The Military Mind in Action

This is a personal anecdote of Bevin Alexander, not an excerpt from one of his books

I realized fairly early that there is a military mind. The British call such a person “Colonel Blimp”, a rules-obsessed officer who goes by the book but has little judgment. I was a young cadet, sitting in a military science and tactics class at The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina. Our “tac officer” was an army lieutenant colonel whom I had already identified as a person of tremendous confidence and few brains. I found out later that the nineteenth century Prussian strategist, Karl von Clausewitz, had called such a person one of the worst officers a country can appoint—because his confidence will get his troops into situations from which his low brainpower cannot extract them.

We had been discussing the U.S. Constitution, and the tac officer asked if anyone could name the original thirteen states of the Union.

Like a fool, I raised my hand. I ticked off the states: “Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.”

While I was talking, the tac officer was getting more and more agitated. When I finished he said: “I have never heard a more wrong answer in all my life! You got the states all right, but you got them backwards! You start with Georgia and end with New Hampshire. I have the list right here. It starts with New Hampshire and ends with Georgia.”

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