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Preparing Leaders For Auftragstaktik (Mission Command): A Historical Analysis of the German Army 1809-1945 Donald E Vandergriff ARCIC Forward

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  • Preparing Leaders For Auftragstaktik (Mission Command): A Historical Analysis of the German Army 1809-1945 Donald E Vandergriff ARCIC Forward
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  • What is Mission Command? What is the outcome? What did the German concept of Auftragstaktik really look like? It seems to have been made up of these elements: Independent Decision-Making, Freedom of Action, Initiative, operational (Commanders) Intent, Mutual Trust, Forward Command, and Order Techniques. Each element was to some degree dependent on the others. Most of these elements had been with the German army for a long period of time Campaigning (Sept 2006) Joint Warfighting Schools p. 37
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  • Whereas in the United States the officer was one cog among others in the huge machine, one member of the vast team, in Germany the officer was considered the switch to the machine or its whole power source. Accordingly, the utmost care was taken in selecting officers and no costs were too high or challenges too great. Indeed, during several army expansions in the history of Prussia and Germany, it was argued correctly that it was better to have a smaller army well led than more manpower but a mediocre officer corps. Dr. Jrg Muth Command Culture p. 182
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  • Agenda References Why the German Army? Baseline Origins of Auftragstaktik Selection of Officer Cadets Program of Instruction Progression Kriegsakademie Peacetime Practices Kriegsschule Wartime Practices Advantage of Germans aspects to Training and Auftragstaktik Summary
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  • References Briefing drawn from over 700 primary and secondary sources (British, Finnish, French, German, Israeli and US-20 years of intense study), experiments, interviews, but 6 books provide excellent insights: Jrg Muth, Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, in the Consequences for World War II* Bruce I Gudmundsson, Storm Troop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army 1914-1918 Eitan Shamir, Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., and Israeli Armies William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945 James Corum, Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform * The best and most recent reference comparing US and German leader development. Author of this brief has also discussed the thesis with each author over the last five years especially Dr. Muth and Dr. Gudmundsson as recently as April-August 2012
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  • Why the German Army? As a nation surrounded by several potential enemies, had to develop a quick win doctrine focused on operational and tactical excellence Developed Auftragstaktik (first mentioned in 1888 manual) poorly translated to Mission Command by the West Result: victories over Denmark 1864, Austro-Prussia 1866 and Franco-Prussia 1870, Eastern Front 1914-1917, Defense 1917 and spring offenses 1918 western front (tactical excellence, but operational immobility-solved in the interwar years); 1939-1941 The best example of how to implement Mission Command, linked to education of leaders, in peacetime in order to succeed in war-rapid transition Both world wars inflicted 4:1 casualties over allies Even when greatly outnumbered, small unit leaders and units fought well (Normandy 1944 and Eastern Front 42-45) Only arrogance of senior leaders bribed by Hitler allowed severe strategic errors to undo tactical and operational excellence in WWII German strategy always boiled down to making enemies faster than they could kill them, felt that great tactics and operational art could overcome lack of/no strategy
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  • Origins of Auftragstaktik (Mission Command) Frederick the Great Prussia was at the beginning a small country with little population Frederick II (later the Great) the first King who was drilled in the line with regular soldiers Started his first war age 29 with little knowledge of battle In the first Battle, Mollwitz April 8, 1741, both wings of the Prussian army defeated. King went away to gather reinforcements (best rider in the army). But then grizzled old field marshal von Schwerin orders center to attack. Prussia wins while sustaining heavy casualties. Frederick realizes two things a) never to leave the battlefield again b) to draw from the experience of his old battle wise regimental commanders Since then Frederick insists that his regimental commanders act on their own initiative and act aggressively. Unheard of concept in Early Modern Times when a regimental commander was only responsible to form a line/maintain order in battle/follow orders Frederick harsh taskmaster. Prussian army highest number of officer court martials (up to general rank). But NEVER was an officer court martialed because of a mistake made due to aggressiveness. In desperate moments the king would move forward into the first battle line and thus set and unprecedented example for all officers
