Command

Command

Author
Anthony King
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
When I saw this book ('Command' by Anthony King) offered for review, I leapt at the chance. I have heard Anthony King speak on several occasions and have found him insightful and easy to comprehend.

'Command' studies the transformation of military command over the last one hundred years and, in particular, over the last twenty years. It charts the changing styles and methodologies used to command, from the early twentieth century to the present day and tries to draw out what has driven those changes. It uses the Divisional level of command as its level playing field although King does acknowledge the potential disparities that even that brings.

King begins by considering the early divisional commanders, men who often led operations personally, making all the decisions individually. He identifies all the reasons for this style, from breadth of command (eg smaller numbers deployed over relatively small areas) to the quality of the soldiers under command (ie usually conscripts). At the other end of the scale, both in style and time, he then goes on to consider General Nick Carter (current Chief of Defence Staff) in Afghanistan and General Mattis in Iraq. These men had enormous spans of command - Carter had 60,000 multinational troops in Kandahar as well as a large headquarters with six one-stars on the staff. This has driven a more collaborative style of command, where decision making has to be delegated. In turn, this has led to new headquarters' procedures and organisations, to ensure the right information can be put in front of the right decision-maker at the right time.

I won't lie to you; reading this book cover to cover is not light going but frankly that was never its purpose. I am sure this will become a seminal text for those studying command and is worth reading by those going to work in a large formation headquarters as it will provide context and focus.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in hardback and paperback, a worthy addition to the military student's bookcase, especially those who aspire to starred rank.

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Captain_Crusty
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