Intestinal Fortitude

By | November 9, 2021

[November 9, 2021]  Our Drill Sergeants in Basic Combat Training took sadistic pleasure in screaming at us raw recruits … at least it seemed that way.  After a long march or any similar difficult task, they would say to us, “time for a gut check.”  In other words, they wanted to know if we had the intestinal fortitude to carry on in the training or drop out as so many did.

It was the tail end of the Vietnam War and our troops had learned valuable lessons in combat about the value of the staying power of American forces. Our basic training drop-out rate was high and the NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) in charge of us wanted to know who had the strength and resilience to stay in the fight. Were we reliable when the going got really tough?

What they meant by asking us neophytes for a “gut check” – despite the fact we had just been tested to our physical and mental limits (or so we thought) – was that it was time for us to discover whether we could stay the course.  Without fortitude, everything else we would do as soldiers would be for nothing if we could not see the mission through. That argument continues to be made about the U.S. Congress lacking the fortitude to carry on in Vietnam … the military did, but Congress did not.

There is little room for soldiers who will quit at the smallest obstacle. The obstacles we overcome as leaders differ from that of a Private in the Infantry. A senior leader has to have moral conviction, clarity of purpose, and courage; in essence, leaders also must have the guts to push through to mission completion. It is difficult to convey in written word what it is inside a person that produces fortitude but it will rise to the surface in some.

“Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues.” – John Locke

As soldiers we’re trained to overcome adversity and complete the mission within the established rules of warfare. This is never easy. Without fortitude however everything else we do will not come to fruition without it. This is what John Locke was writing about in this quote.

Whether it was the jungles of Vietnam or Guadalcanal, the city of Fallujah Iraq, or any battlefield where a Soldier, Airman, Sailor, Marine, or Coastie plies the craftsmanship of warfare, or the field of professional sports, or the corporate boardroom, having the guts to see the mission to the end is what makes them the best in the world.

Those with intestinal fortitude are a rare breed.  Those people can be relied upon to come through no matter what. They are the very best and we count on them every day to make sure we are successful.


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.

18 thoughts on “Intestinal Fortitude

  1. Jeff Blackwater

    “Intestinal fortitude!” You actually believe that people can take care of themselves.? Sounds like an anti-STALIN meme.

  2. Dog Man

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield. You would think this is common sense, but I guess not.

    1. Goalie for Cal State

      Common sense is not so common these days! One would think that our leaders would stand up and say, ‘hey, wait a minute, let’s stop with the stupidity,’ but NO they actually are leading the charge for stupidity. Like the White Policies on encouraging illegal immigration, more crime (by defunding the police), retreat from Afghanistan, high inflation (like the Jimmy Carter days), short gasoline supplies, empty shelves on grocery stores…. and Joe Biden calls it a “huge success.” How stupid do you think we are?

  3. Laughing Monkey

    Gen. Satterfield, once again you have hit the nail on the head with your article. I just got finished talking with my brother about his dropping out of college. He found it “too hard.” Well, if you don’t have the guts to finish college, what will a future employer think of you. Just thinking out loud here.

  4. JT Patterson

    Hey folks, don’t forget to read the book Gen. Satterfield just published. I finished reading my copy a few days ago. He talks about this very topic, having the fortitude to carry out your mission. No room for failure. Failure is no option. Get in there and do everything you can. But train yourself to do good for all.

  5. Eric Coda

    Without fortitude however everything else we do will not come to fruition without it. Gen. Satterfield says it best with this quote of his. If you don’t have the staying power, the guts, the will to complete the assignment or mission, you will get nowhere in life and forever will be tortured by what you failed to do. This article is on target for many reasons but let me just say this, well done. It should be read to every kid in school. Reject CRT and the racist teachers unions who run them.

    1. Cat A Miss

      Wow, great comment Eric, and I’m full agreement with you. Let’s start pushing back in small and in big ways. Resist the teaching of racism in our classrooms.

      1. Colleen Ramirez

        Yes, excellent comments here on CRT in the classrooms. First, more than anything else, we must convince people to tell the truth. We got here in the US by encouraging people to lie. Blatant lies are now okay (because that is ‘your truth’). Now we have those who believe stupid things.

      2. Joe Omerrod

        Good discussion …. this is why I read not just Gen. Satterfield’s articles but the forum as well.

  6. Audrey

    Here is one of my favorite quotes on ‘fortitude.’
    “One of the duties of fortitude is to keep the weak from receiving injury; another, to check the wrong motions of our own souls; a third, both to disregard humiliations, and to do what is right with an even mind. All these clearly ought to be fulfilled by all Christians, and especially by the clergy.” Saint Ambrose

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yes, a good one. Saint Ambrose of Milan (Latin: Aurelius Ambrosius; c. 340 – 397), venerated as Saint Ambrose, was the Bishop of Milan, a theologian, and one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.

  7. Frankie Boy

    Excellent article today, Gen. Satterfield. Please let us know if you get to speak before any High School kids this week about Veterans Day. I’m interested in your approach and response. Of course, if you get to talk with these CRT trained kids, you might get some pushback.

    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      Pow, you got that right, old warrior. Well said. It does take ‘guts’, in other words, it takes courage.

    2. British Citizen

      Right on! Oh, an older term not well understood by you Yanks.

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        The Beatles used it on occasion and the phrase “right on” was used often in the 60s and 70s. Good call Brit.


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