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Letters to the Editor

aerospace power and leadership perspectives

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Colonel Wakelam’s article “Aerospace Power and Leadership Perspectives” [Volume 4, No. 3 Autumn 2003] is an interesting review of what others have said about the subject. As one who has been shot at in combat, I think his conclusions are ‘on the money’, but the piece could emphasize more strongly exactly what the ‘human dimension’ actually is.

Leadership is simply the ability to inspire others to achieve goals. The leader may establish the goals, but often their achievement is not in his hands. Yet, in the exercise of leadership, he perhaps manages how they are achieved. This is an oversimplification of a complex process, and usually the view of leadership by those being led is based on many factors, not the least being peer pressure.

Humans need ‘recognition’, and it is little different in peace or in war. A person needs to be seen by his contemporaries, as well as his superiors and subordinates, to be carrying a fair share of the load. He must feel that his contribution is what is expected of him, and is up to the level of those involved in similar pursuits. He needs his fellow fighters to see that he, too, is a worthy comrade in arms.

In my 39 years of military service in peace and in war, I saw good leaders and bad ones. The good ones inspired me. The bad ones confused and dispirited me; indeed some disgusted me.

Some years ago, I was asked to state what I believed to be the mark of a good squadron commander. I put it in writing, and, on reviewing it, I have a feeling my thoughts might just still be valid.

[Editor’s Note: General Carr’s thoughts, “What’s a Squadron Commander?” are appended on the next page.]

W.K. (Bill) Carr
Lieutenant-General (ret’d)
Stittsville, ON