Command Concept: Direct Assess Significance Research Paper

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¶ … Command Concept: Direct


Significance of Analysis

Command is a function, which is a combination of organizational and cognitive functions, while technology is not a solution. Success in command is the result of a commander's capability to get the best of his C2 system by training and development of his organization under his command so that all the constraints due to any sort of limitation of contemporary technology are diminished. A commander's ideas are the most crucial factor in the functioning of C2 system, if it exceeds the ability of the system to support it, then it can lead to the malfunctioning of the command system. Similarly if is command concept is faulty and it does not identify the information which is crucial to validating it.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Van Creveld, 1985, pp. 266-273]

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The entire system will be plagued by extraneous information as the battle units attempt to make sense out of what is happening. All concepts of command should be scrutinized for empirical patterns and the best device to do it is to examine a model command concept that would have been perfect to some well-documented war and battles. [footnoteRef:2]In a famous battle the ideal command concept is a hypothetical statement of the intent of commander, that should have been, as per the doctrine, training and wisdom of the time, amply sufficient for the subordinate commanders to shoulder the responsibilities successfully during the battle without the exchange of additional information with the commander.[footnoteRef:3] [2: Sun-Tzu, The Art of Warfare, trans. Roger T. Ames, New York: Ballantine, 1993] [3: Allard, C. Kenneth, Command, Control, and the Common Defense, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990]

PART 1: The Battle of Ia Drang

A Brief History

Research Paper on Command Concept: Direct Assess Significance Assignment

A battle that changed the whole character of Vietnam War was fought in the month of November 1965 when the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry Regiment's 1st Cavalry Division fought a fierce battle in Vietnam's Central Highlands. So fierce was that battle the 7th Cavalry suffered huge losses than any other regiment or Union at Gettysburg. During October, 1965, Major General Harry W.O. Kinnard, the then Divisional Commander knew that the NVA forces who were chased by the 1st Brigade were about to slip across the Cambodian Border, very near to Plei Me. At the same time, the North Vietnamese General Hu Man was getting ready to take the revenge of losses of the NVA at Plei Me by a major assault. Man had chosen the same ground for assembling his forces where Colonel Brown, the Third Brigade Commander, has been tasked to search, thus setting the stage for the un-intentional collision of two opposing armies, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division and the North Vietnam's B-3 Front.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Robertson, D.C., Operations Analysis: The Battle for Leyte Gulf, Newport, R.L: Naval War College, 1993]


The American forces were driven by a reactive concept. They tried to act as terminators and destroy the will of the North Vietnamese to fight, they tried to engage the NVA forces and destroy them, a much-unarticulated strategic concept which was the real operational command concept of the U.S. forces in this un-holy war. Colonel Brown, on 13 November ordered Lieutenant Colonel Harold G. Moore, the 1st Battalion Commander to carry out an air assault at the dawn of 14th, into the la Drang Valley located northeast of the Chu Pong Masaif. The concept of command was to search and destroy enemies. Moore was allocated 16 helicopters with rocket artillery, fire support by two batteries of the 21st Artillery of the 1st Battalion, while the tactical air force support was also deputed on Moore's call.[footnoteRef:5] [5: Schwarzkopf, H. Norman, It Doesn't Take a Hero, New York: Bantam, 1992]

PART 2: The Battle


Moore's command control plan was to organize his battalion in one LZ, because the enemy force was stronger in manpower. After a reconnaissance confirmed about four sites out of which one site, the LZX-RAY was deemed suitable enough as it could handle eight ships at one time. By this, Moore could deploy one rifle company on ground with each flight, landing in two lifts each. After briefing the company commanders about the enemy's strength that was, according to intelligence reports, about one battalion located 5 km of Northwest, and one another South of X-RAY, with a hidden base at the Western side. Moore decided to begin air assault first into X-RAY subsequently destroying the enemy forces with the area of assault and then leap from to the West.


On the morning of November 14th, Moore's forces were airlifted into the LZ X-RAY and his forces, sprinting from helicopters, secured the entire LZ without any challenge. A North Vietnamese soldier, caught as prisoner revealed that NVA battalions were waiting at Chu Pong Mountain, ready to kill the American forces. Suddenly the B. Company confronted the NVA forces as it was trying to overrun the LZ and its pressure was so much that Moore's forces were able to land after a 4th landing attempt. [footnoteRef:6] [6: Moore, Harold G., and Joseph Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, New York: Random House, 1992]

Command and Control

Colonel Moore positioned his forces very judiciously using his reserves and was successful to trounce the enemy offensive and with the added support of the D. Company, he was able to fight and push back the enemy forces. After the arrival of three 2/7 companies of Cavalry, Moore ordered to relieve of lost platoon of Bravo Company, cut off for more than two days from the battalion. The whole operation was successful and Moore was able to recover the surviving soldiers. On 16th morning the 2/7 Cavalry arrived and thus 1/7, Cavalry was relieved. Colonel Moore marched overland and after arriving at the extracted zone was airlifted to An Khe.

The objective of General Kinnard command concept was to inflict as much loses as possible to the withdrawing enemy forces. Colonel Brown also had this command objective. The C2 system was often used for control and not for command. Moore devoted all his resources to kill the enemy forces that lie in front of him. When Moore gained control, the C2 system was not much support to help development and follow-on concept in order to eliminate the NVA forces.

The Command Concept: Direct

Moore gave a very elaborate order, and like Admiral Jellicoe at Battle of Jutland, Moore seemed to enter the battle more on his assumptions than with a clear vision of what he could do to make things happen.[footnoteRef:7] It was an ideal mission command because had it been articulated before, Colonel Moore could have been not there and the result would still have been the same. Nevertheless, this was due to the flawed concept in the higher-level mission plan, like that of the Royal Navy when it sailed to the Battle of Jutland, where it was assumed that the real problem was finding, chasing, and eliminating the enemy. Just like Jutland, the mission command concept, of la Drang resulted in costly failures, due to arrogance.[footnoteRef:8] [7: Admiral Horatio Nelson's writings before Trafalgar and the journals of the battle may provide a good example of what is pertinent to near-ideal mission command concept.] [8: Coakley, Thoman P., C31: Issues of Command and Control, Washington, D.C: National Defense University, 1991.]


Commanders and the quality of their mission command ideas are more crucial to a theory of mission command and control than that technical wizardry of their machines, the computers and control (C2) from the software and hardware that support C2. It all centers on the idea of a mission command concept, the vision of a military commander about military operations that informs the developing of command decisions during the battle. This theory suggests that all necessary communications in the chain of command be limited to disseminating and verifying the concepts of mission command and control. This theory also suggests that the forces should be informed and conveyed about the concept that if deemed necessary it can be left to the forces to fight strategically even before the battle begins and the commander are not available.

C2 theories must elaborate and explain how the C2 systems should work and their requirements for the working environment. It must give performance appraisal for the commanders and their subordinates including the technical gadgets like the computers that support them. In his comments about Command and control system in the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Kenneth Allard says that ' the one very striking feature of these definitions is the extent to which they evoke the personal nature of command itself, as he is the individual who is legally and professionally accountable for everything his forces do in a battle, and is always held responsible himself and not his computers and data that flow to them in the course of a battle. A theory suggests that the very essence of command lies in the cognitive process of the commander.

Significance of Analysis

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