"The importance of a proper command system...


...leading to a correct distribution of authority and responsibility among the various echelons does not require elaboration. Without striking a balance between centralization and decentralization, discipline and initiative, authority and individual responsibility, it is impossible for any human organization, let alone a military one, operating as it does in an environment where disorder and confusion are prevalent to function, or indeed exist." ~Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power

Remarks:

In his great book,"Fighting Power" Martin van Creveld studies German and United States Army Performance, from 1939-1945. He states; "throughout history, some armies have been better than others. The Romans in the age of Caesar, the Mongols in the time of Genghis Khan, the French during the Napoleonic period. All these were superior fighting organizations." Fighting Power is a study that rests on mental, intellectual, and organizational foundations; its manifestations, in one combination or another, are discipline and cohesion, morale and initiative, courage and toughness, the willingness to fight and the readiness if necessary to act. "Fighting Power," in brief, is defined as the sum total of mental qualities that make armies fight.

Why discuss this book and study in the law enforcement context? Because as van Creveld states; "while weapons and methods of warfare change, the nature of fighting power does not; though the relative proportion of the individual qualities listed may vary from time to time, the qualities themselves, for the most part, are the same today as they were for Caesars veterans 2,000 years ago." A big thing we could learn from this, is that firepower is not always the answer. The cultural predisposition toward centralized control and technology is what makes our jobs so hard. This is why decentralization and a "mission command" type system of leading is so important for law enforcement to implement in a robust way.

"Mission Command" is all about leading and preparing by developing people and creating a organizational culture based on mutual trust, prior too a crisis verses trying to play the puppet master and direct all things, in crisis. This in my view means that other factors being equal, a command system that allows for initiative on the lowest level, and for intelligent cooperation between subordinate units, squads, shifts, commanders etc, is likely to be superior to one that does not. Well trained, well disciplined and well led people is where the answer lays. However evolving a group of people like this is far more difficult than talking about it. Fighting Power digs into this topic very deeply and is a book i highly recommend for law enforcement officers to read.

Stay Oriented!

Fred