On several occasions throughout history the US military has been ill-equipped to attain victory at the commencement of operations. While there are many examples of battles lost, this paper will focus primarily on the Battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812, and the Battle of Kasserine during World War II. Doctrine, policy, politics, command and control, and lack of preparedness contributed to these disastrous first battles. These root factors affected readiness and hindered the militarys ability to perform successfully during the initial stages of conflict. Todays Noncommissioned Officer must study and be cognizant of these past failures in order to achieve success in todays fast paced operational environment.