Command problems at Goose Green

#1
I'm trying to sort out a paper on the above topic - my starting point so far is the concept of mission oriented orders, and micromanagement. Unfortunately, I can't remember what the damn system is called - all I remember is that a Boxhead thought it up, and it groups orders into two categories. Can anyone help jog my memory on this one, and point me to any resources on this available in the public domain? I would get myself down to the RMAS library, but I've deadlined again (Personally I blame Catterick) so I don't have the time.
If anyone has done similar work on the command lessons learned from Goose Green, I'd be most grateful to hear from you. Ta.

Many thanks in advance, Sarnian.
 
#2
Auftragstaktik is the German word for mission command you are looking for and is generally compared with the restrictive control school of thought.

Auftragstaktik will say B Coy will attack and take hill A and surpress the bridge to allow B coy to fight through and take it.

Restrictive control will say B Coy will attack the hill and take it. When this has happened covering fire to A coy is to be provided who will fight through and take the Bridge.

The problem is if B coy don't take the hill in restrictive control everything stops and a sub plan doesn't develop that would allow for taking the bridge despite the hill not being taken. The bridge is the objective, not the hill.

Let the doctrine wars begin.
 
#5
As opposed to 'Befehlstaktik' which is where the commander must comply with and execute an order given him by others, with no chance for him to fall back on his own initiative and skill, either in adapting himself, or in exploiting situations as they come up.
 
#6
I know Jones' command is a veritable quagmire of debate, but I've not been exposed to it nearly enough to know what I'm talking about. Could you attribute Jones' complicated, six-phase plan for the taking of GG maily to his character, or to the orders and control processes of the British Army of 1982?

I'm guessing this gets covered at length at the Factory, but seeing as this essay is part of my effort to get there, I haven't got a decent knowledge of these command issues yet. Cheers again, Sarnian.
 
#7
"Could you attribute Jones' complicated, six-phase plan for the taking of GG maily to his character, or to the orders and control processes of the British Army of 1982?"

Is that the title of the essay?

Now I may be wrong but my understanding is the restrictive control was the model used up to the FW but soon thereafter changed to mission command.

As for the man's character I have no idea and have done no reading him (so that mon ami - we have in common - ahem).

I remember seeing an interview with his 2I/C Chris Keeble who said this of him "whatever may be said of H, on that day at that time he was the man in the task force furthest forward"
 
#8
No, the title is

"To what extent did the Battle for Goose Green reveal comand problems in the British Army of the period?"

Im just tring to find the best angle on it at the moment, and I thought Jones' plan would be a good start. Cheers for the bit on restrictive control - I'll try to sniff out when it changed and if GG was the event that did it.
 
#9
The essense of you thesis has already been done as this book:-

Not Mentioned in Despatches: The History and Mythology of the Battle of Goose Green. (ISBN: 0718829336) Fitz-Gibbon, Spencer. 1995 Lutterworth Press.
 
#10
A whole series of fcuk ups could be blamed:
Crap Int on Argentine posns and strengths
The lack of Arty Fire Sp
The BBC World Service blowing his cover

Its easy to criticise him for issuing an attack order calling for "a six-phase night-day, silent-noisy battalion attack to capture Darwin and Goose Green."

Here is one interesting overview of the battle

The plan called for 2 Para's companies to move down both the
eastern and western sides of the isthmus leading to Goose Green. During
darkness 2 Para would seize the outer Argentine defensive positions protecting
Goose Green and Darwin. To minimize civilian casualties, the battalion would
then move on the settlements during daylight.
As 2 Para prepared to attack at Camilla Creek House, Lieutenant Colonel
Jones monitored a BBC World Service news bulletin reporting that
2 Para was attacking and had advanced to a position five miles north of
Darwin. No doubt trying to boost morale at home, a senior official in London
had confirmed to a BBC radio correspondent that 2 Para was moving to attack
Darwin and Goose Green. The Argentines reacted to the public report by moving
a reserve battalion from Mount Kent to Goose Green early on the morning of 28
May. The leak of vital tactical information made 2 Para's task indeed more
formidable.

On the night of 27 May, C Company secured the start line for 2 Para's
attack, and A and B Companies crossed the start line early on the morning of
the 28th. Naval gunfire supported the attack. As daylight broke, A Company
occupied Coronation Point and B Company engaged the Argentines at Boca House
on the western side of the isthmus. As 2 Para pressed the attack during
daylight, it encountered fierce resistance from a large force deployed,
alerted, and dug in across the narrow isthmus. Supported only by artillery
fire and their own mortars, the British had to advance across open ground
against heavy machine-gun fire. In trying to help A Company advance,
Lieutenant-Colonel Jones fell mortally wounded from rifle fire.

