Why do we need officers?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by inferiorsenseofhumour, Jul 10, 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. During the interview on my AOSB briefing, I was posed this question. "So Mr Humour, why does the army need officers? Why can't we make do with SNCOs leading troops?"

    With plenty of umming and ahhring, I resorted to shrugging my shoulders. I don't think he was too pleased with that answer.

    The thing is, if I had said what I originally wanted to say which was officers are smarter than SNCOs and would come up with a better plan. Wouldn't that just make me seem like a douchebag with no respect for their years of experience? If I had said, "well officers have better man management skills", that would suggest that SNCOs are incapable of organising a platoon which we all know isn't true.

    So what is the DS's answer to this question?
  2. Some fool has to carry the can when it all goes pearshaped
  3. Ah, that's why they get paid so much
  4. Can understand the link between officer and fool but not between officer and carrying the can.
  5. Somewhat obviously (I feel), the answer is somewhere in the assertion that an effective CoC needs BOTH kinds of officers; commissioned and non-commissioned.
  6. I always liked this as a pretty good summary:


  7. I assume the British military is close, but I speak with regard to the US army.

    The difference between commissioned and non commissioned officers is that commissioned are strategic leaders, take over in the field and coordinate with the overall larger strategic war plan based on study and education.

    Non commissioned officers (NCO's) are tactical & support oriented leaders who usually lead in smaller groups under direction of an officer based on their experience in the military and leadership qualities.
  8. Nice quote. However, I fear it neglects the value that the British Army's Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess brings to the equation.
  9. That does it for me, jumpinjarhead.

    Or to use the colloquial . . . the officers set and disseminate the objective(s) (long term, and immediate); and, observe and manage the progress to meeting the objective(s).

    It is up to the NCO/SNCOs, to organise the soldiery so that they can meet the objective(s).
  10. I thought they were a handicap placed on the british army to prevent it ruling the world
  11. Because without officers, the British Army would disappear in a morass of toe jam and smegma. The inspection of winkies and feet seems to be something that perhaps public school educations have made the specific concern of the officer corps?
  12. The army needs officers otherwise what would happen, to these fine specimens of British manhood.

    YouTube - Monty Python Upperclass Twit of the Year


    Sadly, artificial intelligence will probably never be a match for natural stupidity.
  13. Go read

    Richard Holmes's 'Dusty Warriors' and then

    sgt. Dan Mills 'Sniper One'

    Dusty warriors is written from a historical point of view focusing on an officers point of view mostly, about the fighting in Al Amarah in Iraq, and Sniper One is obviously from a sergeants point of view about the fighting in Al Amarah Iraq, on the same tour. After reading both of these you can really get a sense on how the two had approached the war differently. Dan was focusing on killing the enemy, plain and simple, where as in dusty warriors you really got the feeling of the overall battle and how the majors and other higher ups were thinking about other things, high among them political posturing and such, Dan mentions a number of critically important ceasefires for example, which where all brokered by Lt.col Matt Maer.

    In my personal opinion the roles of NCO's and Officers over lap immensely, especially when the bullets start flying at which time they often end up doing the exact same job, keeping an overview of the battlefield and directing the men.

    But in general Officers play the politics game much more, and are far more concerned with where a regiment will be in a months time and whether or not that regiments particular mission is being accomplished and what needs to be changed or done to make sure a mission is accomplished. NCO's on the other hand are thinking about tomorrow, "do my guys have enough ammo and food? How should I reposition a few sangars, or mortars" stuff like that. Not that I am trying to say NCO's are all short sighted, I just get the feeling they focus on specific tasks.

    That is just my two cents, bearing in mind I have absolutely no military experience at all, but to me it seems quite clear cut how important officers are.
  14. Point taken but you must remember the time period about which he was writing and I think given the entire quote, it is apparent in the modern context that it applies equally well to WOs and SNCOs and NCOs with appropriate tweaks for the relative experience, education, roles etc. of each level of the rank structure.

    I have a bit of a canned speech I give when I commission new lieutenants in the Marines as part of my duties as their faculty adviser at a very large US university. I include of course Farwell's quote but also add these (there are many others to the same effect so
    don't slag me for my personal choices):



    I use these to make my point that to me, given the tremendous skill and capabilities of our SNCOs and NCOs (for you in the UK, your WOs and NCOs), one needs to ask the question why are there commissioned officers in the rank structure. Since a good infantry Sergeant can perform virtually all of the tactical skills that are needed for an infantry platoon to accomplish its primary mission, there must be a reason for the platoon commander and I believe it is to provide the collective "conscience" of the unit.

    By this I do not mean that each Marine is not expected to have his or her own moral compass that points in the right direction but when in combat, given the perverse centrifugal force of inhumanity that is inherent in all war that pushes attitudes and actions toward the outer limit of acceptability, it is the officer who must be always on the alert to reign in the zeal and aggressiveness that the members of the unit must have to0 accomplish their often bloody mission. In varying degrees, this same dynamic holds true in any military unit regardless of mission or specialty. The officer must be the one to say when the unit has done "enough."
  15. An officer can be a good soldier; and a soldier can be a good leader. However, it is the officer who must take ultimate responsibility and when faced with a difficult challenge must set the example; it is the officer who stands up and says ‘follow me’.