Indirect command by ambition areas

.This blog post describes a radically different command technique from the perspective of the subordinate commander.

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Think of a jigsaw puzzle's backside.

Now mentally interpose this jigsaw pattern* onto a map of a country. That could be South Korea, Poland, Lithuania, or Romania, for example. Every single such tile of this now divided map is a couple kilometres wide and a couple kilometres high.

You're a commanding officer of an army unit or formation** in the area. Corps command issues you a super-simple set of orders: A list of six-digit codes. Each six digit code describes an area (four digits) and a level of ambition (two digits). Your computer or a member of your staff translates this onto your map and for the first time you see your area of responsibility.

You can see by the colouring (and two-digit codes) on your map that in the East you're supposed to delay strong opposing forces and hunt for weak opposing forces (counter-reconnaissance), in the West near a military engineering bridge you are supposed to decisively engage opposing forces and in the North where a motorway stretches from East to West you're supposed to report combat troops, but destroy the 'soft' support troops of opposing forces.
Your staff also learned about what other formations and independent units received orders for these tiles, and they're usually the same level of ambition for similar level (size) organisations. Another formation has an overlapping area of responsibility; most of it is to the South, but they share the responsibility to decisively engage in the West of your area of responsibility.
Your staff arranges a quick communication between you and the other formation's commander and you agree that in the case of a major westward incursion through your area of responsibility you'd decisively engage together, with your formation continuing its delaying action till the other formation attacks the attackers' flank or back, and then your formation commences a counterattack with less than 15 minutes lag.

There are no phase lines, no simplistic one-dimensional neighbouring unit relationships, no geographic objectives to reach. You need to decide on your priorities within the framework of the simple ambition mission by corps command. More importantly, you have the freedom and autonomy to act, and to act timely.

Corps command updates your area of responsibility and the ambition levels, and this is how it orchestrates dispersed forces in area and time.



 P.S.: The Kriegsmarine's naval map was conceptually similar. A submarine would be sent to a large square for patrol, and when shadowing a target convoy by radio it would use the code for a higher resolution (smaller) square to report its location.

The transition from one state to another would be a great challenge for the described command technique. Many different ways how to do this are imaginable, but I didn't write about even only a few options. The reason is that experimentation would have to evaluate different transition techniques, and possibly invent all-new ones. There might also be different transition techniques for hasty and deliberate transitions.

*: or a similar pattern that's more adapted to the terrain than mere hexagonal or chessboard

**: Company, Battalion, brigade, division - it doesn't matter now. 



  1. From all of your ideas this one of the most interesting. My only concern is, that you cannot built an army with the necessary skillset and mindset for such an kind of command or if, you cannot sustain this in a serious war because of the losses. So such as style vom command must become imo a cultural thing. One had first to change the culture of the armed forces and replace it with a new command culture of this style completly. Theoretically a very promising concept, but practical imo extremly difficult to implement.

    1. It's naturally suited for a kind of Raumverteidigung/Jagdkampf by a militia and for assigning patrol areas.

      Later posts will show more about how to use it (though I mostly imply it, the posts are all done and scheduled already).