Not diving for cover - Court Martial?


We’ve all seen the movies where the macho guy doesn’t dive into a bunker during a bombardment (no dam ******* is going to make me) or the General standing up in the midst of battle, bullets flying, saying “on lads” while the “lads” are still in their relatively safe foxholes.

All very heroic and no disrespect to those that have done it, we all need those kina guys. But what is the official position with them endangering themselves.

Surely the investment made in their training would make them at least take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and not get eliminated from the battle before it even started.

I really do not wish to be disrespectful to anyone past present or future but is there any kind of guidelines for this kind of “heroics”


A famous RL example of this is Colonel H. Jones in the Falklands War.

It basically comes down to what all battlefield operations come down to: If you’re ordered to do it, do it - if you’re ordered not to do it, don’t do it - if you’re in a position to do it, you have no definite orders, and it’s the best way of defeating the enemy you’re attacking, do it.

Different military codes will have different rules about disobeying orders, but I imagine that a soldier who disobeyed a direct order from an officer, either to attack or to stay put, while under fire, would be court-martialled in any army.

On most occasions I suspect everyone takes cover. However there was one noted cases where Generals have intentionally exposed themselves to direct enemy firethe. While the assault troops were pinned down on Omaha Beach BG Norman Cota, deputy commander of the 29th Infantry Division, stood up and going along the beach kept urging them get up and move inland. He is widely credited with a major role in getting the assault going again in his area and the movement of his forces got a general movement going.

Not only is not diving for cover not an offense, the action might garner the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I guess if you can get a CMofH for leaping on top of a grenade and saving your buddies, then showing courage/bravado in order to inspire the troops doesn’t seem ‘actionable’.

(BTW, how many of you knew that Buffalo Bill Cody was a recipient?)

Sometimes diving for cover is the worst thing, in the overall combat situation.

There’s the famous quotation, attributed to various sergeants and officers, on the Normandy landings on D-Day, to encourage their men to keep moving off the beach in the face of heavy German fire: “There are only two types of men on this beach: dead men, and men who are going to be dead. Move!”

I forgot this link to General Cota.

The military can count on a person’s sense of self-preservation to make them take such precautions. The difficulty for an armed forces is to get people to take risks at all, not take unnecessary ones. After all, if you wanted to keep people alive, you wouldn’t send them into battle in the first place.

An officer’s main concern, contrary to popular belief, is not to protect his men, or himself. An officer’s concern is completing the mission.

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To answer the OP, yes. Excessive bravery is a commander’s perogative.

Just IMHO: Human beings, especially human beings in a fight-or-flight situation like combat, are essentially pack animals, and like all pack animals they instinctively follow the Alpha male - the toughest, bravest member present. The leader has to act more boldly than his troops, or they’ll start thinking too much.

I guess they figure we’ll be needing new underwear after our display of bravery?


I have to think that a General who was foolhardy enough to remain upright and in the open during an air raid or artillery barrage would get a bawling out from his boss. Yes, Generals also have bosses. I doubt that a court martial would even be considered.

Leading from the front sometimes garners great success, but most of the people who led that way by and large didn’t die of old age. I doubt the command would need to bother with a court martial. Most medals that honor extreme bravery are given out posthumously.

A related thread on leading from the front, and the low life expectancies of officers who do:

Platoon leaders, typically 2nd Lieutenants, are expected to lead from the front. The motto of the Officer’s Training School at Ft. Benning, GA is, or at least was, Follow Me. Life expectancy for platoon leaders wasn’t very long.

Company Comanders are expected to be close by but not out front. He or she must be close enough to see and get rapid feedback on what is happening so that reserves can be sent in, artillery or air strikes called on and generally adapt the original attack or defense plan as needed. It would put a serious crimp in the effectiveness of the Company if its commander were hugging the ground somewhere up front.

The comment I bolded just doesn’t ring true to me.

Does it really work this way?

Does a group of soldiers in general get seriously disheartened by the site of a lone soldier charging them and getting himself killed like this?

I wouldn’t think so. I would think they might even find it laughable and pitiable.


They might. Or they might start thinking, “Shit, if there are any more over there as crazy as this guy, we’d better surrender now!”

If that were the case the US marines would have would have given up and left immediately once they realized the Japanese on each Pacific island were so determined. Not just one man but a whole nation fighting to the death.

No chance of victory – the Marines should have just surrendered :smack: