BEFORE THE BATTLE: A COMMONSENSE GUIDE TO LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
"The most important precept of leadership that I know is that one can learn how to be a leader. Nonetheless, some men and women are born leaders - or so it seems"
1. This book is about Military Leadership, Organization, Management and Operations. All the topics in the book strive to do one thing: make one a more successful leader. The book �Before the Battle' is an analytical and descriptive type of book. It is a compilation of seventy seven articles starting from Administration to Wives including Introduction, Summary and Epilogue which address the main issues of the army � Leadership and Management. In this book the author very simply & elaborately has highlighted the various aspects of the military leadership & management under the topics which are very commonly used and practiced in day to day affairs of a unit. As stated in the introductory chapter of the book, the main aim of the author is to put down in one place the things he has learned about military leadership, organization, management & operations under various topics spelling out in words making his meaning clear.
2. The aim is to give a review on the Book titled �BEFORE THE BATTLE: A Commonsense Guide to Leadership and Management' written by Lt. Gen. Edward M. Flanagan, Jr. U.S. Army (Ret.)
3. The basic information about the book is enumerated below:
a. Title. BEFORE THE BATTLE: A Commonsense Guide to Leadership and Management.
b. Author. Lt. Gen. Edward M. Flanagan, Jr. U.S. Army (Ret.)
c. First copyright date. 1985 by Presedio Press.
d. Type and Subject matter. Military leadership and management.
e. Publisher. Presidio Press, 31 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94947.
f. Audience. Expected audiences are the military personnel.
g. Price. TK. 438.00.
h. Total pages. 227.
i. ISBN. 0-89141-210-7.
4. Lt Gen Edward M Flanagan Jr. was a retired general from US Army. He was a gunner officer who served in various appointments. He commanded units of various levels from Battery to Army. He commanded Parachute Artillery Battery, Parachute Artillery Battalion, 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion, 674th Parachute FA Battalion, and 3rd Armored Division & was also Deputy Commander of 8th Army. After retirement he has also served in a management job in a civil farm for nearly six years. �BEFORE THE BATTLE' is a very useful book which the author has written from his own experience in the army.
5. The contents of the book are as followed:
(1) Battalion Command. According to the author, battalion is the best command in the army. Battalion is the place where the commander commands the troops directly, knowing them in person and can also impart training to them directly living with them, fighting with them by sharing their sorrow and joy.
(2) Boss, Relation with. Do unto your boss as you would have your subordinate do unto you, is the motto suggested by the author in this topic. The author has emphasized the balanced relation with the superior � no overdoing, no exaggeration and no pampering.
(3) Chain of Command. Author has emphasized on chain of command. The leaders in the chain being commanders, they have responsibilities. If commanders at various levels are made responsible and if they do their part sincerely then this will ensure efficiency and will give better result. He advocates that in the army chain of command must be followed.
(4) Decision. Decision is very important. According to the author for doing any job or accomplishing any task timely and successfully, a timely, clear and concise decision is very important.
(5) Do it Yourself. According to author the best way to know about the unit is going physically and looking around the unit. By that commander can have firsthand and actual picture of the unit which definitely would help him to have a better command of the unit. This also helps command to know his under command personally & he can get the true picture of the morale, training state, standard and condition of the unit. Commander can get the information about the unit by various means but according to the author the best way of knowing about the unit is going physically to see the activities of the unit. He further advocates that this visit and looking around the unit should not be done following a routine rather should follow unscheduled program by which he can have the real picture of the unit � what is the state of their living condition, what is their state of morale and there is any deficiency exits.
(6) Esprit de Corps. One of the important aspects in leadership is the Esprit de Corps which author has highlighted in this book. Esprit de corps is the main driving force for a unit and the soldiers. It is the inspiring factor which ensures courage, dedication, resolution, motivation, sacrifice, loyalty and faith. Author views that the Esprit de Corps is the end-all of discipline, training and education of a unit. It comes from having the faith and believes on one's msn and that one is expected to do well. It comes from loyalty up as well as down. It comes from leaders who take care of their men. It comes from knowing the men. It comes from believing that the cause is right and the goal is proper. It comes from the competitive instinct to win at what level one is doing. As Esprit de Corps is a driving force the author opined that it must be inculcated and achieved. Author believes that unit and men can achieve it individually or collectively going through an adverse situation and by tough jobs and by giving the feeling that their units are important and they must have feelings that their leaders believe in them.
