Why the Military Loves Memorization

Want to become a non-commissioned officer? The first step before attending the board is to memorize and recite the NCO creed. Heading off to Ranger School? While you get in shape, start learning the Ranger Creed. Planning on attending Jumpmaster school? Take a look at pre-jump and recite all four pages without reading it while learning to identify and say every piece of equipment by its proper nomenclature.

The military is a very unique place. It spends thousands of dollars and dedicates hundreds of hours to send service members to schools and then is completely satisfied with pass rates as low as 50%. These standards are possible because advancement and graduation is considered something which should take dedication and hard work. This is generally best identified through memorization which can include the verbatim retelling of school specific functions, deficiencies, creeds or mottos.

A creed is a specific set of goals, beliefs, or aims that help to guide one’s decisions and actions. In other words, if you did not have a strong understanding of morals when you joined the military, the military will give them to you, and have you memorize multiple examples throughout your education process to help develop them.

There are many different types of creeds and mottos in the military. The Ranger Creed focuses on personal professionalism, supporting and defending fellow Soldiers, and always accomplishing the mission. The NCO Creed focuses on competence and capabilities to ensure that soldiers are properly cared for and developed. The Soldier’s Creed identifies the place of the service member in relation to the country – a position of service, and that the soldier will always accomplish the mission.

Each of these are different in their own way, and yet they are intertwined at their core concept – service for a higher cause than oneself and a commitment to performing above and beyond personal expectations in the face of adversity.

CreedWords have meanings, and when service members learn, memorize, and repeat these creeds, it helps to instill these concepts into every day values. As the military is a representation of civilian society, all manner of people and personalities can join. The military takes both rich and poor, those who come from loving families and those without families at all. In some cases people have to have their bad habits broken, and in other cases people have never been away from home to learn bad habits. Either way, the military employs many different tactics and techniques to standardizing the way we live, think, and act. This is also demonstrated through the learning and training of battle drills.

Battle drills are defined as “a collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision-making process” (FM 7-8 Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad 22 April 1992). These are drills which are repeatedly rehearsed until they are muscle memory amongst the members of a unit. When an event occurs, the goal is to transition immediately into this action without having to apply a decision-making process, or in other words, without thinking. Actions such as these save time and potentially lives by ensuring that everyone knows how to act and what to do in the absence of orders.

These drills are taught to brand new soldiers and repeated throughout their careers. Junior service members also learn the roles and responsibilities at their level and the next. In this way, attrition through enemy contact or injuries are no excuse to stop doing one’s job. It is the responsibility of all to be prepared to step up in the face of adversity and this too is drilled and memorized.

Memorization plays such an integral role in the military that promotion boards are even designed around retaining and regurgitating information that is read in military manuals, to include identifying the manuals themselves. These are basic expectations and show the diligence and personal care that a service member puts towards their advancement. The good news is that for those of us with bad memories, we will have ample opportunity to practice this wonderful trait. Later on in life when the decision is made to leave one’s branch of service, this is a skill set that may prove very helpful in learning the new skills and requirements of civilian positions as well. It is always worth it to improve oneself mentally and professionally by furthering your understanding of concepts and it helps to develop your memory. It also instills a sense of commitment to an organization and the people within, which is another beneficial aspect of memorizing these creeds.

For these reasons, the goal of anyone currently in the service should be to take the time and start memorizing the different creeds associated with their next position or school of choice. These are readily available and are often required components that junior soldiers are forced to learn anyways. In preparation for schools, the difference between someone who passes and someone who fails can be as simple as previously studying and memorizing the course material components as well as any required creeds. This enables the individual to focus time and energy on refining the memorized processes instead of learning them for the first time. Time should always be dedicated to bettering oneself regardless of whether or not you agree with having to memorize these sayings in the first place. At the end of the day the military will mold young men and women into a team, and doing so requires buy-in and motivation to embrace the culture.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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