236 years cultivates an Army that is disciplined and strong

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John J. Bonin
  • 344th Military Intelligence Battalion Commander
"Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all." George Washington

With the Army's 236th Birthday this June, celebrating the strength and discipline of our forces is synonymous to celebrating the poise and resolve of our Nation. As the US Army was born over a year before the Declaration of Independence, the vital role of the Continental Army in the development of America is showcased by securing the very independence declared in that famous historic action--a perfect example of bearing arms to secure freedom.

Celebrating our Army's birthday is to also observe the strength and discipline of the US Soldier. A good assumption is that with age comes discipline. In a previous commentary, I described how individuals possess strength of character, professionalism and personal drive to make the right decisions for the sake of mission and the welfare of the unit. I'll take it further and say that the easy part is knowing the right decision to make, the hard part is having the disciplined strength to make it.

It takes discipline to handle the mental and physical challenges associated with the life of today's Soldier. Praise to the American Soldier cannot be summed up by words or song, but can be better explored by understanding the nature of the Army's missions and their variance depending on the Nation's needs. Wars for survival, developing infrastructure, disaster relief, peace-keeping and the routinely employed tactic of deterrence all serve our national interests in many ways--some visible, others cloaked as part of a global strategy.

Recently, leaders in my battalion took an introspective look at themselves and their units to re-evaluate what it means to be a profession of arms--to be a professional Soldier. What I found is that Soldiers continue to be blessed with the discipline required to put in the hard yards when the days go long and the challenges seem endless. This discipline promotes strength to continue the mission of training for and conducting operations in which success will always be founded on the existence of discipline at the lowest echelon, right down to the lowest ranking Private.

Last month, my officers and NCOs paid tribute to Col. Ret. XB Cox, a retired Army officer who served as a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division during WWII. At the end of the tribute, Colonel Cox commented on the discipline of the officers and NCOs in attendance, as he appeared to be swiftly taken back in time to his days of commanding ground forces on Utah Beach and battles further inland. I could see the emotion on his face which was tied directly to the emotion of everyone in that room that evening. Esteem was cultivated for all that evening in the remembrance of heroism, valor and sacrifice. The strength of our Army is in our Soldiers and those that have gone before us.

With pride I bid Happy Birthday to our Army and may our Soldiers carry on with discipline and strength for another 236 years and beyond.