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1925 CAJ V63 n5

1925 CAJ V63 n5

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Published by birds_eye
Picks up from the J US Artillery reflecting the concerns for coastal defence after WW1.
Picks up from the J US Artillery reflecting the concerns for coastal defence after WW1.

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Published by: birds_eye on Sep 16, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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U. S. Army
NO. 5
AM going to discuss with Jon this morning what is usually spokenof as "Command." The word
is defined, as a verb, inseveral ways, among which are: to order with authority; to l'equire;to be in authorit:y; to have power or influence. These definitions fitcertain conditions but do not fully satisfy the idea of command, asI conceiveit, in its broadest sense. The definition carries the thoughtof authority or power, due in the main to superior rank. Definitions,as such, are often too narrow and restricted, and this is especiallytrue in military definitions. As soon as a definition is formulated,it is subjected to such a barrage of explanations regarding excep-tions that onequickly seesthat the meaning of many words, as usedin the military vocabulary, is governed to a great extent by the con-text or by the way the word is used. I shall not attempt to lay downa rigid definition of command, but will attempt to create a concep-tion-something :flexible,rather than a fixed, rigid rule. I shall at-tempt to showthat a commander should have, besides his power andauthority, as per the definition, certain other qualifications whichenable him to maintain, by his own ability and personality, thatprestige which his military rank confers upon him.Command has a still further meaning.
carries with it notonly personal and other qualities which enable a commander to main-tain his prestige, size up the situation and arrive at proper andlogical conclusions; but it involves also a knowledge of the workingsof the several subdivisions comprising the organization, as well asability. to make the greatest possible use of this organization.'Ve all admire leaders, but command goes beyond that, andwhile including leadership as a very necessary part of command,includes also organizational, administrative, and executive capacity.llany menwho are good advisers lack the necessaQ' qualities toreach proper decisions. Others, whilemaking good decisions, forget
"'Lecture delivered to tIle Commandand General Staff School,Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
that they have subordinates and try to attend to all the details them-selves. Still others conceive, but fail to have necessary details workedout. These are failings which command must avoid.In our service, in the past, much stress has been laid on generalstaff work. Some people have been led to believe that the staff waseverything and that the commander was a man of straw. This ideawas more or less prevalent in somelocalities during the 'Vorld War.
is a condition of affairs which should not exist. Still other peoplesay that the staff consists of several types or species of minds, eachtype being the commander's mind for a particular kind of work. Thestaff is
the commander's mind.
he is a real commander, hehas his own mind, but uses his staff as conditions require, all in acertain systematized manner.
proposition of building up ageneral staff to serve a straw-man-commander is basically wrong inthe American service.
may have its proper place in other services,but not in ours.
should be remembered that general staff officers,as such, have no control or authority over troops and services.Orders which they prepare should be promulgated in the name of thecommander and through the channels prescribed by him. The pro-mulgation then assumes that the commander has exercised suchsupervision as he deems necessary under the circumstances. Unlessthe commander has previously authorized the use
his name inthe promulgation of orders, a stair officer should not assume thatpower. Xaturally circumstances will arise where it is\necessary forsomeoneto do something, and in such cases a staff officer,if present,might take the situation in hand, but this should be the exceptionand not the rule and will be governed by the location of the mastermind. The normal procedure should be that the staff officer, know-ing the wishes of the higher commander but without specific authori-ty, may and should fully advise the local commander as to what he,the staff officer,believesare the wishes, plans, etc., of the higher com-mander. But the responsibility and authority rests, and should rest,with the commander on the spot. This does not mean that the gen-eral staff officeris or should be a nonenity. Far from it.
is merelya question of the location, duty, responsibility and authority of theseveral persons, so dete-rmined as to secure proper teamwork. Thelocal commander has certain duties, certain responsibilities, certainauthority, within his sphere of action. He ii placed in his positionby the higher command. His responsibility and authority shouldbe equal, co-existent and fixed, and it is not the province or the rightof the unauthorized staff officerto assume authority without respon-sibility. lYe have all seep staff officerswith a modicum of sense--aplethora of gall.

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