Blitz operating philosophy
Key point Each level from simple to complex (platoon to theater) has their own observation-orientation-decision-action time cycle (OODA loop) that increases as we try to control more levels and details of command at the higher levels. Put simply, as the number of events we must consider increase, the longer it takes to observe-orient-decide-act.
Idea This brings out the idea that faster tempo, or rhythm, at lower levels should work within the slower rhythm but larger pattern at higher levels so that overall system does not lose its cohesion or coherency. (concatenação, cumplicidade, harmonia)
How do blitzers harmonize these differing tempos/rhythms so that they can exploit the faster rhythm/smaller pattern (of the lower-level units) yet maintain the coherency of the rhythm/pattern for the larger effort?
Give lower-level commanders wide freedom, within an overall mind-time-space scheme, to shape/direct their own activities so that they can exploit faster tempo/rhythm at tactical levels yet be in harmony with the larger pattern/slower rhythm associated with the more general aim and larger effort at the strategic level.
Shape overall scheme by using mission concept or sense of mission to fix responsibility and shape commitment at all levels and through all parts of the organism. Likewise, use Schwerpunkt concept through all levels to link differing rhythms/patterns so that each part or level of the organic whole can operate at its own natural rhythm—without pulling organism apart—instead of the slower pace associated with a rigid centralized control.
Point Without a common outlook superiors cannot give subordinates freedom-of-action and maintain coherency of ongoing action.
Implication A common outlook possessed by “a body of officers” represents a unifying theme that can be used to simultaneously encourage subordinate initiative yet realize superior intent.
Message The German concept of mission can be thought of as a contract, hence an agreement, between superior and subordinate. The subordinate agrees to make his actions serve his superior’s intent in terms of what is to be accomplished, while the superior agrees to give his subordinate wide freedom to exercise his imagination and initiative in terms of how intent is to be realized.As part of this concept, the subordinate is given the right to challenge or question the feasibility of mission if he feels his superior’s ideas on what can be achieved are not in accord with the existing situation or if he feels his superior has not given him adequate resources to carry it out. Likewise, the superior has every right to expect his subordinate to carry-out the mission contract when agreement is reached on what can be achieved consistent with the existing situation and resources provided.
LimitationWhile this concept of mission gives form and expression to what is expected between an individual superior and subordinate, it does not suggest ways to coordinate or harmonize activities among many superiors and subordinates as a collective group.
? Raises question ?
With this limitation in mind how does Schwerpunkt play into or add to this concept?
Schwerpunkt (focus of main effort)
Schwerpunkt acts as a center or axis or harmonizing agent that is used to help shape commitment and convey or carry-out intent, at all levels from theater to platoon, hence an image around which: Maneuver of all arms and supporting elements are focused to exploit opportunities and maintain tempo of operations, and
Initiative of many subordinates is harmonized with superior intent.
In this sense Schwerpunkt can be thought of as:
A focusing agent that naturally produces an unequal distribution of effort as a basis to generate superiority in some sectors by thinning-out others,
as well as
A medium to realize superior intent without impeding initiative of many subordinates, hence a medium through which subordinate initiative is implicitly connected to superior intent.
ImplicationSchwerpunkt represents a unifying concept that provides a way to rapidly shape focus and direction of effort as well as harmonize support activities with combat operations, thereby permit a true decentralization of tactical command within centralized strategic guidance—without losing cohesion of overall effort.
or put another way
Schwerpunkt represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time in order to generate a favorable mismatch in time/ability to shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances.
The German operational philosophy based upon a common outlook and freedom-of-action, and realized through their concepts of mission and Schwerpunkt, emphasized implicit over explicit communication.which suggests
The secret of the German command and control system lies in what’s unstated or not communicated to one another—to exploit lower-level initiative yet realize higher-level intent, thereby diminish friction and reduce time, hence gain both quickness and security.
ResultThe Germans were able to repeatedly operate inside their adversary’s observation-orientation-decision-action loops.
or as stated by General Blumentritt,
“The entire operational and tactical leadership method hinged upon … rapid, concise assessment of situations … quick decision and quick execution, on the principle: ‘each minute ahead of the enemy is an advantage.’”
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