Battlefield Commission

This is a very condensed version of the presentation I gave at the Where Eagles Gather prophetic conference in Kremmling, Colorado on August 25th.


Thirty years ago as a cub reporter for my hometown newspaper I was introduced to the publisher; a slim, silver-haired man with a distinguished air of authority. When I asked the city desk editor about him, he -- himself a Naval aviator during World War II -- responded with a sense of awe and respect. "I can tell you this about him," he said. "He went from private to captain in WWII on battlefield commissions."

Battlefield Commission. The term rang in my young ears. Promotion of the common man tested and proven by fire.


History probably did not stop to record the first battlefield commission, but in the modern American era the practice began with what was called a "brevet" -- the promotion of an enlisted man to a commissioned officer without an increase in pay. According to the National Order of Battlefield Commissions, the Marine Corps established the Brevet Medal about 1918. This commissioning was second only to The Congressional Medal of Honor in respect.

A "competent authority" may commission a solider for leadership, valor, and devotion to duty during actual combat. By best estimates, there were some 6000 battlefield commissions during World War I and 28,726 during World War II. Of those, 10,989 were awarded during the worst of the fighting between the Normandy Invasion and the final victory in Europe. The movie, Saving Private Ryan, and the books by Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, have immersed America in a new-found respect for those who fought World War II. This was our last noble war. A time when a provoked nation rose unified and long lines formed in front of enlistment offices. "Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power," reads Psalm 110:3 and this was a foreshadowing of that day.

Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII, symbolized the dog-faced G.I. who rose to greatness. A skinny Texas orphan, Murphy was rejected by the Marine Corps and nearly washed-out of Army basic training. A Medal of Honor winner, Murphy described his battlefield commissioning in his book To Hell and Back: "A Colonel pins gold bars on our shoulders and pats us on the back. 'You are now gentlemen by an act of Congress,' he says. 'Shave, take a bath, and get the hell back into the lines.'"


Those who became commissioned had to learn to survive before they learned to lead. Once self-survival was mastered, soldiers in combat usually excelled in the face of danger for three obvious reasons.

The first is simply love of the brethren.

In his definitive book, G.I. The American Solider in World War II author Lee Kennett quotes a young soldier named John Hogan who was offered a safe job after serving in combat with the Rifle Platoon of the 7th Infantry Division. Said Hogan: "There is something about the spirit of the men in this platoon that I have grown to love and I want to help guard it." Hogan turned the transfer down because "danger is a sacrament, too."

In the same book, S.L.A. Marshall comments: "I hold it to be one of the simplest truths of war that the thing which enables an infantry solider to keep moving with his weapon is the near presence or the presumed presence of a comrade." Love of fellowship.

This love of a friend and dying to one's self produced countless acts of courage. "Heroism was common place," former solider Jim Levy says in The Greatest Generation Speaks. "But there was no alternative. It is easy to be selfless when there seems to be no self."

A poorer motivation for courage is hate. War is not without its psychopaths, but while they make good warriors, they make poor soldiers. Novelist James Jones, a WWII vet, was quoted saying this about these men: "....they observe no firing discipline, blazing away at any enemy they see, sometimes exposing their unit to a riposte by vastly superior enemy forces. If admonished, they would accuse their fellow soldiers and even their superiors of cowardice."

A better motivation was simply duty. Soldiers wanted to get the job done and go home. Action was better than waiting. Kennett quotes an Army psychologist: "I do not feel that combat was as likely to bring out psychoneurotic behavior as boredom and lack of purpose...the number of neurotic individuals can be greatly reduced either with good leadership or an attack by the enemy."


World War II was not simply a battle between aligned countries. It truly was good against evil. Murphy wrote in his book about a solider named Barnes. "He (Barnes) soon learns that a man does not necessarily die because a machine gun sputters, and that the enemy is not merely a being with warm flesh and blood. He is part of a wall of menace that expresses itself in the snapping of a branch, a roll of gravel, or a shadowy bulk that looms in the night. In the heat (of battle), Barnes learns coolness and calm fury. He becomes a valuable man."

During World War II the "valuable man" was still highly prized. By Korea and Viet Nam, the "organism" of the American military had become the "organization" of a political machine. Interestingly, although they occurred, there is no record of battlefield commissions during the Korean Conflict according to the National Order of Battlefield Commissions.

After Viet Nam, the Defense Department stated there had been no battlefield commissions granted during that "police action" but both General William Westmoreland and General John K. Singlaub disagreed. The NOBC claims there were 62 commissions including two Air Force POWs promoted by the senior officer of their prison compound.

