This post differs from the earlier “Jones” posts; in those we focused on Jones’ ability to see a problem differently or employ a clever stratagem. In this post, we simply want to share a couple of instances where Jones emphasized the power of tradition and discipline. In the first instance, Jones was at Victoria Station following the Dunkirk evacuation and watched the disheveled troops disembark.
About the third trainload turned out to be a couple of companies of Foot Guards. What a contrast! They were glorious to see. They fell in on the platform, dressed, and marched out at attention, not even looking at the girls in the crowd of onlookers. Every Guardsman had his full equipment and his rifle…. The sight of them was like a tonic—with a very large gin in it—which I promptly had in their honour.1
In the second instance, Jones recalled
… Crete is to be remembered for the decision of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Cunningham, when it was clear that Crete was no longer tenable, and he was faced either with leaving the Army there and saving his ships, or playing the traditional part of getting the Army out. He declared, “It takes the Navy three years to build a new ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue.”2
Why should a red teamer care? Intangibles matter. It’s easy to dismiss this kind of commitment as a peculiarity of bygone days. It’s not. In fact, we believe we can find this same level of discipline and tradition in our modern armed forces and first responders, and much like then, it shines the brightest when the days are darkest. That said, we should never underestimate our adversaries; they too have commitment, discipline, and traditions and can leverage these to achieve unexpected ends. What might seem infeasible on paper might be feasible in real life given exceptional motivation. Forget this and prepare to be surprised.