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Operations Order. A true understanding of Auftragstaktik would focus attention on Paragraphs 3a Concept of the Operation and 3b Coordinating Instructions. The German Army used mission statements The subordinate commander decided upon a specific course of action which became his resolution Entschluss. Fostering this kind of individual initiative was the guiding principle of German military education.


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In short, officers were taught how to think, not what to think. In the German Army culture, a higher commander rarely, if ever, reproached a subordinate if he showed initiative. They believed it was better to make a good decision immediately than to wait and make a better decision later, possibly missing a fleeting battlefield opportunity. An unforgivable mistake in such a culture is one of inaction.

Waiting for perfect information before making any decision was not tolerated. This attitude extended down through the ranks, to the individual soldier. As Dr. Bruce I. In situations where contact with the higher commander was lost, subordinates could be trusted to take the action he thought appropriate, rather than stopping and waiting until contact could be re-established.


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This aggressive attitude allowed units to take advantage of fleeting opportunities and local successes. A subordinate commander The core of the success of Auftragstaktik was the strenuous selection and development of German leaders. There were three personal qualities the Germans clearly valued in their officers: knowledge, independence and the joy of taking responsibility.

Knowledge served at least two purposes. First of all, knowledge was what made the officer know what to do or was the foundation for making a decision:. At the same time, it was also the main source for generating trust among your subordinates. Independence was also related to decision making. Independence was needed because, as an officer, you were the only one present where decisions had to be made. You could not wait for others to tell you what to do and when to do it. The last and the most important personal quality was the joy of taking responsibility. The joy of taking responsibility was what kept you on the battlefield.

It was what forced you to stay despite the horrors you were experiencing. It was what made you endure. The best way to separate the great from everyone else was holding everyone—from the top commander down to each individual soldier—responsible for their actions. The joy of taking responsibility is the most distinguished leader quality. They strove to cultivate officers who not only accepted responsibility, but actually thrived and excelled in situations when great responsibility was suddenly thrust upon them.

Why is it important for an officer to enjoy responsibility? Independence was what equipped an officer to handle uncertainty and still make effective decisions. But when faced with the horrors of the battlefield, an officer needs more than just independence to keep him vigorous. When everything is difficult and everyone around him seems to have given up, that is when the feeling of responsibility kicks in.

There is a reason there is no discussion about any single individual here. I do not write about leadership with discussions of a Patton or Grant. Individual personalities do not play a major role in Auftragstaktik. They discovered a way to make it stick as their culture.

It is Auftragstaktik playing the major role and not the people. The following examples highlight how Auftragstaktik enabled good leaders to be even greater regardless of their rank. Root was a highly intelligent lawyer, specializing in corporate affairs. He acted as counsel to banks, railroads, and some of the great financiers of that era. He wanted the Army to run like a modern large corporation sound familiar?

President McKinley simply tried to bring in the most accomplished people from around the country to serve in his cabinet. Both believed the skills and knowledge that had made them so successful in their civilian pursuits would directly transfer into their government roles. The problem is the military fills a very unique role in society. Specifically, it holds a monopoly for organized violence. Because of its unique role, the military requires unique rules to effectively govern it. Methods that may work in the civilian sector will often be extremely detrimental in the military.

At the center of management science was Fredrick Taylor, one of the intellectual fathers of the modern industrial production system. Perhaps his greatest contribution to production efficiency was to break down complex production tasks into a sequence of simple, standardized steps. This permitted him to design a standardized mass-production line around a management system that classified work into standard tasks and workers into standard specialties.

This combination established work standards, and the people who were trained to these standards became interchangeable cogs in the machine. It also greatly simplified personnel management in a vast industrial enterprise. To be sure, Taylorism transformed industrial production, but it also had a dark side: Taylorism treated people as unthinking cogs in a machine. By necessity, these people had to accept a social system based on a coercive pattern of dominance and subordination, as well as centralized control from the top.

Every action and every decision made in the organization was spelled out in the name of efficiency. In theory, the entire regimen flowed from the brain of one individual at the top of the hierarchy. This approach should not be surprising. Root was a product of the big corporations that dominated the Progressive Era and would soon dominate the U. Military operate more smoothly to a certain degree, but they had the unintended consequence of reducing overall combat effectiveness. A complimentary management dogma also emerged during the Progressive Era.

