Thinking Critical About Military Issues The Strategist

ThinkingCritical About Military Issues: The Strategist

ThinkingCritical About Military Issues: The Strategist


Intoday’s world, leaders are faced with situations that need criticalthinking before they make decisions. Critical thinking helps thembring stability to a volatile situation. In addition, criticalthinking helps leaders bring in confidence whenever the future seemsuncertain. By thinking critically leaders are able to simplifycomplex situations and offer hope and clarity whenever they are facedwith ambiguous situations (Cederblom, 2012). Thinking critically isvery important to military leaders, particularly at the battle front.They are faced with complex situations that affect the lives of theircountrymen and fellow soldiers. Therefore, thinking critically isvery important so as to make the right decisions. They don’t haveto be military geniuses, but their ability to think critically isvery important (Nosich, 2012). This paper outlines how General GeorgeSmith Patton, a military leader of the United States army, usedcritical thinking through applying the 8 element of reasoning toconquer their enemy in his decision to remain with his men afterbeing wounded.

GeneralGeorge Smith Patton is one of the most celebrated military generalsof the United States army. This was due to fact that he was able tothink and act accordingly when faced with problems in the battlefront. He is famous for his many brave decisions that ultimatelyaffected the outcome of the mission or war. General George SmithPatton took part in many missions during his service to the people ofAmerica (D`este, 1995). This paper focuses on the decisions he madethat affected the accomplishment of a military mission (Salmon,2006).

OnSeptember 26th, 1918, Patton was instructed to go and support the UScorps who were at that time taking part in a mission namedMeuse-Argonne offensive. However, along the way there was a thick fogand he and his troops were ambushed by the Germans and he was woundedin his left thigh. But despite this, he continued to give his troopsinstructions while in a shell hole. It took an hour before his troopswere able to neutralize the Germans and then he was evacuated(Blumenson,1996).&nbsp

Inorder to access the credibility of the decisions the general made,the paper will analyze these decisions in respect to Elder and Paul’sarticle on analytical thinking and precisely the 8 elements ofthinking. Generally, the paper will also discuss how General GeorgeSmith Patton used the 8 elements of thinking- purpose, question atissue, information, interpretation, concepts, assumptions,implications and consequences, and finally point of view to be ableto arrive at the decisions he made while on the battle front.

Thepaper will concentrate on how the general employed the aforementionedelements to think critically and be able to guide his troops out ofan unexpected ambush by the Germans. In addition, the paper will alsogive a brief background of the general’s life and how he ended upin the military and some of the various missions that he took partin.

Thegeneral’s quick and critical thinking helped his troops overcomethe surprise attack by the Germans, despite the bad weather he wenton to make sure that the Meuse-Argonne offensive was successful. Assuch, the paper underlines the importance of leaders to thinkcritically when faced with complex and ambiguous situations (Fisher,2011). They should be able to withstand the pressure and offerguidance to their subordinates at such times so as to salvage thesituation (Halpern, 2013).


Blumenson,M. (1996).&nbspThePatton papers: 1940-1945.New York: Da Capo Press.

Cederblom,J. B., &amp Paulsen, D. W. (2012).&nbspCriticalreasoning: Understanding and criticizing arguments and theories.Boston, MA: Cengage.

D’este,C. (1995).&nbspPatton:A genius for war.New York: HarperCollins.

Fisher,A. (2011).&nbspCriticalthinking: Ann introduction.Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr.

Halpern,D. F. (2013). Thoughtand Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking.New York: Psychology Press.

Nosich,G. M. (2012).&nbspLearningto think things through: A guide to critical thinking across the curriculum.Boston: Pearson.

Salmon,M. H. (2006).&nbspIntroductionto logic and critical thinking.Belmont, Calif: Thomson Wadsworth.

ThinkingCritical About Military Issues: The Strategist


Militaryleaders are faced with many complex situations that require quick andcritical thinking while in the battle front. Their decisions end upaffecting the outcome of the war, both for their military personneland fellow countrymen (Halpern, 2013). It is therefore important thatmilitary leaders are able to have critical thinking abilities whenfaced with ambiguous and complex situations (Hinds and Steele, 2012).Through critical thinking they should be able to simplify and lensmagnify the situation. This paper outlines how General George SmithPatton, a military leader of the United States army, used criticalthinking through applying the 8 element of reasoning to conquer theirenemy in his decision to remain with his men after being wounded.