(7) Humility. Humility is the quality of being modest and respectful. Author in this topic has viewed that humility coupled with competence, self-confidence, and full knowledge on one's own capability and limitations are the ingredients that make an outstanding commander and top-notch personnel. Arguing that he suggests for humility and simplicity in leaders by which a leader can be aware of his short comings, know his troops well, listen to them attentively thus can take decision well.
(8) Integrity. Author says that integrity is fundamental principal on which an individual build his whole being. In elaborating the subject he has cited the motto of the west Point � Duty, Honor and the Country. Author views that the integrity is the most important in the army as it deals with life of the men. He says that if an officer or a Non Commissioned Officer doesn't have integrity as his bond, his foundation, his core, no matter what else he has, he is a failure.
(9) Leadership. Though the main theme of this book is leadership but has written a separate topic as leadership in which he has defined leadership as to be a superior leader, one must be hard but fair and compassionate. Being hard he views that a leader must set high standard and he must insist that they be met. Leader must know his job. He must set high standard of discipline and must not compromise the integrity. By being fair he means that a leader must not give an order which cannot be carried out. Means to do their job even if they make mistakes by that they learn. Good and exceptional performance to be appreciated and recognized in public. Leader should be compassionate and by that he means that leader must know their men, their need and their problems. They are to be taken care of and problems solved. Leader must train his men and look after their welfare. Finally he opined that the leadership is not necessary something one is born with � it can definitely be learned.
(10) Loyalty. Author views loyalty as a two-way street � it goes down as well as up. By downward loyalty he means that a commander will stand up for his men when they are in difficulties, will listen to their problems when they are in trouble and will see to it that injustices are righted when they are wronged. Author suggests that commander must protect his men, must ensure that his men get rugged training for their survival and success in the battle. He further advocates that the staff officers also to be loyal and by that he means staff officer must advice the commander if they make bad decision.
(11) Mind, Military. Military by nature is a hard and tough way of life. He views that many equates military men with dictatorship, with authoritarianism, rigidity of thinking, repressive, despotism and arrogance. It is an organization where men are taught to kill or to be killed. As the combat situation is dangerous and miserable so according to the author there is no part for vote-taking and arbitration. He suggests that discipline must be hard but fair, men must do what they are told to do and training must be continuous, professional and demanding. He further advocates that a true military mind must be one that is trained to solve problems with logic, objectivity, wisdom and speed. He proposes to develop the military mind as logical, objective, hard-nosed when necessary and blunt when demanding.
(12) Missions. Author views that mission is a steering wheel of a unit. A unit which has clear-cut mission, which knows what it is supposed to do, trains well to do the msn and knows that what it is doing is important, productive, dedicated and reasonably trouble free, that unit will definitely have high morale. The author advocates that a unit must have a mission/task which can be accomplished. He also advocates that a unit must have number of missions and should be able to do them all. Finally he states that mission can be accomplished if it is.
(13) Objectives. Author views that to get on with the task there should be clearly defined objective. He argues that there are two important parts in any assignment � the objective and the completion date. According to him with these two basics a commander or a staffer can function well.
(14) Open-Door Policy. Author doesn't advocate for the open door policy that is in the unit soldier violating the Chain of Command meeting with the Commanding Officer though many practice this. However, he suggests that it can be practiced at the lower level that is section and platoon but not above that.
(15) Physical Fitness. Physical fitness is one of the most important aspects of soldiering. Author advocates that all the units need to be physically fit and some of the units like Rangers, Airborne and Special Forces need to be more physically fit. He advocates that running is one of the best exercises � it is good for the heart, lungs & stamina. Commander's primary concern should be the physical fitness of himself and his troops and under command.
(16) The Principles of War. Though there has been a rapid change in the army of its armament, equipment, mobility and with more advancement of science introduction of intelligence and counter intelligence, computer surveillance, electronic warfare, use of satellite and many more but however according to author there is no significant change in the Principles of War. He states that throughout the recorded history of war, from Marathon in 490 BC, to Chalons in AD 451, to Hastings in 1066, to BLENHEIM IN 1704, TO Waterloo in 1815, to World War I & II, to the revolutions and limited wars of the post WW II era, the principles of War have remained virtually un-changed and equally applicable. He highlighted the following principles:
(a) Mass. Commander's concentration of force at a given point so that at the particular point he has greater combat superiority than his adversary for decisive battle.
(b) Objective. Force must have specific and definite objective that he must accomplish. It also may have intermediate objective that if accomplished, will lead to the accomplishment of final objective.
(c) Security. Commanders must take the measures necessary to prevent surprise, to preserve freedom of action and to deny to the enemy information of his own force.
(d) Surprise. To keep enemy ignorant about own plan and intentions.
