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  • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
    ...appearing at so many different and widely separated points on the battlefield (each of them crucial) as to give the near-supernatural impression, "constantly in the saddle...everywhere present at all hours of the day and night..., galloping along the ridges of Chancellorsville...." "..
    Seems to me, you have to do this... Par for course...
    Tactics are based on Weapons... Strategy on Movement... and Movement on Supply.
    (J. F. C. Fuller 1878-1966)

    Comment


    • Originally posted by General Staff View Post
      Seems to me, you have to do this... Par for course...
      Probably one of those things that is easier said than done. Off the top of my head: first, you have cowards who stay behind; second, you have the incompetent who don't know where to be; third, you have low energy who rationalize another place to be (a convenient conflict of interests); fourth, inability to discern through the 'noise' what is actually happening--essentially fail to perceive the problem in order to move to the action; fifth, those who perceive the problem but do nothing to solve it; sixth those who perceive the problem, but fail in the choice of solution which gets lost in the greater noise of defeat....
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
        Probably one of those things that is easier said than done. Off the top of my head: first, you have cowards who stay behind; second, you have the incompetent who don't know where to be; third, you have low energy who rationalize another place to be (a convenient conflict of interests); fourth, inability to discern through the 'noise' what is actually happening--essentially fail to perceive the problem in order to move to the action; fifth, those who perceive the problem but do nothing to solve it; sixth those who perceive the problem, but fail in the choice of solution which gets lost in the greater noise of defeat....
        Yes, most of the miseries of being human...
        Tactics are based on Weapons... Strategy on Movement... and Movement on Supply.
        (J. F. C. Fuller 1878-1966)

        Comment


        • Originally posted by grognard View Post
          For Britain: O'Connor? Slim? Not Monty, he wouldn't know a pursuit opportunity if God gave him a direct revelation.
          LoL. But he knew how to get all his dogs in a a row and police them.

          Shame he didn't do bridges so well...
          Tactics are based on Weapons... Strategy on Movement... and Movement on Supply.
          (J. F. C. Fuller 1878-1966)

          Comment


          • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
            General David Fraser in his "Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel" observes the understanding and knowledge of the great battlefield commanders "in some way surpasses the cerebral." For Fraser, "it becomes a sixth sense, an instinct, a gut reaction beyond such phenomena as the ability to judge a situation and an opportunity shrewdly and instantly."
            He believes "it transcends, although it is close to, the coup d'oeuil which enabled Wellington at Salamanca suddenly to leap up as he watched
            Marmount's columns with a cry of "By God! That'll do!" and to gallop off for perhaps the most brilliant victory of his career."

            Fraser notes, "It lies in that which men called Erwin Rommel's Fingerspitzengefuehl, his almost animal response to the dangers, the chances, the currents of battle. Such knowledge, understanding, refined into instinct and applied with instancy. It can be recognized in all the great masters of manoeuvre in varying guises and under many names."

            I find, and agree, the British general's remarks on FSG are strongly linked to a commander's actions on the battlefield.

            rna
            This works for me...
            Tactics are based on Weapons... Strategy on Movement... and Movement on Supply.
            (J. F. C. Fuller 1878-1966)

            Comment


            • Originally posted by General Staff View Post
              LoL. But he knew how to get all his dogs in a a row and police them.

              Shame he didn't do bridges so well...
              He didn't do cooperation or subordination well either.

              Comment


              • Ronald Lewin who wrote military biographies on Montgomery and Rommel thought Montgomery had 'foresight' while Rommel had 'fingerspitzengefuehl'.
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                  General David Fraser in his "Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel" observes the understanding and knowledge of the great battlefield commanders "in some way surpasses the cerebral." For Fraser, "it becomes a sixth sense, an instinct, a gut reaction beyond such phenomena as the ability to judge a situation and an opportunity shrewdly and instantly."
                  He believes "it transcends, although it is close to, the coup d'oeuil which enabled Wellington at Salamanca suddenly to leap up as he watched
                  Marmount's columns with a cry of "By God! That'll do!" and to gallop off for perhaps the most brilliant victory of his career."

                  Fraser notes, "It lies in that which men called Erwin Rommel's Fingerspitzengefuehl, his almost animal response to the dangers, the chances, the currents of battle. Such knowledge, understanding, refined into instinct and applied with instancy. It can be recognized in all the great masters of manoeuvre in varying guises and under many names."