Major Chris Keeble, the second-in-command, assumed command and continued
to press the attack. As the day wore on, A and C Companies finally seized
Darwin and pushed south along the east coast to the northern outskirts of
Goose Green. B and D Companies moved down the western side and then swung
east to threaten Goose Green from the west and south

By nightfall, Keeble's men occupied the hills around Goose Green after a
victorious day on the battlefield. The Argentines landed reinforcements south
of 2 Para but applied no pressure to 2 Para's ring around Goose Green. During
the night Keeble planned a major attack for the following morning, to include
a demonstration of Harrier and artillery firepower. Helicopters and BV202
vehicles resupplied 2 Para with mortars and small-arms ammunition

But no further fighting ensued the next day. Keeble sent two Argentine
POWs into Goose Green to arrange possible surrender negotiations. The
Argentine commander, Air Vice-Commodore Wilson Pedroza, met with Keeble and
surrendered. Expecting 80 Argentines to walk out, 2 Para observed with
shocked disbelief as over 150 airmen and 900 soldiers emerged to surrender.
Including those taken during the course of the attack, 2 Para took 1,200
prisoners in the Battle of Darwin-Goose Green. The Argentines suffered 50
dead, while 2 Para had lost 17 killed and 35 wounded

As one of the decisive actions of the war, the battle showed Britain's firm resolve to win
the war. The Argentines, too, had fought hard initially but then had crumbled
quickly, a pattern they repeated in later battles. In victory against great
odds, 2 Para showed leadership, aggressive fighting spirit, maintenance of
momentum, and proper use of terrain and weapons. The whole landing force
enjoyed a boost in morale

Probably most importantly, 2 Para's strong showing established "a psychological
ascendancy over the Argentines which our
(British) forces never lost
 
#11
Pterandon - cheers. Am on my way to Amazon as we speak. Thanks Ozgerbobble for the overviews - I'll probably use those variables as my antithesis to the issue of a 'command problems,' to avoid paraphrasing Fitzgibbon.
 
#12
Just a quick one and I admit I might be completly wrong and thinking of something totally different, but I thought one of the lessons learnt from GG was that when it all went to ratpoo the lads on the ground in their individual sub units, either plt or smaller, were able to conduct the battle anyway due to the orders he had given. Even when Col "H" Jones VC was killed, the battle continued unchecked, and I vaguely remember some sort of problems with comms in the midst of it all.
 
#13
On reflection I think you might be looking at an innapropriate analogy.

"Auftragstaktik" and "Befehlstaktik" certainly became buzz words during the 1980s. (I spent many months listening to everyone being in "each other's minds") However I doubt whether H Jones or Chris Keeble thought about things in those terms in 2 Para in 1982! Their differences in approach were probably more matters of personal styles and the degree they trusted their subordinates. There was no centralised army doctrine and no one was taught to do any kind of Mission analysis. As far as squaddies were concerned Auftragstaktik" and "Befehlstaktik" might have been Verder Bremen's strikers.

Spencer Fitgibbon's book uses Goose Green to contrast two doctrineal approaches. In 1995 it was clever to look at Goose Green as a clash of docrtinal approaches -biut in 2006 you have other issues.

A more contemporary relevance might be to consider Goose Green in terms of micro management v trust as leadership styles. Despite you having principles of mission analysis, I suspect that you have commanders who prefer to jump in and do their subordinates jobs for them. ;)

Was Jones right to micro manage A company?
Is there a role for a leader to assume command of a subordinate's command?
What was the impact of Jones' actions on A Company's actions?. Did they follow Jones into his charge?

BTW you won't find the book on Amazon. Its out of print. Use www.abe.com instead.
 
#14
Thanks pterandon - that's just what I'm looking for. One of the main questions for me was Keeble's role after the gorse gully - wether his command changed the pace and broke the deadlock, or wether that had already happened by the time he got the call 'Sunray is down.' As you can see, I was wondering how far it Jones' command was a matter of doctrine, and how far a matter of personality.

Has there been a tangible change in the teaching of tactics since the FW, and has the Army been conscious that GG brought it about?
 