(e) Command (Unity of Command). All the forces, regardless of services, that are put together to accomplish one common goal must be under the command of one single command.
(f) Offensive. Only offensive action achieves decisive results. It permits the commander to exploit the initiative and impose his will on the enemy.
(g) Maneuver. A commander must position his forces to place the enemy at a relative disadvantage. A commander takes advantage of weaknesses in the enemy to outmaneuver him.
(h) Economy of Force. It means that at points other than the point of decision a commander has only the minimum essential means.
(i) Simplicity. Commander must keep his plan as simple as possible, because simpler the plan easier to carry it out.
(17) Problem Solving. Author advocates that every problem has the solution. He thinks that the best system of solving problem the procedure that following in the army is the stuff study and the estimate of the situation. He has further suggested the following technique of solving problem:
(a) Define the problem clearly.
(b) Gather the pertinent facts.
(c) List the assumptions.
(d) List possible courses of action.
(e) Consider the pros and cons of each course of action.
(f) Select the best course of action.
(18) Professionalism. Army is the profession where there is a provision of going up the ladder. In this regard the author cites the example of �Peter Principle', that is all persons in the army are eventually promoted up the ladder to their level and if the professionals, sergeants, or captains are stopped for promotion to the ranks for which they are eventually and specifically are well qualified than it is a non-adherence of Peter Principle. The author further views that there are many soldiers and officers who are well qualified to stay on their jobs even though they may never be Commander Sergeant Major or Chief of Army Staff in the army.
(19) Relief. In this article the author has discussed about the relief of the under command from the responsibility depending upon the unsuitability. He has cited the examples of two types of commander � one type of commander who relieves their subordinates if found unsuitable and another type who fail to relieve their subordinates even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the subordinate's incompetence, indifference, or gross malfeasance. Author views that a commander needs to realize that his subordinate must go through a learning process; they must mature and must achieve experience even if they do mistakes. He further views that a senior commander should consider that relief from commander is a shattering, carrier busting trauma for a subordinate and for that author suggests that a commander should resort to it only in the direst circumstances. And this rule applies from platoon to army level.
(20) Research and Development. Author views that Research and Development plays an important role. It helps to develop armament, equipment, vehicle, ac, etc. which is very much necessary with the advancement of science & technology. Author advocates that R & D should be carried out but he also suggests that it should only be done when & where it is necessary. Unnecessary change should be avoided.
(21) Rewards. Author views that reward is a morale boosting factor. He advocates that who so ever deserves reward for his good job done must be rewarded which will act not as a motivator. He suggests for few factors which act as a motivator like, good leadership, desire to do job well, efficiency report, recognition of good work in the form of letters, medals, certificates of achievements etcetera. He further advocates that for a good job the individual should be appreciated in public.
(22) Self-Improvement. Author advocates for self-improvement. Any one if he pursues even of ordinary intelligence, can improve his mental faculty in many fields which definitely will pay him the dividend. He suggests that one should avail the opportunities available in the army for professional enhancement. He further suggests that commanders at lower levels should find out for themselves the various facilities, courses and education curriculum which are available and should avail to enhance their knowledge.
(23) Speeches. Author views that a good orator has always an advantage and upper hand. According to author there are some who are very good at it by born and they are God gifted but there are many who by practice can improve and become a very good orator. In this regard he suggests few rules for becoming a competent speaker:
(a) By generating confidence prepare the speech well.
(b) By determining the purpose of the speech.
(c) Preparation of speech according to an outline and in this regard author suggests the following six basic steps.
d. Spicing up of speech in number of ways like;
(i) Use of statistics, illustration, simulation & related anecdotes.
(ii) Use of related, pertinent jokes or stories, if time permits.
(iii) Use of charts, graphs or picture where appropriate.
e. Use of more than one sense that is describing and also showing.
f. Speaking from note and carefully structured outline. Speech not to be read out.
g. Building of a major point, a climax and a pinnacle.
h. Must cater for quality not the length.
j. Delivery of speech should be in relaxing mood.
(24) Stability. The regimentation author views in this article as the �Stability'. By stability he means that staying together for a larger period which helps development of comradeship, cohesiveness, fellow feelings and sense of belonging and he identifies the advantage of it as � men get to know one another well, they know their strength, faults and wrats, they know their officers and Non Commissioned Officers and most importantly they form a unit bond. He further views that this bondage, closeness, comradeship, caring for each other, would develop sense of saving a friend or helping the unit in combat sacrificing their lives. He advocates that military must recognize the need for unit stability. Even at the lower levels, a commander must strive within his power to keep his unit and subordinate intact.
