Leadership of the highest kind Real men Soldiering The Green Machine


Thanks to Skip –

From his text – “Senior officers and NCOs, I am telling you right now if things if don’t change you will have the blood of your soldiers on your hands.”

“There is an enemy out there who is determined, and he is not concerned about individual feelings, or time out. If you don’t train them hard now, and demand from them now what in the hell do you think the enemy is going to do to them. If they can’t take the heat in training how are they going to take it on the battlefield? Technology my ass, soldiers win wars.”

Before you read this…Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Purdy is quite possible one of the most legendary warriors in recent Army history. This guy redefines hard-ass, and I am sure that some of you have heard of him. He survived 3 tours in Vietnam in LRP / Ranger Units (on the wrong side of a few near ambushes and Purple Hearts), served as a Son Tay Raider, was at Desert One, ……

He retired after serving as the CSM of the 75th (after, most notably, serving as the CSM of the 187th (Rakkasans!) He is a fixture at Fort Benning, and as a recently retired CSM, was hazing students in my Ranger class when he decided to stop by the camp in Jan 1996 to make sure that standards hadn’t slipped.

TO: Whom it May Concern
FROM: CSM Don Purdy, Retired, USA

I would like to give an (Army) NCO perspective on this issue. I am a retired CSM with 27 years of service. Most of it in Ranger companies, and the Ranger Regiment. I am a Vietnam Veteran, and a veteran of special operations. I retired in 1995 but have done mostly contract work out of Fort Benning involving experimentation on MOUT Operations. I got to work around a lot of soldiers, and had to keep up with current trends and tactics. I am currently working in Saudi Arabia training Saudi paratroopers and Rangers.

1. Some senior NCOs are nothing more than boot lickers who sing the Army of One song to their superior officers every day. Commanders need to hear the good, bad and the ugly, and then be given good solid recommendations. They need their senior NCOs to be TRAINERS. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. DO as the troops do. LEAD FROM THE FRONT. GET IN THE DIRT.

This bullshit of “I have done that” is garbage. What you are doing now is what counts. Quit worrying about your next assignment. Focus on your mission now. Your mission is to train soldiers for war, and it’s damned hard work. If you do it right, you will leave the Army in worse shape physically than when you came in. BE HARD BUT BE FAIR. You must have MORAL COURAGE.

2. Training is a word they can’t spell. Chief trainer means chief boot licker. TICKET PUNCHERS.

3. “Moral courage” means telling your commander what he wants to hear these days. I was condemned by my peers and superiors for speaking up and telling it like it was. I was called a relic from the past that should be put in a glass case. I was focused on training for war, not peace. Discipline was my watchword, and the soldiers did not decide what punishment was right or wrong where I served as CSM. I was the Chief Trainer. The buck stopped with me. I participated in all training and lead by example. I was told by a Division CSM that I would never serve above BN level because I was too intrusive. That means I scared commanders with the truth. The next thing he asked was why do you train with your soldiers? The question was shocking, but the answer was simple. When I speak everyone listens. That went over his head like a tent. I carried a rifle, not a pistol, and I damned well knew how to use that weapon and my soldiers knew how to use their weapons as well.

4. Combatives are important. Boxing, wrestling and bayonet fighting are not antiquated. CQB is just what that means. Close Quarters Battle. MOUT, trench systems and bunkers must be cleared, and you had better be aggressive and prepared to do bayonet or hand to hand fighting. When others were laughing at my unit for doing this, my soldiers were prepared and understood what fix bayonets meant. They were aggressive and well disciplined. Sub standard performers were put out immediately. My First Sergeants were not mail men or chow deliverers, they were the Chief Trainers of their companies.