                  I find, and agree, the British general's remarks on FSG are strongly linked to a commander's actions on the battlefield.

                  rna
                  Not to stir the hornets nest, but ...

                  From what I could discern, in the early pages of Fraser's book, he is attempting to define what he calls "the great masters of manoeuvre in war." (page 3 of the paperback - the chapter 'Keep The Right Wing Strong'). Fraser points to three defining traits of such masters: temperament, knowledge and instancy. (pages 6-7) It is the latter two that most interest me.

                  As to knowledge, Fraser writes:

                  If temperament is indispensible to skill in battle so, to, is understanding, knowledge of war. Every victorious captain has possessed it -- that sense of what will and will not work in the often extraordinary conditions produced by large numbers of men trying to kill each other. Such understanding must, to an extent, be acquired by study and reflection (although "study" implies an academic process, often inapplicable). It must, certainly, derive from experience - from what has happened before - and experience can be, and often has to be, the experience of others, history itself. It must, without question, be rooted in practical, technical, professional factors, mastered and appreciated; the capabilities and shortcomings of weapons, equipment, vehicles; above all, the capabilities and shortcomings of men. But understanding and knowledge of war, at the sort of pitch where it distinguishes the great battlefield commander, in some ways surpasses the cerebral. It becomes a sixth sense, an instinct, a gut reaction beyond such phenomena (equally essential but more easily describable) as the ability to judge a situation and an opportunity shrewdly and instantly. It transcends, although it is close to, the coup d’oeil which enabled Wellington at Salamanca suddenly to leap up as he watched Marmont’s columns with a cry of “By God! That’ll do!” and to gallop off for perhaps the most brilliant victory of his career. It lies in that which men called Erwin Rommel’s “Fingerspitzengefuhl”, his almost animal response to the dangers, the chances, the currents of battle. Such is knowledge, understanding, refined into instinct and applied with instancy. It can be recognized in all the great masters of manoeuvre in varying guises and under many names.
                  (page 6)

                  What does that tell us (or me, anyway)? Great commanders must have knowledge. Knowledge is developed through study and experience. If you study and practice enough - and have the right temperament for it – knowledge might (and the might is dependent on a number of things, including a person’s backgorund) transform itself into FSG, i.e. "[s]uch is knowledge, understanding, refined into instinct." This commander is able to act instantly (or apparently instantly) since the situation unfolds its self more quickly to him.

                  But IMO, the key passage from Fraser is the next paragraph - if you are looking for what makes a master of manoeuvre, you need to read here:

                  "Applied with instancy"; the third; the culminating, quality of the three which make the great commander, is the ability to think and act clearly, resolutely and above all fast. Temperament may bring a necessary enthusiasm, knowledge may produce a sure, even uncanny, insight into what should be done but the victorious master of maneuver is he whose actions are so rapid, sure and energetic that they set the pace and direct the course of battle. It is Rupert (despite the myth of impetuosity, a highly experienced and professional commander) charging at Powick Bridge in the earliest days of the English Civil War, charging before any, and particularly the enemy, were ready; charging and routing superior forces before they could deploy, before they knew what hit them; charging so that the action “rendered the name Prince Rupert very terrible indeed.” And so, three centuries later, it was with Rommel.
                  (page 7)

                  If this seems familiar to you, you're not alone. What Fraser is saying is the culminating quality of a master of manoeuvre warfare is, essentially, the ability to get inside your opponent's OODA loop.

                  I sum up Fraser's position to be that a master of manoeuvre is:
                  • The commander with the right temperament;
                  • The commander with the necessary knowledge; in other words, the commander who has studied and trained so well (or as much as necessary - no two people are the same and no two need the same amount of book learning or experience and training) so that the correct course of conduct is apparent instantly (FSG), and amidst the fog of war; and
                  • The commander who has the ability to translate this knowledge into a course of action instantly; in other words, the commander who can go through his OODA Loop so quickly he consistently throws the enemy off guard and makes the enemy dance to his tune.


                  Thus, according to Fraser, FSG is simply part of the equation for a “master of manoeuvre warfare.” It could even be argued that FSG is simply part of the knowledge component of Fraser’s 3 defining characteristics. I’m not sure I’d buy that though. I think the way to read it is that FSG can be hyper-knowledge – the ability to know what to do and what the enemy is going to do immediately, even in the absence of complete information and in the fog of battle. Of course, as per Fraser, it’s not the end-all and be-all. Without the ability to act instantly and decisively, FSG alone won’t cut it.

