New book focuses on Ninth Army command team in WWII

New book focuses on Ninth Army command team in WWII

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Some military commanders like to draw a lot of attention to themselves. Others prefer to keep quiet and focus on getting the job done.

Lt. Col. (retired) William Stuart Nance focuses on two of the quiet professionals in the latest addition to the AUSA Book Program, Commanding Professionalism: Simpson, Moore, and the Ninth US Army.

Lieutenant General William Simpson and his chief of staff, Brigadier General James Moore, were considered “uncommonly normal” in their time and are little known today. This is an injustice for the men whom noted WWII author Robert M. Citino calls “one of the greatest leadership teams in US military history.” In the book’s foreword, he notes, “together they led Ninth Army from success to success … even if they didn’t lead it to much fame.”

Author Nance is a retired armor officer who taught at the United States Command and General Staff College and the United States Military Academy. His first book, Sabers through the Reich: World War II Corps Cavalry from Normandy to the Elbe, was also an AUSA title.

The Book Program sat down with Colonel Nance to talk about Commanding Professionalism.


AUSA: After your success with Sabers through the Reich, what led you to focus on the Ninth US Army for the new book?

Nance: In my research for Sabers, I had discovered that the Ninth Army had been criminally under-represented in the literature. The more I dug into it, I realized what a unique formation the Ninth had been and that its story needed to be told.


AUSA: Why did you decide to write about the command team of Simpson and Moore rather than a singular biography?

Nance: What made the Ninth Army unique was its command climate focused upon steady adherence to doctrine. As such, no story on the Ninth’s command could be appropriately told without telling the story of the Chief of Staff. Additionally, Colonel (retired) Tom Stone, Simpson’s original biographer, recommended the idea to me, and it was an excellent suggestion.


AUSA: How did they adapt to working under such disparate commanders as Bradley and Montgomery?

Nance: The key thing that I found about Simpson and Moore is that they really did not change how they operated based upon their commanders. They simply executed their processes and systems, attempting to leave personalities out of operations as much as possible.


AUSA: How did your research affect your views of the Allies’ efforts in Europe?

Nance: The longer I have looked at the Northwest European campaign, the more convinced I am that this part of the war was won by steady and reliable work by relatively unknown staff officers. While the senior leadership may have grabbed the spotlight, it was the measured application of material and firepower managed by the staffs that broke the back of the German forces in Northwest Europe.


AUSA: What leadership lessons can today’s commanders take from this story?

Nance: Soldiers of all ranks appreciate working for a boss and a headquarters who do routine things in a routine manner and do not lurch from crisis to crisis. No matter what echelon in which you serve, it is not about you, but about the overall team succeeding.


Please visit to order a copy of Commanding Professionalism.