(25) Taking Charge, A Guide to. Here he has highlighted about some technique of good and effective leadership which he has listed as follows:
(a) Able to set priority of job and things.
(b) Able to grab hold of tough problem and not to delegate them.
(c) Set and demand standard of excellence.
(d) Sense of urgency.
(e) Paying attention to details.
(f) Need of commitment.
(g) No waste of time by worrying about the things which can't be done.
(h) Ability to fail and accept the mistakes.
(j) Be tough but fair with people.
(l) Having fun in the job.
(k) Hardest job to be done at the first.
(26) Time. Author argues in this article about the best and suitable time for doing the work better. To some, morning time is suitable and to some it is the last hour. He advocates that suitable time has to be found out by the individual for getting the most productive result of any work or job.
(27) Training. Here the author has again emphasized on training as to how to do it, who is responsible, where it should be done and how it should be done. He suggests that it should be done progressively and systematically from lower segments to higher segments that is from tank and gun crew and then squad and then unit and to be done under the unit commanders.
(27) War. Here the author has quoted different quotations on war of the great leaders. To some war is all glory and to some it is hell. Author argues that as war is our business and is our profession, so he has cited all those great sayings to understand the philosophy of war by the young officers and Non Commissioned Officers.
(28) West Point. Author discussed about the West Point in this article. He advocates that the West Point must be an ideal institution for the cadets for their proper training carrier building in totality. He suggests that it should not teach the subjects only but also should mold the cadet's psyche of the service to the country, sense of honor and duty bound, the academics should stress mathematics and physical science, military history, English, one foreign language, military law, geography, political science, psychology, precepts of leadership, conduct, personal and military values. In line with the authors suggestion, in Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA), in addition to the military and academic subjects, more subjects both theoretical and practical can be included to develop the nationalistic feelings, precepts of leadership, personal and military values, character building and self-respect and honor of the cadets. Since army is greatly involved in United Nations (UN) peace keeping mission, one additional foreign language preferably French as it is the second important UN language can be included in the academy. In this regard present syllabus may be reviewed.
(1) Administration. In this article author argued to curb unnecessary administration required, minimize the reports and accent only the necessities. He suggested reducing the paper work by decentralization of decision making particularly at battalion level and company level. By doing so it will help earning the faith and confidence of the subordinates.
(2) Athletics, Auto Repair Shops, Hobby Shops. In addition to the routine activities , in this article the author has advocated for various off duty activities like various sports and hobby shops to keep the troops busy in various activities which will not only help troops to develop their physical and mental state but will also develop the comradeship and Esprit de Corps. This will in broader aspect help commander to have confidence in leadership. He has further cautioned that these activities must not be at the cost of the main objective � the combat readiness. In his view combat readiness of the unit consists of two elements:
(a) Mil proficiency derived from well-trained troops and well maintenance equipment.
(b) Morale and Esprit de Corps.
(3) Automatic Data Processing. Author suggests that in peace time and in battle field, in addition to the modern gazettes, the human brain must be utilized to the most. He advocates that the human brain is still the best computer ever developed. Modern gazettes and equipment can give the data, facts and figures but can't give the analytical views of the situation, mental and morale state of the personnel, the leadership peculiarities etcetera, for which human brain must be utilized.
(4) Absent Without Leave. To have a high morale of the troops, their problems must be addressed and taken care of timely. If their problems whether it is official or personal if is timely taken care of then that will definitely enhance the high morale of the troops and will help to increase week efficiency of the unit.
(5) Boards, Councils, Committees. Author views that it is in practice to have various Boards, Councils, and Committees and Special Assistants to assist the commander. He advocates that these are required to help the commander in his command and unit administration but only to be formed and utilized as and when required. The chain of command must function normally by making the leaders at various levels responsible for their part.
(6) Briefings. Briefing is a routine affair in the army. Author suggests that briefing should be comprehensive, concise and brief to be given using necessary training aids like charts, slides or graphs. Normally briefing should be given by the commander and not by his staff on his behalf.
(7) Centralization. Author advocates for the decentralization in the unit and he suggests giving initiative to the subordinate commanders � this will ensure better performance and better result. Too much centralization delays the work and curve the initiative of the subordinate commanders. He further suggests for allowing the chain to function and work � no meddling.
(8) Ceremonies. Author argues that ceremonies are the part and parcel of military tradition and this tradition must be upheld. But he suggests for having only the ceremonies which are of military tradition and upholds the honor and must be of soldierly fashion.
