Changing the army - how?

Oddly enough, mission command became fomalised shortly after GW1, and with little notice.
No..

It was formally enshrined and documented in British Military Doctrine (1989) - the very first ever Brit Mil Doctrine in the recorded history of the Army

Then there was an hiatus

After which (for instance, circa 1996, from memory), a mahoosive 35mm slideset was circulated to the army at large.

In the intervening half-decade (+) I'd done my All Arms Tactics Course, without a single reference being made to Mission Command

In short:

Ginge Bagnall's enthusiasm for Auftragstaktik was not married to an understanding of how to fundamentally change the command culture of an army comprising some 300,000 troops, some Regular, some Territorial/Reservist, in which officers at all ranks rotated every coupla years between appointments​
He did, however (in his various 1 (BR) Corps incarnations carve himself a reputation as 'a forward thinker' which drew to him acolytes (who became known as "The Ginger Group") who nominally were 'spreading the word' - Kiszely, though junior, was among them, and it clearly did not harm his promotion prospects​
But if your most high-profile acolyte is, 10 years more or less, later, advocating adventure training as the medium of choice for a transformation of the way in which power/ command/ control is exercised across the Army Of Tribes which constitute the Land component of Brit military power, you surely have to ask yourself how fvcking much of the essence of Auftragstaktik Ginge himself had ever really mastered, much less conveyed to those who hung around him in the BAOR years, to enhance their own reputations.​
 
But are you actually contesting the central point: the US Army says it does mission command but actually does centralised micromanagement? Dont know many people who've done a tour in or under a US/UK HQ over the past two decades who would disagree with that.

I have been out over 2 decades and micro-management had imbedded itself well before I left.

Sadly, it wasn't something that was restricted to tours.

I think it might be something that I have mentioned more than once on this thread.
 
Given the Army's recent history I'm curious about the robustness of the strapline "Why British Army Leadership Works"

Does the author constrain himself to a very small, narrow selection of case studies, one wonders.

And since British Army Leadership 'working' apparently looks like this:
5caa1cedfc7e93a57d8b457c.png

. . . does the book include passages on posture, hand gestures and dropping the normal speaking voice by an octave?
They talk like Marlene Dietrich,
And dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
 

TamH70

MIA
They talk like Marlene Dietrich,
And dance like Zizi Jeanmaire

I wouldn't exactly call yon Red Tab "lovely", but I kind of get the sentiment.
 
If you can't stop yourself being rude, at least please try to stop yourself being wrong. Shamir did consider this explicitly. In fact, the regression from the performance on Op GRANBY to the performance on Op TELIC constitutes over half the section on 'The British Application of Mission Command' (Part 2 of Chapter 9). This would be hard to miss for anyone who's more than skim-read the book.



This is also false. He uses a number of sources including interviews and academic texts. Where he does use British army reports, it's almost exclusively to provide weight to the section where he criticises the British army for their poor command performance on Op TELIC. He cites zero official reports as sources in the section where he praises the command performance on Op GRANBY.




I'm afraid it's hard to take this position seriously given the evidence against it. On the one hand we have a respected academic who wrote a well-received book on the subject (with decent footnotes) and no personal interest at stake; on the other we have a single source who has a significant grievance, and is expressing an opinion without the benefit of research or even first-hand knowledge.

Shamir's view on this particular point: "Although the existence of a sixty-five-page SOP could have hindered British efforts, in effect it merely created a common understanding and a basis for the short orders issued in practice" Source: another academic, whose opinion is based on seeing actual orders issued by Rupert Smith that were only two paragraphs long. It's hard to find a source more primary than that.


Perhaps we should leave it there? As ever, I am happy to continue by PM rather than derailing the thread.
@Stonker is partially correct in his comments about the history of Mission Command in the 80s, at least from Bagnall’s early thinking until the mid 80s. What he has omitted is that what became doctrine was debated, ideas tested and procedures trialed and refined in 3** from 86-88. That included a year of unit work up, the Iron Hammer FTX year and an entire BATUS season.

Whilst it’s true that armoured manoeuvre units always worked on thin orders, that wasn’t really the case at Bde level, let alone Div. The agility of command developed by the three 3** brigades was I think unique in modern British Army history. We did spend an awful lot of time on exercise rehearsing it!

He’s wrong about 1* using 1BR Corps SOPs. Rupert Smith was a Mission Command champion and commanded 6* during the 3* trial. 4* was part of the trial and Patrick Cordingley took command in the year following Iron Hammer. They were using SOPs based on 3**s work.

