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This report is based on the book Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose published in New York by Pocket Books, 2001, New edition, 133 pages.

Recommendations

Recommended Audience

Band of Brothers book describes the WWII events and struggles of an airborne soldier in the USA army. It is clear from the story that E Company involved many events Americans can be proud of so that this book is recommended to every citizen of the United States.

These true heroes made their way through hell and blood, death and corruption, victories and withdrawals, but they would not give up their goal of freedom and peace in the world. The story that the book illustrates is literally stunning. It presents just true historical facts and events that took place in the period from 1942 to 1945.

It is highly recommended for persons interested in history, battlefield tactics, and, of course, airborne soldiers and officers. Band of Brothers contains so much useful and interesting information about training camps and battlefields soaked with brotherhood atmosphere that it has to be read by everyone.

Recommended Actions

One of the most important subjects of this book is leadership and commanding. From the very first pages, the author describes the first leader of E Company, Sobel. This man was one of the worst officers ever not because he could not lead the company but because he did not respect his soldiers; in fact, he hated them, and they disrespected and hated him in return.

Sobel was treating his men like dogs and made them suffer all day long in the training camp of Toccoa. He was an inadequate and overreacting person with no social and combat experience, which made him look stupid and incompetent for his job. Thus, one of the main problems of leadership here is respect for soldiers and fair treatment.

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There were many more inadequate officers in their regiment, such as Lt. Dyke who almost failed an offensive mission at Foye in winter 1944. His inability to make a decision cost about dozen of human lives. When the fight began, panic overwhelmed him and he was not able to command his squad. He made soldiers retreat when they should have been attacking. A person like him should never lead a combat mission or even become an officer.

On the other hand, there were also many superb commanders like Winters, Compton, Lipton, Martin, Speirs, and others. They had the courage to lead the battle and develop successful tactics to save as many men as they could. Soldiers respected all of them and loved some of them as brothers or fathers. With these leaders, soldiers were not afraid even of death and could do anything they were ordered to.

Dick Winters was one of the most heroic and devoted men within his company. He always took wise decisions and cared about every soldier he had under his command. He almost ran into the battle of Foye when Dyke failed in commanding. The easy company respected this man even more than all generals and officers combined, and they were right.

Ambrose shows that discipline based on the fear of being punished will not make soldiers one solid unit. However, what is really important, in his opinion, is caring and respect for each other. He states that losing one of his comrades was unacceptable for soldiers. The easy company did everything to save and secure each other's back. Good training and battle education are also very important.

Winters and his comrades went through the hardest physical training under officer Sobel's command. This actually was the only advantage, with which he provided his people. Such tactics as planning and intelligence observation should be used in preparation for every battle no matter whether it was a defensive or offensive mission.

Soldiers and officers should have enough ammo, provision, clothes' and other equipment to stay fit and ready to fight with no casualties. Combat leaders have to encourage soldiers to make their morale strong and their thoughts clear of panic, depression, and other negative emotions. This is what Ambrose is trying to say in his book to the future generation of soldiers.

Analysis of the Author

Credentials

Stephen E. Ambrose was a historian and biographer. He wrote about twenty history books including Richard Nixon's and Dwight Eisenhower's biographies. There is no doubt that such a professional wrote Band of Brothers properly. He interviewed every veteran of Easy alive and made true timing and acting sequences of events. He also worked as a historical consultant with Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg on the "Saving Private Ryan" movie and "Band of Brothers" TV series. This man was destined to write this book.

Objectivity

The author never used high poetic terms such as glory or victory. He described WWII from the veterans' words and tried not to add his own thoughts. Band of Brothers includes so many real quotes that it looks like a theatrical piece. Some of the stories told by the veterans are funny while some of them are rude and full of anger and hate, but all of them are true.

Ambrose describes every character clearly and widely, so, in the end, readers experience the feeling of losing something or someone special. The author's manner of writing and thinking is presented from the spectator's view, which does not include taking any of the opponent's sides. That is what should be meant by a good historical novel - facts and only facts.

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Analysis of the Content

Thesis

There were so many themes described in Band of Brothers that it is very hard to identify its general idea. However, considering the fact that the brotherhood issue was presented almost on every page of the book, it should be the main thought. Thus, the main idea of the book is if your company is not just fighters, but rather your brothers, you can go to hell and back, and you will be alive.

Brothers will never betray you, and they will always be in the right place at the right time for you. They will fight for you to their last heartbeat and sacrifice their life for yours without regard. You will share the moments of glory and defeat, love and hate, pain and suffering with each other, which will definitely unite you and make you stronger. Every Easy veteran will prove this.

Synopsis

The Band of Brothers book is about Easy Company of 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne division as it is evident from the title. The story begins in the United States in an airborne training camp at Toccoa. There, the long road to E Company's triumph and glory began. The first six months included unbelievable training and pain including few C-47 parachute jumps, which not everyone could get through. Later, Easy Company was delivered by ship to England where they continued practicing until the D-Day.

On D-Day, they were dropped to Normandy suffering many casualties, but they did their job well. Month after month, they were in front lines of every battle standing fire of the Germans. They went through Holland, France, and Germany and showed what means to be Airborne. With the strong and wise guidance of Dick Winters, they survived the war and entered Eagle's Nest in Austria first, which made them live legends.