Bornon November 11th,1885, General George Smith Patton is one of America’s mostcelebrated military men. The Californian born general is regarded asone of the most successful field commanders in charge of an army intimes of war in the United States. The general excelled in most ofhis missions and commanded respect in the military field for hisability to use critical thinking in the battle front whenever facedwith any complex situations. During his early years, George’s goalin life was to be a hero. He was motivated by his ancestors who hadtaken part in the revolutionary war, the civil war, and the Mexicanwar. This pushed him to enroll in the Virginia military institute andthe United States military academy. General George Smith Pattonduring his early years showed immense capabilities and he evenrepresented his country in the Stockholm Olympic as he took part inthe pentathlon (Zaloga,2010).

Thiswas a multisport event that included shooting, swimming, swordfencing, horse riding, and running. He was ranked fifth though helater complained that his bullet had hit the target, but the judgesdid not believe him. He later joined the French cavalry school, afterwhich he was promoted to become commandant of the mounted serviceschool which is based in Fort Riley Kansas. This was the beginning ofhis colorful military career. He served in both the first and thesecond war in various capacities and other major wars that the unitedstates of American took part in. He had a number of controversiesduring his military life since he was outspoken. One of the mostfamous controversies is when he publicly differed with the UnitedStates foreign policy concerning the Soviet Union ((Zaloga,2010).

GeneralGeorge Smith Patton made so many decisions that affected the outcomeof the battle while on the battle front. However, this paper willdiscuss one particular incident where the general was forced tocommand his forces form shell hole after he was wounded. This was inthe Meuse-Argonne offensive where General George Smith Patton wascharged with the responsibility of commanding the US corps. However,the mission did not go as planned as his troops encountered a thickfog. The fog interfered with their eyesight and they were ambushed bythe German soldiers with machine guns. General George Smith Patton,who had been personally leading his troops, was wounded in his leftthigh during the surprise attack. Despite the fact that he waswounded, he continued to give directions to his troops form a shellhole. It took his troops an hour to neutralize the Germans beforethey could evacuate their commander. After being evacuated, hestopped at a rear command post where he submitted his report andfinally proceeded to the hospital (Wellard,1946).&nbsp

Itwas General George Smith Patton critical thinking that enabledMeuse-Argonne attacking to be successful despite the challenges theyencountered. First, they were forced to go on the mission with thepresences of a thick fog that affected their eyesight. This forcedthe general to personally lead his troops and in the process, theywere ambushed by the German soldiers and he was shot in his leftthigh. Despite this he continued to give his troop’s instructionsfrom a shell hole before his troops were finally able to neutralizethe Germans and he was evacuated. Despite the complex and ambiguoussituation that he was faced with, he was able to simplify thesituation and this lead to the success of the mission (Wellard,1946).&nbspGeneral George’s decision to continue offering guidance to hismilitary men regardless of his condition was from a criticalperspective and can be analyzed using Elder and Paul’s 8 elementsof critical reasoning.


Thisdescribes the objective or goal of whatever one is thinking about.There has to be a clear goal that one wants to achieve whenever theysit down to think (Paul and Elder, 2013). In respect to this, GeneralGeorge Smith Patton’s goal was to conquer the enemy despite all theodds. Despite the fact that a thick fog was making their eyesightpoor, the general pushed on his troops and even took the forefront asa way to motivate his soldiers. He was wounded in the process and noteven this would interfere with the general’s purpose. He continuedgiving his troops instructions while in a shell hole. This is despitethe fact that he was in pain after being wounded. From the outlinedargument we can deduce that General George had a purpose of what hewanted to accomplish (Moore and Parker, 2011).

Questionat issue

Thisdescribes the problem or issue at hand (Paul and Elder, 2013). Thiswill guide the leader to make a decision. In this case, GeneralGeorge Smith Patton was faced with several problems. First of all hehad to decide whether to go on with the mission when they faced athick fog which affected the eyesight of the troops and posing a hugedanger on terrain that they were not conversant with. The otherproblem the general was faced with was whether to give out hiscommanding role to the officer that was next in line. This was afterhe was wounded. The general’s decision in both cases wasoutstanding and shows his ability to think critically. He was able toturn a very complex situation to a very simple one due to his abilityto think and act critically when faced with problems during thismission.