#15
Also some others have tried to argue that as Jones had been a senior DS at the School of Infantry and held a series of staff apointments prior to commanding 2 Para his plan was perhaps doctrinally sound but in practice was too complex and difficult to understand and that the attack began to lose momentum as a result of this and other factors
 
#16
chocolate_frog said:
Just a quick one and I admit I might be completly wrong and thinking of something totally different, but I thought one of the lessons learnt from GG was that when it all went to ratpoo the lads on the ground in their individual sub units, either plt or smaller, were able to conduct the battle anyway due to the orders he had given. Even when Col "H" Jones VC was killed, the battle continued unchecked, and I vaguely remember some sort of problems with comms in the midst of it all.
I read "Goose Green" (but don't have it to hand so excuse vagueness) and the comms problem that I remember is that Col Jones kept sending messages (SITREP requests ISTR) for a particular sub-unit commander (a captain) on CNR and when he failed to respond quickly enough asked for him to be brought on net. Repeated request to "Fetch Officer" resulted in the guy taking the 351 from his signaller. It was still on his back when he was killed.
 
#17
Is it me or is this a rather complex subject for a pre-Sandhurst Potential Officer essay?

"To what extent did the Battle for Goose Green reveal comand problems in the British Army of the period?"

msr
 
#18
I think you might all find "Not Mentioned in Dispatches" Book an interesting read.

I know several of the people mentioned who have confirmed the substance of the book. FitzGibbon does a pretty detailed piece of work reconstructing what happened. Not particularly complimntary to 2 Para or Jones, but I havent' read a detailed refutation.

Re "overcomplex plan". If you have to attack a force that outnumbers you 2:1, then makes sense to try and take it on a position at a time. FWIW Jones was a company commander in the D&Ds in 1980 and I think he was at the School of Infantry in the All Arms Tactics Wing before taking command of 2 Para. Thats not a series of staff jobs. Thats one , very relevant job between Company and battalion command.

Re: The plan being so perfect it worked without him..... Is that the same as "It worked better without the CO trying to lead individual platoons in A Company?" One of the more shocking parts of the book was Fitz Gibbon's identification of who exactly followed him in his charge. Mostly BGHQ, the BCs and FOO parties and the engineers with an accusation that A company had gone to ground and weren't exactly inspired by his example. I am not sure he accuses A Company of cowardice -just a disinclination to follow a crazy plan. The CSM and Cpl Abols (?) are credited with eliminating the Argentinian position.

Re "Command and control difficutlies". The OC Fire Support Company is documented as calling the CO and explainign that he has Milan and MGSF available to engage the enemy holding up A company and is then told by Jones to fcuk off as He (Jones) is fighting a battle.

The conclusions offered are that Jones was more than a bit of a control freak who lost his own self control during the battle. Brave and wilful but not providing sound leadership. I don't know if this is true or not. maybe someone who was there, or who knows the people better can comment.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#20
We did get on board with 'Auftragstaktik' in the late 80s but certainly at RMAS two years after the Falklands 'The Mission' was just something you repeated whilst giving a set of formal orders (and a Robert de Niro film): you extracted your tasks from the detail you were given in the 'Execution' paragraph and you did what you were damned well told!

From reading Fitzgibbon and from my own research, the real issues at Goose Green stemmed from Jones' style of command. He was an undeniably strong character who liked to keep his subordinate commanders on a very short rein. His plan was certainly over-complicated in the style of the time, but that also appears to be true of other COs in the Falklands conflict. The difference being that when their plans began to unravel, they allowed their subordinates to use their initiative to a much greater extent, and also re-thought what they were trying to achieve. This is well illustrated by Pike at Mount Longdon. By contrast, Jones appears to have made repeated efforts to get his original plan back on track even after it had been derailed by the reality on the ground.

IIRC, the specific problems that they encountered were that:

Argentine defensive positions - down to individual trenches - weren't where they thought them to be. Coulson, the IO had given out a series of 8-figure grids during the O Group but he and Jones didn't see eye to eye and Jones had hassled him during the 'Enemy Forces' paragraph rather like a DS at Warminster or Sandhurst to the extent that he allegedly misread several of them as well.

Comms were poor. There were difficulties communicating between BG HQ and the companies; and between the companies themselves.

Navigation was a real issue: it was dark and misty when the attack started and people were frequently getting lost. This was compounded by discovering defensive positions where 'they weren't meant to be'.

There was also the pervasive myth in the Falklands conflict that the Argies would jack their hands in. Jones actually said: 'All previous evidence suggests that if the enemy is hit hard, he will crumble'. In reality, there had been virtually no contact between ground forces at this stage to provide this 'evidence' and it never really happened at any stage. The Argies were certainly incompetent, but they weren't cowardly and when 2 Para did bump into their positions, they tended to stand and fight, which also helped to disrupt Jones' plan.


As previous posters have said, the problem wasn't with British Army doctrine: the problem was that we didn't have any. Most of our experience then was in Northern Ireland, where micro-management of operations was virtually inevitable due to the nature of the operations, and while this meant that our junior commanders tended to be very good, it also meant that at unit and formation level, we lacked practical operational experience.
 

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