The Leader Who Was General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

We have lost a giant in the ranks of great military leaders throughout history.  General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991, died on Thursday, December 27, in Tampa, Fla., of complications from pneumonia, according to press reports.  This comes as a shock and surprise because this larger than life man seemed to be invincible, never willing to give in to defeat of anything in war, nor in life.  He was a soldier’s general who “embodied the warrior spirit,”[i]

General Schwarzkopf was commissioned a Second Lieutenant after graduating in 1956 from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He received advanced infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He attended the University of Southern California, receiving a Master of Science in mechanical engineering in 1964.  In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army’s Americal Division.  He earned three Silver Stars for valor — including one for saving troops from a minefield — plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and  three Distinguished Service Medals.[ii]

Of course, General Schwarzkopf’s most notable and celebrated career achievement was when he was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command.  In 1991, Schwarzkopf commanded Operation Desert Storm, and a coalition force from 34 nations, against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  It was Schwarzkopf’s blueprint for the defense of the oil fields of the Persian Gulf (against a hypothetical invasion by Iraq), which was the basis for Operation Desert Shield, the defense of Saudi Arabia.[iii]  During the Gulf War, he commanded more than 540,000 U.S. troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait.  The sweeping armored movement he employed during the ground campaign is seen as one of the great accomplishments in military history.  The maneuver ended the ground war in only 100 hours.

General Schwarzkopf was a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader.  If there was ever a leader who knew mission accomplishment was about the troops, and not about the leader, it was General Norman Schwarzkopf.

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Brigadier General John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Jr. once wrote the following about his friend, General Schwarzkopf:

…I have known (Norm Schwarzkopf) for over 45 years, ever since our Plebe year at West Point in 1952.  He was…personable when I first knew him…Norm has charisma that stems from a boyish-like enthusiasm for being a soldier.  His enthusiasm has been his most important professional trait among a number of other extremely important and unique qualities.  Norm loves soldiers and he loves soldiering, and it shows in everything he does and says.  His outgoing personality has made him internationally popular.  His sincerity is genuine.  What you see is what you get.  He has walked the walk of a soldier all his life and he can talk the talk of a soldier based on solid credentials and impressive performance in peacetime as well as in war.

Brilliant intellect and rock solid integrity have been key factors in Norm Schwarzkopf’s development as a charismatic leader.  Being a big man makes him stand out in a crowd, but what makes people remember him is his bright, infectious, enthusiastic conversation.  You remember talking to Norm, you remember him looking directly at you, and you remember his thoughtful and colorful comments.  His sense of humor is well developed [sic] and although he is not overly profane, he can cuss colorfully if the occasion so dictates.[iv]

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The following quotes attributed to General Schwarzkopf are from Leadership Now‘s Leading Blog:

On Leadership Development
You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it.

On Character
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

On Leadership
Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.

On Courage
True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.

On Knowing Doing
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.

On Success
Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat.

Continue reading Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf 1934-2012 via Leadership Now‘s Leading Blog

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GULF WAR Schwarzkopf – The Victory


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There is much more that can be discussed about General Schwarzkopf’s leadership.  This blog intends to continue to study and discuss this remarkable military officer in future posts.  Since General Schwarzkopf’s death last week, much has been written about his leadership, and his influence on the troops, the United States Army and the military he served.  Below, I share a few of these articles and resources with you.  Additionally, I have interspersed a few (much) older articles and resources that you might like to read and view.  I recommend and encourage you read each of them.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Footnotes -

[i] From a statement made by U.S. Army General Martin E. Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GENDempsey) on Friday, December 28, 2012. (accessed Monday, December 31)

[ii] God Speed Stormin’ Norman… - Posted December 27, 2012 – http://www.blackfive.net/main/2012/12/god-speed-stormin-norman.html - Accessed Monday, December 31, 2012 – BLACKFIVE – http://www.blackfive.net/main/ ~ Details of General Schwarzkopf’s service in Vietnam can also be found on Wikipedia at Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. under the content Service in Vietnam.

[iii] Persian Gulf War – Wikipedia (Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.) – Last modified on Monday, December 31, 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Schwarzkopf,_Jr.#Persian_Gulf_War - Accessed Monday, December 31, 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

[iv] Leadership: The Warrior’s Art. Christopher D. Kolenda, Barry R. McCaffrey, and Walter F. Ulmer. Carlisle, PA: Army War College Foundation, 2001. Chapter Fourteen, Charisma, by John C. “Doc” Bahnsen. p. 266. Google eBook. Stackpole Books, 2001. Web. Date Accessed on 31 Dec. 2012. http://books.google.com/books?id=F57e_IYaHn8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=

Photo Credits -

Schwarzkopf in 1988 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NormanSchwarzkopf.jpg via Wikipedia Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Schwarzkopf,_Jr.

General Schwarzkopf with the troops – Coaches Hot Seat Bloghttp://coacheshotseat.com/coacheshotseatblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/NormanS6.jpg via “Coaches Hot Seat Quote of the Day – Friday, June 3, 2011 – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf”http://coacheshotseat.com/coacheshotseatblog/archives/6089

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CONTENT -

A Great Warrior Passes (seanlinnane.blogspot.com)

Statement on behalf of McHugh, Odierno on passing of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (army.mil)

Schwarzkopf On Leadership (inc.com)

Norman Schwarzkopf: 10 Quotes on Leadership and War (forbes.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf on Leadership: 50th Anniversary of D-Day (cultureunplugged.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 1) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 2) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

[VIDEO] Schwarzkopf Speech to (West Point) Corps of Cadets 5/91 (Part 3) (Schwarzkopf speech upon his return to West Point shortly after the end of Desert Storm) (youtube.com)

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Related Articles -

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, coalition forces leader during Persian Gulf War, dies (foxnews.com)

Norman Schwarzkopf Dead: Retired General Dies At 78 (huffingtonpost.com)

Desert Storm commander Norman Schwarzkopf dies (bigstory.ap.org)

Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. commander in Gulf War, dies at 78 (reuters.com)

Remembering Gulf War Commander Norman Schwarzkopf (pbs.org/newshour)

EDITORIAL: Stormin’ Norman, a general for all times (lehighvalleylive.com/opinion)

7 Responses to “The Leader Who Was General H. Norman Schwarzkopf”

  1. Hi Dale, Keep up the great work on your site. I LEARN something new every time I visit. Happy new year!

  2. Dale, thanks for the post. His leadership was historic/made a difference. We were very proud to serve with him….

    Happy New Year! v/r lugo

  3. [...] We have lost a giant in the ranks of great military leaders throughout history.  General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991, died on Thursday, December 27, in Tampa, Fla., of complications from pneumonia, according to press reports.  This comes as a shock and surprise because this larger than life man seemed to be invincible, never willing to give in to defeat of anything in war, nor in life.  He was a soldier’s general who “embodied the warrior spirit,”[i] [...]

  4. This is great read. Very inspiring. Only a person who leads like General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. did can truly achieve the desired results. Being a leader is not as President Reagan rightly said, doing great things, but it is about getting people to do great things. A leader can only lead by example. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr’s leadership was remarkable. Leading your forces in war-torn zone requires extremely special leadership qualities which were shown by him. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post

    • Beth,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Too often, we miss the greatest people, after their moment in the spotlight, until it is too late. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, many stories, videos and articles are available online about this great leader, and we can learn so much. I like your comment about how being a leader ‘is about getting people to do great things.’ It is so true.

      Dale

  5. [...] The Leader Who Was General H. Norman Schwarzkopf [...]

  6. Reblogged this on WESTPAC NAVY.

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