Monthly Archives: June 2016

Stockdale on resilience

Men-and-women-of-arms, including interrogators and intelligence professionals, must be resilient when confronting difficult circumstances. Former prisoner-of-war and vice-presidential candidate James Stockdale offers us wisdom on the subject of resilience:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.

— Admiral James Stockdale


James Stockdale – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stockdale was the highest-ranking naval officer held as a prisoner in North Vietnam. He had led aerial attacks from the carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) during the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On his next deployment, while Commander of Carrier Air Wing 16 aboard the carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34), he was shot down in North Vietnam on September 9, 1965.


Hollywood dramatizes the concept of resilience below:


Conflict and cooperation

SWJ suggests that a systematic, analytical, game-theory-based approach to battlefield interrogations may be effective:

Small Wars Journal

Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog. We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

“These weren’t model soldiers, but they were guys who could get jobs done.”

‘Filthy Thirteen’ veterans recount their antics during WWII

WASHINGTON – Jake McNiece’s story would have made a great movie script. His crew of troublemaking soldiers, the Filthy Thirteen, took on a suicide mission at the height of World War II, pulled it off and lived to tell about it. It’s almost a shame they made “The Dirty Dozen” instead.


Treat them with kindness and humanity

A few more thoughts from the first commander in chief:

4th. Whatever Prisoners you take, must be treated with Kindness and Humanity. Their private Stock of Money and Apparel to be given them, after being strictly searched, and when they arrive at any Port, they are to be delivered up to the Agent, if any there; if not, to the Committee of Safety of such Port.


George Washington to Charles Dyar, January 20, 1776 (also to William Burke and John Ayres)

George Washington to Charles Dyar, January 20, 1776 (also to William Burke and John Ayres) IMAGES Head Quarters Cambridge, January 20, 1776. Sir: You being appointed Captain and Commander of the armed schooner Harrison in the Service of the United Colonies are to pay all Attention and Obedience to the following Instructions.

Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner] … I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause … for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.


George Washington to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775, two same date

George Washington to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775, two same date IMAGES Camp at Cambridge, September 14, 1775. Sir: You are intrusted with a Command of the utmost Consequence sequence to the Interest and Liberties of America.

Required Reading

A treasury of instructive observations — all, curiously, remain relevant — from President Washington’s farewell address. I consider it required reading for young military officers — especially for Washington’s insights with respect to the dangers of internal, partisan passions and factionalism, his thoughts on client states, and his observations about domestic military establishments. Washington, a great warrior, knew well the aspects of human nature that lead to conflict, and impresseses upon us that vigilance toward such passions will help sustain peace and tranquility:

Avalon Project – Washington’s Farewell Address 1796

Washington’s Farewell Address 1796 Friends and Citizens: The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with