Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.

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Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. (August 22, 1934December 27, 2012), also known as Stormin' Norman, was a United States Army 4 Star General who, while he served as Commander-in-Chief (now known as "Combatant Commander") of U.S. Central Command, was commander of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf War of 1991.


Any soldier worth his salt should be anti-war.
And still there are things worth fighting for.
Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.
When placed in command — take charge.
  • As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist: He is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man.
    • Gulf War briefing (28 February 1991), as quoted in "WAR IN THE GULF: Commander's Briefing; Excerpts From Schwarzkopf News Conference on Gulf War" in The New York Times
  • It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.
    • Interview with Barbara Walters (15 March 1991); also quoted in his memoir It Doesn't Take a Hero : General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Autobiography (1992), p. xiii
  • Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.
    • Quoted in "The Military Quotation Book" (2002) by James Charlton, p. 60
  • True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job.
    • As quoted in General H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. Interview with the American Academy of Achievement [1]
    • As quoted in Pocket Patriot : Quotes from American Heroes (2005) by Kelly Nickell, p. 53
  • I believe that forgiving them is God's function. Our job is to arrange the meeting.
    • As quoted in I Fail to Miss Your Point (2007) by Jim O'Bryon, p. 409
  • When placed in command — take charge.
    • Quoted in "Leadership" (2007) by David M. Atkinson, p. 42
  • The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
    • Quoted in The Daily Book of Positive Quotations (2008) by Linda Picone, p. 326
  • Frankly, any man that doesn't cry scares me a little bit. I don't think I would like a man who was incapable of enough emotion to get tears in his eyes every now and then. That type of person scares me. That's not a human being.

It Doesn't Take a Hero (1992)

  • At Newark airport, I climbed into a taxi. Wearing my uniform with all my ribbons and my Vietnamese airborne beret, I kept waiting for the driving to make a big fuss and exclaim "Hey! You're just back from Vietnam, aren't you!" Nothing. So I fed him hints like, "Gee, I haven't seen Newark for a while." But he dropped me at my mother's place with scarcely a word... I was pretty disoriented. I couldn't think about anything but Vietnam. The war was all over the newspapers, but people seemed not to care. Even when Mom introduced me to a few of her friends, they only said things like, "Well, I guess now you'll be able to get on with your life." No one wanted to know about Vietnam: the public wasn't caught up in the war, not at all like the spirit I remembered from my boyhood, during World War II. After two days I wanted to run through the streets yelling, "Hey! In Vietnam people are dying! Americans are dying! How can you act like nothing is happening?"
    • p. 133-134
  • I had to be a complete son of a bitch to get any results, which often entailed losing my temper five or six times in a day. Being calm and reasonable just didn't work. For one thing the antiwar protests were mounting in the United States and a lot of our draftees knew they'd been sent to an unpopular war and didn't want to fight. Then there was the Army's policy of keeping Vietnam tours to one year, which meant a constant stream of raw recruits and a constant exodus of experienced men. When these new kids arrived, they'd immediately be exposed to a bogus combat-veteran culture that was in reality no more than an accumulation of bad habits. Some other troops would tell them: "Forget that crap you learned in basic training. This is how we do it around here. This is the real thing."
    • p. 159
  • My view of the Vietcong never changed. I saw them as opportunistic brigands who with guns and encouragement from the North Vietnamese oppressed the peasants, stole their money and crops, and bullied them into cooperation. I'd have loved to fight a full-scale battle against the Phantom 48th. We had a competent battalion staff and I was quite confident we could have outmaneuvered and destroyed them. But the war had degenerated by then into piecemeal engagements that played to our weaknesses: our shortage of capable junior officers and NCOS, and our draftees' reluctance to fight.
    • p. 166
  • Three black soldiers stopped me in the hallway. "Colonel, we saw what you did for the brother out there," one said. "We'll never forget that, and we'll make sure that all the other brothers in the battalion know what you did." I was stunned. It hadn't registered on me until that moment that the kid in the minefield was black.
    • p. 172
  • I took the red-eye out of San Francisco to Baltimore/Washington International Airport on Thursday, July 23, 1970. As we made our final approach early on Friday morning, we flew straight into a thunderstorm. Wind buffeted the plane, lightning flashed, and just as we reached the runway I watched the right wing outside my window dip sickeningly toward the ground. "Great," I thought, "Ive survived two tours in Vietnam and I'm gonna crash here in front of my wife."
    • p. 175
  • That summer of 1970, the Army War College issued a scathing report- commissioned by General William Westmoreland, who was now chief of staff- that explained a great deal of what we're seeing. Based on a confidential survey of 415 officers, the report blasted the Army for rewarding the wrong people. It described how the system had been subverted to condone selfish behavior and tolerate incompetent commanders who sacrificed their subordinates and distorted facts to get ahead. It criticized the Army's obsession with meaningless statistics and was especially damning on the subject of body counts in Vietnam. A young captain had told the investigators a sickening story: he'd been under so much pressure from headquarters to boost his numbers that he'd nearly gotten into a fistfight with a South Vietnamese officer over whose unit would take credit for various enemy body parts. Many officers admitted they had simply inflated their reports to placate headquarters.
    • p. 178
  • The increasing pressure to launch the ground war early was making me crazy. I could guess what was going on figured Cheney and Powell were caught in the middle. There had to be a contingent of hawks in Washington who did not want to stop until we'd punished Saddam. We'd been bombing Iraq for more than a month, but that wasn't good enough. These were guys who'd seen John Wayne in The Green Beret, they'd seen Rambo, they'd seen Patton, and it was easy for them to pound their desks and say, "By God, we've got to go in there and kick ass! Gotta punish that son of a bitch!" Of course, none of them was going to get shot at. None of them would have to answer to the mothers and fathers of dead soldiers and Marines.
    • p. 443
  • I detest the term "friendly fire." Once a bullet leaves a muzzle or a rocket leaves an airplane, it is not friendly to anyone. Unfortunately, fratricide has been around since the beginning of war. The very chaotic nature of the battlefield, where quick decisions make the difference between life and death, has resulted in numerous incidents of troops being killed by their own fires in every war this nation has ever fought. Even at the National Training Center, where "kills" are simulated by lasers and computers, incidents of fratricide are observed. This does not make them acceptable. Not even one such avoidable death should ever be considered acceptable.
    • p. 500

Quotes about Schwarzkopf

  • US forces were having no luck finding and destroying Iraqi Scud surface-to-surface missiles before they could be launched at Israel and elsewhere. So it was with welcome surprise that Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, learned that Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf had told the press that several Scuds had been located and destroyed on their launchers. Before Powell had time to rejoice, though, his intelligence chief warned that an imagery analyst on Schwarzkopf’s own staff had concluded that what had been destroyed were not Scuds but oil tanker trucks. Powell called Schwarzkopf at once, but Schwarzkopf badmouthed the imagery analyst and delivered himself of such a rich string of expletives that Powell decided to let the story stand–a decision he regretted the next day when CNN showed photos of the destroyed Jordanian oil tankers.


  • Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.
    • Quoted in "The Military Quotation Book" (2002) by James Charlton, p. 83
  • The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
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