Archive for Officer Candidates School

Making Marine Corps Officers

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

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Officer Candidates School

“Ductus Exemplo” – Lead by Example

HONOR ~ COURAGE ~ COMMITMENT

The mission of Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS) is “to train, evaluate, and screen officer candidates to ensure they possess the moral, intellectual, and physical qualities for commissioning, and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company grade officers in the operating forces”[i] of the United States Marine Corps.  OCS in the Marine Corps focusses on the candidate becoming a follower first, and then a leader.  The training is individualized, and centered on the candidate’s initiative to get the mission accomplished.  OCS puts them into scenarios where the candidate has to take charge, and where they have to lead.  Among many other things, OCS teaches the candidates:

  • How to act
  • How to conduct themselves as officers
  • How to be physically fit
  • How to establish a command presence (bearing)
  • How to lead by example
  • How to lead Marines
  • How to be confident
  • The ability to make quick, rapid decisions in a time compressed environment under pressure

Leading by example, and leading from the front, are two of the most important attributes of a United States Marine Corps officer.  At OCS, this is instilled in them very early and very quickly in their training.  Along with that comes the willingness to do the things that you asking your people to do.  You can’t ask your people to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.

The officer candidates are evaluated on if they are able to think and make decisions on their own, their ability to get their company from point A to point B, their ability to communicate, and their overall leadership capabilities.

Marine Corps officers must have integrity; to do the right things when nobody is looking.  They must conduct themselves as professionals at all times.

A leader in the Marine Corps needs to be humble and treat people with respect, no matter what rank they are.  It doesn’t matter what job you have, or what rank you are, the Marine Corps places a premium on leadership; from the private to the four-star general.  Officer Candidates School gives them an understanding of what basic leadership really is.  It not only provides them the leadership skills to be successful in the Marine Corps, but it prepares them for life.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Content –

Do’s and Don’t’s of Marine Corps OCS (officercandidatesschool.com)

The Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout (officercandidatesschool.com)

How Academics are Taught at OCS (officercandidatesschool.com)

OCS Academics Intro Leadership —> Introduction to Marine Corps Leadership (officercandidatesschool.com)

OCS Academics Leadership Fundamentals —> Fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership (officercandidatesschool.com)

Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (outlawamerica.blogspot.com)


Footnote –

[i] “OCS Mission” – Officer Candidates School – http://www.trngcmd.usmc.mil/OCS/default.aspx – Accessed 5 March 2012 – United States Marine Corps Training Command (Quantico, Virginia) – http://www.trngcmd.usmc.mil/

Schofield’s Definition of Discipline

Posted in Leadership, Toxic Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.”

Major General John M. Schofield
Address to the Corps of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy
August 11, 1879

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Major General John M. Schofield’s quote is required knowledge, and to be memorized and recited verbatim, among Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students, Officer Candidate School (OCS) candidates, Cadets at West Point and at the United States Air Force Academy, and other military leadership institutions.  I thought I would bring to you some background about General Schofield, and a little history about his quote on discipline.  Ultimately, the purpose of this post is to use the quote as a backdrop to the topic of toxic leadership that we’ve been discussing here at Command Performance Leadership.

First, I will provide a biography of Major General John M. Schofield.  For those of you who only know of his quote will be fascinated at his military experience and success.  Then, I will put into context General Schofield’s definition of discipline.

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John M. Schofield, US Army

John McAllister Schofield (September 29, 1831 – March 4, 1906) graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1853, ranking seventh in his class of 52 graduates, and was commissioned a brevet[i] second lieutenant in the artillery.  Schofield served for two years in the artillery, was assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point from 1855 to 1860, and while on leave (1860–1861) was professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.[ii]

When the Civil War broke out, Schofield became a major in the 1st Missouri Infantry, and served as chief-of-staff under Major General Nathaniel Lyon.  During the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Missouri), Schofield acted with “conspicuous gallantry” during the battle, and received the Medal of Honor for that action in 1892.[iii-a][iv-a][v]

On November 21, 1861, Schofield was promoted to Brigadier General, and placed in charge of all the Union militia in Missouri.  He was again promoted to Major General on November 29, 1862, though the Senate did not confirm the appointment until May 12, 1863.  From 1861 to 1863, he held various commands in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, most of the time in command of the Army of the Frontier.[iii-b][iv-b]