                  That being said, FSG has a more universal application than merely to manoeuvre warfare. FSG could be used by a commander utilizing an attrition strategy. Indeed, the situations are limitless - FSG can apply in any competitive endeavor. Think national strategy. A politician might use FSG to get a handle on events in another country and devise/implement a course of action. A football coach might use FSG to devise his opponent’s play calls and implement a counter-strategy.

                  Over the summer, I had a chance to correspond with Dr. Chet Richards (Col. USAF, retired) on the subject of FSG and OODA Loops. Many readers of this thread will know that Dr. Richards was a colleague of John Boyd and that Richards is intimately familiar with, and has written on, the subject. These discussions are publicly available on his blog, Fast Transients. According to Richards, FSG is a skill that is “intimately associated with Orientation as an ability to sense and therefore interpret the situation, including an opponent’s intentions.” He explains:

                  Some people carry the concept beyond the ability to “feel” the situation and into a capacity for influencing it. In fact, the skill would be useless otherwise. In other words, you intuitively sense the unfolding situation and then, by emphasizing (as Boyd always insisted) implicit over explicit, cause it to develop in the direction you want it to go. This would tie Fingerspitzengefühl, into the implicit guidance and control link from Orientation directly into Action. Again, I think this is where Don is headed with his adaptive leadership methodology: Fingerspitzengefühl combined with implicit guidance and control, or, put another way, Fingerspitzengefühl as the Observing and (re-)Orienting mechanism, Einheit as the common outlook/orientation within the team, and Schwerpunkt & Autragstaktik as the tools applied to the specific situation and mission.
                  This discussion led into a question that has been hounding this thread since I started reading it: what of the 3 or 4% referred to by Balck? I put the question directly to Dr. Richards. He responded with a blog post called Developing The Touch that has been picked up by Mark Safranski on zenpundit.com and possibly elsewhere. I can’t quote the entire thing here, but here are a couple of salient points:

                  If Fingerspitzengefühl can be taught, why do so few people have it?

                  Two points: First, Fingerspitzengefühl is a skill, so although most people can get better at it, some are going to get a lot better.

                  Second, it’s a strange kind of skill, not for performing complicated or even dangerous tasks mystically well, but for sensing what is going on among groups of people in conflict and then influencing what happens.

                  If you learn juggling, for example, and get so good that people go “Wow! How did she do that?” the clubs still obey simple laws of motion, pretty much f=m•a. You may do amazing things, but it’s all predictable, at least in theory, and you can learn them yourself under good coaching and maybe a practice partner to help.

                  The first problem in learning Fingerspitzengefühl is that you can’t learn it by yourself. You have to have at least two groups of people to practice with — your team and some opponents. And to develop this skill, you have to practice a lot, because people, unlike clubs, don’t obey laws as simple as f=m•a. And you have to practice influencing your own team — call that “leadership” — while also influencing the opposition — call that “strategy.” And you have to learn it in increasingly unstructured and even threatening situations, under varying time constraints. This is the concept behind Vandergriff’s adaptive leader methodology, which I’ve referred to before.
                  Further to the point about FSG potentially applying to any competitive situation, Richards also spends some time talking about FSG as it applies in business situations. Indeed, he explains that competing in such situations and training to apply FSG might actually be more difficult than in warfare since not only do your acts impact your enemy (and vice versa), but there is a third party (the consumer) who must be accounted for as well.

                  If your conflict is business, not war, then it’s even more complex because you have to influence both customers and competitors (and the relationship between the two), not to mention your own team.
                  Actually, as I’ve posted on another thread, some types of warfare (e.g. COIN) have the same issue since your acts influence non-belligerents. If you take actions that might lead to the defeat one enemy but at the same time, create two more actual enemies, what have you really accomplished?

                  So where does this leave us? I think here: Everyone possesses their own unique set of individual traits and individual orientations. These taken together, plus a certain amount of experience, study and training (and the amount necessary varies by individual), allow anyone to develop some level of FSG. But because, as Richards explains, FSG is a skill, some will be better than others. Maybe (assuming Balck was accurate) only 3 or 4% ever become masters.
                  Last edited by The Ibis; 15 Sep 10, 18:03.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                    Not to stir the hornets nest, but ...

