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View Full Version : What is the best battlefield to do a staff ride at?



Shek
29 Apr 07,, 00:41
I've only done a staff ride to Antietam, which was quite fascinating to see the terrain and how the two opposing generals positioned themselves to command their forces.

So, my question is, what battlefield is the best one to do a staff ride at?

If I could, I think that one of the most fascinating ones would be to do the battle of Algiers and walk the Casbah and see how the French brought the FLN to its knees.

Albany Rifles
30 Apr 07,, 16:35
Not surprising consider your military experience.

Just led one of my least favorites, Gettysburg.

My favorites that I have done, as a leader and student

Fort Neccessity & Braddock's Retreat

Ticonderoga
Saratoga
Lafayette/Arnold Virginia Campaign
Yorktown
Green in South Carolina

Chippewa & Lundy's Lane

Chickamauga/Chattanooga
Red River
Shiloh
Vicksburg
Fredericksburg
Chancellorsville
Antietam
Wilderness & Spotsylvania
Petersburg
Atlanta

Galipoli
Verdun
Meuse-Argonne

D Day
Battle of the Bulge

I have been fortunate to have worked for bosses who like to do staff rides and have let me prepare for them on the clock!!!:biggrin:

I am trying to convince my current boss that I need to do one for Midway. ;)

S2
30 Apr 07,, 19:59
I can see all the others, but when did you squeeze that one in? Let me guess? An ouzo-induced side-trip from the Greek Isles?

S2
30 Apr 07,, 20:05
Well staffed and researched. Easy to walk. Good views of the entire battlefield. Watch for snakes.

May not be the best value from a tactical perspective. Then again,...:biggrin:

Albany Rifles
30 Apr 07,, 20:08
No, back in the day, there used to be a little exerice in Turkey called Display Determination. My unit, the old 24th ID at FT Stewart (now 3 ID) used to participate. One year as a staff pogue I was along for the trip when our Division G3 Training, who had done the staff ride as and exchange officer with the British Army an dhad done a staff ride with them. He put that one together late in the rotation when we shoul dhave been doing something else. Very intersting to have a Turkish officer give his army's perspective.

Druze
01 May 07,, 00:40
As a child in Israel I was somehow very fascinated with the US civil war. It is how I first discovered at what a great and powerful nation the US is.

I was about 11 years old and we had a class about slavery, civil war in America, etc. I thought to myself how amazing it was how this civil war was fought. I can't think of another civil war where two sides were so uniformed and independent of one another and engaged each other in such standard conventional fashion. Standing armies fighting each other in a civil war in such major battles intrigued me.

Ucar
02 Jul 07,, 12:29
Galipoli

To my extreme regrets, the Gallipoli battlefield is to a large extent wholly destroyed. Thanks to incompetent officials who succeded one another for the last 50-60 years -a typical case of corruption- the whole battlefield is "distorted" to say the least.

The greatest Turkish military grave sits under a tourist bus parking lot, and the memorial of this grave sits on top of a hill that never saw any parking. Add to that, the razed trenshces, little guidance expect from guides who only tell folks tales "the bullets did not penetrate the mullahs flesh as they charged down the hills...", no museum remotely comparable to modern war museums, and Turkish citizens, who go to Gallipoli to pray to the souls of 1000s who fell there, without the remotest idea or knowledge of the battles themselves, and you get the idea.

If you do not have extremely detailed sources, and self made maps or military maps -Turkish General Staff maps are very good and as a result not available to the Turkish public-, you will find the whole trip to Gallipoli a total waste of time.

Oh, lest I forget, the scenery is beautiful.

This comes from a Turk who is extremely disturbed by the situation the Gallipoli battlefield is in now. :mad: :mad: :mad:

lazybastard
02 Jul 07,, 22:43
Could someone please tell this ignorant civie what exactly is a staff ride?

Kernow
02 Jul 07,, 23:23
Being a Tank Soldier I can honestly say that Cambrai in France is a must.

TopHatter
02 Jul 07,, 23:58
Could someone please tell this ignorant civie what exactly is a staff ride?
I'm guessing that it's where a bunch of military types drive around an historic battlefield and discuss the tactics and strategy used while actually seeing the literal physical terrain and then comparing what they might have done, their observations etc.

