MANEUVER WARFARE HISTORY: Col Tony Zinni, USMC presents “Combat Concepts” at The Basic School in 1989 (Part 1)

Col Tony Zinni, USMC
The Basic School, 1989
Quantico VA

THE GREATEST PME I’ve ever attended.  You’ll hear the first half of Col Zinni’s “Combat Concepts” PME — delivered in Quantico at The Basic School in 1989 after he gave up command of the 9th Marine Regiment.

Presentations like this one ought to be mandatory for ALL commanders, from platoon to MEF.

You’ll hear me comment on the presentation at times, amplifying points or giving context to Col Zinni’s comments.

“COMBAT CONCEPTS” video — Col Tony Zinni, USMC; MCB Quantico, 1989

Col Tony Zinni, USMC
The Basic School, 1989
Quantico VA

Click HERE for Part 1 of the PME

Click HERE for Part 2 of the PME

Click HERE for Part 3 of the PME

Click HERE for Part 4 of the PME

Click HERE for the entire 3.5 hour PME in one segment

THE SINGLE BEST professional military education experience I ever had happened in July of 1989 while teaching “Tactics” at The Basic School in Quantico, VA.  Col Tony Zinni, USMC (who had just finished being the CO of 9th Marine Regiment on Okinawa) gave his “Combat Concepts” pitch at an event that the Marine Corps University sponsored at The Basic School.

Major John Kelly (Head of the Infantry Officers Course at the time, destined to be a General Officer and currently the Secretary of the Dept of Homeland Security) told me I should attend… so I went.  I had never heard of Col Zinni at that point in my life.  That night Col Zinni was funny, insightful and had a ton of experiences in his career — he was for me a great example of what a professional warrior/scholar ought to be.

This PME changed my life and how I approached my profession.


Richard Sisk

Richard Sisk was Commissioned a 2ndLt in the Marine Corps in 1967. He graduated from The Basic School (TBS) with 498 other lieutenants in the Fall of 1967.  Of his TBS class approximately 50% would become casualties — “forty-three were killed in Vietnam. One was killed in Lebanon. Another six died in training accidents. More than 200 were wounded.”  No other TBS class has ever suffered casualties like 6/67 did.  Richard talks about looking back at their time in Vietnam during the height of the fighting of that War and what that view looks like after 50 years.

His article about his Basic School class and their 50th reunion is here published on militarycom.  The article itself is certainly worth a read,  as is the link provided within the article that details the death of 2ndLt Terry Graves who was posthumously award the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions while serving as a platoon commander with 3d Force Reconnaissance Company (click here).  Graves Hall at TBS is named in his honor.

— Richard Sisk was a member of TBS 6/67. He served with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, in Vietnam where he was wounded twice. He has spent a career in journalism with the New York Daily News and now with .  He can be reached at

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