The Minute Book
Friday, 30 September 2016

Operation Orders
Topic: Staff Duties

"It is essential that subordinates should not only be able to work intelligently and resolutely in accordance with brief orders or instructions, but should also be able to take upon themselves, whenever necessary, the responsibility of departing from, or of varying, the orders they may have received".

Operation Orders

Lectures on Land Warfare, A Tactical Manual for the Use of Infantry Officers, Pub. William Clowes & Sons, Ltd., 1922

Combatant officers of every rank are required to issue orders of some kind or other, and orders for operations should always be committed to paper when circumstances permit. The object of an operation order is to bring orders of about a course of action in accordance with the intentions of the commander, and with full co-operation between all units.

Operation orders of a complicated nature are unlikely be to required from the pen of infantry officers in the junior ranks, and the rules for drafting orders are stated in detail in the official text-books, for the use of officers of the ranks that will be required to issue them.

The general principles underlying orders of all kinds are that they should be "fool proof," and it has been remarked that the writer of orders should always remember that at least one silly ass will try to misunderstand them. They must, therefore, be void of all ambiguity, and while containing every essential piece of information, and omitting everything that is clearly known already to the recipients, they should be confined to facts, and conjecture should be avoided.

"An operation order must contain just what the recipient requires to know and nothing more. It should tell him nothing which he can and should arrange for himself, and, especially in the case of large forces, will only enter into details when details are absolutely necessary. Any attempt to prescribe to a subordinate at a distance anything which he, with a fuller knowledge of local conditions, should be better able to decide on the spot, is likely to cramp his initiative in dealing with unforeseen developments, and will be avoided. In particular, such expressions as 'Will await further orders' should be avoided" ("Field Service Regulations," vol. ii. (1921)).

Apart from the standing rules as to the printing of names of places in block type, including a reference to the map used, dating and signing the orders, numbering the copies, and stating the time and method of issue, etc., the general tenor of all operation orders will always be" The enemy are … My intention is … You will … In other words, all that is known about the enemy, and of our own troops, that is essential for the purposes of the order, should be revealed; then the general intention of the commander who issues the orders; then the part in the operations that is to be played by the recipient. But the method of attaining the object will be left to the utmost extent possible to the recipient, with due regard to his personal characteristics. "It is essential that subordinates should not only be able to work intelligently and resolutely in accordance with brief orders or instructions, but should also be able to take upon themselves, whenever necessary, the responsibility of departing from, or of varying, the orders they may have received" ("Field Service Regulations," vol. ii. (1921)).

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 14 April 2015

US Army Style Rules
Topic: Staff Duties

US Army Style Rules

US Department of the Army 600-67; taken from The Joint Staff Officer's Guide 1993, AFSC PUB 1

1.     Put the recommendation, conclusion, or reason for writing in the first or second paragraph.

2.     Use the active voice.

3.     Use short sentences (15 words or less).

4.     Use short words (three syllables or fewer).

5.     Write paragraphs no more than 1 inch deep.

6.     Use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

7.     Use "I", "You", and "We" as subjects of sentences.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 26 February 2015

Conventional Signs and Lettering
Topic: Staff Duties

Conventional Signs and Lettering

Signal Training, Part I, Visual Telegraphy; May 1919

The importance placed on the military skills of map-reading, navigation, and even field sketching (to prepare maps in uncharted regions), can easily be found in older military manuals. Not only were the Map-Reading and Field Sketching manuals of the late 1800s and early 1900s much more extensive than today's versions, but related material could also be found in a wide variety of corps technical manuals. This approach ensured that informaation on this important common skill was readly available without always needing multiple manuals in hand.

The following chart of Conventional Signs and Lettering Used in Field Sketching comes from Signal Training, Part I, Visual Telegraphy; May 1919.

Click for larger version.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 4 August 2014

Characteristics of a Good Combat Order
Topic: Staff Duties

Characteristics of a Good Combat Order

Duty, Honor, Company; West Point Fundamentals for Business Success, Gil Dorland and John Dorland, 1992

To minimize the potential for confusion or misinterpretation of orders, the military has formulated specific guidelines for their preparation. Regardless of how they are communicated, orders should be presented as clearly as possible so that everyone within the organization, from the highest to the lowest level, will readily understand what is required of them. The [US] Army's Staff Organization and Operations manual articulates many of the characteristics of a good combat order--which are the same characteristics of a sound business directive.