(9) Commander's Comments. He views that troops must be well informed about the day to day affairs and happenings of the unit. This has a direct bearing on their morale. According to author a well-informed soldier is far better soldier than an ill-informed soldier.
(10) Communication. Communication with the troops to be done in easy and understandable language so that there is no communication gap and misunderstanding. Author advocates for clarity, brevity and understandable communication language.
(11) Community Relations. Author advocated for having a cordial relation with the communities around the unit areas. The military and the community to be complementary to each other. He further suggests for having various activities with the communities to develop and enhance healthy relations.
(12) Competition. According to author man is a competitive animal. He views that competition in the unit brings variation and breaks the monotony. He further argues that the competition in the unit not only helps mental and physical development but also act as an excellent builder of morale and Esprit de Corps.
(13) Credit. Advocates for recognition of appreciating of good works done by the individual. It recognizes their good effort and good performance which acts as a morale booster and gives them encouragement.
(14) Desk Drawers. Author advocates for keeping the top of the working table/desk neat and clean and keeping the drawer in order. By this he means that timely disposing of the papers and taking actions of the join in hand. It helps having efficiency in doing job.
(15) Drugs. The author opines that the drug or alcohol abuse to be addressed properly and timely. Drug or alcohol abuse is a common problem in American army. Proper treatment and counseling facilities to be made available in the unit to provide timely and proper treatment to the drug/alcohol abusers. This will help abuser for their recovery overcoming the problem. He further suggests to get rid of those abusers who are beyond recovery.
(16) Education. Education makes a soldier more efficient and proficient in his job. Author says that in the American army there are many facilities available for educating and enhancing the knowledge of the soldier. He suggests that commander must utilize all these facilities to educate and enhance the knowledge of the soldier which would help the unit to function more efficiently. He opines that the best educated soldiers are the best soldiers.
(17) Efficiency Reports. As the efficiency report of an officer plays a vital role and is very useful tools for assessing an officer by the superior officer, the author advocates that the Officer Efficiency Report (OER) must be written meticulously depicting the true picture of his profile. He suggests for no over and under writing. In this topic he has cited examples of various ways of written efficiency report � some are biased, some are of highlighting only some particular aspect, which in his opinion do not give the true picture of an officer. He advocates for a balanced written OER and at least from Division level to down the commander to rate or endorse the report of their subordinate officer two down level. In our context Officer's Performance Report (OPR) is written highlighting one year performance of an officer. The points included in the OPR are quite elaborate. However, the important aspect is that the initiating officer must write the OPR very meticulously as the author suggested depicting the true picture of the initiated officer's profile maintaining the records of his whole years performance in various aspects in a personal note book consolidating those while writing the OPR.
(18) Engineers. The author views that in the American army it is a tendency that the better lot of the cadets from the academy normally join the Engineer corps. The corps id filled with brilliant and well educated officer. According to author in the army there are some works done by the Engineers are of that nature for which the corps doesn't require that brilliant of officers as such he argues that the corps must have a mixture of brilliant and mediocre officer. In Bangladesh context, however, such situation does not prevail. Normally officers from BMA are posted in various arms and services basing on their overall performance and choice keeping the corps wise requirements balanced.
(19) Euphemisms. A euphemism is a generally harmless word, name, or phrase that replaces an offensive or suggestive one. Author once again in this article opines that understandable language is very important to communicate with soldiers. Communicating language should be simple and of their understanding. He suggests that instead of giving emphasis on modifying/changing the time-honored and accepted words/terminologies that soldiers understand, more emphasis to be given on the training so that soldiers can fight well and win the battle.
(20) Follow-Up. According to author, it is important to give an order which is implementable and after giving the order it must be checked and followed up till the accomplishment of the order. He suggests which he has learned as a young Lieutenant that one shouldn't handle a drunken soldier personally and one shouldn't give an order which cannot be enforced. He further suggests that after giving an order, commander must constantly check to see that his order has clearly been understood and then he must check to see that they are being carried out.
(21) Informing the Troops. In this topic author has again emphasized on the importance of keeping the soldiers well informed. He reiterates that well-informed troops who believe in their mission, believe that what they are doing is right and proper, will sacrifice their comfort and lives, if necessary, to accomplish their mission. He views that troops have right to know what is going on and how various events affect them, their lives and their families. So he suggests that commander must keep his men up to date so that less possibility of misleading and spreading of rumor. Presently there are many ways of informing the troops like � morning parade, briefing, daily bulletin, roll calls, darbar etcetera but the best way of informing is the direct contact.