5. We trained for war, not peace. Live fires were a priority, and were not canned. Leaders, and soldiers had to react. Maneuver elements maneuvered, and had to rely on the SBF not to shoot them but only the enemy. Bayonets were fixed and there were dummy targets for the soldiers to engage with those bayonets. Resupply mission were planned and executed. The battlefield had to be policed of casualties, and equipment by any means available, even if it meant driving vehicle cross country or physically carrying the wounded. Reload drills, dead gunner drills, and crew drills were executed over and over and over again. These were executed night and day. NODS went on your face when the sun went down. They weren’t hanging around your neck. We executed live fires at night with NODS in the woods, and the live fires were not canned. Raids, ambushes, search and attack were all executed at night up to company size. This took us over one year to get to that level. Mortars could hit their targets. Units could move silently day or night and didn’t get lost. We did not rely on GPS. WE USED MAP AND COMPASSES. We lived out of our rucksacks, slept on the ground in all types of weather from the BN CDR on down. We did not look like bums. We shaved everyday, wore our equipment properly, camouflaged our face, and hands when necessary, soldiers knew how to maintain themselves and their equipment in the field and uniformity was important. Soldiers knew what a cat hole was, and that trash was carried in the rucks not thrown on the ground or buried for the hogs to dig up. Uniforms were worn properly. The companies received one hot meal a day and understood how to conduct tactical feeding. Our cooks knew how to function in the environment. The combat trains did not live in tents. Their perimeter was secure, weapons were clean, and noise and light discipline was maintained. Cooks, clerks and all other support personnel knew how to use their weapons and were trained in the basic infantry skills. Misfires were damned well rare, and punishment was swift when it did happen. We suffered no live fire deaths because we trained properly, and used good old-fashioned common sense. We never had the soldiers execute missions they were not properly trained for. The NCOs trained the soldiers, the officers commanded. Our motto was what ever you do, do it right. Rate of sick call in the field was almost zero. Moral was high because of good hard leadership from the front, and realistic tough training. We even executed a day of live fire training during support cycles. You need a strong CSM who understands discipline and training. He can talk it and walk it.

6. There is no such thing as a good field soldier. You are either a soldier or not a soldier. Everything from appearance to police call is important. This bull shit about my space and my rights is just that BULL SHIT. Barracks are not his or her home it’s a place for them to live. For saying this I was told I had a mess kit mentality. This individuality BS of “I need my own room” is garbage. We waste more money building these condos so soldiers can feel good, and not be part of a team is sickening. They should live in fire team bays. It builds cohesion. Key control alone is a nightmare. Of course don’t bother the poor soldier just let him live like a pig, and when he gets sick or you find out he or she is a drug dealer then blame it on the NCO Corps even though you the illustrious BN CDR, BDE CDR said leave the soldiers alone in their precious rooms. Soldiers are owed a place to sleep, their pay and the best leadership and training that can be provided.

7. DISCIPLINE is the key. DRILL AND CEREMONY is the foundation of discipline. When I say fall in I want to hear your heels coming together. When I speak you jump. All ceremonies should be executed with weapons so each unit can execute the 15-count manual of arms. Carrying a card around in your pocket does not develop good morals. Morals are developed through solid leadership not gimmicks and headgear.

8. You want to be politically correct stay on the block. You want to be different or an individual looking to be a victim stay on the block. If you’re a pervert and proud of it stay on the block. You want to be a soldier then become part of a disciplined team. This is not a job it’s a profession. You’re here to fight our countries war not be a gut eating self-serving individual. Senior officers and NCOs I am telling you right now if things don’t change you will have the blood of your soldiers on your hands. There is an enemy out there who is determined, and he is not concerned about individual feelings, or time out. If you don’t train them hard now, and demand from them now what in the hell do you think the enemy is going to do to them. If they can’t take the heat in training how are they going to take it on the battlefield? Technology my ass, soldiers win wars. Be hard on them now or watch them die, or worse break and run. BE HARD BUT BE FAIR! Being fair does not mean they dictate punishment or babying them. A Russian General said “Hard on the training field, easy on the battlefield.” General Patton said “Leading from the rear is like trying to push spaghetti uphill.” You want you soldiers to respect you not love you. When they look at you they should see a competent leader.

The best compliment I ever received was from a soldier who was PCSing. I was a PLT Sergeant in the First Ranger BN. He said “Sergeant Purdy I hated to hear you come in, in the morning, and sometimes I just hated you, but I would follow you to hell with gasoline drawers on.”


CSM Don Purdy, Retired, USA

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