Easier accessions, faster promotions, no obligation to attend professional courses, and quicker pay raises are fully consistent with this theory of human behavior. This approach was born out of necessity in World War I. Descartes was a famous mathematician who broke down engineering problems in sequence, making it easier to teach formulas to engineering students. This approach was translated into French military training, where the French found it easy to break down military problem solving into processes checklists to educate their officers and their awaiting masses of citizen soldiers upon mobilization.

The Cartesian approach allowed the French and later the United States to easily teach a common, fundamental doctrinal language to many new to the military and significantly reduced the time it took to master basic military skills. Military planners end up spending far too much time creating proper-looking paperwork to please their bosses rather than actually solving the problem at hand. It is the same thing with operations research, a powerful tool for solving certain well-defined problems. Military officers, a majority heavily educated in mathematics and engineering, try to apply the Cartesian approach to all sorts of inappropriate problems.

The French, relying on a massed citizen army in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, used it to instruct many citizen officers quickly in military doctrine. Additionally, the horrendous casualties of World War I and the lethal advancements of modern weaponry forced the French to find a way to teach its officers how to manage these resources properly. They compensated for their lack of unit skills on the battlefield by concentrating firepower. When the United States Army arrived in Europe in , led largely by citizens transformed into officers almost overnight, it needed to rapidly learn the fundamentals of the profession of arms.

All U. S staff officers and commanders attended French schools in planning and controlling forces in combat. When the United States and France emerged as the perceived victors in World War I, they saw that as a justification of their training process. After the French developed Methodical Battle in the interwar years, the United States copied it and its accompanying process-focused education. These fire-and-movement tactics are linear—Napoleonic on an operational level.

The doctrine focuses on closely tying in the flank of one unit with its neighbors, rigidly adhering to detailed map graphics, with centrally controlling nearly every aspect of the operation at a higher headquarters. The end result of a doctrine of this type is to force officers, educated to rely on inherently rote procedures, to focus inwards on themselves rather than outwards on the enemy. This French-based doctrine was already institutionalized when George C. As soon as Marshall left Benning, the school reverted back to its linear and French way of leader development.

Both the Army's infantry school and the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, drilled their officer students in tactics devised by the French in the latter part of World War I and during the interwar years. Marshall was the sole exception, who tried to get away from this top-down, rote dogma being taught everywhere in the US Army. George Marshall was one of the very few to work against such thinking. He advanced many approaches similar to German officer education methods of the same period. He took students to different locations and then changed their mission, forcing them to adapt to the suddenly changed situation.

He also allowed officer students to challenge the school solution with their own courses of action. Also significant was that Marshall attempted to move away from long, formal written operations orders in favor of shorter versions or verbal orders. This was also similar to what the Germans were practicing in all levels of their schooling. Although a great doctrinal debate existed in the interwar years among officers, the French way of war was deemed the correct way.

It helped that the industrial warfare methods were more easily explained than the German approach. American doctrine called for a systematic approach—from strategy, at the highest level, to tactics, at the lowest level—so coherent and so simple that even an army of semi-trained amateurs could quickly learn to fight effectively. To properly gauge the French influence on army doctrine, one must go beyond what was promulgated in doctrinal publications. The manual for large-unit commanders was never raised to the full status of "permanent doctrine," but it was extremely influential.

Put another way, what a general stamped "official" is far less important than what resonated in the minds of captains, majors, and colonels of that period. One reason that the Manual for Commanders of Large Units was so popular was that it was familiar. It fit well into the military mentality of an officer corps that had fully absorbed the French approach to war.

It was adopted at West Point which emphasized a Cartesian approach to education , in the writings of Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini, in the extensive study of the French language, in the use of French translations as a means to study German methods, in the influences of the centralized corporate culture of the Progressive Era, and, most powerful of all, in the experience of World War I. Army needed a means of making sense of the tactics of divisions and corps. The French approach in general, and the Manual for Commanders of Large Units in particular, promised to fill that need.