1.     Clarity. The order must be thoroughly understandable.

2.     Completeness. The order contains all the information and instructions necessary to coordinate and execute the operation. It must convey the purpose or intent of the commander so that subordinate commanders will be able to accomplish their mission without further instructions. An order also must include sufficient detail so that all subordinate commanders know what other units are doing.

3.     Brevity. Unnecessary detail is avoided. However, clarity and completeness are not sacrificed in the interest of brevity.

4.     Recognition of subordinate commander's prerogatives. The order should not infringe on the initiative of subordinate commanders by prescribing details of execution. Only under unusual circumstances, such as an operation requiring extremely close cooperation and timing, should a subordinate commander be told precisely how to perform an assigned task.

5.     Use of the affirmative form. In the interest of simplicity and clarity, the affirmative form of expression is used throughout all combat orders. Sentences using the word not should be avoided.

6.     Avoidance of qualified directives. Such expressions as "attack vigorously" weaken the force of subsequent directives in which a qualifying adverb does not appear. Such expressions as "try to hold" and "as far as possible" lessen responsibility.

7.     Authoritative expression. The order reflects the commander's intention and will. Indecisive, vague, and ambiguous language indicates indecision and leads to uncertainty and lack of confidence by subordinates. The commander tells his subordinates in direct and unmistakable terms exactly what he wants to do.

8.     Timeliness. Timely distribution of orders allows subordinate commanders sufficient time for planning and preparation. Concurrent planning saves time.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014 8:28 PM EDT
Saturday, 5 April 2014

Fuller on Operational Staff Duties
Topic: Staff Duties

Time, time, and the saving of it, should be the soul of every order and instruction, of every report and of every message.

Fuller on Operational Staff Duties

Armoured Warfare; An Annotated Edition of Fifteen Lectures on Operations Between Mechanized Forces, by Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, 1943

Orders, Instructions, Reports and Messages

Maj.-Gen. John Frederick Charles Fuller,
(1 September 1878 – 10 February 1966)

As I have pointed out more than once, orders, instructions, reports and messages will have to abandon their many official frills and step out stark naked unto the reality of war. The object of an operation order is to impart information you cannot actually convey by voice. It may be the word "move," or "halt," or it may be a long rigamarole; in either case it is seldom necessary to turn it into a ritual so holy that it is considered almost sacrilegious not to begin an operation order with "information" … "intention," and so on, etc., etc.

All order will have to be as brief as possible, and not as formal as possible. They should be based on a profound appreciation of possibilities and probabilities, which, as I have explained, will generally lead to a series of alternatives. Therefore an order should not be suited to one operation but to several possible phases of this operation. It should possess a central idea and several radii working out towards the final circumference — victory to you and defeat to the other man.

If we wish to prepare ourselves for mechanized warfare, it is time we broke away from existing conventions, substituting common-sense for ritual. A methodical soldier may be able to find everything, like a tidy person. This is excellent, but what is infinitely better is being able to make use of things instantaneously — anything, ground, tanks, infantry, broomsticks. What above all the fighting soldier requires is not a brain which works by rules, but a brain which rules by work — that is, immediate action.

A great deal of this training in spontaneity of action will depend on our orders and instructions. In the future much more must be left to the initiative of the individual than in the past. Though the central idea must be maintained, actions should be as flexible as possible. Reports must be as brief as possible and should always, when possible, suggest actions. To state that the enemy is blowing his nose may be interesting, but to report that he is looking eastward and is open to a backside kick from the west is something of real importance. Messages should be in code, and when sent in clear between units in battle they should generally be in clear. Time, time, and the saving of it, should be the soul of every order and instruction, of every report and of every message.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 16 November 2013

Patton on Issuing Orders
Topic: Staff Duties

Issuing Orders:

From: War as I Knew It, George S. Patton, Jr., 1947

The best way to issue orders is by word of mouth from one general to the next. Failing this, telephone conversation which should be recorded at each end. However, in order to have a confirmatory memorandum of all oral orders given, a short written order should always be made out, not necessarily at the time of issuing the order, but it should reach the junior prior to his carrying out the order; so that, if he has forgotten anything, he will be reminded of it, and, further, in order that he may be aware that his senior has taken definite responsibility for the operation ordered orally.

It is my opinion that Army orders should not exceed a page and a half of typewritten text and it was my practice not to issue orders longer than this. Usually they can be done on one page, and the back of the page used for a sketch map.

