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Military Discipline

Categories: DisciplineMilitary

1.General.The word discipline comes from the Latin word disciplīna which means “to instruct”. Discipline is a specific form of instruction which develops self-control, character, and efficiency.

Military discipline is that mental attitude and state of training which renders obedience instinctive under all conditions. It is founded upon respect for, and loyalty to properly constituted authority. While it is developed primarily by military drill, every feature of military life has its effects on military discipline. It is generally indicated in an individual or unit by smartness of appearance and action; by cleanliness and neatness of dress, equipment, or quarters; by respect for seniors; and by prompt and cheerful execution by subordinates of both the letter and the spirit of legal orders of their lawful superiors.

2.Discipline Definition.

a.According to the dictionary, discipline is:

(1)Training that is expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
(2)Controlled behaviour resulting from disciplinary training.

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(3)A systematic method to obtain obedience.
(4)A state of order based upon submission to rules and authority.
(5)To train by instruction and control.

b.Discipline is a learned behaviour. It is much more than blind obedience and punishment. Rather, it is a state of order and obedience that is a result of regulations and orders. You must be disciplined to achieve your goals. Discipline is training that develops, moulds, strengthens, or perfects mental faculties and character. It involves placing group goals above your own, being willing to accept orders from higher authority, and carrying out those orders effectively.

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Part of the job of a cadet is to make their fellow cadets aware of the purpose and meaning of discipline.

c.Military Discipline. It is the training that develops self control, character, and efficiency and as the result of such training implies subjection to control exerted for he good of the group. It is the state of order existing within a command. 2.History.Romans were considered as the first one who had started high level of discipline in the military. Historian has admired the Roman army discipline, that really fascinated them. It fascinated everyone. It shocks today. It was strict to the point of inhumanity. Take guard duty. Everyone has to stand guard occasionally—everyone in all armies everywhere. Nights are long and mostly there is no enemy out there beyond the wall.

Just before daybreak you, a picket, might find yourself with a heavy head—you might even jerk and find that you have dozed off. Now in the Roman army if that happens to you—if you let it happen—and you are discovered, it means your disgrace and your death. There is a summary court-martial that same morning and a swift sentence. The tribune approaches you with a cudgel—a club—and taps you symbolically on the shoulder. A warning? No: it is the signal for your comrades to come and beat you to death with clubs and stones. There is no appeal. “The consequence of the extreme severity of this penalty and of the absolute impossibility of avoiding it is that the night watches of the Roman army are faultlessly kept,” says Polybius. You better believe it.

Beating to death was the punishment for several other offences, such as giving false evidence, stealing, homosexual practice, and committing the same fault three times. Leaving your post out of fear and throwing away any of your weapons on the battlefield was also punished with death. “For this reason,” says Polybius, “men who have been posted to a covering force are often doomed to certain death. This is because they will remain at their posts even when they are overwhelmingly outnumbered on account of their dread of the punishment that awaits them.” And: “Those who have lost a shield or a sword or any weapon on the battlefield often hurl themselves upon the enemy hoping that they will either recover the weapon they have lost, or else escape by death from the inevitable disgrace and the humiliations they would suffer at home.”

Sometimes it happened (though not very often and you will soon see why) that a whole body of soldiers turned tail in a battle. Maybe a whole squadron deserted its post. In this case, the court handed down the famous, the ghastly, sentence of decimation. The tribune called the legion on parade and ordered to the front those who were guilty of desertion of their ranks. He reprimanded them, called them every name he could think of. This was not just another sermon.

Everyone knew how it was going to end. “Now I want each of you to choose a number,” he told them. And by lot one out of every ten men was chosen to pay the penalty. What penalty? On the tribune’s order, the army fell on these men—their comrades—and clubbed them to death, mercilessly. The rest of the guilty men were allowed to live, but possibly they thought death was preferable to the humiliation they had to suffer then. They were told to quarter themselves outside the camp walls, where they were unprotected; and they were given rations of barley—horse food—rather than wheat for sustenance. Their disgrace would live as long as they did.

“But it isn’t only your severe punishments that produce right conduct,” Polybius told the Romans. “That alone wouldn’t make men brave. You encourage them to act heroically by holding out all kinds of rewards and incentives.”

