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Creating the Scholar Warrior Identity: Entrepreneur General Patton

October 30, 20236 min read

Tank warfare in World War II was an extraordinary innovation.

During World War I, as modern technological wonders such as machine guns, poison gas, tanks and aeroplanes (yes the old spelling!) were developed the great battles were fought in entrenched position which caused mass casualties as the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele, Marne, Gallipoli and Tannenberg. Some battle losses were 10-20,000 on the first day with hundreds of thousands of more wounded and dead over months.  The carnage was stunning.  Hundreds died for yards exchanged back and forth for months in utter senselessness. 

To those who would counter that all wars are ‘senseless’, I would say that war is the second worst situation for humans.  The first is slavery in all its forms.

In World War One,  British tanks were slow and ineffective while the French FT tank, combining the efforts of a sharp artillery officer and an innovative carmaker, were far more effective in the final year of the war. The stalemates in World War One gave enormous urgency to junior officers in the American, French, British and German armies to find alternate methods of warfare.  An entire generation of officers examined mobility in warfare including the use of both and the cumbersome field innovation – the tank.  The ‘tank’ was actually a secret code-name for its development but the name stuck.  In this period of time, junior officers envisioned a mobile warfare  with prominent names such as JFC Fuller, Erwin  Rommel, Heinz Guderian.

And George S. Patton.


Captain George S. Patton, Jr., was commanding the AEF Headquarters Company at Chaumont in the fall of 1917.

Captain Patton knew nothing about tanks but, in World War One, he was itching for a more stimulating assignment.   

He heard about Army’s interest for the creation of a Tank Corps.   With his superior’s encouragement, he wrote penned a letter to General Pershing about his qualifications  for the tank unit.  He spoke French fluently.  He was also, while under the command of Pershing in 1916, the only American who had “ever made an attack in a motor vehicle” during the Punitive Expedition of 1916 into Mexico against Pancho Villas murderous raid into the U.S. and killing Pancho Villa’s key subordinate, Captain Julio Cardenas.  

Patton got more than an assignment:  His superiors harged him with the task of establishing a tank school! 

Risk and Reward.


Before establishing the school, Patton needed to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of tanks.  He was sent to the French Light Tank Training Center at Chamlieu for a two-week crash course.  The rigorous curriculum for this time included:  observing maneuvers, studying tactics, touring facilities, and more.  He had his first taste of tank warfare by actually driving tanks and firing their guns. After leaving Chamlieu, Patton augmented his knowledge base by touring and studying the Renault Tank Works at Billancourt.  

In this endeavor, Patton sought education first which he fortified by actual experience.  The key to melding knowledge into mastery is by doing, not just learning.  Doing!  At the end, he went to the actual factory where the workers were putting the tanks together and testing them.  Notice Patton’s personal deep dive into learning.

  • Theory – Classroom

  • Field Study – Doing

  • Factory – Understanding the theory and into practice.

He covered numerous phases in this career trajectory from theory – which means the ‘experts’ could be wrong! – to practical doing and then digging deep into the actual mechanics of the tanks. 

Patton was an entrepreneur who took a no-nonsense approach to leadership. He would expect the same commitment and dedication from his team as he had in the military. He wouldn't waste time on activities that weren't directly related to achieving success or get derailed by distractions.

He had very high standards for himself and those around him, expecting the best results from everyone. He'd be driven to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible. His focus was on getting things done quickly, efficiently and effectively.

In addition, Patton expected his team to put in the hard work necessary for success, as he did throughout his military career. He would not be satisfied with anything less than total commitment from his employees, and he would also encourage them to take risks in order to achieve their goals.


At the French factory Patton and his assistant, First Lieutenant Elgin Braine, came up with several innovations for improving the Renault, which were later acted upon.  So here is Patton the student becoming Patton the innovator.  Why?  He had fought with Pershing in Mexico and also on the Western Front.  He know about modern warfare but blended this practical knowledge into design.  His suggestion alterations included changes to the fuel tank and creating interchangeable gun mount.  In this way, the tanks could employ either a machine gun or a 37mm cannon.

Patton inspired confidence in himself and his team by leading with a positive can-do attitude and an unwavering sense of purpose. He was always willing to take on the challenge of difficult tasks and find innovative solutions, no matter how complicated they may be. In this case, Patton was not afraid to innovate when he was even learning when he saw obvious deficiencies - and their solutions such as an interchangeable gun mount.


After their intensive two-week education, Captain Patton and his assistant Lieutenant Braine wrote up a detailed report on their findings which would be used for the Army’s integration of tanks.  Their report included necessary recommendations for training, tactics, organization structure, logistics, and other elements needed for the successful implementation of tanks by American forces.

By writing up your knowledge, you will become an expert.  The great modern problem with acquiring knowledge is the lack of discipline, intensity and enthusiastic desire for its true mastery.  The planet is in the dangerous vortex of “Oh, just google it” which is an advocacy for momentary information not true acquisition nor mastery.  This avenue is good for fixing a drain pipe but not for career advancement knowledge nor

Patton's entrepreneurial spirit was a combination of drive, focus and innovation that helped him become one of history's most successful leaders. As an entrepreneur, his approach to leadership would have been just as effective in helping businesses succeed. His unwavering commitment to excellence, his strong command of strategy and tactics and his ability to motivate those around him would have helped any entrepreneur lead with confidence and bring their business dreams to life. With General Patton as an inspiration, entrepreneurs could work towards achieving the level of success he achieved in his own field.

During the interwar years, tank development lessened due to the monetary concern of the Great Depression.   But in 1939 and 1940, the German Blitzkrieg which used the coordinated forces of Stuka aircraft, infantry and tanks was the lightning warfare which crushed the French army – considered the best in the world – in a stunning six weeks.  The Army recognized its glaring and obvious deficiencies. 

The German officers of World War One were defeated – and recognized that innovation was necessary.  The French officers of World War One were victorious and remained dedicated to the static warfare of this war with the building of the Maginot Line.  The Germans with mobile units simply went around the Maginot Line rendering it useless. 

Patton was the obvious choice for leading a revitalized American Tank Corps, creating a vital unit leading the American Forces to victory in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy and into Germany itself with innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

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Michael Mandaville

Michael is a writer, filmmaker and dedicated World War II historian who studies martial arts, action films and is learning more about VFX every single darn day. Oh and a Scholar Warrior

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