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Training Principles of the German Army
Revised by Jonathan Bocek


The following was taken from the April 1944 issue of The Intelligence Bulletin.  This publication was issued by the U.S. War Department to military personnel with the intention of providing helpful information concerning the enemy.

1. Introduction
    
The following extracts from a German Army field manual on military education and training afford insight into the German military mind and character.  The principles contained in this manual play an important part in the development of the German soldier.  Parts of the manual, together with a document entitled "An Introduction to Military Leadership," were recently combined into a single booklet by the commanding officer of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division, who ordered that it be distributed to all the officers of his command.  The training principles which follow should serve to give a much clearer understanding of the German soldier's military background.

2. The Organization of Training
     a.
Aside from experience gained in previous wars, training programs in the German Army are determined only by the requirements of this present war.  Theoretical peacetime experiences are always misleading.
     b. The goal of training is absolute knowledge of essential subject matter.  The result of such training should be the ability of the student to apply, on his own initiative, the knowledge he has been taught.
     Instruction does not cease when a number of manual skills have been drilled to mechanical perfection, but finds its end in stimulating a true understanding of the nature and purpose of the subject learned.
     c. Every commander is responsible for training the unit entrusted to him, but the company commander's responsibility is the greatest of all.  His work creates the basis for the preparedness and striking power of the German Army.  It is the duty of all superior officers to support him in his difficult task without limiting his field of action.
     d. Planned organization of training is necessary for an efficient exploitation of the short time allotted.  Every hour is precious.
     Training always advances from easy to difficult tasks, from work of the individual soldier to the combined effort of units.
     In the training of individual men, squads, and small units, an understanding of the cooperation of all arms must be created and fostered as early as possible.
     e. The basic and advance training of commissioned and noncommissioned officers must run parallel to individual and group training.

3. The Process of Training
     a.
It is more essential that a German soldier be thorough than that he be versatile.  Commanders and subordinates alike must remember that exactness in the performance of all duties is a most important requirement.  Monotony, however, is harmful.
     b. The basis for all training with weapons is physical hardening.  It is provided by gymnastics, which steel the body, promote agility and endurance, increase speed of coordination, and make a soldier adaptable to sudden changes in the course of events.
     c. Drill accustoms the individual to formations which are indispensable to the proper appearance of an outfit.  It teaches orderliness and military bearing, and, if used correctly, increases the self-confidence of the troops.  Nevertheless, drill should take up only a limited amount of time.
     d. Weapons training conveys to the soldier the knowledge and skill that he requires to put his weapons and equipment to the most effective use.
     e. Combat training is the most important phase of the whole training program.  It should mold the soldier into a determined fighter capable of acting with initiative in behalf of his unit.  The purpose of combat exercises is to give the soldier a lasting impression of the proper movements on a battlefield, and the correct use of his weapons in combat.
     f. Subjects to be taught and applied in practical exercises must first be prepared and impressed on the minds of the students in the classroom.  An instructor must be thoroughly familiar with his subject before he attempts to teach it.
     g. In unit training it must always be kept in mind that our paramount aim is to force our will upon the enemy.
     Special training is required for flexibility of command, mobility and speed of units, surprise and deception, exploitation of darkness or terrain features, and skillful camouflage.
     h. Although troops must at all times understand the principle of coordination of all arms, the training schedule embodying the actual practice of this principle should develop progressively, beginning with the training of the smallest units and ending with the training of the largest units.
     Careful preparations for each problem must be made.  An exact understanding of its purpose and a careful application of past experiences are more valuable than too frequent and too long-drawn-out problems.
     i. In unit maneuvers the success of the problems depends largely on the simplicity of the situation.  The clarity of the combat orders, and the maximum approximation of actual combat conditions.
     j. Carefully planned and prudent organization of a unit's noncommissioned officers and careful training and education of these men, decisively influences the unit's appearance and performance.  One of the main duties of the company commander is the constant improvement of his noncommissioned officers.
     k. The aim of noncommissioned officer training is the development of independent, efficient leaders for small units, and of men who will prove good, self-reliant trainers in their own right.
     The development of leadership qualities, intensification of general and special knowledge, and supervision of instruction are of the utmost importance.  The self-assurance of noncommissioned officers and their conduct as leaders will be greatly improved if they are called out in front of their units and entrusted with missions which entail responsibility.  The granting of enough freedom of action for the execution of such missions aids in preserving, in the long run, a soldier's alert and cheerful view of his responsibility to the military establishment.
     Although an officer's training as a leader, educator, and trainer is in the hands of his commander, every officer must work continuously on his own development.
     An officer's career can be a success only if he succeeds in stimulating in others his keen and cheerful conception of duty, and if he continuously succeeds in enlisting cooperation.
     The only really successful type of training is that which is not content with mere criticism, but which conveys practical knowledge by means of explicit instruction and concrete guidance.
     m. The training of officer replacements is one of the most exacting, and at the same time one of the most rewarding duties of the commanders responsible for them.
     The course of training through which an officer candidate must pass, and the impressions which will remain in his mind, determine his entire career.  Only those who know from their own experiences what the life and service of the enlisted man is like, and who themselves have learned to obey, can become acceptable commanders.
     n. Almost all further training of the younger officer takes place while he is actually serving with his unit.  Under the supervision of his company or battery commander, he must perfect himself in his handling of formations in his ability to treat his subordinates appropriately and in his efficiency in carrying out his regular duties.
     o. In his future training, careful preparation for service with higher echelons and with special branches of the service is added to the ever-continuing process of training that he undergoes.
     Tactical problems, planning exercises, and other work which permits originality will greatly enlarge his talent for leadership and his understanding of logistics.
     The longer he serves in the German Army, the better qualified he should be to evaluate character, and the more widely he should expand his military and general education.
     p. The actual quality of a unit is determined by the over-all picture of its state of training.  It is more important for all soldiers in one line of training to receive an equal and well balanced amount than for a few individuals to perform certain record achievements.

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