It seems to me that the warrior identity does have its place, certainly in combat when in contact or about to have contact with the enemy and danger. Just some thoughts.
Hello Everybody, I am committing necromancy with this long-dead thread because I am nagged at by the sense that I failed to make my initial point with sufficient clarity—and—because I just this minute brainstormed another, better exercise of language to make my point. Achilles was Pure Warrior. He was all Warrior and nothing but a Warrior. He lived to kill. The larger strategic purposes of Agamemnon meant nothing to him.
That was it. Glory in gore was all he wanted, that was exactly what he got, and that was exactly what Homer immortalized him for. Alexander the Great was a consummate Military Professional as evidenced by his brilliant mastery of grand strategy, logistics, the TTPs of integrating the actions of phalanx heavy infantry, skirmisher light infantry, heavy and light cavalry, siege engines, all of it. Before any great battle, he would spend hours meticulously thrashing out inside his mind how he foresaw the battle playing out. He was a living, breathing encyclopedia of all the cool-headed analytical problem-solving cerebral activities which are the mark of the Military Professional.
Achilles was his personal hero who he constantly strove to emulate, after all. My point is that Alexander was the same guy regardless of whether he chose to act out the Military Professional Ethos or the Warrior Ethos at any specific, chosen moment. He knowingly employed the Military Professional Ethos and the Warrior Ethos by turns in order to achieve victory.
One can dichotomize between these two ethea. To the contrary, the successful war-fighting person will employ both ethea by turns in mutually complementary fashion. In Greek Mythology, Ares is the God of War in the sense of mindless psychopathic violence for the sake of mindless psychopathic violence. Ares is the god of the Warrior and the Warrior Ethos. Athena is the Goddess of War in the sense of war as a rational, calculated instrument of state policy. Achilles was all about Ares and nothing but Ares.
Alexander successfully channeled both Ares and Athena along an exquisitely balanced continuum. Achilles was a Warrior and nothing but a Warrior. Alexander was a Military Professional who knew how to bring forth his Inner Warrior at precisely the right moments. I need to emphasize that Alexander was one of a kind in all history for the way in which he manifested both the Warrior and the Military Professional in equal measure in his own singular person. As armies got bigger and bigger and more and more complex, there grew a division of labor between the Warrior and the Military Professional.
The Military Professional became manifested in the commanding general who watched the battle from astride his horse from atop his headquarters hill with some measure of detachment. Consider Marlborough, Napoleon, and Lee. Yes, all of these men had a famous moment or two in their careers as commanding generals when they suddenly embraced the Warrior and galloped forward into the middle of close-range brawls. But these occasions were the exception. To repeat my thesis, the mentalities of the Military Professional and the Warrior were equally necessary for armies which wanted to win, from Blenheim to Gettysburg.
As armies became staggeringly enormous and complex, it became no longer necessary for the commanding general to even make a pretense of being alternately the Military Professional and the Warrior in his own person. Eisenhower could be purely a Military Professional as he planned and directed Operation Overlord. As a concluding aside, I assert that Guderian, Rommel, Patton, and Arik Sharon were channeling the Warrior Ethos when they openly expressed contempt for the pedestrian and timid denizens of higher headquarters and then took off in enormous clouds of dust with their rampaging swarms of tanks to upend the strategic situation in ways that made higher headquarters feel faint.
Yes, it makes perfect sense, my compliments on an excellent contribution. I think it really should be the capstone on this long discussion. What follows is highly critical appraisal of the post, and an occasionally somewhat facetious tone. This post is basically a repetition of what Stephen has posted before. Only the characters have changed and the description more colorful. Now the mighty blood thirsty Achilles replaces Audie Murphy in a move from the real to mythic.
Still no definition of warrior, no definition of ethos. Just the colorful examples of how a fighters and commanders who are supposed to have these ethea act. Examples are not definitions, and it remains totally unclear from the examples given as to what is Warrior Ethos and what is Military Professional Ethos. Again I will try to inject academic rigor to the discussion in order to show that for all the colorful prose, the post makes a few obvious points.
The core problem of the post is the style of writing and speaking. What we have is a truism or obvious fact that is so obvious as to be a trivial statement, but that basic fact is cloaked in colorful romantic examples that appear to make the trivial important, and yet explains nothing. This is common in writing and speaking of postmodernism, self-help gurus such as Deepak Chopra and Jordan Peterson, and so on.
But wait! But, wait! But, my point is, the fact that one can dichotomize between them does not mean that each can exist only in exclusion of the other. Of course it is possible to combine these two.
Again, what confuses the whole argument is the insistence on the insertion of the ill-defined ethea of warrior and military professional. But that insertion is purposeful whether conscious or not in order to try and make the trivial stupendous. However, though I stand by my point just made, it needs to be pointed out that this quote appears contradictory. The first implies the ethea can exist together, the second implies a switching back and forth between the warrior and professional and that thus they are in fact exclusive of each other.
This apparent contradiction reinforces the weakness of the concept of ethos as used in this post. And should any doubt be left in the mind of the reader as to the spiritual nature of these ethea, read these quotes:. I want to end with a few questions for Stephen or anyone else seeking to defend the ethea of warrior and military professional as put forth in this post and other posts.
