Medical Education Division
Our Products
On-Line Store


Operational Medicine 2001
Field Medical Service School
Student Handbook

FMST 0103
8 Nov 99

Order the Operational Medicine CD, developed by the US Navy and US Special Operations Command


FMST Student Manual Multimedia CD
30 Operational Medicine Textbooks/Manuals
30 Operational Medicine Videos
"Just in Time" Initial and Refresher Training
Durable Field-Deployable Storage Case

Important Notice!

You are looking at the old version of the Student Handbook. It has been replaced by the 2008 Version. To see the 2008 Version, Click Here.


1.      Given the requirement, identify the leadership traits and principles of the USMC, per the reference.  (FMST.01.03)


1.      Without the aid of reference materials, given a list of leadership traits, select the appropriate definition, per the student handout.  (FMST.01.03a)

2.      Without the aid of reference materials, given a list of leadership principles, select the appropriate definition, per the student handout.  (FMST.01.03b)

OUTLINE.  Leadership is intangible, hard to measure and difficult to describe.  Its quality would seem to stem from many factors.  But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility.  Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed.  Other ingredients can be acquired.  They are not easily learned.  But leaders can be and are made.

General C. B. Cates,
19th Commandant of the Marine Corps


1.      HONOR.  The bedrock of the Marine Corps’ character.  The quality that guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior; never to lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; to have respect and concern for each other.  The quality of maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commits us to act responsibly; to be accountable for our actions.

2.      COURAGE.  The heart of our core values, courage is the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines and Sailors to carry them through the challenges of combat and the mastery of fear; to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct; to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.  It is the inner strength that enables a us to take that extra step.

3.      COMMITMENT.  The spirit of determination and dedication within members of a force of arms that leads to professional mastery of the art of war.  It leads to the highest order of discipline for unit and self; it is the ingredient that enables 24-hour-a-day dedication to Corps and Country; pride; concern for others; and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor.  Commitment is the value that establishes the Marine as the warrior and citizen others strive to emulate.


1.      BEARING.  Bearing is general appearance, carriage, deportment and conduct.  This  is the ability to look, act, and speak like a leader.  It is an essential element in a leader's effectiveness and should be cultivated by maintaining impeccable personal appearance, avoiding profane or vulgar language, keeping your word, holding your temper, speaking clearly and walking erect.

2.      COURAGE.  Courage is that which enables recognition and fear of danger or criticism, while still allowing calm and firm action.  It exists in a moral, as well as physical sense.  Moral courage means knowing what is right and standing up for it in the face of popular disfavor.  When a leader is wrong, he accepts the blame.

3.      DECISIVENESS.  The leader should be able to make decisions promptly and to state them in a clear, forceful manner.  The wise leader gets all the facts, weighs one against the other, then calmly and quickly arrives at the best decision.  Decisiveness is largely a matter of practice and experience growing out of self-confidence and competence.  The leader keeps in mind that many solid ideas originate at a subordinate level.  Thus, opinions are solicited from subordinates when appropriate.

4.      DEPENDABILITY.  Dependability is the certainty of proper performance of duty.  It is a quality that permits a senior to assign a task with the understanding  that it will be accomplished with minimum supervision and maximum use of initiative.  It includes the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command, but does not mean blind obedience.  Commanders should listen to suggestions from their subordinates, but once the final decision has been made, subordinates must give it their best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance while subordinating personal interest to military requirements.

5.      ENDURANCE.  Endurance is akin to courage.  It is the mental and physical stamina which is measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.  Since subordinates may view a lack of endurance in a combat situation as cowardice, the leader must display an acceptable, if not superior, level of endurance.  Endurance and stamina should be developed by regular participation in strenuous physical and mental activities.

6.      ENTHUSIASM.  Enthusiasm is the display of sincere interest and zeal in the performance of duties.  Displaying interest and optimism in performing a task greatly enhances the likelihood that the task will be successfully accomplished.  Enthusiastic leaders are optimistic, cheerful, willing to accept the challenges of their profession, and determined to do the best job possible.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  Nothing will develop it more than the success of a unit or an individual.

7.      INITIATIVE.  Initiative, or taking action in the absence of orders, is required of leaders.  Leaders who meet new and unexpected situations with prompt action instill respect and trust in their troops.  Closely associated with initiative is resourcefulness - the ability to deal with a situation in the absence of normal resources or methods.  To aid in the development of initiative, a leader must stay alert, recognize the task that needs to be done, and then accomplish it with caution, judgment,  and discretion.

