The Army Officer’s Guide: a Leader Guide

By | December 17, 2016

[December 17, 2016]  In 1983 I was a new Second Lieutenant attending the U.S. Army Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.   On my first day I purchased the 42nd Edition of The Army Officer’s Guide, copyright 1983 … and still have it on my desk today!  The professional development of any leader can be traced to that individual’s self-education with books like this.

If there was one book that provided me with sound advice and practical day-to-day guidance to being an officer, this book was it. Written by Lawrence P. Crocker, he lays out the necessary concepts of being an army officer.  It is not an official military publication and clearly sets itself apart from such books and is thus less likely biased.

Why discuss this book here at   Like any significant event, idea, or thing that makes us better, I believe that my readers will appreciate drawing their attention to it because it can be helpful.  The Officer’s Guide, including the more recent editions, have always been popular with junior grade officers but senior Flag officers continue to pick them up to see what excites new officers and learn.

My favorite part was the beginning of the 42nd Edition.  The preface was by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur; word-for-word MacArthur’s famous speech at the United States Military Academy on May 12, 1962.  The speech is a bit winded by today’s standards but it contains some great nuggets of wisdom.  Like the book, his words are full of useful ideas that can help any leader regardless of profession.

“The code of the Army officer is the beacon which guides his or her course of action.  Each officer applies this code as a first essential step in the performance of official responsibilities.” – 42nd Edition of The Army Officer’s Guide, 1983

Today we refer to this as “core values” and I’ve written many times about the importance of having such values that are strong and reflect the basic values of one’s society.  Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen all are involved in the security of our nation and if called upon these men and women willingly put themselves between the enemy and our nation’s people.  That is the significance of the “code” that Crocker discusses in Part One of his popular book.

I recommend a few minutes of reading the book’s beginning … not just a reading today but occasionally throughout one’s leadership career.  It allows us to continue to refocus on the core of what it takes to be a good leader.  I re-read my copy.  Perhaps I’m just old fashioned but a little refocus here and there is a good thing.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.