(22) Inspections. Author advocates for routine inspection of the barrack and the troops to keep those healthy and functional. He views that the military profession is a way of life and is a tradition. He opines that to make the unit perfect, commanders at all level must constantly inspects and checks his unit and the activities. He further opines that the inspection should be meaningful, purposeful and not just mare an eye wash.
(23) Jobs. He views in this article about his understanding of how a job to be done. He advocates that concerned individual should get involved in doing his job � should be supervised in the process for helping him in doing his job successfully in time. This develops the sense of responsibility.
(24) Language. Knowing more than one language has advantage particularly working in international environment, which author views in this topic. He advocates for learning at least one other language. This is an important aspect as language plays a vital role while communicating each other particularly in International environment. Since Bangladesh army participates in UN mission, in all the recruit training centers and also in soldiers training institutions, spoken English can be included in the training curriculum to learn at least the spoken English.
(25) Letters. Author views that in the unit letter correspondence is a common thing. These letters are of official and also private. The author advocates that letter proliferation must avoided by which he means that while writing letters from the unit to the families of the soldiers, care to be taken that it doesn't give wrong message or a problem of such nature must not be divulged to the families by which there is possible of having adverse effect on the family. The author further suggests that letters to be brief, factual and to the point.
(26) Letters to the Commanding Officer (CO). Author advocates that to know the under command more, one of useful means is to allow them to write letters to the commander. It helps commander to know them in details. It also helps to get suggestions from the soldiers. However, he also views that though writing to CO by the soldiers directly to some degree is a violation of Chain of Command but he also argues that it also helps putting the chain more functional, proper and effective. The author has rightly pointed out the good and bad effects of writing letters by soldiers directly to the CO. In our context this will not bring very effective means of knowing the day to day affairs of the unit and the under command, rather will give a scope of misinformation, over reacting, misunderstanding and administrative hassle. Presently we have the practice of giving information by the soldiers to the CO by various means.
(27) Management. In the army as we deal with the men, the Author in this topic has emphasized that management is very important for better and effective admin. He suggests few key aspects:
(a) Consolidation, elimination and reduction of the structure of staff and organize to the required size or number.
(b) No unnecessary staffing.
(c) Elimination of unnecessary functions.
(d) Reduction of reports and paper works.
(e) Chain of Command to be used.
(f) No unnecessary boards, committees, councils and other crutches.
(g) Decentralization of action to the lowest level.
(h) Faith on the subordinate.
(28) Meetings. Author narrates that meeting is a routine affair in the unit and there are various types of meetings held in the unit of which commander's conference is very useful to pass out orders, to gather information and to try out new ideas. He advocates that though meetings are necessary but these should not be held too frequently. For holding meeting he has suggested few principles:
(a) Meeting must have an agenda with staff input and copies to be distributed.
(b) Agenda to be strictly followed.
(c) Minutes of the meeting to be recorded.
(d) Discussion to remain confined to the agenda.
(e) No smoking.
(f) Time and duration of the meeting must be adhered to.
(g) Staff to prepare and distribute the subject of the meetings.
(h) Staff to periodically sum up the points under discussion and the agreement reached.
(j) Disagreement also to be spelled out.
(29) Messages. Author opines that there are many means of communication, of which message writing is a common means. In this he suggests that the message has to be delivered to the persons for which it is intended � not to his subordinate. He further suggests that message to be short, factual and in written form. He advocates avoiding oral messages.
(30) Military, What's wrong with Being. Author views that with the passage of time the way of army life has undergone changes with the introduction of many practices which are not of military types. He advocates going back to the basics of soldiering and traditional way of army life.
(31) Mistakes. Author views that it is likely that people will make mistakes. He advocates that instead of concealing one must admit the mistake, thereby rectifies the situation. He views that concealing an error is grossly unfair as in the military we deal with lives.
(32) Morning Parade. Author views that morning parade is one of the very useful means for practicing and exercising the Principles of Unit Administration. Morning parade is age-old tradition follows in the army. Morning parade helps commander to use the Chain of Command, helps established close relationships with the under command, it helps the unit to start its activities well.
(33) Non Commissioned Officers (NCO). According to author NCOs are the skeleton of army. He views that army cannot function without NCOs and that's why he terms them as the backbone. He advocates that NCOs should be well-trained and well-educated and should be hard-working, dedicated and compassionate.
(34) Nothing, Something for. Author advocates for various activities like games and sports and other non-training activities so that troops remain occupied. He views that it helps developing physical and mental state of the troops & develop comradeship. This ultimately pays great dividends.
(35) Officer Evaluation. In army officers are being evaluated and basing on that they are appointed in various appointments. The author here narrated the German system of the officer evaluation. They follow German General Staff (GGS) method for the carrier evaluation where they evaluate intelligence and energy thereby classifies officers into four categories:
(a) Smart & industrious: become staff officer.
