Cold Weather Survival
7 - Small Unit Leaders
7-1. Leadership Traits
a. The traits, qualities,
and abilities requisite to good leadership in any theater of operations assume
their greatest importance during operations in cold weather areas. Leaders must
be impressed with and made clearly aware of this fact. With proper training, leadership,
and discipline, few men will be unable to meet the rigid standards and the difficult
service required of northern operations.
b. Military leadership is the
art of influencing and directing men to an assigned goal in such a way as to obtain
their obedience, confidence, respect, and loyal cooperation. The individual who
demonstrates the traits of a leader and applies the fundamental principles of
leadership will be a successful leader of men in cold weather areas.
All leadership traits as outlined in FM 22-100 are of importance to the leader
assigned to units operating in cold weather areas. Peculiar conditions of cold
increase the necessity for certain traits to a marked degree. Traits of utmost
importance to the leaders are-
(1) Initiative. The energy or aptitude
displayed in the initiation of action, self-reliance, enterprise and self-initiated
activity must be an outstanding characteristic of leaders who are involved in
such operations, especially when units may become isolated. This requirement is
more pronounced in the
North than in other theaters of operation. In all training
of leaders, initiative and improvisation must be carefully encouraged.
Endurance and mental and physical stamina. Extremes of climate and the
vastness of the area increase the necessity for strong mental and physical
These conditions may cause early physical and mental fatigue, but can be overcome
by determination, forcefulness, and aggressiveness.
This is exemplified by the leader who does not take advantage of a situation for
personal gain or safety at the expense of the unit. The physically competent,
vigorous leader who can resist the natural desire of first providing for his own
comfort will be a successful and respected leader of his unit.
As in leadership traits, all leadership principles
as outlined in FM 22-100 apply to leaders directing operations in cold weather
latitudes, with particular emphasis placed on the following:
a. Know the
Job. Every leader must know thoroughly the job at hand. The leader’s actions
must demonstrate to his subordinates his capabilities as a leader and his genuine
desire to accomplish the mission with a minimum of effort expended by the men.
The leader should frequently visit isolated units in adverse weather and show
the men that he is a member of the team. He must earn the respect of the men and
the right to command by a thorough
understanding of the technical and tactical
aspect of the task.
b. Know the Men and Look Out for Their Welfare.
The small unit leader must know the mental and physical capabilities of each of
his men. Knowing this, he will be able to utilize them effectively. As an example,
a strong stable soldier should be matched in the “buddy system” to guide and assist
a weaker soldier.
(2) In isolated areas recreation facilities normally are
not available. It will be the leader’s responsibility to insure that, during periods
of rest or offduty
hours, men are not allowed to become psychological casualties.
A good leader will gainfully employ his men, but not run the risk of “hounding”
them. The good leader will, with ingenuity, devise projects which will occupy
their minds and at the same time improve their professional qualifications as
soldiers during periods of inactivity in isolated places.
(3) In cold weather
areas the problem of obtaining supplies assumes major proportions. Supply economy
must be enforced at all times. Clothing and
equipment must be checked frequently
and maintained in first class condition. Continuous individual supervision on
the part of the leader is mandatory.
(4) Under adverse conditions the standards
of personal hygiene and group sanitation will gradually become lower if not carefully
supervised. These lowered sanitation standards are a sure indication that supervision
is lacking and that morale is slipping. Men must not be allowed to become lazy
about their personal habits. Rules of personal hygiene and sanitation must be
enforced by the leader at all times.
c. Insure That the Task is Understood,
Supervised, and Accomplished. Orders issued must be well thought out. When
required the leader must be prepared to take the leading part in carrying them
out. Issuing an order is only the first and relatively small part of the leader’s
responsibility. The principal responsibility lies in supervision to insure that
the order is properly executed. Cold regions can be friendly, but at the same
time do not allow for
errors or carelessness. An effective commander leads,
not drives, therefore he must be able to differentiate between the two.