The dependence on the trained amateur also institutionalized the doctrine of centralized command and control and authoritarian leadership that began in World War I. Other military schools, like the Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, were not held in high regard by its graduates for the style of teaching. Army professional journals at the time carried articles criticizing the poor quality of instruction, as well as more weighty concerns. Many recognized that the school solution grading method, which relied on inflexible grade sheets, prevented many students from presenting innovative solutions to complex problems.

The Leavenworth faculty took these concerns seriously and devised a system of student appeals, recognizing the school solutions might not be the only possible solutions. The system of appeals fostered an environment in which students could experiment with ideas many of them would soon apply in World War II. Centrally controlled, attrition-based doctrine attempted to make up in discipline and control what the military lacked in thorough training and cohesive combat units.

The doctrine also fit into the culture begun by Elihu Root. The Army's and society's culture liked the idea of imposing an artificial order on war. But war is inherently disorderly. Army officers were comfortable with this type of doctrine because they were trained to think analytically. Exceptions were few, as in the case of the famed 4th Armored Division commander, John Shirley Wood, who knew better and taught his officers how to integrate different combat arms and to think holistically. The disastrous experience in Vietnam prompted some within the defense establishment to reevaluate the way United States forces should fight.

Information dominance across the tactical and operational levels, enabled by technology, formed the basic assumption about how the United States would fight. However, the models for designing, testing, and evaluating new concepts remained tied to 2GW types of mathematical and linear threat models used by General William DePuy, the first commander of U. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to justify force development funding in the s. This model needed definitive assumptions about how the Army would fight that could be rationalized mathematically on the linear battlefield.

Even though the nature of conflicts in which the military would engage was changing, the assumptions about threat models used to create change did not. After 30 years and a decisive victory in Desert Storm, it could not question them without calling into question the basis upon which the size, composition, and required capabilities of the force were justified in terms of budgetary requirements. This was and is a troubling paradox for a large institution.

Its inability to reconcile the desire to operate in an efficient, businesslike manner, in a world in which the desired results cannot be defined quantitatively, persists. Doctrine no longer was the engine of change, because the extensive bureaucratic systems built in the post-World War II 2GW world now held doctrine captive to process. Doctrine became overly dogmatic, which defeated the entire concept!

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Not only did assumptions about how the military must be developed remain stagnant, but many s assumptions about how forces should train remained unchallenged. No one would now argue against the idea that accepted methods used to train soldiers for World War I did not apply to the new battlefield realities of World War II a mere 23 years later. Leaders raised under that philosophy chose not to question it—even in the light of Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and other 4GW conflicts around the globe.

Tactical problems are viewed as either the failure of subordinates to understand doctrine, failure to develop detailed standard operating procedures applying the doctrine, or political failures resulting in the improper non-doctrinal use of military forces. They are certainly not indicative of a need to critically examine Army assumptions and doctrine in the minds of many military leaders. Commanders determine training priorities based on their analysis of the missions they may have to conduct by devising a Mission Essential Task List MESL.

To challenge the rationale of the methods used to train was to challenge the doctrine itself. This was professional behavior increasingly less desired by a military still celebrating the leaders and successes of Desert Storm. A concurrent event at the time, unrelated to war-fighting, helped entrench organizational conservatism in the military. The dramatic drawdown of the s shrank the Army by half and the other services to lesser degrees.

In the s, internal Army debates about how to fight and how to train that had accompanied evolving Army doctrine were supported indirectly by robust resources. The drawdown and resource crises of the s slowed and almost stopped doctrinal innovation. Because the defense establishment is biased towards designing and building expensive weapons systems, when budgets conflicts arise, military personnel and training suffer first.

This should not be taken as a blanket call for perpetually high defense budgets, but rather better prioritization in the minds of all involved in making decisions about national security. The priorities should always be people, ideas, and hardware … in that order. When defense dollars are limited, decision-makers should first look to cut spending on weapons acquisition programs, not in how people train.

Training became increasingly centralized as commanders attempted to husband resources. Junior leaders were not allowed to squander limited resources learning their craft. Innovative training methods such as those employed by Special Forces were considered inappropriate for conventional forces. In the Army and Marine Corps, training as a measure of leader competency was also replaced by training resource management, which is quite unrelated to the actual execution of training.

