Writing in the 1940s, Tom Wintringham references Ludendorffs observation that the tactical unit had become progressively smaller over time. At the start of the 20th century, the battalion or company had been the significant tactical element. By 1918, the significant tactical unit had become a sub-platoon of 8 to 16 men. On page 24 of New Ways of War Wintringham notes:
A machine-gun needs only one or two men to work it, a shell-hole seldom gives cover for more than two or three men. The tactical unit, the group of ten or twelve, was now sub-divided into three or four smaller groups in shell-holes or pill-boxes. Tactics became completely individualised.
Ask any British infantrymau who went through Passchendaele: were not those Jerries in twos and threes the people who held us up?
Modern tactical conditions require increased initiative, responsibility and decision making from non-commissioned ranks. Although this has been recognized for decades, very little has been done to reflect these requirements. In many armies the attainment of a non-commissioned rank is mainly based on length of service and brownie points. In contrast, promotion to sergeant in many police services requires study and success in an examination on subject matter.
Given their tactical significance, would it not be logical for applicants for sergeant or E5/ E6 equivalent to undergo some training, similar to that given to future platoon leaders? In effect, this would be a sergeants academy, similar to West Point or Sandhurst, although the format would be more that of an on-line open university. Teaching materials would be available to all enlisted men, even those not yet eligible for promotion. The curriculum would include other topics relevant to the position, such as personnel management.
Promotion would be dependent on graduation from the sergeants academy. One advantage of this system is that it could fast-track particularly gifted junior NCOs. Such as system would benefit individuals and the army as whole.
This article gives some information on how the Rhodesians handled small unit command and command structure:
...Rhodesian stick (4 man unit) leaders, usually NCOs, were given far greater say in
immediate combat actions than would be normal elsewhere, and this without apparent conflict with good junior Officers. While a Troop Officer played a significant role overseeing his Platoon during pre-deployment, it should be recognized that in stick sized operations the same Officer had less influence over the actions of the other sticks within his Platoon once they were deployed. This was especially the case when the action of all sticks was directly overseen by a FF (Fireforce) Commander. The Troop Officers influence however changed dramatically when the sticks reformed to Platoon strength, as for example when on larger sweeps or during full scale Commando (company) assaults of external training camps. It was in these situations that a junior Officers overall leadership skills and field of battle training came into clear play
By the Author of the Scrapboard : Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.
Epub edition Second Edition with additional content.
Crash Combat Third Edition
Epub edition Third Edition.
By the Author of the Scrapboard :
Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence
Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.