A soldier who acted in battle with extraordinary valour was praised by his general in front of all the troops and presented with gifts. He received a spear if he wounded an enemy—not in a pitched battle, of course, but in a skirmish or in any clash where it wasn’t necessary to engage in single combat. The hero had voluntarily and deliberately exposed himself to danger. An infantryman was awarded with a cup if he killed and stripped an enemy; a cavalryman was presented with horse-trappings. The first man to scale the wall of an enemy city was given a golden crown. And a crown was also given to a soldier who had saved a comrade’s life; “and the comrade whose life he had saved revered him for the rest of his life and treated him as his own father”.

The men who receive those awards were honoured not just in the army but back home too, where they were given a place of preference in the religious processions. They showed up wearing their decorations—they were the only ones allowed to do that. And their trophies were hung up in their houses in conspicuous places to remind everyone of their valour. A Roman boy, growing up with those trophies around him, hearing the war stories of his father and friends, and seeing the respect given to the heroes, could hardly wait to join the army and perform deeds like theirs, or greater ones.

4.Value of Discipline.

a.Discipline is not peculiar, strange, or exclusive to military organization but to civilian society as well.
b.No business organization could operate without it.
c.Everybody is subject to discipline of police regulations, proper sanity rules, etc.
d.The desirable and happy citizen is one who has a healthy and proper concept of discipline.
e.Signs of discipline is manifested:
(1)In a smart salute.
(2)Proper wearing of uniform.
(3)Prompt and correct action in case of emergency.
(4)In battle, efficiency that brings victory in war.
f.True discipline:
(1)Demands but reasoned obedience to command obedience that preserved initiative and function even without supervision.
(2)To ensure affectivity of a group not only for the specified purpose but also for emergencies. 3.Purpose. Discipline is required for any activity where people work together toward a common objective. The opposite of discipline is anarchy, where each person does what he wants without concern for others. Any organization, from a civilized state to a football team to a brownie troop depends on group cooperation, and cooperation cannot be achieved without discipline.

Discipline is the structure and order within an individual or within a group that allows for true cooperation, real support of the mission and the members of the team or organization. 3.The Importance of Discipline.Discipline is of the utmost importance in order to ensure the efficiency of the military organization as a whole as well that of the individual units. Efficiency helps to ensure that goals are met and that the highest level of professionalism is maintained at all times. The level of discipline directly affects a soldier’s conduct so the two concepts are directly related and of equal importance.

Discipline is important in life as well as in the Army. The core values of the British Army are: courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment. While all these values should be followed individually, discipline is needed to apply the correct application for all of them. If you lack the discipline needed to correctly apply the core values you are not only letting yourself down but all the others around you making yourself an individual; not a team player. Basically discipline is what is needed in order for order and control to be maintained.

There will always come a time where you want to do wrong or even do wrong, and with that thought you will be able to make a conscious decision to know what you are doing or done is the right thing. It is believed that if you work on something long and hard enough that it will pay off in the end, which is a personal trait that once it is at a level where you feeling comfortable will allow you to face any situation and be able to know the right thing to do.

3.Why Military Discipline is Important.extreme discipline is necessary for all of our armed forces because of the extreme duty that they have. Nothing in the world is as important as going to fight a war for your country. This is the most extreme situation that I can think of so it requires measures which are extreme in themselves in order to get our troops ready. First of all let’s remember that all branches of our armed forces are huge and have to have the same exacting standards in place in order to deal with the large numbers of troops that they contain. There must be a method to the madness and order to the organization. Order and discipline are the intangibles that make the organizations respond and do what our nation’s leaders need for them to do. Without some kind of order all of the branches of our armed forces would be nameless entities which would not be able to perform clear functions as needed. Without discipline troops could not be counted on to perform their duties as required.

Discipline causes troops to hang in there when the going is hard and accomplish those things that would overwhelm the ordinary person. Discipline is required to insure that the military operates in the extreme conditions in which warfare is conducted. The military must operate in all kinds of weather and under all types of conditions. Military equipment must be very well maintained so that it will work in extreme environments. If the driver or crew is lackadaisical about doing their job the result may be an equipment failure at the wrong time. Troops must have the fortitude to continue to perform their jobs despite bad weather, lack of food and water, at night, during dust storms and natural disasters. They must be able to fight through fatigue and cold. They also have to have the fortitude to continue despite the gruesome horrors of combat.

