And yet, we need to have that shared sense. And this was that Tuesday morning in September, and it was pretty nice outside. It's not like that electronic abs machine where, 15 minutes a month, you get washboard abs. We went down to the airfield early because this is the Army and you always go early. So how does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven't done what the people you're leading are doing? The enemy didn't break a sweat doing it. And you're very careful how you put the straps, particularly the leg straps because they go between your legs. The jumpmasters start to check the door.
We were in a difficult operation in Afghanistan in , and an old friend of mine, that I had spent many years at various points of my career with — godfather to one of their kids — he sent me a note, just in an envelope, that had a quote from Sherman to Grant that said, "I knew if I ever got in a tight spot, that you would come, if alive. And if you're a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet. And when we took off from the airfield, America was at peace. And that's not going to hurt. They put a big screen up, and they take you through everything: In some years of jumping, I never did one. He checks you out, he grabs your adjusting straps and he tightens everything so that your chest is crushed, your shoulders are crushed down, and, of course, he's tightened so your voice goes up a couple octaves as well. And I still believe real leaders are like that. You can get knocked down, and it hurts and it leaves scars. And so instead of giving orders, you're now building consensus and you're building a sense of shared purpose. And then a jumpmaster comes, and he's an experienced NCO in parachute operations. Think about knowing that over time. And I saw my battalion commander, because I had let him down. McChrystal was at mile 18 of a mile road march, and he chewed my ass for about 40 seconds. Then they give you 10 minutes. And instead of being able to get all the key leaders for a decision together in a single room and look them in the eye and build their confidence and get trust from them, I'm now leading a force that's dispersed, and I've got to use other techniques. And I had an armored organization at that point. And every morning in the Ranger regiment, every Ranger — and there are more than 2, of them — says a six-stanza Ranger creed. And I was hooked again on the importance of what I did. You fall outside the door, you're caught in the slipstream. First, the things that are obvious, that you're familiar with: But typically you do; typically it opens. I stood in front of a screen one night in Iraq with one of my senior officers and we watched a firefight from one of our forces. More importantly, the force that I led was spread over more than 20 countries. So you get in the aircraft, you're flying along, and at 20 minutes out, these jumpmasters start giving you commands. And you really can't decide where you hit very much, because they pretend you can steer, but you're being delivered. We had one operation where we had to coordinate it from multiple locations.
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