I’ve always thought that 1**s application of Mission Command on Granby was the apogee of British Mission Command. After that, it got buried in the doctrinal paper chase. I don’t think it was ever meant to be codified.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
It was formally enshrined and documented in British Military Doctrine (1989) - the very first ever Brit Mil Doctrine in the recorded history of the Army
That does not conflict with my recalling building the lecture set the next year to bring it into the syllabus at RMAS, Oddly I did JDSC immediately before RMAS, not a whisper of mission command.

Your wider point - beyond your customary gratuitous rudeness - seems to be that the British Army did not pick up mission command, although you concede that there might have been a bit in BAOR. Quite.

For the benefit of younger readers (are there any?) in the 1980s, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent end of the Cold War, the British Army, numbering about 145,000 regulars, was split into three parts. BAOR, of which the operational bit was 1 BR Corps comprised 3 armoured divsions based in Germany and 1 Inf division in UK.

There was a bit in Ulster, comprising 3 brigades, each brigade comprising two permanently deployed bns (one of which was dismounted RAC in Omagh for much of the time) plus a couple or roulement battalions doing 4 (later 6) month emergency tours - which mostly came from UK but some from BAOR. There were also about 9 Bns of the UDR but they ain't relevant.

And the rest, largely based in UK. (It was part of this rump that went war in Falklands)

Infantry Battalions would move location every 4 years (called the Arms Plot), on a cycle that might include Germany, UK., Ulster, Cyprus and Hong Kong. The RAC arms plotted too, recce regiments on a 4 year cycle (as there were two in UK and two in Germany). Tank regiments typically did 2 years in UK, 8 to 12 in Germany.

Everyone else trickle posted.

The net result was that the RAC spent most of their time doing high intensity armoured warfare in Germany. Most Infantry did not. Moreover, there was a school of thought that proper infantry soldiering happened in Northern Ireland and overseas (light role) whereas armoured warfare was an anathema.

With some notable exceptions, most infantry Bns in Germany were way behind the pace in terms of battle procedure in the first two years of their four in theatre. by the time they had built the institutional knowledge of how to do armoured warfare they arms plotted away, and another novice Bn arrived. Byt the time the Bn returned most of its officers and SNCOs would have left or been promoted on which left them back at square one. (this partly improves wiht Warrior, and the introduction of a 150 striong per Bn Armoured infantry manning increment, whihc was basically people who stayed put for 2 tours.

From time to time it was suggested that it might be sensible for the infantry to split into Lt Role and Panzer -Grenadiers, but this was always resisted by DInf as the chances of being promoted 1* would have been disproportionately Pz Gren. DInf (and DRA and the Chief Engineer) were always conscious that advancement in the (armoured) 1 BR Corps would go RAC types and whined about it, so it never happened.

Thus there was usually one Bde commanded by a sapper or gunner, who may or may not have had significant exposure to armoured tempo. The Armd Bdes commanded by infantrymen invariably suffered from the fact that an Inf brigadier was unlikely to have had more than 4 of his 20 to 25 years service in BAOR. Rupert Smith was a remarkable exception.

Thus the battle procedure and command processes of I Br Corps (which came to be formalised as mission command) were the SOP for armour and an anathema, or at least a closed book, to the infantry. One effect of the Options for Change cuts, which fell disproportionately on armour, was that the Army culled the organisations and people that actually got mission command (and who could not see what all the fuss was about because it was blindingly obvious). Fortunately GW1 happened first and the British performed very well.

Since then the ability has gone - as you note with your justified disparagement of size and performance of Div HQ in GW2, and (I would argue) all other operations since.

The Army is now even more disproportionately heavy in light role units, operating a similar basis to that espoused in 1916, albeit without the preponderance of artillery -leading inevitably to attritional static warfare.

Will the strike brigade(s?) return an ability to manoeuvre to the Army. As constituted, almost certainly not. - even if Ajax is fixed. The parochial view of "purist" light role infantry means that we're stuck with a thin red line.

Can it be fixed? Only if you can find another Cardwell, who is able to master the Army, the CS and Parliament. I don't see that happening any time soon.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Cough Cough

Every 2 years in my experience ( 79 - 01 )

Arms plot move to BAOR being the exception.
Really - sort of makes my point even more strongly.
And of course Op Banner emergency tours from BAOR based Inf Bns undermined their experience of mechanised warfare, effectively taking them out of the learning curve for one year and (arguably / possibly) returning their focus to lt role / NI Ops (operations trump training in perception of prospect of medals and promotion, which are never far from the mind of an ambitions professional soldier)
 
Really - sort of makes my point even more strongly.

