1.Everyday do something you find physically painful and unpleasant. Rommel always rose at 6am and ran for 1km flatout even when he had chest pains and was diagnosed with heart problems in his late forties. His reasoning was that though he hated running in the early morning “I detested it” he wrote, it meant he kept his discipline in trim.
2.Never be tired, never eat and never sleep- at least not in public. Nothing inspires troops more than being lead by a superman. Eat and drink in private, at odd times and always refuse sustenance in public. Learn as Rommel did to take 20 minute naps every three hours or so, or, not such a difficult task- there is considerable information on the subject at Stevepavlina.com, a self help website.
3.Minimise losses by tactics rather than maximise gains. Rather than waste men gaining a mile of ground, settle for gaining 500 yards with minimum losses. Find out what is possible with the men you have and achieve it. Great gains with major losses will mean no men to achieve something the next day. To generalise into business: look after the downside and the upside will look after itself.
4.Reconnoitre in force. Rommel turned his fortunes in North Africa after losing 386 of his 412 tanks in January 1941 and after two thirds of the Axis armies had been destroyed. Just when he would have been expected to retreat he decided to reconnoitre the enemy in force. Catching the previously victorious army off guard he captured 100 tanks and returned the front line to its former position. Reconnaissance in force allows you to make the most of any mistake the enemy may make.
5.Which leads us to rule number six: be merciless on any mistake made by the enemy. Mercy has its place in war- but only after prisoners have been captured or a surrender negotiated. There is no better way to weaken morale than to stamp heavily and loudly on every mistake the enemy makes- because he will then blame his own command, direct his energy inwards rather than outwards at his real attackers.
6.Promote enthusiasm, spirit, and correct values ahead of specialised skills, physical fitness and military training. In combat one can more easily teach military skills to an enthusiastic leader than leadership and enthusiasm to someone who knows drill and rifle maintainance.
7.Carry on an attack regardless of what is happening in your rear…in both senses Rommel both ignored internal complaints such as jaundice, food poisoning and diarhea when at war and more importantly taught his troops not to fight whilst looking over their shoulders. A well planned attack will not be left unprotected, trust in the attack and keep focussed. With enough momentum one is usually never cut off- as one fears. Being encircled is usually the fate of an army that does not more forward fast enough.
8.Chose fairness over popularity every time. Easy to say, but hard to do. Rommel was famous for not caring how popular he was with his officers but he was always scrupulously fair. Over time the reputation for fairness will undermine the need for superficial popularity.
9.Use tanks in mass and not in tiny packets- to generalise- understand each arm has an optimum size, that, by supporting itself it then maximises its impact. The British never really grasped this and very often deployed tanks in too small groups- too small to make a real impact they were picked off one by one.
10.Trust your intuition in the midst of battle. Things move too fast and are too confusing in battle to process information slowly and rationally. Instead you have to lock into the rhythm of the battle and become dynamicly engaged, never stopping but always making decision after decision as soon as it seems wise, never double checking, never hesitating. War is not a science and in a fluid situation keeping moving is paramount. Rather as in football one is best served keeping the ball in play even if it means passing backwards, so, too the momentum of instinctive leadership in confusing battle scenarios enables a flexible response that enables one to keep acting until the action is at an end.
11.A disordered enemy does not protect his flanks. If one can harass and disrupt an enemy, get them on the run, both mentally and physically one can take the calculated and justified risk that they will not protect themselves from attack on either side- they will be too concerned about what is coming at them from the front (or rear if they are already running).