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Analysis

The Army Leadership Requirements

a. The Army Leadership Requirements Model FM 6-22 includes all of the characteristics of a true combat leader. These characteristics can often be seen in Band of Brothers.

  1. As to "A Leader of Character" factors, army values, and empathy are the most prevalent. The character of officer Sobel demonstrates the impact of these two factors the best. He was loyal to his duty and was doing all to make his soldiers the best they could be although he was very severe and picky. He could not be a respective commander in the eyes of his soldiers.
  2. All of "A Leader with Presence" factors listed in FM 6-22 were represented in Band of Brothers. Easy Company leaders were physically fit, confident and resilient. However, a few officers did not possess these qualities. One of them is Lt. Dyke. He demonstrated an inability to stay confident and focused on the battlefield and was unable to overwhelm his shock. It is unacceptable for a commanding officer to have such problems.
  3. The best choice to describe "A Leader of Intelligence" values is Dick Winters's character. He had all of the personal qualities to be a leader. His decisions were fast and confident; his commands were wise and well organized and based on the right hypotheses and facts. Winters would never send men to unknown locations without learning any information about enemy formations.

Also, he was innovative. For example, in Normandy, he used grenades to blow the 88s artillery battery instead of waiting for TNT to arrive. In addition, he knew tactics well and improved them, which made them more agile and effective. He knew that soldiers would do all he ordered to do, and they respected him because he treated them as equals. Obviously, he was a well-educated and mannered person.

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Core Leader Competencies

Leads

A combat commander needs to make his soldiers do his orders to accomplish the objective. Moreover, he needs to inspire and motivate them. A leader should also take responsibility for his actions and bad company performance. He should care about his subordinates' physical and mental health and formulate tasks and strategies for them to be aware of.

Dick Winters was one of these talented leaders. He could make every soldier subject to his will even if it required firm treatment as in the episode of the Carentan battle. He was enthusiastic, and soldiers felt his authority as his tactics were clever and orders were clear.

Develops

This includes creating a positive environment, encouraging and support subordinates. Buck Campton and many other commanders from Band of Brothers possessed these qualities. Campton never wanted to be promoted to stay with his soldiers ensuring that they are safe. He was admired by his subordinates and could easily lead a group despite all troubles ahead. He was inspiring for newcomers and respected by the veterans. After battles, he used to make jokes and simply chat with soldiers to release the tension of combat stress.

Achieves

A true leader has to reach the goals and objectives. In fact, Spiers was good at this. His courage and determination made him a legend. For example, after Dyke failed to lead a Foye offensive, Spiers ran into the battle leading Easy Company forward. From the first seconds of his commanding, he rapidly reorganized the men and gave them strict orders.

These actions saved many lives that day, and he accomplished the task. He occupied Foye. After the battle, he thanked sergeants for their work and skills and shook hands with one of them to show his respect.

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Lessons Learned

  1. Improvise.

There is no need to be afraid to change plans. A strong leader has to be agile in every situation. Guided only by strict orders and tactics, a man can suffer big losses, so it is highly recommended to think before using "book tactics." They can be easily revealed by the enemy causing unpredictable outcomes.

Innovative and uncommon tactic moves and combat plans may change the results of the battle. Of course, there is always a chance of failure so every professional commander has to be ready to make another action plan to order.

  1. Choose the Right Men.

Every leader has to know what his men are capable of and wisely choose a specific role for each one of them to enhance the command's performance and strength. For example, choose the right equipment and combat positions, or assign commanding officers and enlisted men to go on a specific mission.

A true leader should be aware of the mental and physical health of his soldiers. He should create a united organism that should run like clockwork. Even if one of the details of the system is broken, it may cause a full mechanism failure. The better the leader knows his subordinates and their skills the better their achievements will be.

  1. Logistic.

Be aware of problems with clothes, ammo, transport, and other supplies. A good leader must know exactly how many of these things should be reserved to accomplish the mission. He also should know how to get them and how to use them effectively. For example, if one squad is suffering from a lack of supplies and another has enough, the commander has to split these supplies between two squads to provide the best performance in general.

Although, depending on the consequences, he may use other logistic tactics. The commander has to choose what supplies are needed at the battlefield and how to secure the logistic routes because men should feel comfortable, artillery should be ready to fire, cavalry should be full of fuel and the wounded should be aided and evacuated.

Final Thought

After reading Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, I experienced a sour feeling. It was clear that the legendary men of Easy Company will never be forgotten, and I will never have a chance to shake their hands to show respect. These men had the courage to volunteer in the newest and hardest squad Airborne. They had no idea what awaited them in the future, nevertheless, they did not give up.

They went through all the European WWII campaigns losing one brother after another. They survived cold, hunger, pain, all day artillery fire without having a chance to sleep, and being far away from home. The very first veterans of Easy Company had not been home for almost three years. They fought bravely and accomplished the tasks they were given. These men were the elite of the USA army, and they deserve it.

Dick Winters' disabling attack on 88s was included in many future combat tactics books. There are so many tips and battle tactics to be amazed at that every proud US patriot has to read the book at least once. Mr. Ambrose did the titanic work recording Easy men's speeches and quoting them word by word in Band of Brothers.

They were true Band of Brothers bound together for the rest of their life because what they have experienced in WWII made them united as one.

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