Or something completely different than what I just said. :redface:

Southie
03 Jul 07,, 00:04
I'm guessing that it's where a bunch of military types drive around an historic battlefield and discuss the tactics and strategy used while actually seeing the literal physical terrain and then comparing what they might have done, their observations etc.

Or something completely different than what I just said. :redface:

Your guess is correct. :)

Shek
03 Jul 07,, 00:53
I'm guessing that it's where a bunch of military types drive around an historic battlefield and discuss the tactics and strategy used while actually seeing the literal physical terrain and then comparing what they might have done, their observations etc.

Or something completely different than what I just said. :redface:

You drive around on a safari. On a staff ride, you walk the ground ;).

In all seriousness, it does take walking the ground to make yourself aware of all the folds in the terrain. Seeing the ground mounted (on horseback or on a tank) can make a world of difference versus seeing the ground lying on your stomach (or even kneeling or standing).

JAD_333
03 Jul 07,, 01:09
I've done walks on the Winchester battlefields. Not a whole lot to see.

But I was wondering about Waterloo and some of the sites in Spain where the French and British fought some major battles. What condition are they in and are they worth a walk over?

Southie
03 Jul 07,, 01:47
You drive around on a safari. On a staff ride, you walk the ground ;).

In all seriousness, it does take walking the ground to make yourself aware of all the folds in the terrain. Seeing the ground mounted (on horseback or on a tank) can make a world of difference versus seeing the ground lying on your stomach (or even kneeling or standing).

I stand corrected on stating that TH was correct. Well, on the driving part. :redface:

lazybastard
03 Jul 07,, 04:13
Thanks, guys. I guess knowledge of how the terrain changed over time (construction, erosion, etc.) is an absolute must for this, especially for some of the older battlefields.

Ucar
03 Jul 07,, 08:36
And how to do a staff ride in a battlefield that has been almost completely razed, distorted, misplaced ? The trench systems are no more, weapon emplacements are used as picnic areas, the bunkers have benches on them for sightseeing. Also add to the equation that the Gallipoli battles are not a major part of the Cirriculum at the Turkish Staff College expect for mentions of Atatuk's successes on the defensive.

The Turkish Military and Historical education is full of myths which are taught and presented as facts to all both officers and civilians alike.

I doubt if you could find more than 10 officers in the whole Turkish Army who could give you an extremely detailed overview of Turkish dispositions, tactics and unit dispositions in the Gallipoli theatre. In fact the achievements of the 19th Infantry Division are studied as a primary focus of the battle, whereas the fiercest fighting was carried by the units of 9th Infantry Division.

You can go and discuss the battle of Yusufcuk Tepe (Scimitar Hill) because a bus parking lot now rests over the axis of advance. I could provide more examples but this simply saddens me ever more.

Once again, it is better to prepare yourself as a tourist, take your maps and go to Gallipoli to tour the battlefield. Gallipoli, Sarikamis, Kut-el Amara...are only myths to ordinary Turkish officers and general puublic. You will not be able to get any detailed and specific information from fellow officers in the TuAF.

Albany Rifles
03 Jul 07,, 13:48
What Shek said.

Staff Ride (http://www.nps.gov/archive/cowp/StaffRide.htm)
About Staff Rides (http://www.sais-jhu.edu/programs/ir/strategic/trips/about.html)


Here are some good sites with an explanation.

I have participated in staff rides and have lead many. And I can tell you they take a lot of preparation. I would say that for every hour I spend on a battlefield I spend 8 - 10 hours preparing.

That said they are excellent ways to combine history, lessons learned and and ways to improve on your own TTPs.

Just an FYI, the towers on the Gettysburg battlefield were emplaced by the US Army at the turn of the last century for students from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks could come and conduct staff rides.

Hope these help

lazybastard
04 Jul 07,, 01:14
So what's the oldest battlefield possible for the purpose of staff rides? Would it be possible to do staff rides on some of the battles of 30 Years War? Or even earlier? How about Cannae?:tongue:

Big K
04 Jul 07,, 10:19
Once again, it is better to prepare yourself as a tourist, take your maps and go to Gallipoli to tour the battlefield.

i totally agree with you....such a shame on us!!!... :mad:

Shek
05 Jul 07,, 02:09
So what's the oldest battlefield possible for the purpose of staff rides? Would it be possible to do staff rides on some of the battles of 30 Years War? Or even earlier? How about Cannae?:tongue:

Any battlefield will work as long as you know where it's at, have a knowledge of the battlefield, and decide that it is appropriate for what you want to get out of it (i.e. what lessons do you want to demonstrate? decision making? reading terrain? shaping the battle? command and control? etc.).