In order that my challenge be understood, I shall speak the language spoken in the post as I issue my challenge:.
If so, what is it? Sounds great, Steve, looking forward to it. Sounds great, Steve, looking forward to it. The Warrior Ethos is really a mini-book. Alexander called an assembly. This article originally appeared at Strategy Bridge. The Warrior Ethos.
Meet my army of academic legionary questions head on, face-to-face, on the field of academic battle. Let sound definitions and critical analysis be my shield and sword against your slings and arrows of flowery prose. My ruthless legionary academic argumentation and questions will spill the blood, sever the heads, and cleave the skulls of your barbarian skirmisher spiritual descriptions.
Define warrior — no examples. Define ethos — no examples. What exactly makes Achilles pure warrior? Is it living to kill? Is that all that defines Achilles life, or even Achilles in war or any warrior for that matter? He also wanted Briseis, how does she fit in? Thus by definition Warriors are psychotics? Give an example of a real life warrior exactly fitting your example of mythical Achilles.
I argue he is absolutely not one of kind or unique. I am asking for traits. This is a significant change in meaning and comes closer, though still ill-defined, to what I have argued. Most Important: 9. Does a fighter alternate in battle between the two ethea depending on the situation the ethea are mutually exclusive , or are the ethea coexisting at the same moment in the fighter they are not mutually exclusive?
For example: when Patton was at his headquarters in the field was he absent the warrior ethos? For a complimentary example: when Ernst Junger was in battle was he absent the military professional ethos? Romantic description are great for inspiration, and creating a cult of the warrior, but not for understanding phenomena. Not only that, but our tribal Regimental system means that we honour our very bravest men above all others; those whose physical courage has become legend.
For my first regiment, this means a daily remembrance of a brave man whose arrogant stupidity led to the near-destruction of his brigade. Although as a naturally conservative cavalryman I would not change that tradition for a moment, I also recognise that there could not be a less appropriate role-model for a young soldier. I would also argue that the pantheon of brave white men whose exploits we all celebrate with justifiable pride are not a complete mirror for who we hope to be as warriors in the contemporary environment and into the future.
The finest leaders will not always be in the very front line, painful initiations into the warrior tribe are not acceptable and ultimate victory will often come from the decision not to fight. There can be no doubt that the Warrior Ethos which has served so well through the ages must continue to evolve to meet the challenges of the wars we are going to be required to fight in the future. After the Crimean War, we recognised that selling commissions was not a sensible officer selection process; by the Boer War, we had learned that the relative safety of khaki was preferable to the bravery of a scarlet tunic.
Both of these changes directly challenged aspects of a Warrior Ethos previously prevalent in these islands for centuries, but nobody would dream of arguing that they were not a necessary part of an evolution to meet the ever-changing operating environment.
The Warrior Ethos has always evolved to fit the changing character of conflict; has always evolved despite the protests of comfortable conservatives; and it will continue to evolve into the future. The beginning of the 21 st Century is a time of uncomfortable evolution in warfare; soldiering has become an activity which requires more universal intelligence and thought and less brute force. In a process which has been going on for years, since the arrival of the tank and the Royal Flying Corps, every soldier must be comfortable operating equipment much more sophisticated than their rifle and will be required to make decisions which may have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of a whole campaign.
Although this process has been going on for a century, the exponential speed of technological advances in weapon systems on the battlefield and in information flows across the world over the last 30 years has had a fundamental impact, with which I would argue we are struggling to keep up.
It is these factors that have created the need for the Warrior Ethos to broaden and become more consciously inclusive. That changes to the way we fight have largely been driven by changes in society is nothing new; it is absolutely not the role of an army to reflect society, but any army that limits its recruitment, even unintentionally, to traditional homogenous demographics within that society is failing to recruit all the best talent.
It is, therefore, accepting mediocrity; the very antithesis of the Warrior Ethos. Either can be illustrated with examples from history and they can be woven into the tribal lore of our Regiments and their traditions, but they are not the preserve of any type of person, other than those who volunteer to serve as warriors. They are the basis around which professional military culture must hang, which has evolved and will always evolve to suit the changing way in which wars are fought. Regularly through the history of the British Army, there have been times when evolution in our culture feels like revolution; at these times there have always been the reactionaries such as those ignoring Lidell-Hart and resisting mechanisation while Guderian built on the lessons of the First World War.
At these times of change, there is fear that the Warrior Ethos is in peril and that the fragile culture of our fighting troops could be diluted or lost. But the Warrior Ethos is not a fragile relic. It is a living, changing thing rooted in centuries of example and history; it has survived disgrace and glory; industrialisation and mechanisation; and it will survive the information age, evolving to suit the demands of warfare in this century and beyond.
Accepting, including and cherishing an increasingly diverse range of modern warriors will absolutely and inevitably be a part of that evolution. Headquarters, Department of the Army, FM Carpenter, E. He retired from Regular service in , transferring straight into Squadron command with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.
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