Quotes - Initiative (page 2)

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"The motorization and mechanization of armies reverse the whole of this process of organizing fighting and thinking. First, as I have shown, guerilla warfare, the most primitive of all forms of war, is likely to be revived, and as it obviously demands a high order of initiative to combat it, it will force this essential quality upon the commanders of organized forces." - Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, ARMOURED WARFARE, 1943


"As initiative, far more so than method, will prove to be the secret of success in all operations other than siege warfare, plans will have to be exceedingly simple and flexible. Much will have to be left to the initiative of subordinate commanders, consequently the leading idea of an operation must not only be known to all, but alternative movements must also be considered." - Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, ARMOURED WARFARE, 1943


"In brief, the plan will aim at developing the highest possible initiative without loss of control, command being maintained by alternative courses of action which are signalled to subordinate commanders by code letters. Liberty and responsibility are the abutments upon which the plan must rest, rather than method and obedience which hold good for slow moving infantry and artillery masses." - Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, ARMOURED WARFARE, 1943


"What above all the fighting soldier requires in not a brain which works by rules, but a brain which rules by work - that is, immediate action." - Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, ARMOURED WARFARE, 1943


"Small units cannot afford to 'wait for orders'; nor do they have the right to do so. They must act boldly and decisively on their own initiative. It is in reliance on this spirit of initiative and acting without orders that the commander planning the battle issues his orders and directs the action." - from New Question of War (Written 1931-32, first published in Voenno-istoricheskii Zhurnal2/1962), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"The intelligent leadership of troops, and the ability to appreciate and predict the way operations develop call for firm and precise direction of forces. Any suggestion of the exercise of independent command by junior commanders is unacceptable. Not knowing the general situation, junior commanders are likely to take decisions incompatible with it; and this may engender a catastrophe. It may cause a boldly conceived and executed operation, requiring precise co-operation between its component parts, to start coming apart at the seams." - from Questions of Higher Command (from the book of that name published in 1924), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


We have incredibly powerful resources at our disposal for instilling independence of action into our soldiers and low-level sub-units. The Army's Party organisation and the whole system of party-political education of officers and men of the Red Army allow us to make a swift and decisive break with the old traditions, to eliminate this unthinking attitude, and to break with the old traditions, to eliminate this unthinking attitude, and to inculcate a spirit of really positive, consciously bold and independent action. Thanks to this factor alone, we are in a position to make the cry 'I'm waiting for orders' a hateful thing, incompatible with the principle of offensive action. - from New Question of War (Written 1931-32, first published in Voenno-istoricheskii Zhurnal2/1962), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"Commanders at every level must therefore act with audacity, dash and determination, seizing the initiative and thus subordinating their opponent's will to their own." - The Encounter Battle (PU-36, Chapter 6), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"Beating the enemy to favourable positions and seizing commanding features is particularly important. One should always strive to secure for onself a position suitable for deployment, while forcing the enemy into unsatisfactory ground. Of special importance is the occupation of positions which provide good artillery observation posts." - The Encounter Battle (PU-36, Chapter 6), quoted in Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"As the Germans realized and the Soviet Army is still, in this year 1986, struggling against all its Russian and Marxist-Leninist instincts to come to terms with, the only solution is to give lower commanders freedom of action within at least the letter and preferably the spirit of the higher commander's intention." - Richard Simpkin, DEEP BATTLE: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, 1987


"A maneuver warfare military believes it is better to have high levels of initiative among subordinate officers, with a resultant rapid Boyd Cycle, even if the price is some mistakes." - William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985


"Gaps are found by delegating authority down to the lowest level, so that small unit commanders can find gaps and immediately start exploiting them without delay. If we are always going to wait for directions from above, our force is going to be very slow moving, so this concept of surfaces and gaps depends on initiative at low levels." - William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985


"Critics of these faster moving forms of combat characterized by initiative at the low level fear that they will lead to groups of men moving willy-nilly about the battlefield and that commanders will lose control. This need not be so. That is why we have control measures. The boundary, the limit of advance, the phase line, can still be used. It must be remembered that these control measures should serve their function, but not be rigid lines that cannot be changed or ignored when the situation changes. They should be kept to a minimum and must always be flexible. The tactics must never follow the control measures. On the contrary, the control measures must follow the tactics." - William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985


The essence of mission tactics: "The subordinate decides what to do even if it means that the order issued by his senior now should be changed or adjusted. The mission assigned is sacred. The mission is the output that the commander wants. That does not change. But how that output is to be achieved may change, and it is up to the intelligent subordinate to decide whether or not it has." - William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985


"But usually your mission order will have the ability to endure time better if you explain to your subordinate why he is carrying the mission out: 'In order to--.' This gives the order the quality that Erich von Manstein called 'long-term.' It can endure the test of time. Your commander can lose communication with you yet you can still carry out his intent because you know what he wanted and you can continue to act within his intent for a long time without checking back." - William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985


