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When Does Soldier Patriotism or Nationalism Matter? The Role of Transformational Small-Unit Leaders


  • James Griffith

    Corresponding author
    1. U.S. Army National Guard
      Baltimore, MD
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      This paper is intended to promote the exchange of ideas among researchers and policy makers. The views expressed here are part of ongoing research and analysis and do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Department of the Army.

James Griffith, 10956 Bellehaven Boulevard, Damascus, MD 20872. E-mail:


Patriotism and nationalism, 2 sets of attitudes often associated with the military, are examined in relation to perceived combat readiness and intention to remain in military service. Transformational leadership served as an intervening variable in these relationships. Survey data obtained from a sample of Army National Guard soldiers (N = 415) were used to examine relationships. Among junior-ranking enlisted soldiers, both patriotism and nationalism showed significant, positive associations with perceived combat readiness and intention to remain in military service. The structural equation model fit soldiers' nationalistic attitudes best, having a considerable indirect effect through transformational leadership on perceived combat readiness. Implications of nationalistic and patriotic attitudes combined with charismatic leaders to benefit soldier readiness and retention are discussed.