The Military Strategist’s Oath

*Note: The following was inspired by Dr. Louis Lasagna’s 1964 “Modern” Hippocratic Oath, most likely written while he served as dean of the Tufts University Medical School.

I pledge, to the best of my ability, that:

I will take pride in being part of the Nation’s arsenal of ideas, because wars are won as much in the mind as by the fist.

I will remember the battlefield punishes vanity; I am the most loyal skeptic, and personal investment will never obscure focus on clear-eyed, selfless support for the best strategy available.

I will be prepared to articulate some vision for victory or strategic advantage when my commander says, “Tell me how this ends.”

I will wield words as weapons; with precision and concision, I expend great effort to share knowledge, with candor and courage, for the betterment of all the security community I serve.

I will draw upon the sum total of all academic disciplines, the accumulated wisdom of the policy community, and the hard-fought lessons of warfare.

I will not forget that strategy is a philosophy of successful action, a fundamentally practical endeavor, which is subject to the limits of physics, geography, technology, and humanity.

I will anticipate, design, and facilitate security decisions for the Nation’s strategic leaders, always prepared to adapt to the real world’s ever-shifting circumstances.

I will remember that strategy is an inescapably human endeavor—my advice and analysis will strive to balance genuine compassion with rational calculation.

I will know that all war is relative; in violent competition against a willful opponent and with a hostile environment, I seek not the “good” strategy, but instead, a superior strategy.

I will demonstrate my deepest respect for those Strategists that came before me by learning of their struggles and committing to continual growth in the craft of strategy.

I will never forget that my highest loyalty and fiercest dedication is to the Nation’s strategic success, and that my efforts matter in securing military objectives, political outcomes, and strategic narratives consistent with the Nation’s interests.

If I do not violate this oath, and always seek to uphold the finest traditions of my calling, I will have earned the title, “Strategist,” and may take satisfaction in having preserved this distinct honor for future generations.