The Obligation of Being an Officer by George Patton

George Patton’s “War as I Knew It” is an interesting piece of historical text, detailing his experiences and observations during the Second World War. He writes about soldiers’ obligations to each other and how that responsibility changes with rank:
A soldier who does not share a comrade’s privations or dangers cannot be considered one of us.

The “george patton death” is a book written by George Patton. The book discusses the obligation of being an officer in the United States military.

Editor’s note: Whether in the barracks or on the battlefield, General George S. Patton was known for enforcing troops’ discipline and character. Honoring tradition and paying attention to detail and decorum, he felt, helped a man to respect himself and gained a leader the respect of his followers. Patton sets forth the criteria of individuals who seek to be officers and gentlemen – to live as polished warriors — in his 1919 essay “The Obligation of Being an Officer.” 

Do you realize, gentlemen, that we, as Army officers, are not only members of the oldest of noble professions, but also modern-day representatives of antiquity’s demigods and heroes?

Behind us, a line of men whose deeds of courage, self-sacrifice, and service have been the subject of song and legend since the dawn of recorded history. A thousand years before Christ, the blind bard Homer sang of our professional forefathers. His forefathers’ deeds, as well as others of a similar type, were passed down by word of mouth or in perpetual marble until the day came when they might be preserved in writing for the race’s eternal inspiration.

Knights (officers) were known for civility and being gentle benefactors of the poor and downtrodden in the days of chivalry, the golden period of our profession. The name “gentle guy” was formed from their actions of civility and compassion. We, too, are gentlemen and officers. Let us attempt to live up to our military forefathers’ lofty aspirations. Let’s take it easy. That is respectful and mindful of other people’s rights. Let us act like guys. That is brave and unwavering in carrying out our responsibilities as we perceive them.

I am not bringing this to your notice out of a spirit of criticism; as far as I am aware, you are all officers and gentlemen. I merely want to state our obligations and responsibilities in the aforementioned context as they seem to me.

As I previously said, our vocation is very old, and like all old things, it has gathered certain conventions and traditions through time that beautify and ennoble it; that make the apparently mundane activity of being professional men-at-arms; killers, beautiful.

These customs may be broken into two pieces to make them easier to remember. By analyzing the qualifier “gentleman,” which is always used in conjunction with the term “officer.”

A variety of usages included under the first half of the term “gentle” are referred to as “social customs of the service.” These concerns our social relationships with our fellow officers as well as our civilian pals. The following are some of the most prevalent and commonly overlooked.

Officers should contact the commanding officer within twenty-four hours after arrival at a new post. They should consult the adjutant and make an appointment with him at his office or in his quarters, as the adjutant suggests. Their Regimental, Battalion, and Company Commanders should also be contacted. If the latter have families on the post, officers should pay them a social visit in the evening, and if he is married, he should bring his wife while calling on other married officers.


As quickly as possible, all officers should contact freshly arrival officers.

Officers who receive calls are expected to return them within a week. Officers who have been asked to dinners, receptions, or card parties should contact the officer who invited them, regardless of whether they accept or not.

On New Year’s Day, all officers in a battalion shall report to the regimental and post commanding commanders.

Invites: Officers should respond to invitations immediately and clearly clarify whether or not they will accept. When responding to invites, they should use the same “person” as the one who sent the invitation.

Messes: Officers should treat the women of their family with the same respect they would if they were eating at home. They are not permitted to spout shady tales, curse, or pick their teeth. Above all, addressing any woman by name at meal is the height of impoliteness. They should make an effort and spend a decent amount of money to keep the mess table and mess room clean and appealing. This is a serious flaw in our military, and it exposes us to frequent criticism from foreign commanders and people in our own nation.

Officers’ quarters: Officers should keep their quarters tidy. Their rooms should be appealing and not resemble those of inmates at a mental institution. They may dramatically enhance the look of even the poorest accommodations for a few bucks by purchasing a chair or two, a few of photos or prints, a rug, and some nice bedding for their beds. The assembly area in the quarters here should be much nicer than it is now; a little initiative on everyone’s part would make this simple. Officers should not visit such a venue half-dressed and unkempt any more than they should join a civilian club dressed similarly. Paying attention to the aforementioned aspects can substantially improve everyone’s comfort and self-esteem.

Gentlemen do not engage in gossip. It is ineffective and inequitable. Many guys who would never punch a man in the back would still strike a fatal blow against his character from behind his back. This is frequently the product of a desire to tell a good narrative rather than vice. No matter what causes it, it is the lowest kind of sin.

Growling and Criticism: A guy who constantly complains about his responsibilities is typically incapable of doing anything. In the presence of troops or younger officers, a man who criticizes his superior is betraying his oath as an officer and doing more than a Bolshevik to disrupt discipline.