Commanders must remember that the issuance of an order, or the devising of a plan, is only about five per cent of the responsibility of command. The other ninety-five per cent is to insure, by personal observation, or through the interposing of staff officers, that the order is carried out. Orders must be issued early enough to permit time to disseminate them.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

Avoid as you would perdition issuing cover-up orders, orders for the record. This simply shows lack of intestinal fortitude on the part of the officer signing the orders, and everyone who reads them realizes it at once.

In planning any operation, it is vital to remember, and constantly repeat to oneself, two things: "In war nothing is impossible, provided you use audacity," and "Do not take counsel of your fears." If these two principles are adhered to, with American troops victory is certain.


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 27 April 2013

A Staff Officer's Dictionary (1963)
Topic: Staff Duties

The Owl (1963)

Course journal; publication of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan

A Staff Officer's Dictionary

by Major M. Bashir Ahmed, The Baluch Regiment

1PlanningFogging the issue.
2Under active considerationWill have a shot at finding the file.
3Has received careful considerationA period of inactivity covering the time lag.
4For commentsTo be honest I know nothing about it. Could you put me wise?
5Ascertained informallyHad a cup of tea.
6Transmitted to youTry holding the baby for a while.
7ConcurHave not read the document!
8Kindly expedite replyFor God's sake try to find the papers.
9In abeyanceA state of grace for a disgraceful state.
10Appropriate actionDo you know what to do with it? We don't.
11DADOS*Greek work meaning "Unobtainable."
12On a high levelA talk between two junior officers of different branches.
13DecisionA staff officer's last resort.
14This must await my returnEnsure destruction or loss before I return.
15Immediate or PriorityColoured slips of paper to be attached to any file you want to foist on to somebody else at the eleventh hour on a Saturday.
16Urgent reminderAn uncalled for note normally issued in panic when at last remembered. To be placed at the bottom of the "pending" tray.
17Pay slipsMysterious pieces of paper bearing no apparent relation to what you imagine your pay to be.
18RocketA projectile traveling from a greater to a lesser elevation.
19Putting him in the pictureLong and confused statement to a new-comer.

* Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 April 2013

Instant Expertise in Staff Duties (1970)
Topic: Staff Duties

The Owl (Vol XXVI, 1970)

Course journal; publication of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India

Instant Expertise in Staff Duties

by Lt Cdr B.B. Satpathy

Some of us in the 26th Course may have been fortunate, or unfortunate enough, to be posted to Service headquarters. There at some time of the other we shall have to prepare a 'statement of case' which can be quite a frustrating task in these days of 'economy drives' and 'run down' establishments, unless of course you know 'how'? Well, here is a recipe to help you in your confrontations with the Ministry. Use it carefully, and success is almost guaranteed. (DS Minor SDs of all the three Wings may consider incorporating this in the 27th Staff Course Syllabus.)

Now please familiarize yourself with the words in the Columns A, B and C below before we proceed further:—

Column AColumn BColumn C
4.Functional4.Digital4.Time Phase
7.Synchronised7.Third Generation7.Concept

The recipe is simple. You want to use a forceful phrase to put your project through. Think of any three digit number at random. Select the corresponding word under each column. Put them together and you have a magic phrase and what is more, you sound knowledgeable.

Example. 423 – 'Functional monitored programming'. You do not know what it means. So what? neither do THEY!

The possibilities of this formula for use by higher Defence Staff are immense. With nine words in each column, you can have almost nine hundred knowledgeable phrases at your finger tips.

(Perhaps the NDC will also be interested, in which case maybe I should patent this recipe.)

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 24 March 2013

Terms Current at Army Headquarters (1953)
Topic: Staff Duties

The Owl (July, 1953)

Course journal; publication of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India

Terms Current at Army Headquarters

1Take remedial action.Find some means of sorting this mess out. I cannot think of any.
2Transferred for appropriate action.I hope you will know what to do with this.
3Emphasize this point.Expand one page to fifteen.
4Read and initial.Spreading the responsibility for doing nothing on this.
5Your recommendations are being examined.More time is needed to think of an answer though a couple of months have already elapsed.
6A modified policy.A complete reversal which nobody admits.
7A coordination staff officer.An officer who has a desk between two expediters.
8Under active consideration.We are looking in the files for it.
9Under consideration.Never heard of it.
10Expedite.To compund confusion with commotion.
11Resubmit through proper channels.Tactical delaying action in respect of distasteful or troublesome communication.
12Put up this letter on its file.I do not know what action to take on it. I hope you do by the time you put it up.
13File it.I could not care less. I hope you do not either.
14We may agree.I cannot find any reason for objecting to the proposal but I dare not say 'I agree.'

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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