General Patton’s Strategy for Winning in War and Life

Patton was considered reckless and unorthodox, but his unconventional approach to war led him to victory. He is credited with popularizing the term “war of maneuver” in military strategy for winning wars by first gaining a superior position on one’s enemy before engaging them directly. What are some other examples of great strategists? How can we apply their tactics today?

General Patton was a general of the United States Army. He is known for his leadership and strategy in World War II, as well as being one of the most-decorated American generals of all time. His quotes about Germany are some of my favorites. Read more in detail here: general patton quotes germany.

General Patton's Punching.

General George S. Patton’s military strategy was based on aggressive, dynamic progress: a concentration on never-ending effort; and the assumption that “there would be time to relax after the war was ended.” Not only could they not withdraw, but they couldn’t even remain put. “In warfare, my slogan is GO FORWARD!” he said.

Patton’s “always be daring” tactical theory had two key justifications. 

For starters, forward mobility — pushing hard and fast until you reach your goal – saved time and energy, and most significantly, it decreased casualties. The slower you moved, the faster the opponent fled, and the less battling you had to do. The less time spent in fighting, the shorter the period of action, and the less bloodshed. Taking measured measures and moving in fits and starts, according to Patton, would not win the conflict; you had to go all in; there was no point attempting to preserve anything for the return:

I couldn’t think of a good reason to have ammo on hand. You may either utilize it or not. Firing nine thousand shots a day for three days would cost me more soldiers than shooting twenty thousand in one day—and I wouldn’t go as far.

Pushing ahead didn’t merely drive the opponent away; it also prevented him from returning. It was time to finish him out after you got him on the ropes. During WWII, when Patton reached the Rhine River, he declared:

Every day we save saves hundreds of lives in the United States. On our front, the enemy is in disarray. However, if we wait 72 hours, he’ll reorganize and we’ll have to struggle to get him out of the way. Regardless of what political maneuverings are taking on above, we must not give him that opportunity. I have no intention of allowing the Hun to recuperate from the slaughter we’ve just committed. We eliminated two armies in a week with just a few casualties, and I have no intention of allowing the bastards to reconstitute on the east side. That is something I owe to my guys.

We’re going to cross the river at the same time. I don’t care how or where we get the required equipment; it must be obtained. Steal it, beg for it, or manufacture it yourself. But I want it, and it must be available when and when we need it. We’re crossing the Rhine, and we’re going to accomplish it before I become a year old.

Patton believed it was critical to not only approach, but also to push over the finish line in order to maintain control of the region. During the war, a corps commander informed Patton that he had reached the Selune River, but the general soon learned he had stopped at the river’s first bank. Patton instructed the commander to cross the river, stating that “many campaigns had been lost throughout history by pausing on the wrong side of the river.”


The men’s morale was improved as a result of Patton’s decision to continue on the attack. Soldiers, he reasoned, want to achieve something great and magnificent, and such opportunities did not arise while waiting for the other person to attack. Similarly, creating a moving target by shooting on the march lowered the enemy’s artillery’s accuracy while increasing the men’s confidence. Constant advances also prevented him and his commanders from becoming too comfortable; instead of commandeering chateaus, he and his officers lived in trailers so they wouldn’t be tempted to settle down and grow hesitant to move on. Patton realized that bodies that stay in motion continue in motion.

Patton not only stressed offensive, but he also despised — and even despised — defense, claiming that “no sort of defense is worth a damn.” “People who construct walls, ditches, pillboxes, or assume the ocean can protect them are naive idiots,” he remarked, citing historical examples as well as present German tactics.

Patton rarely allowed his own troops to dig trenches, believing that they provided little real protection, wasted energy in construction, and were a psychological morale sapper; burrowing underground sent the message to soldiers that the enemy was to be feared, lowering their courage during offensive assaults. “When an army digs in, it is beaten,” the commander said.

Patton would apparently comply with orders to establish a defensive position by adopting a “active defense” or “creeping defense,” in which he would continue to march his soldiers forward but at a slower speed. The general endangered his career by violating instructions, but he believed that his final achievement would justify him.

Patton despised not just placing his men on defense, but also allowing them to remain motionless. He announced just before the Third Army was to attack Europe:

I don’t want to receive any texts that say, “I’m keeping my job!” We don’t have anything in our possession. Let the Hun handle it. We are always moving forward and are only concerned in hanging onto the opponent. We’re going to hang on to him and kick the living daylights out of him.

However, speed and aggressiveness did not imply recklessness. Before pushing forward, Patton conducted reconnaissance. He started by putting the proper support parts in position. He devised a strategy (and a back-up plan). It’s only that he didn’t allow the certainty that his plan would never play out precisely as planned deter him from carrying it out. “One does not plan and then attempt to make circumstances match those plans,” he said, indicating his willingness to adjust on the fly. One attempts to build plans that match the situation.”

“A decent plan aggressively performed today is better than a great plan next week,” to put it another way.

The order of the day Patton gave for the Seventh Army on the eve of their invasion of Sicily encapsulates Patton’s continual progress strategy:


Keep in mind that we, as attackers, have the upper hand. We must maintain this enormous advantage by assaulting relentlessly, viciously, and viscously. Regardless of how weary and hungry you are, the opponent will be much more exhausted and hungry. Continue pounding.

General Patton’s biography may be found here:

  • George S. Patton, George S. Patton, George S. Patton, George S. Patton, George S.
  • General George S. Patton’s Maxims
  • Patton’s Rules for Being a Gentleman and an Officer
  • General Patton’s Letter to His Son
  • Friendship, Rivalry, and Leadership of WWII’s Three Greatest American Generals (Podcast)

Friendship, Rivalry, and Leadership of WWII’s Three Greatest American Generals (Podcast)


Edgar Puryear’s 19 Stars: A Study of Military Leadership and Character



General George Patton was one of the most successful and decorated American Army generals in history. He is best known for his leadership during World War II, where he led the Third Army through France and Germany, earning him the nickname “Old Blood and Guts”. Reference: did general patton have a son.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was General Patton so successful?

A: General Patton was a great leader because he knew how to adapt and change in order to achieve victory. He could be very stubborn if it came down to that, but there were many instances where he would make concessions or other changes in his tactics as the situation demanded them.

What was Pattons greatest contribution to the war?

A: His contributions in the Civil War are unknown. He died unexpectedly at age 41 when he stepped on a nail and bled to death after shaving his head for charity

How did Patton treat his soldiers?

A: Patton is known to have had a very tough, demanding personality. He was infamous for being strict and harsh with his soldiers but he did give fair praise when it was deserved.

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