8.      INTEGRITY.  The uprightness and soundness of moral principles and the qualities of truthfulness and honesty comprise integrity.  An upright leader places honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.  Nothing less than complete honesty in all dealings with superiors, subordinates, and peers is acceptable.

9.      JUDGMENT.  Judgment is the ability to weigh facts and circumstances logically in order to make decisions. Anticipation of situations, avoidance of the "easy" decision, and the application of common sense are characteristic.  Technical knowledge frequently plays an important role, as well.  The leader who makes sound decisions either has personal knowledge essential to solving a particular problem or has the presence of mind to confer with experts.

10.  JUSTICE.  The just leader gives rewards and punishments according to the merits of the case in question. Impartiality is exercised in all judgment situations, and prejudice of any kind is avoided. Because each decision is a test of fairness which is observed by subordinates and superiors alike, the leader must be fair, consistent and prompt.  Individual consideration should be given in each case.

11.  KNOWLEDGE.  Knowledge is the range of one's information, including professional knowledge.  Leaders should develop a program of learning which will keep them abreast of current developments in their military specialty, command policies, and world affairs.  A leader should also know and  understand each one of his subordinates.  Field manuals, training directives, magazines, and newspapers should be used in conjunction with serious discussions, research, and experience in broadening the leader's knowledge.

12.  LOYALTY.  Loyalty is the quality of faithfulness to country, the Corps, seniors, subordinates, and peers which should be reflected in every action.  A  leader's good reputation will be widespread when it is based upon  actions taken to protect subordinates from abuse.  Good leaders do not allow personal opinion to interfere with the mission, nor do they give the impression of disagreement with orders when relaying them to subordinates.

13.  TACT.  Tact is the ability to deal with others in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid offense.  During conditions of stress, the use of tact becomes challenging when delivering criticism to a subordinate.  The  inexperienced leader sometimes feels that politeness in the service implies softness.  On the contrary, a calm, courteous, and firm approach usually will bring a cooperative response without unnecessary unpleasantness.  Consistently treating superiors, subordinates, and peers with respect and courtesy regardless of conditions or true feelings is a sign of maturity required of leaders.

14.  UNSELFISHNESS.  Unselfishness is the avoidance of providing for one's personal comfort and advancement at the expense of others.  

The comfort, pleasure, and recreation of subordinates should be placed above those of the  leader.  

Looking out for the needs of subordinates is the essence of leadership. 

However, keep in mind that accomplishment of the mission has priority.  T

rue leaders give themselves lowest priority and share the dangers and hardships with their Marines and Sailors.

Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller


1.      BE TECHNICALLY AND TACTICALLY PROFICIENT.  To know his job thoroughly, the leader must possess a wide field of knowledge.  He must understand the technical aspects of the operation of the command and the methods and procedures of organization, administration, instruction, and personnel management.  The leader should also possess a sound understanding of human behavior and human relations.  Furthermore, the leader must have a working knowledge of the duties, responsibilities, and problems of subordinates.

a.       A thorough knowledge of the job gives the leader confidence and reflects  in the actions of subordinates.  Subordinates' recognition of the fact that the leader knows the job creates in them confidence, trust,  and respect.  The leader must know his stuff.  Do not fool yourself.  You  may fool your superiors, but YOU CANNOT FOOL YOUR PERSONNEL.  To develop this principle you should:

1)      Seek a well-rounded military education by using service schools, correspondence courses, off-duty education, independent reading, and study.

2)      Seek out and associate with capable leaders. Observe and study their actions.

3)      Seek opportunities to apply knowledge through exercise of command.  Good leadership is only acquired through practice.

4)      Prepare yourself for the job of the leader at the next higher rank.

2.      KNOW YOURSELF AND SEEK SELF-IMPROVEMENT.  Leaders must know themselves thoroughly.  Leaders must recognize their own strengths as well as their weaknesses.  A good leader continually strives to increase his leadership ability as well as his technical knowledge.  For example, officers or NCOs who do not increase their knowledge continually will have to bluff in front of their personnel.  Bluffing is like a malignant disease; it keeps eating away until all confidence is consumed.  Self-improvement can be achieved by studying and observing.  Use the leadership traits to determine your strengths and weaknesses.  To develop this principle you should:

a.       Make an honest evaluation of yourself to find your strong and weak personal qualities.  Strive to overcome the weak ones and further strengthen those in which you are strong.

b.      Solicit the honest opinions and ideas of friends or superiors to show how to improve yourself and your leadership ability.

c.       Learn by studying the causes for the success or failure of other leaders.

d.      Set definite goals and plans to achieve them.

