Why was the German chain of command able to do what ours cannot? The answer lies in the characteristics the German Army looked for in its officers. First, it demanded complete honesty at all times. Not only was active dishonesty not tolerated, neither was passive dishonesty: keeping your mouth shut and letting something you knew was wrong go through. The sin of omission was considered worse than the sin of commission.
Second, it despised careerism. The surest way to guarantee you would not get promoted was to show you cared about it. Of course, like any army that does not want to institutionalize moral cowardice and the Peter Principle, it did not have a rule of “up or out.”
Third, the characteristic the Wehrmacht valued most highly in an officer was strength of character, which it defined as an eagerness to make decisions, take responsibility, and get the result the situation required, regardless of orders, procedures, or obstacles.
Monday, September 14, 2015
William Lind, The View From Olympus: Puffery