Don’t Panic: ‘Keep your cool!’

By | November 27, 2021

[November 27, 2021]  The crusty, old Master Sergeant at our Battalion Command Post was the man we all gravitated to.  If you wanted someone in your foxhole when the enemy was attacking, you needed him there with you, operating the machine gun and killing enemy soldiers. His greatest advice, Keep your cool, man!

I was in a meeting with our operations officer when I heard one of our Second Lieutenants come running in to report that the Opposing Forces (the “enemy” played our Soldiers) were attacking the unit’s left flank.  In fashion with this old Sergeant’s demeanor, he said, “Settle down, Lieutenant, keep your cool, Sir!” And, “If you don’t panic, all will be just fine.”

In a firefight, you don’t panic, at least if you want to stay alive. That’s the way it has always been and will always be.  Fear grips us quickly and can overwhelm the unprepared and unexpecting Soldier.  All of us are susceptible to panic.  We show it in raised voices, increased heart rate, and desire to run.  Panic on the battlefield can lead to terrible consequences.

No one knows how they will act on the battlefield when confronted for the first time by the enemy.  The same applies to emergencies of great danger, found during human or natural caused disasters.  The old Boy Scout saying, Be Prepared is on target.  We must be ready and mentally prepared for the worst situations, else we might panic and run away.

I didn’t get much from this particular military exercise – I was the Battalion Intelligence Officer – and there wasn’t any actual data to analyze (one of the difficulties in this type of military exercise).  What I did get from it was a better appreciation for the Sergeant who had the experience and military bearing of a true warrior.  The man was a hero, and I knew it.

He and I were to converse on many topics over the years.  I enjoyed them all and learned a great deal from this man.  He was dangerous, cunning, and easily angered, but he was also the kind of Soldier you wanted on your side.  He had your back, never let down his Soldiers, and could tell you anything at any time about any of our weapons.  He was indispensable.

Don’t panic! It became a sort of motto of our unit while out in the field.  We laughed when we said it, but the idea was profound, and we knew it might just save our lives someday.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

16 thoughts on “Don’t Panic: ‘Keep your cool!’

  1. Qassim

    Good one, Gen. Satterfield. You would think, I predict, most folks will just say this is “commonsense.” But, as we know from experience, it is easy to say it but when the horses are charging you with armed riders, the pucker factor takes over and the urge is to RUN. Don’t panic. Keep your cool.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      You got that right, ZB22. Richard “Dick” O’Kane is a true American patriot and hero.

  2. Harold M. Smith II

    Fight or flight. Most folks will “flight” aka panic and run away. It’s a natural instinct.

    1. Max Foster

      Careful Harold, people are taught today that the only difference in people is the result of “white privilege” and to deny this “fact” is racist. There is NO SUCH THING as differences in people due to hereditary. Nothing. That is why kids are taught in school to hate others (or themselves) based on the color of their skin only. And, all this is why I now go to school board meetings and create a ruckus. Starring down the school board members and telling them I’m looking over their shoulders on everything they do makes them scared like a surprised witless cat.

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        Great comment Max. Yeah, I get it too. The pandemic had one good result in that it exposed to parents that teachers where teaching hate in our schools. Throw the bums out.

      2. Linux Man

        Like Gen. Satterfield has commented on in the past, a person to read/listen to is Dr. Jordan Peterson. He tells us that doing this “white privilege” stuff is dangerous and we don’t even know how destructive it will be except that it is terribly destructive.

  3. Army Captain

    “No one knows how they will act on the battlefield when confronted for the first time by the enemy. ”
    Heck, that’s the truth. But, we should all be resilient to panic. At least study it, practice overcoming it and don’t sit back and relax when you get a chance to see for yourself the results when someone panics.

  4. Nick Lighthouse

    Nothing like waking up to get my coffee, pet my dog, and read about “keeping my cool.” Ha.. Yes, Gen. Satterfield, I must thank you. But, this is just too obvious. Sometimes I think you are writing for the lowest common denominator person who reads your blog. Perhaps you can take it up a notch and give us a little on how this impacts senior leaders.

  5. Goalie for Cal State

    — simply too many people panic over the most mundane of things. Like the coronavirus effects, our reaction was greatly over exaggerated.

    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      You are going to get “cancelled” over comments like that Goalie. You “should know better” than question the directives put out by the Biden-Harris administration. Next, you will find the FBI knocking on your door and the DOJ filing criminal hate speech charges against you.

      1. Valkerie

        Yeah, he’s scared now!! hahahahahha. General Satterfield has done us another favor by highlighting this issue…. and how we turned it into something sarcastic.

    2. McStompie

      Goalie, stop following the science and get on board with the leftist gravy train. Get some of that 3 trillion dollar giveaway from Pres Joe Biden.


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