3.      KNOW YOUR MARINES AND LOOK OUT FOR THEIR WELFARE.  This is one of the most important of the leadership principles.  A  leader must make a conscientious effort to observe the members of  the command as often as possible. He should become personally  acquainted with each of his men.  Knowledge of their problems,  recognizing their individual differences, and sharing in their joys and sorrows, will enable the leader to gain a better understanding of how subordinates react and function under various conditions.

a.       Being responsible for your men involves more than just lip service.  Be concerned about each individual problem of each person.  Know their education background.  Find out about their barracks life, the mess hall or any problems they might have. Do not attempt to act like  a psychiatrist trying to solve a problem.  Share the problem, offer suggestions, and try to direct the men in the right direction.  To put this principle into practice you should:

1)      Put your personnel’s welfare above your own. Correct their grievances and remove discontent.

2)      Get to know and understand all of the men in your command.

3)      Concern yourself with the living conditions of the members of your unit.  Actively supervise their hygiene and sanitation.

4)      Be visible and approachable.  Let your men know that you are interested in them and what they are doing.  Show them that you are determined for them to succeed.  Allow them to express their problems.

5)      Help your men to get support for their personal problems.

4.      KEEP YOUR PERSONNEL INFORMED.  The men who are well informed about the mission, situation, and purpose of a particular task, are considerably more effective than those who are not so informed.  People are inquisitive by nature.  The informed men will perform their assigned task with more initiative, enthusiasm and loyalty.  Far too often, leaders tend to give orders without explaining "why" the job must be done.  Granted, there will be times when you might not have time to explain why a job has to be done,  but do explain, when time permits, thereby eliminating a lot of fear of the unknown.  An understanding man is a willing man. Blind obedience to orders can sometimes be just as bad as a person who disobeys orders. The job might get accomplished, but the morale of your unit will drop, and in the long run, your unit will falter. The best policy is to explain situations to your men whenever possible.  Techniques to apply this principle are:

a.       Whenever possible, explain why tasks must be done and how you intend to do them.

b.      Assure yourself, through supervision and inspections that your subordinates are passing on necessary information.

c.       Be alert to detect the spread of rumors.  Stop them and replace them with the truth.

d.      Build morale and esprit de corps by publicizing the successes of your unit.

e.       Keep your unit informed on current affairs and personnel matters.

5.      SET THE EXAMPLE.  Leaders must be good examples for their men in integrity, courage, knowledge, professional competence, personal appearance, and personal conduct. Moreover, they must set personal and professional standards for the organization by their performance.  If the leaders appear  in a favorable light, the mutual confidence and respect that must exist between them and their men is not destroyed.  Some techniques for setting the example are:

a.       Show your unit that you are willing to do the same things you ask them to do.

b.      Maintain an optimistic outlook.  Develop the will to win by capitalizing on your units abilities in difficult situations.

c.       Conduct yourself so that you are not open to criticism.

d.       Be physically fit, well-groomed and correctly dressed.

e.       Avoid showing favoritism to any subordinates.

f.        Be loyal to seniors and juniors.

g.       Share danger and hardships with your men.

6.      ENSURE THAT THE TASK IS UNDERSTOOD, SUPERVISED, AND  ACCOMPLISHED.  Leaders must give clear, concise orders that cannot be misunderstood,  then by close supervision, ensure that these orders are properly executed.  Before you can expect your men to perform, they must know what is expected  of them.  Be sure that they understand.  The issuance of an order  is the initial, and relatively small part, of the leaders' responsibility.  The principle responsibility lies in supervision to make sure that the order is properly executed.  It is this responsibility that is most  difficult to carry out.  A good leader will make wise use of his subordinates in the chain of command to supervise the execution of his orders.

a.       In addition to communicating orders a leader must supervise correctly.  There are two extremes of supervision to avoid, over supervision and under supervision.  Under supervision will not get the job done.  Showing  a lack of interest on your part will develop into a lack of interest by your subordinates.  On the other hand, over supervision makes people nervous, hurts initiative, and creates resentment.  You must check the finished product but do not stand over someone's shoulders and watch every move they make.  Offer them guidance, but then allow them to use their own initiative to get the job done.  After they have completed the job, offer suggestions that might make their work easier.  There is nothing wrong with offering advice or instructions while they are actually working, but give them the opportunity to at least try before you jump in.  Doing this will help you also, because your men will be content and will be training to take your place.  The most important part of this principle is the accomplishment of the mission.  All the leadership, supervision and guidance are wasted if the mission is not accomplished.  In order to develop this principle you should:

1)      Ensure that the need for an order exists before issuing the order.

