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 is very important to military leaders,particularly at the battle front. They are faced with complexsituations that affect the lives of their countrymen and fellowsoldiers. Therefore, thinking critically is very important so as tomake the right decisions. They don’t have to be military geniuses,but their ability to think critically will be very important(Nosich,2011). This paper will discuss how a military leader (General GeorgeSmith Patton) of the United States army used critical thinking toconquer the enemy.

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). In this paper will only look at one of the missions he was incharge of and the decisions he made that affected the outcome of themission (Salmon,2012).

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(,2015).

Inorder to analyze the decisions the general made. This paper will makeuse of elder and Paul’s article on analytical thinking andprecisely the 8 elements of thinking. The paper will also discuss howGeneral George Smith Patton used the 8 elements of thinking to beable to arrive at the decisions he made while on the battle front.The eight elements include purpose, question at issue, information,interpretation, concepts, assumptions, implications and consequencesand finally point of view.

Thepaper will discuss how the general used the above elements to thinkcritically and be able to guide his troops out of an unexpectedambush by the Germans. In addition the paper will also give a briefbackground of the general’s life and how he ended up in themilitary and some of the various missions that he took part in.

Thegeneral’s quick and critical thinking helped his troops overcome anambush, despite the bad the weather he went on to make sure that theMeuse-Argonne offensive was successful. It will therefore underlinethe importance of leaders to think critically when faced with complexand 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,2014).


Cederblom,J. B. (2012). Critical reasoning: Understanding and criticizingarguments and theories.

D`este,C. (1995). Patton: Agenius for war.HarperCollins Publishers.

Fisher,A. (Ed.). (2011). Criticalthinking: An introduction.Cambridge University Press.,.(2015). TheOfficial Website of General George Patton– Biography. Retrieved 8 January 2015, from

Halpern,D. F. (2014). CriticalThinking Across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought &amp Knowledge.Routledge.

Nosich,G. M. (2011). Learning To Think Things Through: A Guide To CriticalThinking Across The Curriculum (Mystudentsuccesslab).

Salmon,M. (2012).Introduction to logic and critical thinking.Cengage Learning.

ThinkingCritical About Military Issues: The Strategist


Militaryleaders are faced with many complex situations that require quick andcritical thinking while in the battle front. These split seconddecisions end up affecting the outcome of the war both for theirmilitary personnel and fellow countrymen (Halpern,2014). It is therefore important that military leaders are able tohave critical thinking abilities when faced with ambiguous andcomplex situations (Hinds&amp Steele, 2012). Through critical thinking they should be able tosimplify and lens magnify the situation. This paper will discuss howGeneral George Smith Patton of the American army used his criticalthinking in the battle front to defeat America’s enemies duringwar.

Bornon November 11th,1885, General George Smith Patton is one of America’s mostcelebrated military men. The Californian, born general is regardedas one of the most successful field commanders in charge of an armyin times of war in the United States (D`este,1995). The general excelled in most of his missions and commandedrespect in the military field for his ability to use criticalthinking in the battle front whenever faced with any complexsituations. During his early years George goal in life was to be ahero. He was motivated by his ancestors who had taken part in therevolutionary war, the civil war and the Mexican war. This pushed himto enroll in the Virginia military institute and the United Statesmilitary academy. General George Smith Patton during his early yearsshowed immense capabilities and he even represented his country inthe Stockholm Olympic as he took part in the pentathlon(D`este,1995). This was a multisport event that included shooting, swimming,sword fencing, and horse riding and running. He was ranked fifth thouhe later complained that his bullet had hit the target, but thejudges did not believe him. He later joined the French cavalryschool, after which he was promoted to become commandant of themounted service school which is based in Fort Riley Kansas(,2015). This was the beginning of his colorful military career. Heserved in the both the first and second war in various capacities andother major wars that the united states of American took part in. Hehad various controversies during his military life since he wasoutspoken. One of the most famous controversies is when he publiclydiffered with the United States foreign policy concerning the SovietUnion.

