Sunday, October 21, 2018

Professional Reading

My XO in the late 80s, early 90s was Colonel Tehan.  A no-shit combat veteran.  A man that took a few AK bullets, one that hit the trigger guard of the 1911 he was using, smashing it to his trigger finger.  When he woke up in the hospital after that it was still in his hand.  Or at least the frame was.  They took off as much as they could, and he had other injuries to worry about before they got around to cutting the pistol off his hand.

There was a big push around that time to do professional reading.  Colonel Tehan was already on board what the Commandant was laying down.  He told us a story about how his father only got so much structured schooling, but was constantly reading to better his mind.  This helped make the XO a voracious reader.

The Commandant wanted all his Marines to consume more professional reading.  And he had a reading list. This included Clausewitz and Tsun Tzu and Keegan's Face of Battle.  The Fleet Marine Force Manuals were a new thing at the time and REQUIRED.  But professional reading went beyond that. Not just tracts on strategy and tactics, dry theoreticals, but also stuff like:

The Washing of the Spears, a history of the Zulu when they built to their zenith.
Crane's Red Badge of Courage
C. S. Forester books like the Hornblower series, Rifleman Dodd, and The Good Shepherd.
Nowadays Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Card's Ender's Game is on the list.
I love The Defense of Duffer's Drift
All Quiet on the Western Front
Ready Player One
A Message to Garcia
How to Win Friends and Influence People

All have been on the list at one time or another. 

You can absorb value from many things in your efforts to improve yourself as a leader.  Even things farther afield than stuff directly related to combat or your personal MOS.  And Colonel Tehan wanted us all to absord that lesson.  And I did.  I did whatever he told me.  Because he scared me to death.

I didn't need too much motivation tho.  I already enjoyed reading History stuff.   

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