Just for a feel of a staff ride and the preparation necessary, here's a glance at one potential staff ride at Antietam.

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/programs/ir/strategic/SSR2006/docs/SSR_2006_Itinerary_Final.pdf

JAD_333
05 Jul 07,, 06:01
Just for a feel of a staff ride and the preparation necessary, here's a glance at one potential staff ride at Antietam.

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/programs/ir/strategic/SSR2006/docs/SSR_2006_Itinerary_Final.pdf

I was enthralled by the methodology and penetrating questions that lay out the staff ride. Thanks for sharing them.

Shek
05 Jul 07,, 13:41
I was entralled by the methodology and penetrating questions that lay out the staff ride. Thanks for sharing them.

No problem - my pleasure.

:PAID ADVERTISEMENT ON:

The above staff ride was organized under Professor Eliot Cohen, author of Amazon.com: Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime: Books: Eliot A. Cohen (http://www.amazon.com/Supreme-Command-Soldiers-Statesmen-Leadership/dp/1400034043/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0438121-3920159?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183639239&sr=8-1), which is the first book to be featured for the book of the month club here (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/staff-college/39418-supreme-command-soldiers-statesmen-leadership-wartime.html#post387416) :PAID ADVERTISEMENT OFF:

JAD_333
05 Jul 07,, 14:12
No problem - my pleasure.

:PAID ADVERTISEMENT ON: The above staff ride was organized under Professor Eliot Cohen, author of Amazon.com: Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime: Books: Eliot A. Cohen (http://www.amazon.com/Supreme-Command-Soldiers-Statesmen-Leadership/dp/1400034043/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0438121-3920159?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183639239&sr=8-1), which is the first book to be featured for the book of the month club here (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/staff-college/39418-supreme-command-soldiers-statesmen-leadership-wartime.html#post387416) :PAID ADVERTISEMENT OFF:

Just now ordered the book. Sampled a few pages. Looks like a good read...Amazon $2.99...can't go wrong. Thanks.

cape_royds
05 Nov 07,, 03:25
No staff rides, here, I'm a civilian.

But I've seen parts of the battlefield near Alamein (near Tel El Eisa), and walking the landscape firsthand made a strong impression. What particularly struck me was the shallowness of the relief. The Mitiyeira Ridge is almost unnoticeable, yet the reverse slope it offered was crucial for the Germans. There was also a complete absence of any kind of cover. No wonder the assault took place at night, and in the darkness and dust, no wonder it was easy for columns to lose their way to their assembly areas.

The other thing I found striking was the fertility of the soil. Just add some water and it blooms. No wonder the Egyptians today complain about the hundreds of thousands of hectares of land still ridden with mines and unexploded ordnance.

Bigfella
05 Nov 07,, 12:14
There is an obvious problem with a lot of modern battlefields - their scale. I visited Verdun as a child. We only saw a fraction of the battlefield, but a short time inside one of those forts was very informative.

Along the same lines as Shek's tour of the Casbah in Algiers, I can recommend a trip around the citadel in Hue, Vietnam. I was unprepared for its scale & gained a much clearer appreciation of the difficulties of the fight from just a morning wandering about. I would love to do it with a clearer account of the battle, and may do so in the future.

It also has the advantage that you can stay in a hotel within the citadel, and break for lunch at one of the excellent Vietnamese restaurants there.

I'd like to see some of Napoleon's battlefields. He was a master of terrain, and I can only imagine that actually seeing Waterloo or Austerlitz would add to any understanding of the battle.

I can also recommend shows such as 'Battlefield Detectives' & especially the British 'Two men in a Trench' for a look at some famous & not so famous battlefields.

Dreadnought
05 Nov 07,, 17:46
IMO the ocean. Its natural occurances make it diffacult for either side to hold an upper hand from the beginning and skill must come into play. Not that it doesnt on land but there is far less consealment in the open sea.;)

Shek
16 Jul 09,, 01:31
I've got a thread on the Gettysburg staff ride that I just finished, but I figured I'd drag this thread back to the top in case newer members have some experiences to contribute.