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  • Origins of Auftragstaktik (Mission Command): Napoleonic Wars and Prussian Reform Fredrick leaves no capable successor. As he was king as well as battle leader the army- but especially the officer corps - slowly withers away The Battle of Jena and Auerstaedt, 1806, stretched over more than 20 miles with three different points of gravity. Prussian soldiers show themselves to be far superior to French, but Prussian command and control is horribly top down and centralized; thus the double-battle ends in a humiliating defeat (officers extremely brave, but will not make decisions without higher permission-cannot adapt to changing battle) Prussian army reformers study again Frederick the Greats numerous writings on leadership and initiative and re-emphasize the independence of the commander on the spot during Prussian army reform Reform movement begins in 1801 with Gehard Schnarhorst forming an intellectual group to write papers and debate regardless of rank First Reforms occur in the Act of 1809 emphasizing leader development, restructure of corps and divisions and first application of general staff specialist to advise commander (follow on focus on training of soldiers)
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  • Origins of Auftragstaktik (Mission Command): Helmuth von Moltke (the elder) Moltke student of Fredericks writings Pupil of Carl von Clausewitz In the age of mass armies and rapid transportation of an entire corps by railroad independence in command more important than ever Moltke the first to formulate the concept of Auftragstaktik as critic of maneuvers in 1858 when not yet Chief of Staff Appalled by the sluggishness of the chain of command and the lack of initiative shown and states that as a rule an order should contain only what the subordinate for the achievement of his goals cannot determine on his own Everything else was to be left to the commander on the spot After becoming Chief of Staff, he and his pupils relentlessly championed the introduction of Auftragstaktik as a new command system. Heavily embattled within the German army The 120+ American officers who visited Europe and Prussia during the 19 th century completely (1870-1890s) miss out on discussion of Auftragstaktik (contribute German military culture to efficiency and business models)
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  • Baseline German public education was considered one of the finest in the world Officer aspirant had to possess an Abitur degree (general qualification for university entrance) Discipline was already established in a highly authoritarian society, ironically, the Army put cadets through one of the most advanced and liberal educations in the world 50% of officers came from Kadettenshulen and 50% from the ranks during expansion (NCOs corps maintained high standards as well focused on combat leadership) Will focus on Kadettenschulen (Cadet Schools)-all were Voranstalten (preparatory academies) Admitted as early as 10 yrs but normally 14 yrs (Hauptkadettenanstalt (HKA) in Berlin) until as late as 19 yrs After a difficult exam, ensigns would be sent to the Kriegsschule (War School) for 8 mos to 1.5 years (last formal school overseen by General Staff at Army level) Schools focused on combat leadership, and the training of subordinates for combat-art of decision making
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  • Selection of Officer Cadets Stepping into a regiment as Fahnenjunker age 16 to 19 Entering a cadet preparatory school (Voranstalt) age 10 to 15 Entering the Main Cadet Institution (Hauptkadettenanstalt) age 15 to 17 Example Voranstalt and Hauptkadettenschule: Curriculum of a civilian school with added military drill and a large portion of athletics including bayonet fighting With the introduction of Auftragstaktik (1860s) hazing was banned from all schools. Hazing is detrimental to developing self-confident, innovative, honest and quick-thinking leaders. Measures against hazing: Upperclassman directly responsible for protecting younger cadets. They would lose rank if they failed. No Beast barracks at German schools. Officers present at all times and role-models in treating the young cadets Newcomers got an upperclassmen as helper to introduce him to the system One upperclassmen responsible for one room of young cadets (room elder). He would be judged by their performance. Thus every room elder would automatically be motivated to protect his flock.
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  • Selection of Officer Cadets Leadership performance determined advancement and promotion and not scholarly capabilities. In exceptional cases cadets who had failed many courses but showed themselves to be exceptional leaders were still advanced All cadets, no matter their seniority, divided into 5 moral

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