                    From what I could discern, in the early pages of Fraser's book, he is attempting to define what he calls "the great masters of manoeuvre in war." (page 3 of the paperback - the chapter 'Keep The Right Wing Strong'). Fraser points to three defining traits of such masters: temperament, knowledge and instancy. (pages 6-7) It is the latter two that most interest me.

                    As to knowledge, Fraser writes:


                    (page 6)

                    What does that tell us (or me, anyway)? Great commanders must have knowledge. Knowledge is developed through study and experience. If you study and practice enough - and have the right temperament for it – knowledge might (and the might is dependent on a number of things, including a person’s backgorund) transform itself into FSG, i.e. "[s]uch is knowledge, understanding, refined into instinct." This commander is able to act instantly (or apparently instantly) since the situation unfolds its self more quickly to him.

                    But IMO, the key passage from Fraser is the next paragraph - if you are looking for what makes a master of manoeuvre, you need to read here:


                    (page 7)

                    If this seems familiar to you, you're not alone. What Fraser is saying is the culminating quality of a master of manoeuvre warfare is, essentially, the ability to get inside your opponent's OODA loop.

                    I sum up Fraser's position to be that a master of manoeuvre is:
                    • The commander with the right temperament;
                    • The commander with the necessary knowledge; in other words, the commander who has studied and trained so well (or as much as necessary - no two people are the same and no two need the same amount of book learning or experience and training) so that the correct course of conduct is apparent instantly (FSG), and amidst the fog of war; and
                    • The commander who has the ability to translate this knowledge into a course of action instantly; in other words, the commander who can go through his OODA Loop so quickly he consistently throws the enemy off guard and makes the enemy dance to his tune.


                    Thus, according to Fraser, FSG is simply part of the equation for a “master of manoeuvre warfare.” It could even be argued that FSG is simply part of the knowledge component of Fraser’s 3 defining characteristics. I’m not sure I’d buy that though. I think the way to read it is that FSG can be hyper-knowledge – the ability to know what to do and what the enemy is going to do immediately, even in the absence of complete information and in the fog of battle. Of course, as per Fraser, it’s not the end-all and be-all. Without the ability to act instantly and decisively, FSG alone won’t cut it.

                    That being said, FSG has a more universal application than merely to manoeuvre warfare. FSG could be used by a commander utilizing an attrition strategy. Indeed, the situations are limitless - FSG can apply in any competitive endeavor. Think national strategy. A politician might use FSG to get a handle on events in another country and devise/implement a course of action. A football coach might use FSG to devise his opponent’s play calls and implement a counter-strategy.

                    Over the summer, I had a chance to correspond with Dr. Chet Richards (Col. USAF, retired) on the subject of FSG and OODA Loops. Many readers of this thread will know that Dr. Richards was a colleague of John Boyd and that Richards is intimately familiar with, and has written on, the subject. These discussions are publicly available on his blog, Fast Transients. According to Richards, FSG is a skill that is “intimately associated with Orientation as an ability to sense and therefore interpret the situation, including an opponent’s intentions.” He explains:



                    This discussion led into a question that has been hounding this thread since I started reading it: what of the 3 or 4% referred to by Balck? I put the question directly to Dr. Richards. He responded with a blog post called Developing The Touch that has been picked up by Mark Safranski on zenpundit.com and possibly elsewhere. I can’t quote the entire thing here, but here are a couple of salient points:



                    Further to the point about FSG potentially applying to any competitive situation, Richards also spends some time talking about FSG as it applies in business situations. Indeed, he explains that competing in such situations and training to apply FSG might actually be more difficult than in warfare since not only do your acts impact your enemy (and vice versa), but there is a third party (the consumer) who must be accounted for as well.



                    Actually, as I’ve posted on another thread, some types of warfare (e.g. COIN) have the same issue since your acts influence non-belligerents. If you take actions that might lead to the defeat one enemy but at the same time, create two more actual enemies, what have you really accomplished?

