No Man Left Behind

By | August 18, 2021

[August 18, 2021]  It is the unwritten creed of soldiers everywhere and across time that no man is ever left behind on the battlefield.  At its heart, the idea is based on the most elementary human need; trust.  If we trust our fellow man, for him to stand up with us and to have our backs, then we can stand against the most frightening of evils.

I’m unaware of any official U.S. Department of Defense policy or regulation or any rule of law, nor is there any specific tactic or strategy calling for no one left behind.  Less obvious is the fact that such a “creed” has been the way troops anywhere, across cultures and time, conduct themselves.  To do so is honorable.  It is all about being part of a close-knit team.  Only cowards run from it.

“Surrender is not a Ranger word.  I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy, and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.: – part of the U.S. Army Ranger creed1

In April of 2004, while I was with the 1st Cavalry Division’s engineers, an attack near the suburb of Abu Ghraib resulted in two soldiers and three KBR contractors being captured.  The hunt was on.  No stone was left unturned.  Our forces were out for those missing in action.  It mattered not to us that some of those missing were not soldiers.  We put our lives on the line for them.

Trust and confidence in our fellow man is the basis of all human endeavors.  Read any book on philosophy from the ancients, and “trust” will always be a significant theme.  Why?  Its importance is so crucial that without trust, we are nothing better than tribal savages.  Some will argue that even savages have a similar creed.  That is how we all survive.

In the movie Black Hawk Down (2001), based on the U.S. military’s 1993 raid in Mogadishu, most of those killed and wounded were part of the rescue team.  They put themselves in the line of fire to fulfill the promise that they would never leave a fallen comrade behind.  This scenario is played repeatedly in movies with a few variations, as in Saving Private Ryan (1998) or dramatized in the mini-television series No Man Left Behind.

Even if killed many years ago, the U.S. military continues to hunt for our country’s war dead.  There is a very active program to recover remains from servicemen killed during any of our past wars.  This action is conducted by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  Their motto?  “Fulfilling our Nation’s Promise.”2  That promise is that we will never leave you behind.

A few days ago, the United States abandoned its Afghanistan allies to the Taliban’s forces taking over the country.  In an unofficial video, I saw people clinging to the underbelly of U.S. Air Force cargo planes taking off.  The sight of this scene was horrific because it was “in our face” that we were leaving these people behind.  Allowing this to happen is the epitome of cowardice.

As a commander of troops in combat, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that if any of my soldiers went missing, that I was to do everything in my power to recover them and do so immediately.  Failure was not an option.  We would go anywhere and into any place and do everything possible (morally) to get them back.  That is what we do for our fellow human beings.  The alternative is unacceptable.

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  1. https://www.army.mil/values/ranger.html
  2. https://www.dpaa.mil/Our-Missing/World-War-II/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

30 thoughts on “No Man Left Behind

  1. Wendy Holmes

    It is shameful what our current batch of generals and admirals have done by allowing so many of our allies and soldiers and civilians behind in Afghanistan. This is horrible. And, what truly amazes me is that Joe Biden says – with a straight face – there was no alternative.

    Reply
    1. Rusty D

      Crazy idea, but maybe there should be some body getting fired over this.

      Reply
      1. Dr. Paul

        No one will get fired for this massive screw up. That’s a feature of Democrats.

        Reply
  2. Dead Pool Guy

    Super article, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for making it available to us. This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to your website. I find these articles and comments in the forums to be both educational and entertaining.

    Reply
  3. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Amazing, absolutely amazing. Great timing on this article about no man left behind. And, you are correct – morally – good nations don’t leave people behind to be slaughtered. How I hear that the US is sending in 8,000 paratroopers to rescue Afghanistan folks at the airport. Too few too late. Oh, we withdrew 2,500 that got us in the predicament to begin with. What is up with that? Oh yeah, cowardice and stupidity are a terrible combination.

    Reply
    1. Stacey Borden

      Yes, great article. Let’s talk about applying it to our situation today in America where we have an incompetent president.

      Reply
    2. Silly Man

      Right, Shawn, no good nation does this. But is all goes back to leadership and we have a massive failure of epic proportions occupying the most powerful position in the world. Why do so many Americans – I call them sheep – follow him? Crazy!

      Reply
  4. McStompie

    It is thought the footage of people at the airport was at the northern military side of Hamid Karzai airport, where around 25,000 people are gathered, with more footage revealing Taliban guards firing over the heads of men, women and children crouched in the road overnight. 25,000!!!!

    Reply
    1. Eric Coda

      Sounds like her. They pinned the border crisis on VP Harris but it was all BIden. She should be backing off about now and running to get her ice cream.

      Reply
  5. JT Patterson

    I’m surprise more haven’t commented here. I guess the Biden voters are having second thoughts about his competence.

    Reply
    1. Gil Johnson

      JT, Biden voters were either totally stupid, have something to gain (political position), or they are just Marxists. Nothing else is possible. I think most of them are just plain stupid.

      Reply
  6. Steve Dade

    Referring to the retreat from Afghanistan, Gen Satterfield wrote, “The site of this scene was horrible because it was “in our face” that we were leaving these people behind. Allowing this to happen is the epitome of cowardice.” Hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it.

    Reply
  7. Valkerie

    Panicked screams mixed with the sound of gunfire at Kabul airport today amid fresh chaos as tens of thousands of Afghans desperate to escape Taliban rule pleaded with troops to be allowed on the only planes out of the country.
    Take note, Pres Biden is on vacation. He will do less damage there. Don’t allow him to make a decision. General Satterfield, thanks for today’s blog post.

    Reply
    1. Colleen Ramirez

      Bingo. Thanks V., we need straight talkers and action men. Girly men like Biden or his winnie Milley (chest full of worthless ribbons) moron will never carry the day.

      Reply
    2. Wilson Cox

      Never, ever leave people behind to be slaughtered. It matters not who they are. Morally, our nation’s leaders failed us all.

      Reply
  8. Tom Bushmaster

    Read Gen. Satterfield’s DAILY FAVORITES about the Biden Debacle. Shame Shame Shame on Biden & Harris (his dimwitted VP) and Gen. Milley who all have their fingerprints on this.

    Reply
    1. Greg Heyman

      If heads don’t roll over this, then indeed the swamp is so deep that it will take a superhuman Donald Trump to clean it up. Biden ran on being the anti-Trump, now he got his wish and thousands will suffer the deadly consequences. Oh, Joe, your speech yesterday was more than shameful. Go back on your vacation.

      Reply
      1. Max Foster

        Hi Greg, this is how I interpreted Biden’s speech:
        The buck stops with me (I’m a tough ass leader).
        But it’s all Trump’s fault (blame others for your failures).
        I was misled by the military (I’m a dumbass).
        But, I’m not taking questions today (I’m on vacation, don’t bother me).

        Reply
        1. Rev. Michael Cain

          God, Max, you are so right. I nearly spit up my morning coffee reading your comment.

          Reply
        2. Dale Paul Fox

          Kick me in the balls. Max, yo da man!!!!! Great comment. Oh, almost forgot, Biden is a wimp.

          Reply
    2. British Citizen

      Thanks for pointing that out, Tom. I almost missed it. More to come. I love the UK Daily Mail. Of course, I would.

      Reply
      1. Big Al

        Ha Ha, read the headline and know what the article is about. Not US headlines.

        Reply

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