Wednesday, December 17, 2014


This is a fascinating article and well worth reading. Don't worry, it's not very long.
(This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./ So take open order, lie down, sit tight/ And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.
This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder it surprises the hell out of our enemies.)


  1. That surprises me, because our dear Lord Nelson was very much the `go straight at `em kind of leader, with famous quotes such as, 'In case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.'. That was always my philosophy in my previous `life` ie don't piss about, get stuck in`. And in the British army, the most junior officer can call in an airstrike if he happens to be the most senior officer available and knows his map. I suppose the trouble is that the front line can't always see the bigger picture. Situational awareness being paramount.

    1. Yes indeed. The Royal Navy has always been famous for its attack. I remember reading of the difference between Napoleon's Army and Navy. The Army formed column and charged. Massively. The navy on the other hand, maneuvered away. The Army that went into the Falklands was the army I grew up with back when it was also the BAOR. Those heady days are long gone and I suspect a certain desire to conserve what remains has taken hold and it probably suffers more from the timid sort of ROE promulgated by the high command. I just don't know.
      I well remember the sheer pain of coordinating over the FSCL and firing or not firing into the JSOA (not firing). Coordinating that on the scale required for an entire country is kind of boggling. Throw in the CAOC and being forced to deal with them while trying for artillery or air support 400 miles north, that would suck. Throw in some Iraqi battalions that might be in the vicinity and I think I would be overwhelmed by a fierce desire to jump up, scream and lead a bayonet charge. :)
      "I went to sea in Destroyers as a young man and it was fun . . . then we got radios." -Admiral Arleigh Burke
      Curt's corollary, "I went to sea as a young man and it was fun...then we got computers and the internet.

  2. Not knocking the US armed forces in anyway as I have stood shoulder to shoulder with them numerous times. However; the Frog who wrote the 'epic' must have had a long night quaffing vin rouge!

    I have operated alongside various French outfits (para brigade, mountain brigade, and marine infantry, which is part of my life's adventures marked 'not to be remembered.' In my humble opinion, their only saving grace is 'The Légion étrangère,' which is probably down to the diluted French mixture.

    During and since WWII; British and Commonwealth Armed Forces have operated a system chain of command known as 'step up' where upon every rank attends an O- Group that covers every patrol/task/mission in the finest of detail. Should the most senior rank be taken out then the rank below steps up immediately to assume command and control. Each rank is trained to cover the position above, and carries his own identical set of orders to do so.

    In the case of Commando Units (did I ever mention I served as a Royal Marine for 23 years?) ;-) every Marine (private in USMC parlay) is capable of step up to two ranks above - each Corporal the same - each Sergeant & Colour Sergeant the same, etc…. Step up is a routine well rehearsed and initiated on training exercise's without any notice. Throughout numerous active service engagements since WWII, It's success has been proven beyond any doubt.

    Just my tuppence worth…

    Yours Aye.

    1. We sort of played with our RN counterparts but they never went north of Qatar as far as I recall. Not massively impressed but they also put O gear in the water and swept at 12 knots. I don't recall them ever turning up a mine. Kind of disappointing really.

      I played football against the Foreign Legion in Djibouti once. It was the most brutal game I ever took part in. :)