2)      Use the established chain of command

3)       Through study and practice issue clear, concise, and positive orders.

4)       Encourage subordinates to ask questions concerning any part of your orders they do not understand.  At the same time, question them to determine if there is any doubt or misunderstanding in regard to the task to be accomplished.

5)      Make sure that your unit has the resources to accomplish its mission.

6)      Exercise care and thought in supervising the execution of your orders.

7.      TRAIN YOUR MARINES AND SAILORS AS A TEAM.  This requires from each member a high degree of morale, esprit de corps, and proficiency.  The duty of all leaders includes the development of teamwork through training of their commands, whether a squad or  a division.  Leaders who fail to foster teamwork while training their commands will not obtain the desired degree of unit efficiency.  Insist that subordinate leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses of their personnel.

a.       Be realistic in your approach to training.  Ensure that your personnel know their  job before you attempt an operation that may cause embarrassment to you and your unit.  Never overlook an individual.  A team that is effective requires that each person in the team do their own job. Therefore, each member of the team should be considered and all members should train and work together as a team.  To develop the techniques of  this principle you should:

1)      Strive to maintain individual stability in subordinate units.  Needless transfers disrupt teamwork.

2)      Emphasize use of the buddy system at all times.

3)      Use subordinate units rather than individuals or “volunteers” to accomplish tasks.

4)      Never publicly blame an individual for the team’s failure, nor praise an individual for the team’s success.

5)      Ensure that all training is meaningful and its purpose is understood by all members.  Base team training on realistic, current, and probable conditions.

8.      MAKE SOUND AND TIMELY DECISIONS.  The ability to make a rapid estimate of the situation and arrive at a sound decision is essential to leaders.  A good leader must be able to reason logically under the most trying conditions.  Hesitation or reluctance to make a decision leads subordinates to lose confidence in a leader's ability, and creates confusion and hesitation  within the unit.  Once a leader makes a decision and discovers that  it is the wrong one, he should not hesitate to revise his decision.  Don't try to bluff, changes made will not have a lasting effect on personnel if you are honest and explain why the change is necessary.  Techniques to develop this principle include:

a.       When time and circumstances permit, plan for every reasonably possible event that can be foreseen.

b.      Consider the advice and suggestions from subordinates whenever possible before making decisions.

c.       Announce decisions in time to allow subordinates to make plans of their own.  Encourage them to make plans at the same time that you do.

d.      Make sure that all personnel are familiar with your plans and policies.

e.       Consider the effects of your decisions on all members of the unit.

9.      DEVELOP A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AMONG SUBORDINATES.  Another way to show a leader's interest in his men is to give them the opportunity for professional development.  Assigning tasks and delegating authority promotes mutual confidence and respect between leader and subordinates.  It also encourages subordinates to exercise initiative and to give complete cooperation in accomplishing the unit's mission.  The majority of NCOs are willing to accept any task or responsibility you might give them.  They take pride in the trust and confidence you give them.  Even in a small unit your men, particularly your NCOs, should be assigned tasks or responsibilities whenever possible.

a.       The NCO who shows initiative and seeks responsibility will receive responsibility and the authority to execute that responsibility.  Most senior NCOs and officers are more than happy if they can delegate authority to a hard - charging NCO.  By doing so, it allows the senior to concentrate on other things that may be more urgent or important.  To develop this principle you should:

1)      Be quick to give credit to the men that perform their tasks well; do not selfishly retain the credit for yourself.

2)      Operate through the chain of command.  Assign personnel to positions based on demonstrated or potential ability.  Give them frequent opportunities to perform duties associated with the next higher rank.

3)       Resist the urge to micro manage.  Don't give restrictive guidance that destroys initiative, drive, and enthusiasm in subordinates.  Provide clear, well thought-out directions.  Tell subordinates what to do, not how to do it.  Give advice and assistance freely when asked.

4)      Delegate enough authority to subordinates to enable them to accomplish the task.  Hold them responsible for results, remembering  that the overall responsibility is yours.

