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Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the 'ready -aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire.
~ George Patton[1]

George Smith Patton, Jr (1885 - 1945), was an officer in the United States Army, best known for his leadership as a general during World War II. He also developed a reputation for eccentricity and for sometimes-controversial gruff outspokenness—such as during his profanity-laced speech to his expeditionary troops.


Early life

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
~ George Patton[2]

Born in San Gaberiel, California in 1885, Patton graduated from West Point in 1909.[3] He was on the U.S. 1912 Olympic pentathlon team and also designed the U.S. Cavalry's last combat saber: the "Patton Saber". In 1916 he led the first-ever U.S. motorized-vehicle attack during the Mexican Border Campaign. In World War I, he was the first officer assigned to the new United States Tank Corps and saw action in France. In World War II, he commanded corps and armies in North Africa, Sicily, and the European Theater of Operations. In 1944, Patton assumed command of the U.S. Third Army, which under his leadership advanced farther, captured more enemy prisoners, and liberated more territory in less time than any other army in history. A German field marshal speaking to American reporters called Patton "your best".

During the buildup of the United States Army prior to its entry into World War II, Patton commanded the United States Third Army, which performed with mixed results in 1941 in both the Louisiana Maneuvers and Carolina Maneuvers. The Third Army was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, until the unit, along with its commander was ordered to the newly established Desert Training Center in the Colorado Desert of California and Arizona, by the Chief of the Armored Force, Major General Jacob L. Devers. Patton was subsequently appointed commander of the newly activated Armored Corps by Devers, and he was in this position when the corps was assigned to Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. In preparation, Patton trained his troops in the Imperial Valley. He commenced these exercises in late 1941 and continued them well into the summer of 1942. Patton chose a 10,000-acre (40 km2) expanse of unforgiving desert, known for its blistering temperatures, sandy arroyos and absolute desolation. It was a close match for the terrain Patton and his men would encounter during the campaigns in North Africa. Tank tracks, foxholes and spent shell casings can still be found in an area about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Palm Springs.

Wars are fought with weapons but they are won by men.
~ George Patton

From his first days as a commander, Patton strongly emphasized the need for armoured forces to stay in constant contact with the enemy, concluding that aggressive, fast-moving mechanized and armored forces disrupted enemy defensive preparations while presenting less of a target to enemy gunners. His instinctive preference for relentless offensive movement was typified by an answer Patton gave to war correspondents in a 1944 press conference. In response to a question on whether the Third Army's rapid offensive across France should be slowed to reduce the number of U.S. casualties, Patton replied "Whenever you slow anything down, you waste human lives."[N 1]


Patton was fatally wounded in a motor accident near Mannheim, Germany, in 1945.[3]



  1. it was this attitude which most likely led to Patton acquiring the nickname "Old Blood and Guts".[3]


  1. Lloyd, John and John Mitchinson. Advanced Banter - The QI Book of Quotations. Faber and Faber. 2008. ISBN 978 0 571 23372 4 Page 75
  2. Lloyd, John and John Mitchinson - Banter. Page 317
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 McGovern, Una - Editor. Chambers Biographical Directory 7th Edition. Chambers Harrap publishers Ltd. 2002. ISBN 0550 10051 2 Page 1174

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