I still enjoyed the Antietam staff ride better, but I think that probably had to do with 1) not visiting the cemetery at Gettysburg (the new visitors center is no longer right next to the cemetery) and 2) having been less familiar with Antietam and so I learned more during the course of the staff ride (I am not implying that I know a lot, just giving a relative comparison).

Albany Rifles
16 Jul 09,, 13:21
One of the other good points about Antietam from a staff ride point of view is you can stand right outside the visitors center and pretty much see the entire battlefield (except for Snavely's Ford and Burnsides Bridge) from that one spot. I always felt that it gave an excellent vantage point to set the stage.

Kernow
16 Jul 09,, 22:22
Operation Goodwood for the Tank Soldiers on here.

Silent Hunter
28 Aug 09,, 15:57
As a civilian, I don't do these sort of things.

I have seen some of the D-Day areas, such as Pointe du Hoc (lot of craters).

This topic reminds me of that scene from Patton.

Shek
19 Oct 09,, 02:22
I cross the Rappahannock tomorrow and will whip Bobby Lee's butt and take his surrender on Wednesday!

Kernow
19 Oct 09,, 03:17
I liked Cambrai.

Albany Rifles
19 Oct 09,, 13:57
I cross the Rappahannock tomorrow and will whip Bobby Lee's butt and take his surrender on Wednesday!

So, are you Burnside? Stoneman? Hooker? Meade? Grant? Who with?

Knaur Amarsh
19 Oct 09,, 16:50
I cross the Rappahannock tomorrow and will whip Bobby Lee's butt and take his surrender on Wednesday!

Hopefully not in that dress, sir.

Shek
21 Oct 09,, 21:54
So, are you Burnside? Stoneman? Hooker? Meade? Grant? Who with?

We didn't role play on this staff ride, but rather, addressed broader questions. I covered Cold Harbor and the initial assault on the Dimmock Line.

Albany Rifles
22 Oct 09,, 15:27
We didn't role play on this staff ride, but rather, addressed broader questions. I covered Cold Harbor and the initial assault on the Dimmock Line.


I wish I had your cell....you were right in my front yard!

And I was joking about the role playing!

Shek
22 Oct 09,, 21:25
I wish I had your cell....you were right in my front yard!

And I was joking about the role playing!

We were moving out and so we only spent about two hours at Petersburg, including travel time from City Point to Stedman to The Crater.

Albany Rifles
23 Oct 09,, 13:19
When you went from City Point to PNB you went by my barber, my library, my local grocery store, my ABC store :)), and of course, beautiful FT Lee. And on my daily walks I walk a trail that pops out of the woods at Stedman. Did you see the bald eagles by Stedman?

And I really like the way they have reinterpreted the Crater....also the way they cut back the woods.

This was through ILE Belvoir, correct?

Shek
23 Oct 09,, 17:49
When you went from City Point to PNB you went by my barber, my library, my local grocery store, my ABC store :)), and of course, beautiful FT Lee. And on my daily walks I walk a trail that pops out of the woods at Stedman. Did you see the bald eagles by Stedman?

And I really like the way they have reinterpreted the Crater....also the way they cut back the woods.

This was through ILE Belvoir, correct?

No, I did Gettysburg there (half does Gettysburg and the other half does Chancellorsville) and ILE Lee does Petersburg and I think Appomatox. This was through BSAP at Carlisle.

Albany Rifles
23 Oct 09,, 18:21
No, I did Gettysburg there (half does Gettysburg and the other half does Chancellorsville) and ILE Lee does Petersburg and I think Appomatox. This was through BSAP at Carlisle.

Cool. How is school?

Shek
24 Oct 09,, 03:47
Cool. How is school?

Good, although were in the force management block, which is equivalent to sticking pencils in your eye.

Albany Rifles
26 Oct 09,, 14:21
2 of my fellow Scout leaders work at FMSA here at FT Lee.....I'll let them know how you feel about their career field!:biggrin:

Shek
26 Oct 09,, 18:17
2 of my fellow Scout leaders work at FMSA here at FT Lee.....I'll let them know how you feel about their career field!:biggrin:

Tell them to keep their pencils dull :))