5)       Correct errors in initiative and judgment as they occur, in a way that will encourage subordinates to try harder.  Avoid public criticism.  Accept honest mistakes without punishment, and teach from these mistakes by honest critique and constructive guidance.

6)      Be prompt and fair in backing subordinates.  Until convinced otherwise, have faith in each subordinate.

10.  EMPLOY YOUR COMMAND IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS CAPABILITIES.  To employ a command properly, the leader must have a thorough knowledge of the tactical and technical capabilities of the command.  The leader must assign objectives or tasks to a unit that they are trained to do, properly evaluate time and space factors, and employ the command  with sound judgment. Otherwise failure is likely to occur, and recurrent failure brings about a collapse of morale.  But if the situation demands, men must be pushed without hesitation, sometimes beyond their known capabilities.  Techniques for developing this principle are:

a.       Do not volunteer a unit for an impossible or needless task.

b.      Know the operational effectiveness, and training status of the unit.

c.       Be sure that tasks assigned to subordinates are reasonable.  Do not hesitate to demand their utmost in an emergency.

d.      Analyze all assigned tasks.  Use the full capabilities of the unit before requesting outside assistance.  If the means at your disposal are inadequate, request the necessary support.

e.       Assign tasks equally among all personnel.

11.  SEEK RESPONSIBILITY AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND THE ACTIONS OF YOUR UNIT.  Leaders must be quick to seize the initiative in the absence of instructions from their superiors by seeking responsibility.  This develops them professionally and increases their potential ability.  The leader  holds subordinates strictly responsible for results and rarely for methods or procedures as long as they are legal.  Such action by the leader engenders trust, faith, and confidence.  It develops initiative and wholehearted cooperation.

a.       The leader of a unit is responsible for what the unit does or fails to do.  The leader recognizes and acknowledges this responsibility on all occasions.  Any effort to evade this responsibility destroys the bond of loyalty and respect that must exist between the leader and his subordinates.  The person who does just enough to get by does not advance or achieve much as a CORPSMAN, DENTAL TECH, MARINE, or a civilian.  We must carefully evaluate a subordinate's failure.  Never be afraid to offer or receive criticism.  It can help you and your unit.  Techniques in developing this principle are to:

1)      Learn the duties of your immediate superior and be prepared to accept the responsibilities of those duties.

2)      Take every opportunity that offers increased responsibility.  Seek different leadership positions to broaden your experience.

3)      Perform every act to the best of your ability.  The reward will be increased opportunity to perform bigger, more important tasks.

4)      Stand up for what you think is right.

5)      Carefully evaluate a subordinate's failure before taking action.  Make sure that the apparent shortcomings are not due to an error on your part.  Salvage when possible, replace when necessary.

6)      In the absence of orders, take the initiative to perform the actions you believe your senior would direct if he were present.


Guidebook for Marines, Chapter 5, pages 43-49

Leading Marines, FMFM 1-0

Field Medical Service School
Camp Pendleton, California



Approved for public release; Distribution is unlimited.

The listing of any non-Federal product in this CD is not an endorsement of the product itself, but simply an acknowledgement of the source. 

Operational Medicine 2001
Health Care in Military Settings

Home  ·  Military Medicine  ·  Sick Call  ·  Basic Exams  ·  Medical Procedures  ·  Lab and X-ray  ·  The Pharmacy  ·  The Library  ·  Equipment  ·  Patient Transport  ·  Medical Force Protection  ·  Operational Safety  ·  Operational Settings  ·  Special Operations  ·  Humanitarian Missions  ·  Instructions/Orders  ·  Other Agencies  ·  Video Gallery  ·  Phone Consultation  ·  Forms  ·  Web Links  ·  Acknowledgements  ·  Help  ·  Feedback

Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Department of the Navy
2300 E Street NW
Washington, D.C

Operational Medicine
 Health Care in Military Settings
CAPT Michael John Hughey, MC, USNR
  January 1, 2001

United States Special Operations Command
7701 Tampa Point Blvd.
MacDill AFB, Florida

*This web version is provided by The Brookside Associates Medical Education Division.  It contains original contents from the official US Navy NAVMED P-5139, but has been reformatted for web access and includes advertising and links that were not present in the original version. This web version has not been approved by the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense. The presence of any advertising on these pages does not constitute an endorsement of that product or service by either the US Department of Defense or the Brookside Associates. The Brookside Associates is a private organization, not affiliated with the United States Department of Defense.

Contact Us  ·  ·  Other Brookside Products


Advertise on this site