by Taylor Anderson
Editor’s Note: You can also read Taylor’s first letter “From a Warfighter to the American People” published yesterday.
Author’s Note: All opinions expressed in these letters are solely those of the author and do not reflect the stance or perspective of the author’s Chain of Command, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
To my fellow leaders in our Armed Forces,
We have a mission that stands above all of the rest given by our Commander-in-Chief or presented by the enemy: be worthy of our rank. This is not a test that can be studied for and passed, nor is it a challenge surmounted in route to a position of power, only to be discarded once power is achieved. This is our daily mission. The situation surrounding its accomplishment will change, as will our execution of the task. How it is supported will vary with the times, and lines of communication will shift out of necessity. But the mission will never change. Neither can it ever be deemed ‘accomplished.’ This is simply because the enemy that is against us resides in our own heads, tempting us towards complacency.
The necessity of our mission does not change with our position in the hierarchy. From Corporals to Sergeants Major, Second Lieutenants to Generals, it is vital we maintain the perspective that our mission remains until the day our service has ended. Our nation has entrusted us with its defense but grows more reluctant to fill our ranks. We can lament the external factors leading to this present crisis or we can be people of action. If we are to ask America to give us her children, it is imperative we stand ready to lead them to victory on the battlefield and in personal pursuit. The call is to be the leaders to whom we would entrust our children’s lives; not to safeguard in the avoidance of conflict, but to fight alongside, defending the principles outlined in America’s founding documents.
Practically, this means keeping the standards set to ensure the domination of our adversaries. We must be physically fit and hold our subordinates to the same. No longer can America tolerate a force bloated at the waistline whilst starving in the ranks. We must master our chosen professions and teach others to do the same. If we cook, we cook for kings. If we maintain equipment, our soldiers are never wanting for serviceable gear. And we all must fight. That is the unifying purpose of our existence, to fight with a ferocity that bends the powers against us to our will on the battlefield.
Professionally, this means being apolitical. Not only does this entail avoiding the perception that one might accurately identify a consonant in parentheses belonging after our name, but also the responsibility to keep politics out of our career. If I wish to make rank, it should be off the merits of my actions in whatever specialty I am assigned. We should not embark on a political campaign to impress our superiors. We are not all destined to rise to the top, but we should all strive to have our actions and competencies be the resumes put forth for promotion. Conversely, we should limit the bureaucracy impeding the commonsense promotions of those in our ranks most prepared for the burden of leadership.
Personally, we must remain above reproach. It is no secret that we, like all on this planet, are fallible. Humanity is born inextricably linked to iniquity. Yet ours is a calling that supersedes the human condition. When we fail, we must humbly admit our mistakes and strive to avoid such pitfalls again. The camouflage we wear is not designed to hide our humanity. Yet, it remains that we must strive for perfection in all that we do. Do not lower the bar to our humanity, challenge our imperfect condition to rise to the occasion. Be open, be honest, be fair to all, but be driven to seek nothing short of perfection.
We have a charge as leaders in the Armed Forces: to protect this nation and its people from any who would seek the destruction or degradation of either. It falls to us as leaders to ensure such security for generations to come. While we have built the strongest military in human existence, the only hope we have for perpetual success is to earn our stripes daily. Not just at the board, or for the ceremony, but every time we don the uniform. Our nation needs this from us, and if we expect her to deliver her children into our care, we must do what is required to be worthy of such faith. Do not slowly accept failure in these efforts, allowing apathy and distraction to eat away at discipline. Doing so only invites destruction in the conflict of tomorrow. Instead, be dogged in your pursuit of excellence, for it is individual excellence that will attract others to entrust their lives to our mentorship and care.
With the utmost respect and admiration,
Taylor Anderson served in 2nd Ranger Battalion from 2007-2012 and currently serves in the Army National Guard as an infantryman.