Small Wars Journal

Love and Hate

Tue, 02/10/2009 - 6:54pm

Love and Hate


by Captain Michael Few, Small Wars Journal

Love and Hate (Full PDF Article)

One of my best commanders preached a very simple command philosophy. "Mike," he would proclaim, "sometimes you got to give the love, and sometimes you got to give them the hate."

To emphasize his point, he would clench both fists and extend mock punches: one representing the love and one representing the hate. This philosophy served our squadron well both in leading his airborne reconnaissance squadron and clearing Al Qaeda held safe-havens in Northern Iraq.

The premise behind this philosophy reflected many years studying the art of leadership and his straightforward assessment coupled a deep understanding in discretion and discernment tempered in the pragmatism of the complicated realities of real life mutually exclusive to the black and white moral world view preached at the academy.

In 1879, MG John Schofield declared that "the discipline which makes the soldier of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh nor tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army." Conversely, the leadership of coddling and friendship is marked with disrespect and irreverence from one's subordinates.

Simply put, soldiers desire neither a dictator nor buddy in a commander. They demand leadership.

Love and Hate (Full PDF Article)

About the Author(s)

Michael Few is a retired military officer who served multiple combat tours to Iraq including the Thunder Runs and The Surge, and he currently serves as the editor of Small Wars Journal.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and studied small wars at the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA


Thanks P.H. Let us know what your fellow cadets/classmates think. Also, it will facilitate others sharing their stories. Then, we can gain wisdom lest we repeat history. Take care.


Major Few

P.H. (not verified)

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 11:38pm

Captain Few;
Thank you for sharing your story, sir. As a cadet studying strategy, it is all to easy to fall bodily into the "Love" camp or the "Hate" camp. Thank you for reminding me that nothing is that simple. I've shared your story with several of my classmates--I hope it has the same effect on them.