"...under the German version of directive control, the subordinate is free to modify the task set him without referring back, if he is satisfied that further pursuit of that aim would not represent the best use of his resources in furtherance of his superior's intention." - Richard E. Simpkin; Race to the Swift - Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare, 1985


ref the blundering swiftness of the Soviet inflexible C3 system: "As long as he retains the initiative, the attacker can get away with this by exploiting momentum - a kind of steam-roller effect The defender by contrast must combine speed with precision in his response. Conditioned as it may be by extraneous factors, the way the Soviet Army seems to have gone in exploiting technology is just one example of the misuse of computer technology." - Richard E. Simpkin; Race to the Swift - Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare, 1985


"By prompt and imaginative action, lone riflemen and companies sometimes diverted whole enemy corps, while a machine-gun squad at a roadblock began the defeat of an armored division. In short, though mass was there somewhere in support, many great victories pivoted upon the fire action of a very few." - John A. English, A Perspective on Infantry; (Praeger Publishers, New York) 1981


As explained by Liddell Hart, the revived infantryman would be 'tria juncta in uno --stalker, athlete, and marksman.' Equipped with a lighter rifle, to alleviate ammunition supply, and trained to a high standard in fieldcraft, he would be capable of destroying enemy machine- gun and antitank positions through stealth and deadly accurate small-arms fire. Unlike his Great War counterpart, he would not be a beast of burden carrying 70 pounds of personal kit; rather, he would carry but on-third of his own weight. Dressed as an athlete and 'light of foot,' he would also be 'quick of thought' and capable of acting on his own or as part of an independent team. The elastic chain of little groups would replace the traditional infantry line. - John A. English, A Perspective on Infantry; (Praeger Publishers, New York) 1981


"A German attacking force, even in the smallest details of combat, maintained in this manner superiority, initiative, and surprise. This concept of operations has been referred to by some commentators as the principle of the 'unlimited objective,'" - John A. English, A Perspective on Infantry; (Praeger Publishers, New York) 1981


"To exploit the foot soldier's loco-mobility to maximum advantage, infantry units should not be fettered by having to adapt their formations rigidly to the movements of tanks or artillery barrages. If they are thus restricted, they are apt to lose both their initiative and special value in battle." - John A. English, A Perspective on Infantry; (Praeger Publishers, New York) 1981


"We have encouraged the man to think creatively as a person without stimulating him to act and speak at all times as a member of a team. His first duty is to join his force to others! Squad unity comes to full cooperation between each man and his neighbor. There is not battle strength with the company or regiment except as it derives from this basic element within the smallest component." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


"...the search for information and the giving of it are the true beginnings of what is called initiative." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


thinking initiative - "It is the soldier acting on his own to advise others of his tactical situation or conveying any other information which may be of general benefit in furthering the tactical situation of the company or in enlisting the aid of others in carrying out any action which will benefit the tactical situation of the company." - S.L.A. Marshal, Men Against Fire, 1947


At a time when the soldier is supplied with an accurate firearm, and when the well-aimed fire of individual men must have more result than ill aimed volleys; when the soldier, in order to fire well and with good effect, must lie comfortably on the ground instead of standing in a close crowded line; when he is, moreover, no longer a mere portion of a stiff machine, since each man can use his weapon with intelligence; when the infantry have ceased to be only food for powder, and have become a combination of single units working independently, at such a time the careful training of the individual soldier must decide the issue of battle. - Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe Ingelfingen, Letters on Infantry, translated by Lieut.-Col. N.L. Walford, R.A., 1905


Armies don't innovate; people innovate. The single most important quality in a professional military officer is the ability to innovate. In an age of increased technological advancement and sociopolitical upheaval, the number of transitions in military art and science will multiply, with the result that in the span of an officer's career warfare will undergo several dramatic changes. The failure of the officer corps to keep up with change can result in national disaster. But how can a military establishment-by its very nature a conservative establishment-systematically and consistently train its officers to innovate? - Robert R. Leonhard, Fighting by Minutes: Time and the Art of War, 1994


A large number of our noncommissioned officers had done multiple tours in Cyprus, and a few had been there six or seven times. I had an excellent regimental sergeant-major, Bill Colbourne, whom I called into my office. "RSM, with all the soldiers we're going to leave behind, why don't we give some of the sergeants and warrant officers who've been there many times an opportunity to volunteer? They've paid their peacekeeping dues. They should only have to go back if they really want to."
        "Right on, sir. I'll get the word out this afternoon," replied the RSM.
        The following morning, when I arrived at my office, I found a line of sergeants and warrant officers extending from inside the front entrance of our headquarters building out onto the sidewalk.
        The RSM was waiting for me in my office. "Sir, we have a problem," he explained. "Every one of those warrant officers and sergeants lined up in front of your office has the same story. They all want to go to Cyprus. But if their wives find out they volunteered, they will never hear the end of it. In some cases, I wouldn't be surprised if it breaks up the marriage. They all respectfully request that you order them to go to Cyprus!"
        And so my dumb idea regarding volunteers was cancelled; we ordered most of the soldiers in the RSM'S line-up to Cyprus, and I filed away another lesson in human nature. - Major- General Lewis MacKenzie, Peacekeeper, 1993

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