Gen. George Patton

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Gen. George Patton

Dear George:

At 07:00 this morning the BBC announced…the landing of Allied paratroopers…. This group of unconquerable heroes, whom I command, are not yet in, but we will be soon….I have no immediate idea of being killed, but one can never tell and none of us can live forever. So if I should go don’t worry, but set yourself to do better than I have….

To be a successful soldier you must know history. Read it objectively—dates and even minute details of tactics are useless. What you must know is how man reacts. Weapons change, but man, who uses them, changes not at all. To win battles you do not beat weapons—you beat the soul of enemy man….

You must read biography and autobiography. If you will do that you will find that war is simple. Decide what will hurt the enemy most within the limits of your capabilities and then do it. TAKE CALCULATED RISKS. That is quite different from being rash. My personal belief is that if you have a 50% chance you should take it, because the superior fighting qualities of American soldiers led by me will surely give you the extra 1% necessary….

You cannot make war safely, but no dead general has ever been criticized, so you have that way out always. I am sure that if every leader who goes into battle will promise himself that he will come out either a conqueror or a corpse, he is sure to win… Defeat is due not to losses but to the destruction of the souls of the leaders. The “live to fight another day” doctrine.

Soldiers, in fact all men, are natural hero worshipers; officers with a flare for command realize this and emphasize in their conduct, dress, and deportment the qualities they seek to produce in their men…..