On April 17, 1863, he took command of the 3rd Division in the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee, but returned to Missouri in May of 1863 to command the Department of the Missouri.  In January of 1864, Schofield led the Army of the Ohio during the Atlanta Campaign under Major General William T. Sherman.[iii-c][iv-c]

After the fall of Atlanta, took the majority of his forces on his infamous “March to the Sea” through Georgia.  Schofield’s Army of the Ohio was detached to join Major General George H. Thomas to stop the invasion of Tennessee led by Confederate General John B. Hood.  On November 30, 1864, Hood managed to attack Schofield’s Army of the Ohio in the Battle of Franklin.  Schofield successfully repulsed Hood, effectively crippled Hood’s army, and joined his forces with Thomas.  Two weeks later, on December 15 and 16, during the Battle of Nashville, General Thomas used Schofield and his XXIII Corps to effectively destroy what was left of Hood’s army.  For his service at Franklin, Schofield received a promotion to Brigadier General in the regular army on November 30, 1864.[iii-d][iv-d]

Schofield was ordered to operate under Sherman in North Carolina, and moved his corps by rail and sea to Fort Fisher, North Carolina.  He captured Wilmington on February 22, 1865, and fought at the Battle of Kinston on March 10, before meeting up with Sherman on March 23 in Goldsboro.  Working together with Sherman, Schofield led the Department of North Carolina until the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station.  For his service, he was brevetted to Major General in the regular army.[iii-e][iv-e]

After the war, Schofield went on to become the Secretary of War under President Andrew Johnson; June 1868 to March 1869.  In 1873, he was tasked by Secretary of War William Belknap to investigate the strategic potential of a United States presence in the Hawaiian Islands.  Schofield’s report recommended that the United States establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.[iii-f][iv-f]

From 1876 to 1881, Schofield was superintendent of the United States Military Academy.  From 1888 until his retirement in 1895, Schofield was commanding general of the United States Army. He had become a major general on March 4, 1869, and on February 5, 1895, he was commissioned a lieutenant general. Schofield retired on September 29, 1895, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 64.[iii-g]

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Schofield’s Definition of Discipline

The foundations of leadership are taught in every military institution, from ROTC students, to OCS candidates and those who attend each of the service academies.  The demonstration of moral and ethical attributes are essential for effective leadership as a commission officer in the United States military.  Leaders of character are defined as one who “seeks to discover the truth, decides what is right, and demonstrates the courage to act accordingly – always.”  Officers in the military are to epitomize humility, self-effacement, and selfless service.  So, at the basic and academic level, before the bars are pinned onto a newly commissioned officer, candidates are taught the importance of equality, dignity and respect.[vi]  Therefore, General Schofield’s quote encapsulates the philosophy to develop relationships that promote mutual respect and trust.  So, there is good reason for an officer candidate to learn Schofield’s Definition of Discipline to the letter.

Schofield’s quote comes from a much longer address on the venerable vice of hazing, and the treatment of new cadets by their seniors in the Corps, that existed at West Point while he was Superintendent there between 1876 to 1881.  Schofield said, “The practice of hazing is both injurious and humiliating to its victims and degrading to those who engage in it.  Your constant associates after you leave the Academy must be the members of higher and lower classes.  The memory of ill-treatment will remain with its victim as long as he lives.  You can never be a ‘brother officer’ to him whom you once degraded.  The stern discipline of a commanding officer will soon be forgotten when it can be remembered that he always treated his subordinates with justice and due respect.  But wanton injustice and contumely can never be forgotten, except by a spirit too mean to feel its sting…The very foundation of civil society is mutual respect for individual rights.  And nowhere is such mutual respect more strictly enjoined and rigidly enforced than in military organizations.  Without it, tyranny on the one hand and disaffection and mutiny on the other must destroy the efficiency of an army…A veteran soldier sees but little difference between the different grades, from his own down to that of a junior cadet, and treats them all with nearly equal respect.  It would be well for young soldiers to profit by such examples.  The road to military honor will be guarded all the way by the hearts of those who may be your subordinates.  You cannot travel that road unless you can command those hearts.”[vii]

