Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership by Philip Langer, Robert Pois

By Philip Langer, Robert Pois

Why do army commanders, such a lot of them often fairly able, fail at an important moments in their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer -- one a historian, the opposite an instructional psychologist -- examine seven instances of army command disasters, from Frederick the good at Kunersdorf to Hitler's invasion of Russia. whereas the authors realize the price of mental theorizing, they don't think that one approach can disguise all of the contributors, battles, or campaigns less than exam. in its place, they judiciously take a few psycho-historical methods in wish of laying off mild at the behaviors of commanders in the course of struggle. the opposite battles and commanders studied listed below are Napoleon in Russia, George B. McClellan's Peninsular crusade, Robert E. Lee and Pickett's cost at Gettysburg, John Bell Hood on the conflict of Franklin, Douglas Haig and the British command in the course of international struggle I, "Bomber" Harris and the Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Stalingrad.

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41 This brilliant statement needs only to be augmented in the following ways. Frederick, when he wished to “kick” a father proxy, had at his disposal not only the Old Dessauer, but also his father’s army, particularly that portion of it under his immediate command. It is true that, during the later Seven Years’ War, this army would be composed of increasing numbers of mercenaries, and this war would see more battles in which the killed/wounded ratio vis-à-vis enemy losses was in its favor. Nevertheless, the battering to which it would be subjected would put Silesian War encounters somewhat in the shade.

At the same time, while putting a premium on tactical and 28 command failure in war even strategic ¶exibility, he was always certain as to his ultimate goal and planned carefully with regard to it. ”9 Napoleon emphasized the destruction of the enemy’s army. Frederick the Great no doubt would have liked doing the same, but due to a variety of circumstances attaching to pre-Revolutionary eighteenth-century warfare he could never have succeeded. 10 Napoleon is classi¤ed as a “military genius,” yet, even according to his own comments on the subject, intelligence, in and of itself, was not the most important quality with regard to determining success in battle.

Emphasizing what I perceived to be decisive logistical and tactical considerations, I offered what the instructor thought to be a convincing explanation. Such was accompanied by a patronizing smile. The student smiled sweetly back, and shook her head. Somehow things still did not add up. And, of course, they did not, particularly when one bore in mind Napoleon’s guiding principles: concentration of forces, tenacity, and decisiveness (but wedded to ¶exibility). The campaign seemed to have been almost monumentally ¶awed.

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