Personal Courage 

Personal Courage: Face Fear, Danger, or Adversity (Physical or Moral)

What really causes leadership challenges is the situation; the environment that you have to fight in, and today our Soldiers are fighting in a much more different environment than they were in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. I am not saying those environments weren't critical, stressful, and very, very dangerous, they were. But the environment is different today. Today they are your friends, tomorrow those friends are driving a car with a bomb in it and killing your Soldiers. That's a tough situation.

SMA Julius W. Gates

Tell the absolute truth.

SMA Robert E. Hall



You must tell your commander the truth: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good NCO who is listened to will always level with the commander, and then it is up to the commander to take heed or ignore it, remembering that he or she has to live with the outcome.

There is a lot of material on what should be done regarding leadership, but it takes intestinal fortitude to do what is right. It takes guts for an NCO to use inherent authority and responsibility in training, maintaining, leading, and caring for soldiers. Young noncommissioned officers are the ones who call the shots; it is on their knowledge, initiative, and courage that our success in battle rests.

SMA Glen E. Morrell



Professional courage is the steel fiber that makes an NCO unafraid and willing to tell it like it is. The concept of professional courage does not always mean being as tough as nails, either. It also suggests a willingness to listen to the soldiers’ problems, to go to bat for them in a tough situation and it means knowing just how far they can go. It also means being willing to tell the boss when he is wrong.

SMA William A. Connelly



The greatness of our Army has always been the ability of our soldiers who serve in the ranks to rise to the challenge against the odds, in the face of danger, and win.

SMA Julius W. Gates



The good NCO has never been short in confidence, either to perform the mission or to inform the superior that he or she was interfering with traditional NCO business.

SMA William G. Bainbridge



Moral courage, to me, is much more demanding than physical courage.

SMA Leon L. Van Autreve



The equipment and weaponry will continually change and improve, and the size of the military will expand as needed, decreasing during times of peace. But the unyielding will of the soldier and the dedication of professional military leaders will not change. Our soldiers can do a great deal more under pressure than people think. You’d have to see them perform in combat to believe it.

SMA George W. Dunaway



How can fear help you? Fear is not altogether undesirable. It is nature’s way of preparing your body for battle. As a consequence, the body automatically undergoes certain changes. You may temporarily lose a sense of fatigue, no matter how tired you are. Fear can stimulate your body, make you more alert, and prepare you for unusual physical effort.

One of the easiest things to do is to talk to someone. Talk is a convenient way to relieve your tension- and it also helps the men you’re talking to. It’s a reminder that the rest of the team is with you. Your confidence goes up and your fear goes down when you think of the coming fight as a team job. You know the striking power of the team.

Action or “doing something” will also help you overcome the initial paralyzing effect of fear in combat. This is especially true when you’re waiting for battle and the suspense is bothering you. Put your fear aside by doing something- even if you have to make work for yourself.

No man ever adjusts himself perfectly to battle, regardless of how much combat he’s seen. Veteran soldiers also experience the reactions caused by fear. The difference is that veterans have learned to control their fears better than green troops. Learn to control fear and make it work for you. The man who controls his fear and goes about his business despite it is a courageous man. There’s no limit to what courage can accomplish on the battlefield.

SMA William O. Wooldridge