The Army defines respect as treating people as they should be treated.  It is the “Golden Rule” principle — do unto others as you would have them do to you.  Attitudes about the worth of people, concepts, and personal belief systems are expressions of their values.  Respect means recognizing and appreciating the inherent dignity and worth of all people.  This concept goes well beyond issues of discrimination and harassment; respect includes the broader issue of civility, the way people treat each other.  Respect involves being sensitive to diversity and the impact of one’s own behaviors on others — behaviors that others may perceive as being insensitive, offensive, or abusive.  Ultimately, the Army fosters a commitment to ethical excellence essential to leaders of character for our military and our Nation.[viii]

Too often in the Army, leaders want unqualified loyalty.  Schofield knew that such loyalty had to be earned. He knew that harsh treatment– the kind too frequently mistaken for authoritative expertise– comes at the expense of performance.  He knew that hard-earned respect– the kind that comes from compassion, empathy, and a commander’s genuine interest in his subordinates– makes men reliable in battle.[ix]  General [Schofield] was trying to tell us that we’d succeed in gaining the discipline necessary for any future overwhelming fight, if we treated our people with respect and in a manner and tone of voice appropriate for American warfighters.[x]

The foundation of discipline is not accountability or punishment, but respect.  A leader must establish trust and credibility, communicate effectively, employ empathy, intimately know their people’s capabilities, and move their people into positions to be most successful.  Nobody should be the ‘bad guy’ when leading people.  No leader should be a bad guy intentionally, or go out of their way to be one.  If a leader is working to perfect his ‘bad guy’ image, he is dishonoring his responsibility as a leader, and is creating a hostile environment for his followers.  If a leader has successfully become a ‘bad guy,’ shame on them.  Their subordinates deserve better than that; and, so does the service they represent and the Command (organization) they are responsible for.[xi]  Ultimately, a good leader will lead through respect instead of leading through fear.  When you treat people right, word gets around.

The poisoning results of harsh and tyrannical treatment can be detrimental to people, teams and organizations.  A leader’s job, along with guiding individuals and groups towards victory and success, is to be a mentor.  All eyes are on the leader; everyone looks up to them.  However, the wrong tone of voice or form of ridicule, no matter how isolated or common, can have a negative impact on individuals and teams.  The results of such toxic leadership can have destabilizing effects on command and control, as well as destroy esprit de corps.

Good leaders seek to develop and nurture relationships that lead to growth and fulfillment.  They:

  • Understand their needs and goals for relationships
  • Are able to take the perspective of another in relationships
  • Are able to transcend or step-out of their own self-interests to serve the good of the relationship
  • Work to establish cooperative relationships so all benefit
  • Seek relationships where they are respected and valued
  • Respect and value others in relationships
  • Seek healthy relationships that provide autonomy and support for growth
  • Meet their responsibilities in relationships
  • Treat others in relationships fairly and honestly
  • Effectively communicate with others in relationships
  • Build relationships based on trust
  • Understand the impact of military service on relationships[xii]

General Schofield’s quote is not very long, but it certainly says a lot.  For the Army, and any organization for that matter, to work properly there must be a bond between the leader and those being led; a bond that rests not on authority alone – but on professionalism, good will, and above all MUTUAL RESPECT.  As I said earlier in this post, there is good reason for an officer candidate to learn Schofield’s Definition of Discipline to the letter.  The knowledge and execution of its very meaning will serve officers well when they are in a position to lead people in the military and in life.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles –

Schofield’s Definition of Discipline – West Point Association of Graduates – Gray Matter (westpointaog.org)

Bugle Notes: Learn This! (west-point.org)

Why You Should Treat Your People Like it’s 1879 (thoughtleadersllc.com)

Leadership and the Golden Rule (courageouslearning.wordpress.com)

Leadership as Influence (weareallleadersnow.wordpress.com)

Toxic Leadership (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Authoritarian Leadership vs. Democratic Leadership ~ The Officer Corps Explained (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

(Hard) Lessons Learned About Leadership (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Respect for Others: A Bedrock of Leadership (digital-library.usma.edu)