Military combat is chaotic and the disciplined soldier can maintain a sense of normalcy throughout this chaos. He or she can overcome the horrors that would paralyze the undisciplined mind with fear. The well trained soldier will continue to perform his duties in time of hardship. He or she won’t deviate from their training because of the circumstances of the situation. The well disciplined troop can be counted on to accomplish the mission regardless of the hardships which he or she will encounter in doing so. In addition because people do die in combat troops will sometimes have to replace those who have been killed. There must be a standard for all to use and it has to be the same. Military units must be uniform in order and function so that they can carry out their assigned duties.

4.Examples of Military Discipline.

a.English Civil War.When King Charles I raised the Royal Standard at Nottingham Castle on 22 August 1642 and declared war on his own people he did so with his customary appeal to regal pomp and circumstance. Yet the ceremony degenerated into farce as Charles made last minute corrections to the Proclamation which the Herald then haddifficulty reading out, and when the Standard was blown down in a storm on the same night it was interpreted by many as a bad omen. This fiasco symbolised the incompetence which hampered the Royalist campaign, and compared unfavourably with the organisation displayed by the Parliamentarian military forces during the years of conflict. For after raising the armies and an indecisive period of hostilities, what proved to be the determining factor in the war was the command, discipline and conviction of the New Model Army. Simon Court explains.

b.The War of Austrian Succession.Frederick the Great (1740-1786) was king of Prussia, of the Hohenzollern dynasty, and is described as the foremost solider of his time. During the time of his ascension Prussia was comprised of various disparate territories both within and outside the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick II inherited an army of 80,000 soldiers from his father Frederick William II. His objective upon becoming king was to unite these disconnected and vulnerable lands into one contiguous and secure empire. This began to be accomplished in a series of wars including the three Silesian Wars, also known as the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48), fought with Austria and the Seven Years war (1756-63). As a result of the Silesian wars Prussia acquired a resource rich and productive region of Austria which was to be contested between the two powers for much of the 19th century.

The Seven Years war is notable as being the last major war prior to the French Revolution which involved all of Europe’s great military powers. On one side were allied France, Austria, Saxony, Sweden and Russia. On the other side were allied Prussia, Hanover, and Great Britain. During this war Prussia was able to hold off armies that attacked from several fronts and despite some setbacks ultimately prevailed. Frederick defeated an army of French and German troops at Rossbach in Thuringia in 1757 despite being outnumbered two to one. The losses were 7000 for the enemy army as compared with 550 for his own. A similar result followed a month later against the Austrians.

The success of Frederick the Great’s army rested mainly on superior training of which discipline was a major component. It should be noted that Frederick also inherited some of this training and other tactical details from his predecessor. Still he used them to great effect and added others which gave him an edge over enemies who were similarly equipped but lacked the same training or discipline. More specifically, the Prussian army used a drill system, uniform throughout the army, but which was unheard of in most European armies prior to 1740.

The system was practiced continuously. It focused on marching in step even under intense combat situations. The objective was to maintain (and present) a coherent line of attack when advancing on enemy lines. This technique was not unheard of in European armies of the period it was just not adhered to in intense situations. This began to be changed under Frederick the Great, although not always with the consistency he sought to achieve. 5.Military Discipline in Modern Army.

6.Famous Military Quotes.
a.”Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”
George Washington
b.”If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.”
William Feather
c.”Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild.”
Immanuel Kant
d.”Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
Julie Andrews
e.”Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.”
George Washington

Discipline within a unit increases its effectiveness and gives it structure. At encampment, the development of discipline serves two purposes. First, it gives the flight structure and increases the effectiveness of the training program. Second, it provides to the cadet the advantage of working in a disciplined organization and helps him to understand how to build discipline in himself and his unit. For those reasons, the importance of setting of a good example, of developing and maintaining a well-disciplined organization, and helping cadets to understand how discipline effects a group cannot be understated. A well-disciplined flight will develop as a productive team with high morale, and is key in establishing an educational, worthwhile encampment experience.

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Military Discipline. (2016, Sep 07). Retrieved from

Military Discipline

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