Movie Review: We Were Soldiers Once
Angela Lewis Student ID# 5849
Mountain State University, GIDS 504
Dr. Kenneth Miller
There is a plethora of exemplary leadership examples depicted in the movie entitled We Were Soldiers Once. Mel Gibson was brilliant in his leading role as Lt. Colonel Hal Moore who led his brigade into battle in Vietnam by being and doing exactly what he expected of his troops. He led by example. He modeled the way. He also exemplified the same leadership qualities portrayed on the battlefield in his roles as father and husband. Not only did Moore signify leadership qualities in his roles, but he expressed his commitment to leadership at all levels of his battalion by delegating that responsibility to all his soldiers. He was not afraid of enlisting others. He told them “every one of you will learn the job of the man over you and every one of you will teach the man under you your job.” (Moore, Galloway, & Wallace, 2002) This demonstrated his understanding of enabling and empowering people to do their job well.
Exemplary leaders should always enable and empower their subordinates. Enabling subordinates causes them to take initiative in times of uncertainty which is often experienced in war and it also fosters collaboration within an organization. This is a key element to successful leadership regardless of the endeavor. Collaboration builds confidence and establishes trust. Colonel Moore was able to establish trust from his men on many occasions but particularly when he followed through on the promise made during his pre-deployment speech when he stated “when we go into battle, I will be the first step foot on the field and I will be the last to step off and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together.” He was truly a leader of leaders. Colonel Moore modeled the way or led from the front which is exactly what it took to build cohesive teams and lead his platoon to a successful outcome during this particular battle in 1965 and it takes no less in the 21st century. It was apparent that Colonel Moore was establishing leadership in these men right from the start. During training he described to his men what a leader must be and do. He said, “a leader must remain cool and calm and thinkin’, he must learn to ignore the exposure to the heat, dust and extremes of the wounded.” (Moore, Galloway, & Wallace, 2002) Because these men were young and inexperienced, he also prepared them for what they were about to face and what would be considered normal on the battlefield. He taught them to take care of each other and treat one another as family. This also was made clear to them during the pre-deployment speech. Moore noted the integration of the 7th Calvary but emphasized that they were all Americans. (Moore, Galloway, & Wallace, 2002) He recognized their differences and built cohesive teams which became a very valuable asset during their initial encounter with enemy personnel. After landing in the Valley of Death, the American soldiers capture an enemy scout and are able to make use of the native language of one of their own. He was able to translate the language of the Vietnamese scout and obtain crucial information about the whereabouts of the enemy’s command post. (Moore, Galloway, & Wallace, 2002) As leaders, we should be quick to build diverse teams because diversity gives us so much more leverage and allows us utilize the potential of all our constituents if and should the need arise. As Colonel Moore and Sergeant Plumbley trained their men, they took notice of those who aspired to be leaders and who showed initiative in demonstrating their leadership capabilities right from the start. In so doing, they were able to entrust them with leadership during battle and inspired confidence in these young men by delegating authority and these young men epitomized the leadership they were under. Another note to mention is the fact...
Cited: Hesselbein, F., & Shinseki, E. K. (2004). Be, Know, Do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schmidt, A. L., Lemley, J. (Producers), Moore, H., Galloway, J. L., Wallace, R. (Writers), & Wallace, R. (Director). (2002). We Were Soldiers Once and Young [Motion Picture]. Paramount Pictures.
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