II. PECULIAR PROBLEMS OF LEADERS
7-3. Mental Processes
Existence. Many men, when bundled up in successive layers of clothing and
with the head covered by a hood, tend to withdraw within themselves and to assume
what has been termed a “cocoon-like existence.” When so clothed, an individual’s
hearing and field of vision are greatly restricted and he tends to become oblivious
to his surroundings. His mental processes become sluggish and although he looks,
he does not see. These symptoms must be recognized by leaders and overcome. The
leader must realize that it can happen to him and must be alert to prevent the
growth of lethargy within himself. He must always appear alert to his men and
prevent them from sinking into a state of cocoon existence, The remedy is simple
and basic: ACTIVITY. Throw the hood back and engage in physical activity. Although
the remedy is simple, the recognition of the condition requires leadership.
Individual and Group Hibernation. This process is again a manifestation of
withdrawal from the surrounding environment. It is generally recognized by a tendency
of individuals to seek the comfort of sleeping bags, and by the group remaining
in tents or other shelter at the neglect of their duties. In extreme cases, guard
and security measures may be abandoned and the safety of the unit jeopardized.
The remedy is simple: ACTIVITY. The leader must insure that all personnel remain
alert and active. Rigid insistence upon proper execution of all military duties
and the prompt and proper performance of the many group “chores” is essential.
Personal Contact and Communication. It is essential that each individual and
group be kept informed of what is happening. Due to the normal deadening of the
senses a man left alone may quickly become oblivious to his surroundings, lose
his sense of direction and his concern for his unit, and in extreme cases, for
himself. He may become like a sheep and merely follow along, not knowing nor caring
whether his unit is advancing or withdrawing. Each commander must take strong
measures to insure that each small unit leader keeps his subordinates informed.
This is particularly true of the company commanders keeping their platoon leaders
informed, of platoon leaders informing their squad leaders, and the squad leaders
informing their men. General information is of value but greatest importance must
be placed on matters of immediate concern and interest to the individual. The
chain of command must be rigidly followed and leaders must see that no man is
left uninformed as to his immediate surroundings and situation.
and Space. Northern operations require that tactical commanders be given every
opportunity to exploit local situations and take the initiative when opportunity
Because of the increased amount of time involved in actual movement
and the additional time required to accomplish even simple tasks, deviation from
tactical plans is difficult. Tactical plans are developed after a thorough reconnaissance
and detailed estimate of the situation. Sufficient flexibility is allowed each
subordinate leader to use his initiative and ingenuity in accomplishing his mission.
Time lags are compensated for by timely issuance of warning orders, and by anticipating
changes in the tactical situation and the early issuance of fragmentary orders.
Recognition of time and space factors is the key to successful tactical operations
in northern areas.
e. Conservation of Energy. Two environments must
be overcome in cold regions; one created by the enemy, and the second created
by the climate and terrain. The climatic environment must not be permitted to
sap the energy of the unit to a point where it can no longer cope with the enemy.
The leader must be in superior physical condition or he cannot expend the additional
energy required by his concern for his unit and still have the necessary energy
to lead and direct his unit in combat. He must remember that there are seldom
any tired units, just TIRED COMMANDERS.
a. The leader who is selected to lead troops in areas of
the world where the extreme cold and rugged, trackless terrain make living and
fighting more difficult, will face one of the greatest challenges of his lifetime.
He must possess the highest qualities of leadership and have the initiative, the
confidence, and the endurance to utilize these qualities to the utmost. He must
have the woods man’s knowledge of bushcraft and be able to navigate over rugged,
trackless terrain. He must be physically strong, mentally alert, and able to stand
on his own two feet and make decisions when on independent missions.
He must be more proficient than others, not only in command but in actual doing.
He must be able to improvise and to teach his men to do likewise. He must be able
to endure greater hardships than his men and be quick to recognize indications
of mental lethargy. He must know the weaknesses and strengths in his men so that
he may pair them more effectively in the buddy system. He must be firm when issuing
orders but must also realize that as the men become colder and more miserable
the time required to accomplish a task will be greatly increased. He must have
patience and understanding and be able to lead without driving. In short, he must
be the prototype of all leaders.
d. Military operations can be carried
out successfully under the extreme conditions arid over the difficult terrain
conditions peculiar to the cold areas of the world. The task of the troop leader
under conditions such as these becomes more difficult, but not impossible.
The leader must face up to his responsibilities and expend unselfishly and tirelessly
of his time and his talents toward the betterment of the safety, the welfare,
and the morale of his men.
f. The troop leader who knows his job and
who makes proper application of the principles of leadership will earn the confidence
and respect of his men and will be successful in the accomplishment of his mission.