Letter To The Editor
Military Operations will publish letters to the Editor on relevant subjects. The following letter was received in connection with the article ‘Three Short Pieces’ in the 4th Edition of Military Operations. ‘Three Short Pieces’ addressed three issues: headquarters size, operational parachute capability, and infantry fighting vehicles.
In addition to this letter, Justin Kelly has written a letter in response to the same article.
Julian Thompson 12th November 2013
‘A Snowball’s Hope in Hell’
If the description of what goes on now at higher formation HQ is accurate, I can only say ‘God help us’ if we find ourselves fighting a major war in which our national survival is at stake. As I said in my assessment, the problem seems to me to be that the principal that the commander makes the plan, and the staff put the flesh on it and makes it happen (movement, logistics, etc.etc.) appears to be forgotten. I know that the plan for 1st Armd Div in Gulf War One was Rupert Smith's.
If the commander does not make the plan you end up with an 'Irish Parliament'. When I was BM [Brigade Major – now Chief of Staff – Ed] of 3 Commando Brigade, I worked for two commanders. The first always made the plan. The second delegated it to me and the staff. We would serve up plan after plan, which were sent back for changing time after time. It was a lesson I learned by the time I became a brigade commander, and one that I used to tell the Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land). I also knew a CO who, whenever he was told of an operational opportunity in Borneo, invariably took so long to make up his mind, dithering and consulting, that the opportunity had disappeared by the time he ordered action to be taken. His concern was not to make a mistake that would affect his career. He became a three-star general!
I suspect that part of the problem is the CMA (‘Cover My A**e’) syndrome, linked to political interference, and fear of the media. I guess that in these circumstances commanders feel more comfortable if the plan is arrived at by consensus. If it goes wrong they can sack the Chief of Staff!!
As for the size of the HQ and its immobility, I am left speechless.
Call For Papers
Military Operations will only ever be as good as the articles it receives. Producing a quality publication requires a steady stream of insightful, relevant and high-quality input. Many of the people who know most about warfare are the sort of people who read Military Operations – that is, you!
Everybody has had an idea at some stage: some insight into how things should be done; could be done; or could be done better. Many people wonder why armed forces continue doing things a certain way, when with a bit of thought things could be different and better. Sometimes reading history prompts people to think how things could, or should, be done differently today. Military Operations wants to capture and harness those insights, ideas and alternatives. In short, it is looking for input from you.
Military Operations’ lifeblood is short, insightful and relevant articles on the conduct of war. If you have an idea for an article, please get in touch with the Editor at email@example.com. For more information, see our Guidelines For Submission.