Do Orders Really Matter?


Still in vogue: the mud model (c) Josh Wineera 2010

Fresh off the presses…a paper that discusses that traditional orders process, the ‘O group…

This article highlights the essential combat communication, mission orders,and the commander’s intent. It describes the means and methods by which a vertical-slice of commanders interpreted and analysed their orders; how they formulated and communicated their plan, and how the company commander monitored and adjusted the plan during its execution. The article is written primarily for junior leaders but also has utility for training staff, particularly practical lessons regarding the orders process.

Recently Josh Wineera, currently a Fellow at Massey University’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies (CDSS), observed the orders process from CO to section commander in a NZLAV company in the field. His observations form the basis of this paper. Josh presented his Interbella construct for the complex environment at the COIN Center VBB in September last year and has also released a paper considering domestic methamphetamine issues through a military lens

His consideration of the orders process concludes…

The importance of the battle-brief. There is merit in considering some sort of similar brief at the beginning of the orders. Everything else that follows would therefore be put in better context.

In the age of high tech command and control systems, mud models  still serve a purpose. Some of the quantitative data from the orders process however, could provide useful metrics for those charged with acquiring future command and control and decision-support tools.

The threshold between higher conceptual military constructs and plainer, clear, mechanistic detail appears to occur at the platoon level.

Offensive operations, that is close combat, still necessitates an infantry soldier to be prepared to ‘seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him.’ These are ‘classic war-fighting skills’ and should not be degraded or regarded as obsolete.

Warfare in the 21st Century entails kinetic and non-kinetic missions; they are not mutually exclusive. The challenge will be to try and create a training activity that simultaneously tests soldiers in the application of both missions, being reflective of the character of war as we know it today.

New Zealand’s recent assessment as the most peaceful country in the world reaffirms the relevance of offensive operation’s training – a reminder from Vegetius’s maxim “Let him who desires peace prepare for war”.

The orders data captured from Exercise Absolute is but one source. This in itself would need to be validated against similar evaluations in order to confirm trends and recurring themes. Therefore, given the infrequency of combined-arms live-firing exercises it would be prudent to view all data and analysis in this article as an initial ‘yard-stick’.

The full text may be read here. The paper is also linked from a thread @ the Small Wars Journal should anyone wish to debate the content…

Today’s Question

Why do email systems persist in placing the ‘delete’ button right alongside the ‘reply’ button?

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