Obviously I cannot speak for the Infantry as a whole - Only my own experience

And of course Op Banner emergency tours from BAOR based Inf Bns undermined their experience of mechanised warfare, effectively taking them out of the learning curve for one year and (arguably / possibly) returning their focus to lt role

On a 5 year BAOR posting, around 50% of that time was spent outside BAOR.

Add in the time spent in preparation for various inspections. There was also a big thing ( the name escapes me ) on the readiness to deploy equipment wise - Which took up enormous amounts of man hours.

To be honest - The time spent on soldiering was almost non existent. ( Track hours was also a major problem / restriction on training - or at least was cited as a reason for lack of training )

In fact - It might be fair to say that the only decent Inf Tng was conducted at Batus.
 
That does not conflict with my recalling building the lecture set the next year to bring it into the syllabus at RMAS, Oddly I did JDSC immediately before RMAS, not a whisper of mission command.

Your wider point - beyond your customary gratuitous rudeness - seems to be that the British Army did not pick up mission command, although you concede that there might have been a bit in BAOR. Quite.

For the benefit of younger readers (are there any?) in the 1980s, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent end of the Cold War, the British Army, numbering about 145,000 regulars, was split into three parts. BAOR, of which the operational bit was 1 BR Corps comprised 3 armoured divsions based in Germany and 1 Inf division in UK.

There was a bit in Ulster, comprising 3 brigades, each brigade comprising two permanently deployed bns (one of which was dismounted RAC in Omagh for much of the time) plus a couple or roulement battalions doing 4 (later 6) month emergency tours - which mostly came from UK but some from BAOR. There were also about 9 Bns of the UDR but they ain't relevant.

And the rest, largely based in UK. (It was part of this rump that went war in Falklands)

Infantry Battalions would move location every 4 years (called the Arms Plot), on a cycle that might include Germany, UK., Ulster, Cyprus and Hong Kong. The RAC arms plotted too, recce regiments on a 4 year cycle (as there were two in UK and two in Germany). Tank regiments typically did 2 years in UK, 8 to 12 in Germany.

Everyone else trickle posted.

The net result was that the RAC spent most of their time doing high intensity armoured warfare in Germany. Most Infantry did not. Moreover, there was a school of thought that proper infantry soldiering happened in Northern Ireland and overseas (light role) whereas armoured warfare was an anathema.

With some notable exceptions, most infantry Bns in Germany were way behind the pace in terms of battle procedure in the first two years of their four in theatre. by the time they had built the institutional knowledge of how to do armoured warfare they arms plotted away, and another novice Bn arrived. Byt the time the Bn returned most of its officers and SNCOs would have left or been promoted on which left them back at square one. (this partly improves wiht Warrior, and the introduction of a 150 striong per Bn Armoured infantry manning increment, whihc was basically people who stayed put for 2 tours.

From time to time it was suggested that it might be sensible for the infantry to split into Lt Role and Panzer -Grenadiers, but this was always resisted by DInf as the chances of being promoted 1* would have been disproportionately Pz Gren. DInf (and DRA and the Chief Engineer) were always conscious that advancement in the (armoured) 1 BR Corps would go RAC types and whined about it, so it never happened.

Thus there was usually one Bde commanded by a sapper or gunner, who may or may not have had significant exposure to armoured tempo. The Armd Bdes commanded by infantrymen invariably suffered from the fact that an Inf brigadier was unlikely to have had more than 4 of his 20 to 25 years service in BAOR. Rupert Smith was a remarkable exception.

Thus the battle procedure and command processes of I Br Corps (which came to be formalised as mission command) were the SOP for armour and an anathema, or at least a closed book, to the infantry. One effect of the Options for Change cuts, which fell disproportionately on armour, was that the Army culled the organisations and people that actually got mission command (and who could not see what all the fuss was about because it was blindingly obvious). Fortunately GW1 happened first and the British performed very well.

Since then the ability has gone - as you note with your justified disparagement of size and performance of Div HQ in GW2, and (I would argue) all other operations since.

The Army is now even more disproportionately heavy in light role units, operating a similar basis to that espoused in 1916, albeit without the preponderance of artillery -leading inevitably to attritional static warfare.

