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Clausewitz Condensed

Importance of Military Morale

Clausewitz stresses the importance of morale and will for both the soldier and the commander. The soldier's first requirement is moral and physical courage, both the acceptance of responsibility and the suppression of fear. In order to survive the horror of combat he must have an invincible martial spirit, which can be attained only through military victory and hardship. The soldier has but one purpose: "The end for which a soldier is recruited, clothed, armed and trained, the whole object of his sleeping, eating, drinking, and marching is simply that he should fight at the right place and the right time." (95)

In order to penetrate the "psychological fog" of war, the commander foremost requires sound judgment, which Clausewitz describes as an intuition rooted in experience and sober calculation, and determination, so that he not waiver from his decisions:

"In the dreadful presence of suffering and danger, emotion can easily overwhelm intellectual conviction, and in this psychological fog it is so hard to form clear and complete insights that changes of view become more understandable and excusable. Action can never be based on anything firmer than instinct, a sensing of truth." (108)

To be sure, the commander also needs to be bold, but: "The higher up the chain of command, the great the need for boldness to be supported by a reflective mind, so that boldness does not degenerate into purposeless bursts of blind passion." (190) These attributes form "military genius," which is "the inquiring rather than the creative mind, the comprehensive rather than the specialized approach, the calm rather than the excitable head to which in war we would choose to entrust the fate of our brothers and children, and the safety and honor of our country." (112)