed his units to build cohesion, even in a time when racism was strong.
Patton also excelled in the tactical dimension. He was studying tank combat and tanks before the American Army officially adopted them. He started his tank studies while he was still a horse Calvary officer.14 He fought in several campaigns and won in them all. His first successful command was in the North Africa Campaigns where he worked closely with the British and took many commands from them. Then he moved to Sicily where he invaded the island based on how the Athenians did it in the past. He did this because he believed he was reincarnated. Although some German commanders knew he would invade their, none took the initiative to build a formidable defense. He also commanded part of the Normandy Invasion in 1944. He led his soldier in Operation Cobra. He was aggressive and strong until he ran out of fuel. He was noted as saying to Eisenhower “My soldiers can eat their waist belts, but my tanks need gas.” Even though Patton planned and executed his plan greatly he failed to see the overall plan of his commanders. Patton wanted to push forward quickly into Germany while Eisenhower wanted all of his fronts to be united as to no leave any one with an exposed flank. Even though Eisenhower’s plan was sound, logical and plausible Patton insisted on pushing forward until he physically could no longer move because he could no longer be supplied.
Pattons last of his strongest Army dimension is executing. He has successfully executed all of his major military campaigns. Patton easily shows tactical proficiency, meets mission standards, and takes care of his people. He was successful in training his soldiers by being tough, having them do things they necessarily don’t like but set the standard for discipline. This is to include barracks inspections done by Patton himself, and hours upon hours of training. He always met his mission standard because he always had a successful mission. Patton never lost any sort of large scale conflict and was considered one of the most successful Generals of all time.15 Most of all he took care of his soldiers. He did not do this by providing them with candy and a lot of nights off, he did this by keeping the discipline and training his soldiers well.
Patton is painstaking one of the most interesting, successful and strongest leaders in the American military history. In fact, he is so popular in 1970 “Patton” was created in his honor, outlining the history of his life as well as his accomplishments.16 However, just as quickly as he invaded Germany, the life ended in a fatal car crash. It was not war that ended a great Generals life but a patch of fog and a pickup truck.17 Ironically enough, General Patton was once quoted as saying “The two most dangerous weapons the Germans have are our own armored halftrack and jeep. The halftrack because the boys in it go all heroic, thinking they are in a tank. The jeep because we have so many God-awful drivers.”18
1 BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. available at http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
2 8th Cavalry Regiment - Early History available at http://www.first-team.us/journals/8th_rgmt/8thndx01.html
6 BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. available at http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
10 Uniforms: Educational programs at the Patton Museum available at http://www.generalpatton.org/education/lesson_plans/PM_UniformLessonPlan.pdf
11 Reprimand for Patton is Denied," The Fresno Bee, November 22, 1943, p1
12 Port Arthur News, 11/24/43
13 Wilson, Joe W. The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II". Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1999. p53.
14 BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. available at http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
15 BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. available at http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
16 Patton (1970), IMDB available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066206/
17 BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR. available at http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
18 George S. Patton, Jr., War As I Knew It;Houghton Mifflin
ISBN 0-395-73529-7 ;(1947/1975