Will the strike brigade(s?) return an ability to manoeuvre to the Army. As constituted, almost certainly not. - even if Ajax is fixed. The parochial view of "purist" light role infantry means that we're stuck with a thin red line.

Can it be fixed? Only if you can find another Cardwell, who is able to master the Army, the CS and Parliament. I don't see that happening any time soon.
On a point of fact, Rupert Smith did not command an armoured brigade. I’m also pretty sure the infantry arms plot in Germany was 6 yearsprocess of getting a newly plotted battalion up to speed was well rehearsed.

As for Sappers, Gunners and, indeed, infantry commanding brigades, I think you’re looking at their skill set with from the perspective of a cavalryman’s dash & panache. In so doing, you miss the dull tedium of the defensive GDP phase of operations in Germany.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
On a point of fact, Rupert Smith did not command an armoured brigade. I’m also pretty sure the infantry arms plot in Germany was 6 yearsprocess of getting a newly plotted battalion up to speed was well rehearsed.
Aware of that re Rupert Smith - possibly poor prose.
Re 6 years - it varied

As for Sappers, Gunners and, indeed, infantry commanding brigades, I think you’re looking at their skill set with from the perspective of a cavalryman’s dash & panache. In so doing, you miss the dull tedium of the defensive GDP phase of operations in Germany.
No, unless "dash and panache" = capacity for mission command. It's not intended to be a cap badge dig, but appreciate it (unavoidably) reads that way. IF the Army needs improving (which is the implicit general thrust of this thread) then career structures post unit command are surely fair game.

As medium recce we tended to flit about between brigades in a divisions, and occasionally between divisions too. One got to see many different styles of command with varying effectiveness.

Defence is supposed to be active, particularly within armoured bde / div / corps. Had WW3 kicked off I suspect it would have been anything but dull.
 

bob231

War Hero
That does not conflict with my recalling building the lecture set the next year to bring it into the syllabus at RMAS, Oddly I did JDSC immediately before RMAS, not a whisper of mission command.

Your wider point - beyond your customary gratuitous rudeness - seems to be that the British Army did not pick up mission command, although you concede that there might have been a bit in BAOR. Quite.

For the benefit of younger readers (are there any?) in the 1980s, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent end of the Cold War, the British Army, numbering about 145,000 regulars, was split into three parts. BAOR, of which the operational bit was 1 BR Corps comprised 3 armoured divsions based in Germany and 1 Inf division in UK.

There was a bit in Ulster, comprising 3 brigades, each brigade comprising two permanently deployed bns (one of which was dismounted RAC in Omagh for much of the time) plus a couple or roulement battalions doing 4 (later 6) month emergency tours - which mostly came from UK but some from BAOR. There were also about 9 Bns of the UDR but they ain't relevant.

And the rest, largely based in UK. (It was part of this rump that went war in Falklands)

Infantry Battalions would move location every 4 years (called the Arms Plot), on a cycle that might include Germany, UK., Ulster, Cyprus and Hong Kong. The RAC arms plotted too, recce regiments on a 4 year cycle (as there were two in UK and two in Germany). Tank regiments typically did 2 years in UK, 8 to 12 in Germany.

Everyone else trickle posted.

The net result was that the RAC spent most of their time doing high intensity armoured warfare in Germany. Most Infantry did not. Moreover, there was a school of thought that proper infantry soldiering happened in Northern Ireland and overseas (light role) whereas armoured warfare was an anathema.

With some notable exceptions, most infantry Bns in Germany were way behind the pace in terms of battle procedure in the first two years of their four in theatre. by the time they had built the institutional knowledge of how to do armoured warfare they arms plotted away, and another novice Bn arrived. Byt the time the Bn returned most of its officers and SNCOs would have left or been promoted on which left them back at square one. (this partly improves wiht Warrior, and the introduction of a 150 striong per Bn Armoured infantry manning increment, whihc was basically people who stayed put for 2 tours.

From time to time it was suggested that it might be sensible for the infantry to split into Lt Role and Panzer -Grenadiers, but this was always resisted by DInf as the chances of being promoted 1* would have been disproportionately Pz Gren. DInf (and DRA and the Chief Engineer) were always conscious that advancement in the (armoured) 1 BR Corps would go RAC types and whined about it, so it never happened.

