Who had/has the best Command system ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Dec 1, 2010.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. British system had Lt Col as Battalion Commander, Major as OC Company, Capts as Adj and second command Company, and Lt as platoon commander.
    Germans seems to have Majors commanding Battalions, Capt company commanders and Lt, Platoon or sometimes Company commanders.
    US seems to follow British lines, French did their own thing Capt Battalion Commanders in Vietnam though Major was normal.
    I know why UK has Half Col as CO Battalion but would like to learn more.

  2. Silly boy... the RSM commands the Battalion. The LCol merely borrows it for various purposes from time to time.
  3. Nope.

    British system has Coy Comds as Major, BG HQ staff officers as Captain; American system has Coy Comds as Captain, BG HQ staff officers as Major. Big difference if you're Ops Officer (Bn S-3 for any Americans reading).

    If I was cynical, I'd suggest that Britain expects its infantry to be in short supply, so that Companies have to operate independently; the US expects to have enough troops that its infantry can operate in BG quantities as a minimum.
  4. The US system was based on the Prussian, hence their similarity to the current German model.

    I hadn't thought of it, but I expect Gravelbelly's right. During the days of Empire a company OC would have had a lot of responsibility, so having him a Major would add the experience that was needed. I don't know the date of when company commanders switched form being Captains to being Majors. That might be a useful clue as to why it happened.

    As to which system is best...more gear, more blokes and fewer officers has worked remarkably well over the last 100 years. We stick to what we've always done because it's what we've always done.
  5. It's been a long time since I was anywhere near the Bundewehr, but I definitely remember bn comds being Lt Col. I understood the French still work as regiments or demi-bdes, not battalions.

    UK has also been infected by the CoS disease, the noveau term for BG OPs Offr, who can well be a major, but not always. Aust has had bn ops offrs as majors for decades.

    Majors as coy, etc, comds means they have quite a lot of experience, and when necessary operate fairly independently, including as cbt teams.
  6. I always thought it was due to rank inflation; we used to have Captains as Company Commanders like most other armies, but due to the number of officers shrinking less then the number of ORs, we are now able/forced to have Majors command Companies. Then again, I think I read this in Lewis Page's book, so it may well be bollocks.
  7. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Mrs S' 5 greats gfather commanded a company as a Captain - but that was during the Seven Years War so it must have changed since then.
  8. Majors started commanding sqns and btys in the 1870s; when infantry went from 8 to 4 rifle coys per bn in 1914 - there was no change in bn strength (& no HQ coy nonsense in those days) then all 4 coys became maj's comds (at least on paper!).

    So yes Page is talking bollks, nothing new there, but being wrong by a century is good going even for him.
  9. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Joe Haldeman's magnum opus was The Forever War. Sci fi that started in the near future (actually now the recent past) and goes on for millennia, mainly because of time dilation necessary to achieve near-light speed to jump through a collapsar across the galaxy in an instant. But that's all background.

    The main character finds himself fighting throughout the war, but his subjective time is actually not long at all, again because of time dilation.

    Haldeman served in Vietnam and the book is usually seen as drawing parallels. His comment that relates to this thread went something like "You know an army has been around too long when there are too many officers in appointments that used to be the domain of soldiers."

    Oh and yes I recommend the book.
  10. The German system has fewer officers that the British (and US). Its officer selection methods are probably essential to delivering Auftragstacktik.

    In the Kaiser's era you couldn't be a real officer unless you were a "gentleman". A sharper distinction than in Britian which excluded a lot of people who could have been commissioned in Britian. The sheer size of the conscripted Imperial German army meant that there weren't enough "gentlemen" to fulfil all officer roles. The German system of "genlemen volunteers" and "Officer candidates" and a better universal education system than Britian's meant that the Germans could call on a class of educated NCOs who would carry out task that officers would do in Britian. This was institutionalised in the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht which selected most Officers from educated soldiers. After a year's training they became officer caandidates with the equivalent rank to corporal.

    The big benefit for the German command system was that by the time they attended officer schoopl they would have known all jobs at platoon level. They would not need the CMSR element of Sandhurst or the US ROTC. Wartime officers candidates would probably have had frontline experience. So German army officers studied battalion command not platoon command as the leadership vehicle. I doubt if the Germans "Auftragstactik" could have been effective without being trained to think at battalion or higher level.
  11. The British system is actually fairly scalable and flexible: in major wars we end up with incredibly young officers commanding units, with more experienced officers swiftly moving into higher command/staff or to take over newly-raised units; both sets of officers traditionally rewarded by acting higher rank.
  12. The US also have sergeants commanding sections!
  13. A good explanation here of how acting, temporary and war-substantive ranks worked in WW2:

    The British army and the people's ... - Google Books
  14. I heard this dit not too long ago. It's actually nothing to do with that and comes from the peacetime role of the British Army during the days of empire, which was basically to go off and fight minor rebellions of tribesmen and the like armed with sharpened peices of mango. They found that the best-sized formation for this job was a company, which was at the time commanded by a captain.

    The problem with this was that the staff officer attached to the company OC to help him plan his operations would have been a major and therefore the OC needed to ask his 'assistant' for permission before doing anything. Furthermore, captains were often very young and inexperienced and it was not held that they should be the Queen's highest (by appointment) representative in whatever place the company found itself. By switching the ranks around, the British had more strategically savvy people to run what were effectively small campaigns and the company had a degree of initiative not previously found below battalion level.
  15. Staff Sergeants (E-6) actually but it is notoriously difficult to directly compare NCO ranks in different armies, despite the existence of the official NATO OR system. The US grades of E-3 (private first class) and E-4 (specialist) are officially equivalent to the British lance-corporal (OR-3) and corporal (OR-4) respectively but they are not (except in some cases with E-4 corporals, quite a rare rank) actually NCOs while the Brit ranks are. Thus US Army NCOs effectively begin at Sgt (E-5) who is a fire-team leader. There is no official Brit equivalent, Sgt being considered equal to Staff Sgt (E-6/OR-6). Confused yet?

    Ranks and insignia of NATO armies enlisted - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia