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Time and orders in army HQ, mission Command, Jim Storr
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97 – Time and the importance of timeliness in orders with Jim Storr

These are the show notes for our interview with Dr Jim Storr, the author of Something Rotten.  Please listen to the podcast for his thoughts on his very important work on how a modern HQ should function.

The apogee of command efficiency and productivity was achieved at the end of WW2.  This is based on 6 years of combat with a Darwinian approach to HQ functioning.  We look at the 9th Division’s 20th Brigade and their opposed landing at Scarlet Beach in Finschhafen, New Guinea and how they were rapidly able to develop plans for their landing.  Without all of the technology available today, they were able to develop

We discuss the issues in Vietnam, with the lack of a Golden Thread from strategy, down to operations and into the tactic level.

How do militaries respond when a Government doesn’t want to define an end state?
How do militaries respond when a Government Minister wants to dictate the positioning of Platoons?

What role have Staff Colleges played in the bloating of orders?

Preparing a set of orders is a core function of a Headquarters.  Why have today’s procedures changed from what was done in WW2, what have we learnt and are modern HQs fit for purpose?

Our valuation of time has been warped by conducting exercises whereby the enemy role is performed by an organisation using the same orders processes and so it becomes acceptable to take days to generate orders.

Soviet doctrine stated that a force operating twice as fast is five times as effective.  Jim Storr discusses how orders can be generated faster.

Dr Storr argue that realistic (and successful) timeframes for the generation of orders are:

LEVEL                      To Produce Orders         To Execute
Battalion                  1 hour                               4 hours
Brigade                    2 hours                             8 hours
Division                   3 hours                             12 hours
Corps                       4 hours                             16 hours

These timings are based on an entirely new and unexpected mission but within a familiar operational context.  Storr, 2022, p. 88.

Both Balck in Russia and 11th Armoured in Normandy were able to deliver and execute divisional orders in 12 hours.

We discuss the form and functioning of Headquarters, looking at people, processes, products and purpose, comparing WW2 doctrine with what is happening today.

How has the role of the Commander changed since the Second World War?
How did a FROG strike on a US Army HQ improve the output from that HQ?

It now takes longer to brief on what needs to be done to write a set of orders than it would have taken to write the orders themselves in WW2.

What has happened to Mission Command today?  Is there enough trust between superiors and subordinates?

Where is Risk Management now and how has it degraded the Command function and orders generation?

Dr Storr mentions MAJ Andrew Breach’s article on efforts to decrease the timelineness of orders.  It was published in the British Army Review, Number 181, Autumn, 2021.

About Jim Storr

Jim Storr was an infantry officer in the British Army for 25 years.  He served in the British Army of the Rhine for five years in the 1980s.  A graduate of the Army Staff College, Camberley, he also worked in the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, and wrote high-level doctrine.

He was a professor of war studies at the Norwegian Military Academy for four years.  His published works include ‘The Human Face of War’, ‘The Hall of Mirrors’ and ‘Something Rotten’.

This episode is part of our series on Mission Command.



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98 - Mission Command Doctrine and Culture for effective Command on the Modern Battlefield with Dr Jim Storr | The Principles of War Podcast July 8, 2023 at 5:30 pm

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