More Generals Than Ships!

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by smallbrownprivates, Dec 29, 2017.

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  1. Caecilius

    Caecilius LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Yes, explicitly. We accept throughout that you can delegate authority but not responsibility.

    Unfortunately, it turns out you can also keep responsibility but have any meaningful authority removed from you by your 2up.

    God I love being an army officer.
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  2. And doing that is management, not leadership.........
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  3. On the subject of assessing command competence by the performance / standards of a unit, there's a rather telling observation by Danile Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow..

    "A very generous estimate between the correlation between the success of the firm and the quality of its CEO might be as high as 0.30, indicating 30% overlap... In a well ordered and predictable world, the correlation would be perfect, and the stronger CEO would be found to lead the more successful firm [when two firms are compared] in 100% of the pairs. If the relative success of similar forms was determined entirely by factors that the CEO does not control (call them luck, if you wish), you would find the more successful firm being led by the weaker CEO 50% of the time. A correlation of .30 implies that you would find the stronger CEO leading the stringer firm in about 60% of the pairs—an improvement of a mere 10 percentage points over random guessing, hardly grist for the hero worship of CEOs we so often witness."

    Replace CEO with commander, and firm with unit, and the implication is fairly stark. It goes against everything I intrinsically feel, but that's no doubt because I'm a walking panoply of bias.
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  4. Not that different in my bit of the CS...
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  5. Doctrinally (and I recognise that this may bear no relation to practice) I think it's more accurate to say that while a commander delegates authority, he shares responsibility. There is some delegation of responsibility, but not absolute.

    By contrast American doctrine absolutely denies the possibility of sharing responsibility in any meaningful way, which in turn restricts the type of decisions that can be delegated compared to British doctrine (except in extremis, which is the eternal get out of jail free card).
  6. Which raises the whole spectre of the last 15 years' "tactical victory, strategic defeat" narrative....

    ed to add. Interesting discussion on one campaign MoE
    How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  7. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    I experienced this several times while being fed and watered by a large multinational in the afterlife. Hours spent debating process and producing flow charts that got binned following a change of management.
  8. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    The British Army has real problems, but my 2005 experience in Basrah was that I could greet the new Brigade COS, give him a quick "we're the Operational Analysis cell and we're here to help you", and he'd point me at where he felt he could use us: typically I'd get an overview and conversation with the SO2 whose area it was, who'd then point me at the NCO who was working the actual problem, and we could get most of our stuff done at that level, referring upwards for "is this what you needed for your brief, sir?" to try to be sure that what we delivered was useful and addressing the issues at hand.

    The US liaison team? They had a colonel, a major and a lieutenant. We were (only) allowed to talk to the lieutenant, who was not allowed to decide or agree anything - he was merely the mouthpiece transmitting the Colonel's pronouncements to us, and bearing our words back to his masters. (He liked to join us for our Saturday movie nights and vented some of his frustrations at the "I don't like that analysis and I disagree with your conclusions, change them" micromanagement) Likewise, he was a good briefer at the prepared scripts for morning prayers, but couldn't answer any questions himself - not that he wasn't able to, he wasn't allowed to. This might have been a particularly bad example, but the lieutenant involved didn't seem to consider it unusual...
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  9. Caecilius

    Caecilius LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    It isn't. I've worked with them extensively and they go far beyond our worst excesses when it comes to imposing rigid process.
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  10. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Royal Navy, including HMS Vanguard, 1946-1950

    A very interesting if necessarily abbreviated, even skeletal, account of how the RN consolidated itself and dealt with the financial, material and social issues following WW2 up to 1970.

    I have posted it here because it shows how, as the shoe pinched, the RN can be seen closing shore establishments, scrapping (or selling) ships, and consolidating shore command. In 1945 we had Cs in C for Plymouth, Portsmouth and The Nore (Chatham).The Nore went and later you can see the other two combined into a 'Naval Home Command'. As a drumroll behind this there are stats for successive reductions in the number of admirals. The data is gappy and does not show for instance the demise of Cs in C East Indies and later Mediterranean, nor the reduction in Simonstown from a vice-admiral (3*) in 1965 to a Commodore (1*) in 1967. Nor does it show McGrigor and then more publicly Mountbatten's clear-out of numbers of RN air stations left over from the war (Macrihanish anyone?) leading later to Abbotsinch becoming Glasgow airport and the closure of Lee on Solent. There are now as I understand it only two, at Helston and Yeovilton.

    Later came the closure of specialist schools such as HMS Vernon (now the Gunwharf shopping centre etc), the signal school at Leydene near Petersfield, and the navigation school and later Maritime Warfare centre at Southwick House, all now concentrated in one establishment in Fareham. Major administrative organisations have moved out of London, the Royal Marines have given up Deal and Eastney and the medics and dentists have long been knocked down a star from where they used to be. All manner of other fiefs have gone like the RN Engineering College and the RN College at Greenwich with its nuclear reactor. The surviving dockyards are pretty well entirely privatised.

    There is a lot else to read between the lines. Every change was met with howls of pain but got pushed through nonetheless.
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  11. Gannet?
  12. A2_Matelot

    A2_Matelot LE Book Reviewer

    Closed long time ago but has leased facilities we can use for short term operating.
  13. 820 Naval Air Squadron head North | Royal Navy
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  14. A2_Matelot

    A2_Matelot LE Book Reviewer

  15. The article I linked post-dates the one you linked by a whole year, and is the most recent one in that bit of the (very much under-curated) official RN site. The stand-out phrases are "didn't close" and "remains open".