Thus there was usually one Bde commanded by a sapper or gunner, who may or may not have had significant exposure to armoured tempo. The Armd Bdes commanded by infantrymen invariably suffered from the fact that an Inf brigadier was unlikely to have had more than 4 of his 20 to 25 years service in BAOR. Rupert Smith was a remarkable exception.

Thus the battle procedure and command processes of I Br Corps (which came to be formalised as mission command) were the SOP for armour and an anathema, or at least a closed book, to the infantry. One effect of the Options for Change cuts, which fell disproportionately on armour, was that the Army culled the organisations and people that actually got mission command (and who could not see what all the fuss was about because it was blindingly obvious). Fortunately GW1 happened first and the British performed very well.

Since then the ability has gone - as you note with your justified disparagement of size and performance of Div HQ in GW2, and (I would argue) all other operations since.

The Army is now even more disproportionately heavy in light role units, operating a similar basis to that espoused in 1916, albeit without the preponderance of artillery -leading inevitably to attritional static warfare.

Will the strike brigade(s?) return an ability to manoeuvre to the Army. As constituted, almost certainly not. - even if Ajax is fixed. The parochial view of "purist" light role infantry means that we're stuck with a thin red line.

Can it be fixed? Only if you can find another Cardwell, who is able to master the Army, the CS and Parliament. I don't see that happening any time soon.
This younger reader appreciates your effort. That does provide significantly more context.
 
I’ve always thought that 1**s application of Mission Command on Granby was the apogee of British Mission Command. After that, it got buried in the doctrinal paper chase.
I will accept every word of that post, with gratitude.

Especially the paragraph quoted above.

The upwardly mobile of the C21 Brit Army have, by now, been uncritically celebrating Emperor's New Clothes for a quarter century at least.
 
Can it be fixed? Only if you can find another Cardwell, who is able to master the Army, the CS and Parliament. I don't see that happening any time soon
Thanks for that. The final paragraph I couldn't endorse more strongly. The army IMHO has pretty much bred out of its VSOs any interest in, or capacity for, the successful implementation of beneficial change on a large, or culturally deep, scale.

And please accept my sincere apologies if you felt I was needlessly rude to you.

I try to reserve my deliberately gratuitous rudeness for the odd Arrser who may have stalked me on the internet in the past, but the insistent perpetuation by the hard of thinking, of the Mission Command delusion is something that to this day really, really, makes my blood boil.
 

QRK2

LE
Aware of that re Rupert Smith - possibly poor prose.
Re 6 years - it varied


No, unless "dash and panache" = capacity for mission command. It's not intended to be a cap badge dig, but appreciate it (unavoidably) reads that way. IF the Army needs improving (which is the implicit general thrust of this thread) then career structures post unit command are surely fair game.

As medium recce we tended to flit about between brigades in a divisions, and occasionally between divisions too. One got to see many different styles of command with varying effectiveness.

Defence is supposed to be active, particularly within armoured bde / div / corps. Had WW3 kicked off I suspect it would have been anything but dull.

Although ostensibly about VP I suspect the passage attached, written by a Grenadier in the late 1960s, shows that the RAC displayed similar traits in those days as well. It also harks back to those nostalgic days when we won COIN campaigns.

Scan.jpg
 
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those nostalgic days when we won COIN campaigns.
Give up on the idea that the sandbox disasters were COIN campaigns.

Rather, in their intent and absurd ambition, they had altogether more (too much!) in common with the mediaeval Christian Crusades (whence comes my family name), than with Malaya or Norn Iron, or any other 20th Century Brit mil campaign.
 
I’m also pretty sure the infantry arms plot in Germany was 6 yearsprocess of getting a newly plotted battalion up to speed
Depends, I think, on the timeframe.

2RRF joined BAOR in Spring 1975, and were arms-plotted to 18 months in Palace Barracks in late 1979, having spent 6(?) weeks on BATUS in the high summer of that year.

We got to be really proficient mech inf​

And the system immediately fvcked us off to be footsoldiers in the one long conflict without which the British likely would never have had a standing army - the fight against armed Irish Republicanism
 
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exsniffer

War Hero
First paragraph - the original mission was the deny the place to terrorists. Then liberal mission creep started.

Second paragraph - Hezbollah are reckoned to have a presence in the UK, and the Houthis have attacked international shipping in internal waters. So have the Iranians themselves.
The Houtis are Shia Muslims who are fighting Sunni's in Yemen.

Al Shebab are Sunni who are across the water in Somalia. Somalia mercenaries are fighting the Houtis on behalf of the Sunni Saudis.
 

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