                    So where does this leave us? I think here: Everyone possesses their own unique set of individual traits and individual orientations. These taken together, plus a certain amount of experience, study and training (and the amount necessary varies by individual), allow anyone to develop some level of FSG. But because, as Richards explains, FSG is a skill, some will be better than others. Maybe (assuming Balck was accurate) only 3 or 4% ever become masters.
                    Forrest, for example never had any experience,(military, he did have life experience) study or training, but he definitely had FSG skills.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by grognard View Post
                      Forrest, for example never had any experience,(military, he did have life experience) study or training, but he definitely had FSG skills.
                      Everyone is different and what is necessary for FSG to manifest itself in one person may be different than the next. Everyone has certain and distinct physical and mental abilities and everyone has certain and distinct past experiences. No two people are the same and its not surprising that some level (even a high level) of FSG can manifest itself with no military experience. That being said, you can get better at it. Thus, while accounting for the fact that no matter how much you train, you can only develop so much, consider what Forrest's FSG might have been like had he possessed the type of training Richards quotes from Boyd.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                        Everyone is different and what is necessary for FSG to manifest itself in one person may be different than the next. Everyone has certain and distinct physical and mental abilities and everyone has certain and distinct past experiences. No two people are the same and its not surprising that some level (even a high level) of FSG can manifest itself with no military experience. That being said, you can get better at it. Thus, while accounting for the fact that no matter how much you train, you can only develop so much, consider what Forrest's FSG might have been like had he possessed the type of training Richards quotes from Boyd.
                        So FSG is real, but very individualistic?

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by grognard View Post
                          So FSG is real, but very individualistic?
                          From what I've discerned, its individualistic in how it manifests itself and how its used.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                            From what I've discerned, its individualistic in how it manifests itself and how its used.
                            I still don't know what "it" is, other than success, generally a hall mark of good commanders. What seems to be individualistic is what people consider FSG to be, and how it manifests itself.....

                            General David Fraser in his "Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel" observes the understanding and knowledge of the great battlefield commanders "in some way surpasses the cerebral." For Fraser, "it becomes a sixth sense, an instinct, a gut reaction beyond such phenomena as the ability to judge a situation and an opportunity shrewdly and instantly."
                            He believes "it transcends, although it is close to, the coup d'oeuil which enabled Wellington at Salamanca suddenly to leap up as he watched
                            Marmount's columns with a cry of "By God! That'll do!" and to gallop off for perhaps the most brilliant victory of his career."
                            At Salamanca, Wellington watched the French for hours before noticing the French columns marching across his front has gotten separated from one another. He recognised his ordered (but hidden) troops had an advantage over visible and increasingly dispersed enemy troops, and attacked. It was undoubtedly good battlefield craft, but it wasn't voodoo.

                            I ask "What was the alternative?" Wait until the French had finished manouvring and regained cohesion?????

                            "Applied with instancy"; the third; the culminating, quality of the three which make the great commander, is the ability to think and act clearly, resolutely and above all fast. Temperament may bring a necessary enthusiasm, knowledge may produce a sure, even uncanny, insight into what should be done but the victorious master of maneuver is he whose actions are so rapid, sure and energetic that they set the pace and direct the course of battle.
                            Without re-hashing dozens of pages, the Germans emphasised character (described as temparament here), speed of action and clear and resolute decision making. That they were masters of manouvre is not surprising, but they also trained hard at it.

                            So where does this leave us? I think here: Everyone possesses their own unique set of individual traits and individual orientations. These taken together, plus a certain amount of experience, study and training (and the amount necessary varies by individual), allow anyone to develop some level of FSG. But because, as Richards explains, FSG is a skill, some will be better than others. Maybe (assuming Balck was accurate) only 3 or 4% ever become masters.
                            This sounds good to me, although FSG is a rather colourful (I once said metaphorical) way of describing it. To my mind, we all have varying mental abilities. Train those abilities and you can get good commanders. Intuition or "feeling" is the Commander's sub conscious reading patterns in his surroundings and reacting according to the store of responses developed through doctrine and training. It is why so many FSG candidates are German. No one trained harder, particularly in tactical and operation settings/scenarios.

                            It's why the "traits" of these Commanders can't be pinned down because "FSG" really boils down to whether his subconscious read the available cues and made the "gut" feel correctly. Since all FSGs got a slap occasionally (sometimes more often) then it's clear circumstances sometimes defied good decision making, or the patterns being manifested to the subconscious were not entirely accurate.

                            Read a good book over the summer, will dig out and post about it later this week.

                            Regards,
                            ID

                            Comment


                            • Thought you guys were working on your 'doctrine thread'? As foretold, it was just talk, right?
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                                Thought you guys were working on your 'doctrine thread'? As foretold, it was just talk, right?
                                Well I was, and still am, quite seriously unwell, hence the lack of activity on this, and any other threads!
                                Signing out.

                                Comment

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