(b) Smart & lazy: become commanders.
(c) Dumb & lazy: liaison officer
(d) Dumb & industrious: become commanders.
In Bangladesh army, posting to various appointments mostly done basing on the course reports, recommendation in the reports, OPR and the profile maintained in the MS Branch. Up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, normally the bright and professional officers are posted in staff appointment first as it is in our context considered to be the carrier/bright posting. Though in the rank of Colonel and above scope is limited. However, Command appointment should get priority over staff appointment and a bright and professional officer first to be tested being posted in command appointment and then in staff appointment successively/subsequently.
(36) Officers Call. The author has highlighted the age old traditional practice of officer's conference/meeting in this article and viewed that it is very useful at lower level. He argues that it helps commander to talk to his officers directly about his policies, ideas, plans and instructions. He farther argues that it is a superb way not only to communicate but also to let junior officers to know their boss � or at least his policies.
(37) Pay. With the passage of time pay system has under gone a dramatic change. Earlier there was a monthly pay day where soldiers used to take their pay from the paying officer by hand. Now with the automation of the system, soldiers getting their pay by cheque in hand or in their account in the bank. This is more easier and accurate system. Author views that with the automation of the system in no way the responsibility of the commander has been relived, he has to ensure that soldiers are getting their pay regularly, properly and on time.
(38) Rap Sessions. Here the author narrates about the �Rap Session' in which troops are assembled in a place by commander for listening and solving their problems. According to author this idea of �rap session' is not a bad idea. However, he advocates that it is better for the commander to follow normal command and staff procedures than to take the whole unit at once at a �Rap Session' for solving the problems of the troops.
(39) Regulations. Here the author has narrated about some of the regulations of US army. He views that however old the regulations are but some of those are still applicable even today terming those as �golden oldies'
(40) Rank Has Its Privileges (RHIP). Author views that in the army privilege is also an important factor. Privileges have to be given as per the rank structure and has to be made more attractive.
(41) Story, Two Sides of. Author views that all the stories have two sides. He suggests that before giving any decision of any incident, both the sides of the incident have to be studied; thereby there will be a least chance of giving unjust decision. He further suggests that for that, even if it takes more time and delay in giving decision, but is much better than making a hasty decision thereby there is a possibility of giving wrong decision. Finally he views that of all the principles of leadership, two sides of every story is near the top of the list in important.
(42) Stovepipe. In this article author has discussed about an arrangement where certain function is controlled virtually from top to bottom through one organization, bypassing the normal chain of command, like, Medical organization, CID organization, Post Exchange, Commissaries, Communications, Clubs system, Personnel management etcetera which he terms as �stovepipe'. He views that, sometime this arrangement is beneficial. However, he suggests that there is a need of decentralization in some cases to make the lower commanders aware of the situation, to forewarn them of the inherent problem of stove piping and to have maximum benefit of the decentralization.
(43) Telephones. Author views that use of telephone is a very useful means for better administration in the unit though it has also some bad effects like, it doesn't provide any record of the conversation unless it has the recording provision in built, it interrupts one's chain of thought when it rings, and it can be time-waster for long-winded conversationalists who can't get to the point. Author suggests few rules that can help to master getting best out of it as follows:
(a) Calling someone personally thereby minimizing waste of time.
(b) Speak directly to the person being phoned.
(c) Making memos for a record of the calls.
(d) Returning of calls as promptly as possible.
(e) For long distance call, making some note before about the talking matter.
However, he further views that the above rules are pertaining to peacetime and non-combat environment but in combat it should be done up and down.
(44) Three-by-Five Cards. Author views that using of cards is very helpful and is a very useful aid. He suggests the size of three-by-five cards. He opines that it can be used in many purposes like, as shirt-pocket staffer for jotting down anything that comes to mind like phone calls to make, list of things to be done, observations, comments etcetera, can be used as speech card, can be used for noting down addresses, telephone numbers, statistics, memos of record, quotes, ideas, projects, short personal file etcetera can also be used as a reminder and many more. Author terms this card as aid of the brain.
(45) Uniforms. In this article the author has highlighted about the uniforms of its type, pattern, numbers etcetera and has also highlighted in US army how it has undergone many changes citing the examples. He views that this change of uniform in army will continue as those who are in policy making have different taste and ideas. He advocates that change is required but should be as per the suitability, need and necessary.