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Footnotes –

[i] The Articles of War adopted by the United States Army in 1776 and slightly revised in 1806 established the use and significance of brevet ranks or awards in the U.S. Army. When first used, a brevet commission in the U.S. Army entitled the officer to be identified by a higher rank but the award had limited effect on the right to higher command or pay. A brevet rank had no effect within the officer’s current unit, but when assigned duty at the brevet rank by the U.S. President such an officer would command with the brevet rank and be paid at the higher rank. This higher command and pay would last only for the duration of that assignment. The brevet promotion would not affect the officer’s seniority and actual permanent rank in the army (“Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue” by Roger D. Hunt and Jack R. Brown. Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books, 1997. “Introduction”, p.v.).  Beginning on April 16, 1818, brevet commissions also required confirmation by the United States Senate, just as all other varieties of officer commissions did (“Civil War High Commands” by John H. Eicher and David J. Eicher. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. p. 34.).  Brevet promotions were quite common because the army had many frontier forts to garrison and other missions to perform but could not always appoint appropriately ranked officers to command these forts or missions. The U.S. Congress permitted only a limited number of each rank of officer. Thus, an officer of lower rank might receive a brevet commission to a rank more appropriate for his assignment. Also, newly commissioned officers often received brevet rank until authorized positions became available. For example an officer might graduate from West Point and be appointed a brevet second lieutenant until a permanent posting opened up (“Brevet [military]” – Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brevet_(military)– Accessed 19 February 2012)

[ii] “Civil War High Commands” by John H. Eicher and David J. Eicher. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. p. 472-73.

[iii-a,b,c,d,e,f,g] “John Schofield” – Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Schofield – Accessed 19 February 2012

[iv-a,b,c,d,e,f] “John M. Schofield” – Civil War Trust (Saving America’s Civil War Battlefields) – http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/john-schofield.html – Accessed 21 February 2012

[v] “Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas” by Benson Bobrick. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2009. p. 288, states “Much later, as secretary of war (1868-1869), he would award himself the Congressional Medal of Honor (actual award was in 1892) for Undocumented valor at Wilson’s Creek.”

[vi] “The Cadet Leader Development System (CLDS) – Moral Ethical Domain”– United States Military Academy Office of Policy, Planning, and Assessment – http://www.usma.edu/opa/clds/moral_ethical_domain.html – Accessed 22 February 2012 – United States Military Academy – http://www.usma.edu/

[vii] “Schofield’s Definition of Discipline” – West Point Association of Graduates – Gray Matter – Posted 4 November 2010 – http://www.westpointaog.org/page.aspx?pid=4329 – Accessed 19 February 2012 – http://www.westpointaog.org/

[viii] “Cadet Leader Development System” – USMA Circular: 1-101 (page 49) – 3 June 2002 – United States Military Academy – West Point, New York – http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/pub/dami-fl/Cr1-101.pdf – Accessed 21 February 2012 – Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2 (Army Intelligence) – http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/

[ix] “The Discipline Which Makes Men Reliable” – By Rich Stowell – Posted 29 March 2011 – http://my-public-affairs.blogspot.com/2011/03/discipline-which-makes-men-reliable.html – Accessed 21 February 2012 – My Public Affairs (A Teacher’s Education in the Army) – http://my-public-affairs.blogspot.com/

[x] “Year of Leadership: American-Made Discipline” – Commentary by Lt. Col. Mark Allen, 341st Operations Support Squadron – Posted 10/16/2008 ~ Updated 10/17/2008 – Malmstrom Air Force Base – News/Commentary – http://www.malmstrom.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123119911 – Accessed 21 February 2012 – Malmstrom Air Force Base – http://www.malmstrom.af.mil/

[xi] “(Hard) Lessons Learned About Leadership” – By Dale R. Wilson – Posted 01/24/2012 – https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/hard-lessons-learned-about-leadership/ – Accessed 23 February 2012 – Command Performance Leadership – https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/

[xii] “The Cadet Leader Development System (CLDS) – Human Spirit Domain”– United States Military Academy Office of Policy, Planning, and Assessment – http://www.usma.edu/opa/clds/domain_of_the_human_spirit.html – Accessed 22 February 2012 – United States Military Academy – http://www.usma.edu/

Fundamentals of Naval Leadership

Posted in Books, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Department of Leadership and law, U S. Naval Academy ~ Karel Montor

The Navy defines leadership as the art, science, or gift by which a person is enabled and privileged to direct the thoughts, plans, and actions of others in such a manner as to obtain and command their obedience, their confidence, their respect, and their loyal cooperation.  Simply stated, leadership is the art of accomplishing the Navy’s mission through people.[i]  To accomplish this, the Navy leader employs the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success.  A Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, a student participating in an ROTC program, or an individual going through Officer Candidate School (OCS) are introduced to the fundamental leadership skills necessary to become a successful Naval and Marine Corps officer.

