Change in military unit strategy

Discussion in 'US Units' started by CPMike, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. CPMike

    CPMike Junior Member

    I have a strange question that I hope you might be able to help me out with. I am doing a speech on this Thursday and was looking for examples of things in business that were analogous with how the military conducts itself. I do watch a fair amount of war programmes on the history channel and have an avid interest in it. One part of this is the information that I was hoping you could help me with.

    I remember watching something about (I think American army) during WWII where the traditional chain of command was changed and that the lower ranks were given more decision making than the traditional top down decision making. It was attributed to a certain general (again I think) and it is this guy that I am trying to find the name of.

    The example in the programme was rather than the order being - I want you to go down this path, across this field and then take out that position - it was I want you to take out that position.

    Any ideas?

  2. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I can't give you a name but, briefly as I understand it...

    Armies around the world in the nineteenth century would have generally agreed with the view that orders should state "what needs to be done" rather than "how to do it" in order to deal with the unknowns of any expedition. A tendency toward prescriptive orders of "how to do things" began in WWI with the need to coordinate the various arms that were remote from each other (infantry, artillery, engineers, ....) and coordinate units across a front. All armies continued to struggle with these competing demands in light of the level of training of its officer corps. Pre-WWII the Germans had trained to a high standard and are generally believed to have retained the "what needs to be done" model. Despite the high level of training in the British Army in WWII it is generally perceived as having one of the most prescriptive type command systems. The US Army tended to ape the Germans and, to the degree they understood the German system, they may have tended to use a "what needs to be done" system.
  3. DPas

    DPas Member

    Might have been Lesley J. McNair
  4. CPMike

    CPMike Junior Member

  5. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I will add that during the war American propaganda portrayed German tactics and leaders as rigid, inflexible and without initiative. All of which was untrue. Popular war writers after the war (up to sixty years!!!) continued to suggest this view of German command. Of course, the aim was to suggest that the political system of democracies produced better soldiers than totalitarian dictators. Variations on these themes re-surface in television documentaries that tend to re-cycle popular 'history'.
  6. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    As an old infantryman, if asked when the traditional chain of command changed from commanders to lower ranks. Certainly within one part of the British army -the Rifle Regiments of Sir John Moore, where the rigid distinction between, officers, NCOs and men was put aside. Riflemen were trained to work in pairs -what we would know as fire and movement, one loading as one fired, often at the advance or skirmishing. From forming up into a mass fire formation or breaking away into pairs or skirmishing teams without the normal rigid field formations and free to exploit without field rank officers having to so order. The journals would have it that when a new barracks was being built Sir John was asked where the paths to the mens quarters should be laid - 'leave it for a few months' and where the men walk to their quarters - lay the paths.' Sir John Moore (13 November 1761 – 16 January 1809)

    Instructions for the Training of the British Armies in France 1917 UK

    Later one Major BL Montgomery was tasked to rewrite the Infantry Training Manual - which attracted praise although the like of Liddell Hart thought they knew better.

    Montgomery went on to cause a lifelong rift with many NCOs of his regiment when he decided that promotion would not be the usual next senior NCO due. He introduced cadre courses in minor tactics,signalling and administration at section and platoon level for NCOs, changing NCOs into junior leaders. 1931 he commanded his battalion. Many senior NCOs who were not promoted would not attend association events where they knew he would be attending!
  7. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I read a lot of tosh and quite often!

Share This Page