Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A Marine captain lists 10 things he wishes he knew before commanding a company

Capt. Lucas Balke writes in the September issue of the Marine Corps Gazette that there are 10 things he wishes someone had told him when he was a lieutenant. (I really like “what I’ve learned” articles, and I also am happy to highlight this article because I’ve been hard on the poor old Gazette in ...

National Park Service
National Park Service
National Park Service

Capt. Lucas Balke writes in the September issue of the Marine Corps Gazette that there are 10 things he wishes someone had told him when he was a lieutenant. (I really like "what I've learned" articles, and I also am happy to highlight this article because I've been hard on the poor old Gazette in recent years.) Here they are:

Plan now to command a company. Start collecting PME items. Read 10 pages a day. Become an expert regarding one battle. Start constructing your "perfect" field exercise. Enable your Marines to be self-sufficient. Prepare your Marines to be dismounted infantrymen. Trust your NCOs. Be prepared to fight tomorrow's counterinsurgency. Learn to train for free.

Tom again: What do you wish you'd known before taking your current position?

Capt. Lucas Balke writes in the September issue of the Marine Corps Gazette that there are 10 things he wishes someone had told him when he was a lieutenant. (I really like “what I’ve learned” articles, and I also am happy to highlight this article because I’ve been hard on the poor old Gazette in recent years.) Here they are:

  • Plan now to command a company.
  • Start collecting PME items.
  • Read 10 pages a day.
  • Become an expert regarding one battle.
  • Start constructing your “perfect” field exercise.
  • Enable your Marines to be self-sufficient.
  • Prepare your Marines to be dismounted infantrymen.
  • Trust your NCOs.
  • Be prepared to fight tomorrow’s counterinsurgency.
  • Learn to train for free.

Tom again: What do you wish you’d known before taking your current position?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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