Judgment and Instinct

Hal Moore on Leadership

In early 2021 in Hal Moore’s files, I found a detailed initial outline of what would later grow into the “Hal Moore on Leadership” book. This series of posts pulls from that outline – mostly short paragraphs or bullets.

For more detail, check out the book (click on the image to go to Amazon). The focus of Moore’s life after retirement from the military was on helping and mentoring others along the path to becoming great leaders. 

Judgment shapes our decisions and affects everything we do as a leader: setting strategy, training our troops, selecting and promoting personnel, etc. On a fundamental level, judgment can make or break us. It certainly determines whether we find success in the long term.

Good judgment allows us to capitalize on an opportunity. Still, more importantly, it will enable us to succeed even in times of adversity because every decision we have made has laid the groundwork for victory.

Trust Your Instincts

Instincts are the product of one’s personality, experience, reading, and education. Some call it “Intuition” or “a gut feeling.” It is kind of a sixth sense. When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play. In quick-developing situations, the leader must act fast, impart confidence to all around him, and not second-guess a decision. It is your job to MAKE IT HAPPEN! In the process, he cannot stand around slack-jawed when hit with the unexpected. He must face up to the facts, deal with them and MOVE ON.

An example from the X-Ray Battle; It was around 2:00 p.m. on 14 November 1965. Only two of my four companies (totaling approximately 190 men) were on the ground. We were up against nearly 1000 North Vietnamese fiercely determined to overrun and kill us all. My whole rear was open as I had no men to place there. When the lead elements of Captain Bob Edward’s Charlie Company landed by helicopter, I ran out to Edwards. I hollered at him to “Run your men towards the mountain, tie in with Alpha Company on your right, and get ready to be attacked in strength. MOVE!”

He sped off where I pointed with his 106 men. Within minutes they were in hasty defensive positions in the tree line. Ten minutes later, a wave of 500 North Vietnamese slammed into them, was surprised, and repelled in a fierce 45-minute battle. Had I sent Edwards and his men in any other direction, that fresh North Vietnamese unit would have had a clear shot at the rear of my force and would have owned the Landing Zone.

INSTINCTS: Every instinct I had told me to send Edward’s men where I did.

Use Your Resources

Gather your top advisors when appropriate to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Know what you are getting into, so you have the most information possible when the time comes to make a decision.

In January, 2021 the Senate voted 81-13 to pass the law to rename military bases. Given this overwhelming majority, Fort Benning will be renamed. We understand many object to changing history, but the only option now is to help the Naming Commission select the new name.  Please support our effort to rename Fort Benning for Hal and Julie Moore to recognize the sacrifice of military families.

Reading List (links to Amazon)

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