There is truly no doubting the brilliant military mind of Phillip of Macedonia. He was responsible for the conquering of numerous lands, people, and greatly expanded his empire. He also reformed his military creating a new style of fighting as well as incorporating new technology that provided a tangible difference on the battlefield. However, as military officers, there is a great deal we can learn about what not to do from the failings of King Phillip. His debauchery and laziness as well as tendency to surround himself with men who were of low moral character all helped bring about his downfall and discredited his leadership ability.
As officers, we are managers of not only the men we are in charge of but also the division or platoon’s equipment that we are directly responsible for. This could include tens of millions of dollars in aircraft, weapon systems, and technology. As we continue to promote in rank, this need to be responsible managers of the equipment we have at our disposal only increases. It is entirely possible to become an O-5 within 15 years possibly before even the age of 40 and be given command of a squadron of aircraft, an entire detachment of Marines and their warfighting equipment, or even a small warship such as a destroyer. As the King of Macedonia, Phillip should have been best of all at this. However, his gluttony and extravagance are well noted throughout history books. A quote from “Readings in Greek History” reads “Absolutely not one of them had any idea of living properly or managing his household with moderation. Of that condition he himself was the cause, being a most insatiable and extravagant man(Nagle).” Phillip was known for squandering the great treasures and riches he came into ownership of. This flies in the face of our call to be stewards of the equipment and goods we come to be in charge of.
One of the most essential aspects of being a Navy or Marine Corps Officer is personal integrity and honor. Character is currency, and it must be built each day. Building on this, the best way to grow your own character and continue to solidify one’s own honor is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals all striving towards an honorable goal. King Phillip did exactly the opposite. “…but if among either Greeks or Barbarians there were any licentious, impure, or avaricious man, he had almost every one of the same character assembled in Macedon, and they were all called friends of Phillip(Nagle).” The idea that we become like who we decide to associate ourselves with is surely true of King Phillip. By surrounding himself with men of low moral character, he set himself up for failure. As officers, if we surround ourselves with men and women who are cynical, cut corners, and are willing to do the wrong thing for whatever reason, we are only fooling ourselves by thinking we won’t become like them. Though Phillip had numerous military accomplishments, his mismanagement of what he was in charge of combined with his failure to surround himself with a strong and moral support group all eventually led to his downfall and gives a perfect lesson to future leaders of Sailors and Marines.
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Nagle, D. Brendan, and Stanley Mayer. Burstein. Readings in Greek History: Sources and Interpretations. Oxford University Press, 2014.