More common than commissioning during Viet Nam, was the dishonorable action of "fragging". Combat units faced with fresh-faced Second Lieutenants straight from "shake-and-bake" officer schools, sometimes took action into their own hands. A fragmentation grenade was rolled into the tent of the "Ninety-day wonder", killing or seriously wounding the junior officer. In a messy, confusing, unpopular war, this action seemed justified rather than having the Lieutenant's inexperience and brashness endanger the lives of other men. While communism was evil and brave Americans died, the problem of Viet Nam was the disunity and lack of resolve. Leaders at the highest level were more often concerned with career advancement than with saving American lives.


I must politely disagree with Tom Brokaw. I believe the "Greatest Generation" is yet ahead of us, though it may already be amongst us. The greatest generation will be that generation that produces the great end-time harvest of souls.

Like the World War II generation, this will be a people of "volunteers". They will not be seeking promotion, political advancement, or career possibilities. They will be lying their lives down. To understand this future generation, we must understand that the church, too, is by nature an organism, not an organization. Unfortunately, most of the church has been restructured by man into a disorganized organization. It sends First Lieutenants fresh out of Bible schools to the frontlines of war zones rather than promote from within through spiritual battlefield commissions. Veteran master sergeants, scarred by battle, sit in pews eager to engage the enemy; others watch, wait, and wonder; and meanwhile, the young pastor tries to apply book-learning to a harsh reality. This is reminiscent of what one Marine Corp division commander said over fifty years ago. "About 10% of the unit do all the fighting and will never cause you any trouble. About 80% are half-trained, scared to death, and are waiting to see what someone else is going to do. The other 10% never were and never will be any good." (Quote from Kennett's book)

The church today is often fighting the war as the U.S. did in Viet Nam. We are trying to overwhelm a determined, well-entrenched enemy with technology, numbers, and propaganda. No matter how selflessly the soldiers fight, the system is fatally flawed.


G.I. stands for "Government Issue". It became a slang term for America's dog-faced infantry, representing the hometown soldier who was doing a dirty job honorably and just wanted to come home.

The future Army of God will also have a G.I. that stands for Government Issue. This G.I. will be "issued" forth from the proper "government" of Five-Fold Ministry. A force built on the foundation of the prophet and the apostle with Christ as the chief cornerstone.

The work of the Five-Fold Ministry is to equip the Saints, the greatest Army ever to mobilize for the invading, liberating and occupying of this earth.

Working now behind the scenes are many in God's resistance army. These are men and women of God who stealthily do the work of the ministry, often outside of the organized church system. Found here is the "valuable man" that Audie Murphy talked about. The ones who in the heat of battle have learned a calm fury. "Plans are established by counsel," says Proverbs 20:18, "and by wise counsel wage war." Wise counsel is the counsel of experience, not the arrogance of theory.

A young Army is waiting to be rallied, trained, equipped, and sent forth. This is an Army of unity with a Holy purpose, not a police action for political advantage. But, this is not a time to frag Lieutenants. It is a time to promote the servants.

There are many qualified for promotion by the leadership and courage they have shown while under fire. Like Jeremiah's scribe, Baruch, they have learned not to seek great things for themselves. They have been satisfied with having their lives. Among these are the supply sergeants. Napoleon said: "An Army travels on its stomach." And David said: "But as his part who goes down to the battle, so shall be his part who stays by the supplies." (1 Samuel 31:4). There are apostles of the marketplace preparing to be released. They will walk in their anointing and not merely write checks for building funds. They will know how wealth is created, not merely how it is redistributed.

This will be a radical Army. Jehu was commissioned from an officer to a King and even though he saw Jezebel and the descendents of Ahab destroyed he ultimately failed. He compromised and fell into Jeroboam's sin of worshipping golden calves.

Promotion is coming. It is coming to those who have not loved their lives unto death but know that no greater love have no man except that he lay down his life for a friend.

Selflessness is the criteria for spiritual commissioning. "Remove the turban," said Ezekiel. "And take off the crown. Nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble and humble the exalted." (Ezekiel 21:26). War looms on the horizon. The trumpet sounds. Sergeants, corporals, and even privates are now being tested in the Baptism of Fire that they might be commissioned to leadership.

Perhaps Emerson said it best:

"So nigh is grandeur to our dust so near is God to man, When duty whispers low, "Thou Must" The Youth replies, "I can".

John L. Moore