“Fundamentals of Naval Leadership” is a Naval Academy text book, and is the companion piece to “Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience – Second Edition.”  In essence, the book builds from the discussion of the concepts of leadership; human behavior, motivating people (and ourselves), conflict resolution, evaluating performance, the structure and function of groups.  In the second half of the book, it transitions into discussion of the dynamic qualities of leadership that are required to be successful; moral leadership, leading by example, and virtues & traits.  It finishes with the topics of personal relations with people, counseling & interviewing, discipline, training, and organization & administration.  Of course, as a military academy text book, it covers aspects of being a Naval (or Marine Corps) Officer in the greatest Navy in the World; rights, responsibilities, code of conduct, traditions & customs, etc.  The parallel to managing and leading in the business world are obvious, and it is easy to interchange military and branch-specific references to themes, situations and experiences in a civilian corporate environment.  At the end of the text book, there are case studies, again geared toward leading in the Navy.  The situations and scenarios are comparable to day-to-day experiences to any manager in any field of expertise.  The book goes back to basics, and presents the many aspects of leadership at almost an introductory level – approaches to and styles of leadership, examples of effective leadership, the psychology of leadership, and the factors and traits of the effective leader – to teach its readers to become more effective leaders.[ii]

The Naval tradition places special emphasis on the development of leadership ability. This emphasis is found with regard to both institutional efforts and individual efforts. Elaborating on the responsibility of naval officers to develop leadership skills,[iii] Admiral William V. Pratt (Chief of Naval Operations – 1930 to 1933) said, “The greatest problem facing the career naval officer is leadership.  Yet this most important factor in a man’s life frequently is allowed to grow like a flower in a garden surrounded by rank weeds.  So many feel that if they follow the average course of naval life, experience will finally give them the qualities of the great leader, and opportunity may reward them with high command.  Few realize that the growth to sound leadership is a life’s work.  Ambition alone will not encompass it, and if ambition alone be a man’s sole qualification, he is indeed a sorry reed to lean upon in time of stress.  The path of qualification for leadership is a long, hard road to travel.  It is a path of life.  It envisages all of a man’s character, his thoughts, aims, and conduct of life.  It requires the wisdom and judgment of the statesman, the keen perception of the strategist and tactician, the executive ability of the seaman; but above all, it requires sterling worth of character and great human understanding and sympathy.[iv]

In his Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, Admiral Arleigh Burke (Chief of Naval Operations – 1955 to 1961) wrote, “No matter what mark an officer may leave in history by his deeds in battle, or in intellectual contributions, or in material inventions, his greatest legacy to his country will be the example he has given as a man and as a leader of men.”[v]
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United States Naval Academy page banner

The Naval Academy has a unique clarity of purpose, expressed in their mission:

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”[vi]

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This was one of the books I listed in last week’s “The Development of a Reading Program,” and is the second book I will read from my 2012 reading list.  I encourage you to go online to order a copy for yourself and add it to your library.  If you are interested in learning more about this book, and would like to acquire it, please visit this link at Amazon.com.
 Copyright © Dale R. Wilson
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Footnotes –

[i] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 1. (The definition of leadership is adapted from Naval Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1939, page 1, and Frederick Ellsworth Wolf, A.M., Leadership in the New Age, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1946, page 3)

[ii] ibid.

[iii] Al-Harbi, Toraiheeb. Navy Definitions of Leadership and LMET/NAVLEAD Competency Clusters Compared to Selected Leadership Theories. Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School, 1995. http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA306113 – Accessed 7 February 2012.  The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC®) – http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/

[iv] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 77. (from Selected Readings in Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1957, page 1)

[v] ibid. page xviii. (from the Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 1959)

[vi] Mission of USNA –  http://www.usna.edu/mission.htm – Accessed 7 February 2012 – United States Naval Academy | Home Page – http://www.usna.edu/
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