Thisdescribes the data, facts and observations that one has to considerbefore making a decision. It is extremely important to have thesefacts as they will assist one to make a decision. According to Elderand Paul (2013), a person is able to arrive at a decision aftertaking note of the relevant facts, data, and making the necessaryobservations. In this case, General George Smith Patton was able tomake the necessary observations that guided him to arrive at thedecisions he made. Based on this assumption, the General made thedecision to continue giving his instructions even after beingwounded, probably because he didn’t see any of his soldiers havingthe necessary leadership skills to give them instructions. He alsoprobably did that as he thought changing command would affect themoral of his troops.

Interpretationand inference

Theseare the conclusions and solutions a person makes after a vigorousprocess of thinking (Paul and Elder, 2013). In this case, GeneralGeorge Smith Patton decided that it was in the best interest of theUnited States army that they continue with the mission despite theweather being foggy. He also concluded that it was in the bestinterest of his troops that he continues to give them instructionseven after he was injured, in pain, and in a shell hole until theywere able to eliminate the threat. After thinking, one must come to aconclusion or find a solution to whatever problem, he or she wastrying to solve.


Acritical thinker has to consider certain rules, theories, code ofconduct principles, and models before making a decision (Paul andElder, 2013). In this case, the General had to consider the militaryrules and theories in order to arrive at the decisions he choose totake. My assumption is that the decisions he made were guided by someof the things he learnt while at the military academy.

Implicationsand consequences

Acritical thinker will always consider the implications andconsequences of their decisions. They are also ready to take blamefor their actions in case the situation turns out negatively. Acritical thinker will foresee the possible implications of thedecisions they make (Paul and Elder, 2013). Hence, whenever they arefaced with a situation they will consider the implications beforemaking a decision. It is my assumption that general George SmithPatton foresaw that there would be dire consequences had he chosen towait for the weather to return to normal. He might have also foreseenthe effects of him handing over authority would dampen the morale ofhis troops before he made the decisive decisions he made.


Acritical thinker will probably make several assumptions beforeultimately arriving at a decision (Paul and Elder, 2013). One of themajor objectives of any battle is to weaken the enemy. One of theways to do this is to weaken or ultimately kill their leader. In thiscase, the Germans were able to weaken their leader. However, despitethe fact he was wounded, he knew immediately he made the assumption,that the Germans thought, they would defeat his troops. However, hestood to his ground despite his wounded situation and gaveinstructions to his troops.

Pointof view

Aperson’s point of view will ultimately affect the decision he orshe makes because different people will have different points of view(Paul and Elder, 2013). If this was another normal soldier, he or shewould have called off the mission and would have given command toanother sober mind once he or she was wounded. In my assumption,General George Patton point of view was that he would never give inno matter the situation. A person’s point of view will ultimatelyaffect his or her ability to think critically.


GeneralGeorge Smith Patton is one of the most celebrated military generalsof the United States Army. This is because he was able to use hiscritical thinking ability when faced with complex situations andsimplify the situation by his ability to think critically. He wasable to use the eight elements of thinking before making decisionsduring the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The eight elements of criticalthinking when making decisions are point of view, assumptions,problem, implications and consequences, concepts, information,purpose and question at issue. In my own deduction, I concur with thegeneral decisions since they all turned out effective and thosecircumstances.


Halpern,D. F. (2013). Thoughtand Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking.New York: Psychology Press.

Hinds,R. M., &amp Steele, J. P. (2012). Army Leader Development andLeadership: Views from the Field. MilitaryReview,92(1), 39.

Moore,B. N., &amp Parker, R. (2011). Criticalthinking.McGraw-Hill.

Paparone,C. R., &amp Reed, G. E. (2011). The Reflective Military Practioner:How Military Professionals Think in Action. MilitaryReview,67.

Paul,R., &amp Elder, L. (2013).&nbspCriticalthinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personallife.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Sloan,J. (2013). Learningto think strategically.New York: Routledge.

Wellard,J. (1946).&nbspGeneralGeorge S. Patton, Jr., man under Mars.New York: Dodd, Mead, &amp Company.

Zaloga,S. (2010).&nbspGeorgeS. Patton: Leadership, strategy, conflict.Oxford: Osprey Pub.