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Thread: The Operational Level Of War Does Not Exist

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Z,



    that's a really good point.

    of course, by modern day standards the british were -terrible- at logistics up until the Boer War. the Crimean War was a mess of incredible proportions...just in terms of logistics and coordination alone.
    Yes, but by the standards of the time dividing the world up among what would now be operational commands gave them a huge edge in the colonial wars

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    z,

    Yes, but by the standards of the time dividing the world up among what would now be operational commands gave them a huge edge in the colonial wars
    they didn't really do that, so much as they were restricted by technology from doing otherwise. one of the reasons why they fought so creatively, and why the British late empire started to grow by leaps and bounds (firearms technology was high, but communications technology sucked).

    but your original point stands. the british were at the forefront of what we would now deem operational art, although i'd say it was the soviets whom took it to the level of understanding that we have of it today.

    i'm currently reading a really good book on this right now, "Queen Victoria's Little Wars":

    The troops were superbly drilled, well-disciplined...but the services needed to provide troops in the field with food, clothing, shelter, transport, and medical care were inadequate or non-existent. As transport for the entire army, twenty-one wagons were landed.

    To understand how this situation could exist it is necessary to look briefly at the muddled organization of Britain's armed might at this time. First of all, there was no connection whatever between the Army and the Navy; naval officers never commanded troops and military officers never commanded ships or sailors...when forced to work together, they behaved as allies without a single commander.

    There was not even a single unified British army. The so-called Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards actually had no control over the troops outside Great Britain, and even in England the responsibilities for the various military functions were fractured. Food and transport were the responsibility of the Commissariat, which was not in the Army at all but was a branch of the Treasury. The Medical Department was semi-autonomous, reporting not to the Commander-in-Chief but to the Secretary of War, who was also responsible for the Army's finances, except for the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. These were paid by the Master-General of the Ordnance, who was also responsible for all fortifications, barracks, and certain items of equipment.

    Over all, however, the size of the Army and its cost were not the responsibility of either the Commander-in-Chief or the Secretary for War or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but of the Secretary of States for the Colonies. Under such a system, if system it could be called, it was something of an administrative miracle that an army could be put into the field at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    z,



    they didn't really do that, so much as they were restricted by technology from doing otherwise. one of the reasons why they fought so creatively, and why the British late empire started to grow by leaps and bounds (firearms technology was high, but communications technology sucked).

    but your original point stands. the british were at the forefront of what we would now deem operational art, although i'd say it was the soviets whom took it to the level of understanding that we have of it today.

    i'm currently reading a really good book on this right now, "Queen Victoria's Little Wars":
    I agree the Soviets advanced the idea, but I think the modern concept is different from what the Soivet Deep Battle concept which was little more than an extension of the tactical realm to greater depth. Soviet thinking along with ability lacked the requirement to sustain deep operations. IIRC They generally saw the battle depth to be 300km or less and of only about 30 days duration once the offensive kicked off.

    Compare that to the American concept where operations are sustained and the depth of the arena can stretch over a thousand kilometers on attack or defense along with its emphasis on logistics, span of control and information management. Information management is something I failed to highlight earlier. Though Mihais touched on it. The operational commander is the sieve that strains the information up and down between the strategic and tactical. If he can prevent overload, he will have the most complete picture of events in theater.

    Which brings me back to my point about the British, though I seem to have been wrong. I assumed the overall CinC was an admiral but it was not. I was also thinking before Victoria and specifically the era of the American Revolution and earlier. The control of North America for example was a post held by an army general. He had authority from Florida north to include Canada. Under him he had other field commanders he could detach for distant operations while retaining overall control. Not quite the modern concept since for example Howe took part in tactical fights, but a glimmering of the future for sure.

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    Astralis,

    Great book

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    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    I noticed you mentioned distance from the fight.These days,a general sitting on the other side of the world can see and talk to a platoon more efficiently than could a batallion commander 40 years ago.Not advocating jumping the hierarchical levels,just pointing the massive increase in situational awareness.
    Am bit out of my depth here, but some would argue that the clarity with which operational level commanders can see the battlefield with electronic eyes is deceptive. Very often it is not what you can see that kills you, but that which you can't see. Additionally, the hierarchical distance between the general and the original discovery necessarily dilutes information. I am thinking of the Battle of Takur Ghar during Anaconda where a mountain crawling with AQ fighters and HMG crews in entrenched positions was selected by a commanding general in Bahrain and the recon teams that had warned against such a an approach was shut out of communications loop. Satellite and aerial imagery did not convey how many fighters were hiding on the hill, and how much firepower was pouring down from it; nor did the communications technology facilitate the upward movement of relevant information. Instead, a brief breakdown of sat. radios resulted in a very dangerous situation where a second team sent in to rescue troops in contact was inserted in the kill zone.

    It seems that proper segregation of responsibility of tactical and operational levels of war is more than vindicated by practice.
    Last edited by Triple C; 18 Jan 13, at 08:38.
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    That was a fast paced mistake.It happened a million times in the history of war,wherever control freaks,less gifted soldiers and risk averse policies are the rule.My ideal looks a bit more like this Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn ... then lead | Video on TED.com
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