GeneralGeorge Smith Patton made so many decisions that affected the outcomeof the battle while on the battle front(,2015). However, this paper will discuss one particular incident wherethe general was forced to command his forces form shell hole after hewas wounded. This was in the Meuses-Argonne offensive where GeneralGeorge Smith Patton was charged with the responsibility of commandingthe US corps. However, the mission did not go as planned as histroops encountered a thick fog. The fog interfered with theireyesight and they were ambushed by the German soldiers with machineguns. General George Smith Patton, who had been personally leadinghis troops, was wounded in his left thigh during the ambush. Despitethe fact that he was wounded, he continued to give directions to histroops form a shell hole. It took his troops an hour to neutralizethe Germans before they could evacuate their commander. After beingevacuated, he stopped at a rear command post where he submitted hisreport and finally proceeded to the hospital(,2015).

Itwas General George Smith Patton critical thinking that enabledMeuses-Argonne offensive 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. I will analyzeGeneral George smith Patton’s actions using the 8 elements ofthoughts.

Accordingto Elder and Paul, there are 8 basic elements that guide humanthinking. The following are the eight basic elements of though, asdiscussed by elder and Paul.


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 &amp Elder, 2013). In this case GeneralGeorge Smith Patton’s goal was to conquer the enemy despite all theodds. Despite the fact that a thick fog was making their eyesight,poor, and the general pushed on his troops and even took theforefront as a way to motivate his soldiers. He was wounded in theprocess and not even this would interfere with the general’spurpose. He continued giving his troops instructions while in a shellhole. This is despite the fact that he was in pain after beingwounded. Therefore, having a purpose and sticking by it is equallyimportant when thinking as shown by the acts of this great militaryleader (Moore,&amp Parker, 2011).

Questionat issue

Thisdescribes the problem or issue at hand (Paul &amp 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 (Paul &amp Elder,2013). According to elder and Paul, a person is able to arrive at adecision after taking note of the relevant facts, data and making thenecessary observations. In this case scenario general George SmithPatton was able to make the necessary observations that guided him toarrive at the decisions he made. Based on assumption, the generalmade the decision to continue giving his instructions even afterbeing wounded, probably because he didn’t see any of his soldiershaving the necessary leadership skills to give them instructions. Healso probably did that as he thought changing command would affectthe moral of his troops.

Interpretationand inference

Theseare the conclusions and solutions a person makes after a vigorousprocess of thinking (Paul &amp 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 &ampElder, 2013). In this case the general has to consider the militaryrules and theories in order to arrive at the decisions he choose totake. My assumption is the decisions he made were guided by some ofthe 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 &amp Elder, 2013). Hence, whenever theyare faced 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 ultimatelyarriving at a decision (Paul &amp Elder, 2013). One of the majorobjectives of any battle is to weaken the enemy. One of the ways todo this is to weaken or ultimately kill their leader. In this case,the Germans were able to weaken their leader. However, despite thefact he was wounded, he knew immediately made the assumption that theGermans thought they would defeat his troops. However, he stood talland despite through the pain gave instructions 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 &amp Elder, 2013). If this was another normal soldier, he orshe would have called off the mission and would have given command toanother sober mind once he or she was wounded. In my assumptiongeneral 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 their ability to think critically. He wasable to use the eight elements of thinking before making a decision.These elements include point of view, assumptions, problem,implications and consequences, concepts, information, purpose andquestion at issue. I agree with the general decisions since they werewell thought out and were for the good of his country and that of hissolders. I would have done the same I was to find myself in such asituation.


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Halpern,D. F. (2014). CriticalThinking Across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought &amp Knowledge.Routledge.

Hinds,R. M., &amp Steele, J. P. (2012). ArmyLeader Development and Leadership: Views from the Field.Military Review, 92(1), 39.

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

Paparone,C. R., &amp Reed, G. E. (2011). TheReflective Military Practioner: How Military Professionals Think inAction.Military Review, 67.

Paul,R., &amp Elder, L. (2013). Criticalthinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personallife.Pearson Education.

Sloan,J. (2013). Learningto think strategically.Routledge.