Other things being equal, a superior rating will invariably be given to the officer who has persevered in his studies of the art of self-expression, while his colleague, who attaches little importance to what may be achieved through working with the language, will be marked for mediocrity.
A moment's reflection will show why this has to be the case and why mastery of the written and spoken word is indispensable to successful officership.
As the British statesman, Disraeli, put it, "Men govern with words." Within the military establishment, command is exercised through what is said which commands attention and understanding and through what is written which directs, explains, interprets or informs.
Battles are won through the ability of men to express concrete ideas in clear and unmistakable language. All administration is carried forward along the chain of command by the power of men to make their thoughts articulate and available to others.
There is no way under the sun that this basic condition can be altered. Once the point is granted, any officer should be ready to accept its corollary - that superior qualification in the use of the language, both as to the written and the spoken word, is more essential to military leadership than knowledge of the whole technique of weapons handling.
It then becomes strictly a matter of personal decision whether he will seek to advance himself along the line of main chance or will take refuge in the excuse offered by the great majority: "I'm just a simple fighting file with no gift for writing or speaking."
From: The Armed Forces Officer, 1950
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