As well as loyalty, the most vital quality a soldier can possess is self-confidence – utter and complete.
You can have doubts about your good looks, about your intelligence, about your self-control, but to win in
war you must have no doubts about your ability as a soldier.

 

No one is born with ‘military reactions’ any more than anyone is born with muscles. You can be born with
the capability of developing military reactions or having big muscles, but both qualities must be developed
by hard work.

 

The intensity of your desire to acquire any special ability depends on your character and your ambition. A
decision to study instead of enjoying yourself shows you have both character and ambition.

 

Officers with a flair for command emphasise in their conduct, and in their dress and deportment, the
qualities they seek to produce in their men. When I was a second lieutenant, I had a captain who was very
sloppy and usually late; yet he got after his men for just those faults. He was a failure.

 

The troops I have commanded have always been well dressed, have been smart saluters and have been
prompt and bold in action because I have personally set the example in these qualities. The influence one
man can have on thousands is a never-ending source of wonder to me. You are always on parade.

 

Officers who through laziness or a foolish desire to be popular fail to enforce discipline and the proper
wearing of uniforms and equipment, even when not in the presence of the enemy, will also fail in battle.

 

There is no such thing as being just a ‘good field soldier’; you are either a good soldier or a bad soldier.

 

Source: Letter from General George S. Patton to his son, June 6, 1944