Drinking: The “old army” had numerous vices, but among its virtues, none is more worthy of imitation than the practice of never drinking while on duty or about to join any duty. Officers of various ranks should not drink together. There’s nothing like a glass of wine to bring back memories. Contempt is bred by familiarity. Do not drink at all, or if you must, do it with your rank peers.


Money Is Important: The holy value of government money cannot be overstated. Consider tangible money to be untouchable. If you need to carry money for a guy, a firm, or other cash, put it in a separate pocket in a sealed envelope. Use it only if you intend to replace it “as soon as you cash a check.” A General Courts Martial is the only way to go.

Do not take on debt. If you need money, go to a bank; it is their business, and they will make sure you pay. If you have borrowed money from an officer by chance, don’t forget about it. He is not going to do it. Another sin is to take a vacation or spend money foolishly in any other manner when in debt to a buddy. You will remain debt-free if you pay cash. Almost all General Courts Martials are the result of deception using credit and government funds.

Military Courtesy: It is just as important for officers to salute one other as it is for soldiers to salute them, or for officers to return a soldier’s salute. Never salute with your hands in your pockets, a pipe in your mouth, or, as is customary, a toothpick in your mouth. Toothpicks, like toothbrushes, are meant to be used privately. Wearing one in the mouth in public suggests that the cop is pleased with himself for being able to purchase a meal.

If a supervisor walks into a room where you’re working, give him a seat. Although he would not take it, the gesture is one of decency and respect for his position. Stand at attention while speaking with a superior, no matter how cordial you are with him. And when you’re done, give a salute. Require the same from troops who are conversing with you. Such actions demonstrate that you are a soldier, not just a uniformed individual.

Promptness is a military characteristic that is usually mentioned. However, it, like the buffalo, looks to be on the verge of extinction. Cultivate it; it will help you go successful in life and may even save your life or the lives of your troops in battle.

Use the “Golden Rule” as an example. Do unto others as you would want to be treated. The Good Knights set a precedent for all time. It’s the same with a good cop. You have no clue what guys are thinking about you. They will stand up if you do. They will curse if you curse. How can you honorably test folks for following your example if you are often late? Whether you like it or not, you are a model; therefore, be a good model.

Dress for success: You are paid to look well at all times. This does not need an out-of-pocket payment. Any uniform will look fantastic with a clothes brush, some cleaning solution, and a flat iron. The brush and polish will take care of the boots and leggings in the same way. A tramp has no respect, and troops will not respect a filthy officer. The sight of a clean, well-shaven commander is more inspirational to the soldiers the more difficult the task is, particularly in the field.


Education: In the domain of military intelligence, the British and American agencies formerly had an unpleasant reputation. Although this has just been fixed, there is still potential for improvement. Do you think a successful broker spends his nights researching the National League’s progress? Hardly. He does market research. A guy who only works during working hours is more likely to maintain his current job or get a worse one. Few people are born Napoleons, but if we study, we can all be excellent company leaders. When we reach that level, we should aim for the battalion and then four stars. As a result, study military history and tactics literature. I’m compiling a list of them, which I’ll send you and some of which we’ll go through together. But I strongly suggest you to read three and a half hours every week on military matters. What a little amount of information; yet the absence of it may lead to the loss of your soldiers and the defeat of your unit.

Don’ts: To conclude this lecture, I’d like to share a few “don’ts” from Colonel J. A. Mosse’s book, Officers Manual, which I strongly advise you to study.

Don’t let on that you’re a “Heller.” Allow the public to discover it.

Don’t make it seem as though you know too much or too little. A scumbag and a stupid are both unpopular.

Don’t tell others how much you spent for products, and don’t inquire about their costs. As cops, we are not used to doing things like this.

Don’t say anything bad about anybody. Keep calm if you have nothing nice to say about him.

Do not just sit and contemplate, or simply sit. Something to do is always available. Read about war, for example.

Don’t attempt to “pull” your way to success or accuse others of doing so. Usually, the guy with the purported pull also has the goods.

As far as I’m aware, none of the above statements apply to anybody here, but no one is flawless. Put on the coat if it fits and attempt to rectify the problem.



Frequently Asked Questions

How would you summarize Pattons expectations for soldiers and officers of the United States Army use specific examples in your analysis?

Where did the term an officer and a gentleman come from?

A: The term officer and a gentleman came about in the 1800s. It was used to describe those serving as officers for their clan or military unit, who were distinguished by these qualities of honor, courtesy and discipline.

What does Officer and a gentleman mean?

A: Officer and a gentleman is an idiom referring to a man who upholds the law, typically in some sort of official capacity.

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