(46) Weight. Author argues that Army is a profession where men must stay in shape throughout their entire carrier remaining physically fit. He further argues that there is nothing more strenuous, blood pressure raising or injurious to one's health than combat and as such it is very important for the soldiers to remain slim and physically fit, no overweight and thereby the unit remains fit to fight.
(47) Wives. Author views that wives play a vital role in the army life. They share all the joys and agonies. They equally sacrifice their comfort in support of their husbands in many aspects from bringing up and caring of the children to giving morale support to their husbands. Author terms them as unsung heroines. He views that they also share the sufferings of their husbands and further narrates that there is not enough praise to heap on the shoulders of this gallant, hard-working, and mostly anonymous group of woman.
c. Summery. In this part the author summarized forty-three commandments about leadership and management.
d. Epilogue. In this part the author illustrated a highly successful raid named �The Los Banos Raid' related to leadership and management.
6. The book is about Military Leadership, Organization, Management and Operations. It deals with the day to day routine affairs of the unit and its administration. To make the book easy to read and ideas easy to find the author has arranged the topics in alphabetical order and has listed them in the Table of Contents.
7. The topics the author has narrated in this book are very simple & of day-to-day routine affairs of the units which are very much essential for effective and successful leadership and good management and administration of the units. This book serves the purpose of the very basics of leadership and soldiering. All the topics in the book strive to do one thing: make one a more successful leader. Each chapter seeks to be yet another piece of the whole � like of a jigsaw puzzle, all of which is needed to make a complete picture.
Sources used by the Author
8. All the topics he has written in this book are of his own experiences which he has gathered from his long army career. Serving in various appointments at various levels, acquiring knowledge on routine administration of the unit and the basic technique and requirements of leadership and management, the author has arranged all these materials in this book giving examples developing it chronologically as a good reading material for the leaders particularly the junior leaders.
Analysis of the Book
9. The analysis of the book will be unfolded into following headings:
a. Leadership. In this part the author has given his views about the most important precept of leadership that one can learn how to be a leader. He argued that leadership can be learned through a process getting men and women to do a job well, economically and willingly and by developing some character traits. In support of this argument the author has highlighted the essential elements which help in understanding and developing leadership qualities which he has described very simply and in short to have an easy understanding of his thought on leadership. In leadership the factors which the author has highlighted in this book are quite relevant in our army and most of them are being practiced. However, in addition, we should give more importance to the psyche of our soldiers considering their back ground, educational qualification, social background/environment, cultural and religious values and sentiment. These have direct bearing on their character qualities and morale values.
b. Management. In this part the author has also highlighted and narrated about management which is one of the most important aspects of leadership. The author has given his own views on management gathered through his own experience and he has defined management as: "the way to get things done". It follows that good management, which is the elusive pot of gold at the end of the manager's rainbow, is simply the way to get things done better, smarter, easier, cheaper, and quicker. Likewise in management also, the factors the author has highlighted are also relevant in our army. However, few aspects like welfare to the family, employment other than operation like national crisis and disaster, proper recognition and rewarding to the deserving one, morale and religious values, honor and dignity, sense of belonging, nationalistic feelings etcetera to be given special care.
10. The book �BEFORE THE BATTLE' is a very educative and helpful book to study for the leaders particularly the junior NCOs as it provides useful materials & also deals with how to be successful. The method the author has advocated & the topics he has narrated in the book are not complicated rather practical. As the desired result of all military is success in combat where there will be always monumental challenges & problems of different levels, studying this book will definitely be helpful tools to understand the leadership & management & thereby improve upon. Though there are many books written on Leadership and management, army and military have been so successful in devising, developing, disseminating, and determining the principles of leadership then why another book on the subject? Reading this book one can easily understand the necessity of writing such book as the book in very short & simple form highlights & narrates the essential aspects of leadership and management which the author has experienced & gathered through practice and service with the many splendid leaders and that he has assembled chronologically in this book for the future leaders.
11. According to author Army is a full-time job. It must be tough, lean, disciplined, well trained and ready to fight. For this, leaders and led are to inculcate the basic character traits, know the job properly to run and administer the unit effectively and efficiently and ultimately fight the battle confidently and at ease and for these reasons the author felt the necessity of writing this book where he has very simply given his ideas and views stating that these ideas have worked for him and further hopes that these will also work for others and would help to have the finest unit of its kind and size in the army.
12. To conclude, it can be said that, the author could do justice in giving his views and ideas about leadership and management describing and narrating the topics related to the subject and theme of the book. The author has been very frank and candid in elaborating these topics giving various examples and narrating his own experiences in giving his views and philosophy on leadership and management.
Zyeem Bin Zia
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]