Lesson # 12 from Starship Troopers

Today, we’re going to cover the twelfth lesson I learned from the book Starship Troopers.  This is the twelfth lesson in the 17-lesson mini-series.  If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.

Lesson # 12: Not Every Soldier Has the Warrior Spirit!

Quote: “But you can’t buy fighting spirit.  It’s scarce.”

My Take: Most Soldiers in the U.S. Army DO NOT have the warrior spirit.  While the Army has many quality people in it, there is a big difference between being a quality person and being a quality Soldier. A quality soldier can shoot, move and communicate.  They can do their technical and tactical job.  They might get scared in certain situations, but they do not let their fears control them.  They lead by example, they encourage others and they are AT THEIR BEST when the odds are stacked against them.

starship troopers bookAs I see it, the “fighting spirit” is really nothing more than the right discipline, the right attitude and the right frame of mind.  It’s mental toughness, discipline and courage mixed together.  It’s the Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.  And while every Soldier carries around an Army Values Card in their wallet, that doesn’t mean they live by those values.

Look around in any unit and you will see what I am talking about.  There are MANY Soldiers who do not have the mental toughness, the right attitude, or the courage to do what must be done in combat.  And while these folks might do okay in a garrison environment, they normally won’t do well in combat.  I know that may across as mean to some people who read this, but as I see it, it is the truth.

So what exactly is the warrior spirit and what can you do to get it?  Here are some things I can think of:

  • Being proud of what you do
  • Taking responsibility for your actions
  • Mastering your technical and tactical craft
  • Doing what’s right over what’s comfortable
  • Taking action, even if you are scared
  • Holding people accountable (including yourself) to the Army Standards
  • Leading by example
  • Doing your mission in combat, even if it means losing your life
  • Not being scared to make tough decisions

Fortunately, no one is born with the “warrior spirit.”  It is learned.  It starts in Basic Training and is built upon throughout your career.

I really encourage you to look yourself in the mirror and “evaluate” your own warrior spirit.  We all have room for improvement, so make sure you identify your shortcomings so you can be a better Soldier and leader.   And if you are a small unit leader, I really encourage you to make sure you do what you can to instill the “warrior and fighting spirit” into your Soldiers.  It will be one of the best things you can do.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.



chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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5 thoughts on “Lesson # 12 from Starship Troopers”

  1. Faith A. Coleman

    It’s striking how your lessons gleaned from Starship Troopers would transfer to any leader in any capacity. Parents should live by these important principles, and they should be part of the training in all ways at all levels, all the way up to the President of the USA. I wish these principles were given as much attention from anyone in a teaching/leading as is given to nuts and bolts, technical stuff. I think there’d be a much greater chance of success at any level, at any age, at any endeavor. It would mean so much, I think, in terms of the soldiers acting with conviction, when they have a grasp of why they’re doing what they’re doing and why it’s essential for them to give their all to anything they do.

  2. I think that you raise some valid points in this aricle, Chuck, and I agree with you. I also think a conversation about the fighting spirit goes even deeper than this. A fighting spirit starts with motivation, and many of our soldiers are not motivated to encompass all of the characteristics you listed. I strongly believe that our country’s leadership plays a significant role in that, not only by deploying our soldiers to accomplish missions that are politically motivated, but also by cuts in benefits and support.

  3. It may indeed sound mean, but it is indeed true. Research and the sheer weight of historical experience have demonstrated that leaders who fare well in the peacetime military often fail in combat. (The opening years of World War II saw a brutal weeding-out of officers who just couldn’t hack it in combat, sadly many of them from the National Guard.) It has been suggested that those who are best suited for combat, in fact, will leave the military during peacetime for the “warfare” of the business world, disdaining the political maneuvering that is often a big part of career progression. Fortunately this has been less of an issue for us since WWII; the senior officers and NCOs in the Korean and Vietnam Wars had prior combat experience, and of course we are now entering our second decade of continuous warfare.

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