Careful stewardship of resources, and the satisfactory completion of resourced events, took precedence over the actual effectiveness of training. Training itself changed from experiential training proficiency gained through realistic experiences to event-driven training, following strategies determined by TRADOC. The fundamental training methods remained unchallenged by critical analysis and became the hallmark of leader risk mitigation.

Leaders who survived the drawdown ended up following doctrinal methods precisely and evaluating others by how well they followed the same methods. The gap between intentions and reality became public in as officers and NCOs began voting with their feet. The volunteer professional service lost staff sergeants, captains, lieutenant colonels, and colonels faster than even a smaller military could handle and still fulfil its requirements. Command climate surveys showed wide and deep dissatisfaction with senior leaders, formal schools, training methods, and overly restrictive command climates.

By , with the Army CSA, General Schoomaker engaged in changing the Army, not only to help win an ongoing war but to prepare for future security needs, still found he was hamstrung by a generation of subordinate leaders in the institutional Army who survived and thrived by not changing any systems unless they were first given the approved answer. Army leaders—officers and NCOs—became victims of goal displacement. Faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, they transformed what their cultural experience told them they could do and could not do , into what they believed they should do.

It only became worse when the broader organizational and senior leader culture did the same, misusing methods such as quarterly training briefings to measure events as if they were measures of effective training. Everyone was assumed to know nothing until trained and certified by an outsider.

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As a result, a great deal of training today does not encourage thinking and decision making. In fact, it often discourages it. Although the best instructors—and especially those recently returned from combat—take great efforts to explain to their students why things were done a certain way, the program itself stressed only the mechanical application of tasks. Cadets, candidates, and junior officers, as well as the troops, asked few questions, and infractions were answered by mass punishment, while education techniques are rote and boring.

The process for training mobilized Guardsmen and Reservists was even more obsolete and narrow. Young leaders and soldiers are not forced to work things out for themselves or to learn to be individually responsible. Not understanding why tasks are performed a certain way, they often fail to adapt properly to changed circumstances. The fundamental problem remains untouched, however. The DoD continues to deal with short-term adjustments to an already over-taxed, legacy personnel management system designed to produce officers trained to fight in a linear or Second Generation War. The requirement to achieve periodic promotion or leave military service is the strongest part of the foundation and in turn supports the other three pillars.

Knock down the up-or-out policy and the other pillars will follow. Up-or-out was a unique U. Creating tough professional entrance requirements based solely on aptitude for military leadership in America was almost impossible in the late s, and remains so today.

Even today, one encounters many critical of those who wish to adopt certain methods used by our old adversaries in the U. However, there are methods the Germans used to great effect in educating junior leaders in cognitive and character development that bear careful examination. Transformation has normally been quicker and more complete for defeated armies unburdened by the legacy of a recent victory.

Nevertheless, the goal of this monograph is not to duplicate a specific doctrine or historical period with that of either a victorious or defeated Army. The German approach established the concepts of both professional and individual trust early in the training process, as every officer—through a shared bonding experience—had to negotiate and pass through the same tough standards.

This accomplished the creation of a genuine bond of trust within a small but professional officer corps, and it freed the officers to focus on mastering their profession rather than their career. In fact, up-or-out creates something much worse, as personnel expert and author Lt. Harry Bondy proclaims through his extensive study of personnel management systems:. Legitimacy and commitment suffer because almost everyone not promoted to senior officer and non-commissioned member rank … is dissatisfied with the current system.

Ike Wilson, Ph. Donald E. This cohort management system was created before the age of computers simplifying the management by pencil at military personnel command. There is no scientific or management theories to explain the need to manage a pool of people by yearly cohorts except to ease control. The third pillar is the centralized control of promotions and selections based upon individual evaluation systems. In practice, these create the psychological conflicts that counter the values the military espouses.

Bondy continues:. A second alternative perspective is that interpersonal networks affect organizational leadership decisions. Some propose that organizations include interpersonal networks and that members of powerful networks are likely to enjoy faster levels of professional advancement Burt They also proposed that personal networks become increasingly important in higher ranks of seniority.

Other scholarship has provided empirical evidence that personal networks affect the leadership selection and promotion process in American and other militaries Segal ; Peck ; Kim and Crabb That said, some have presented evidence that in the US military the value of such networks does not affect promotion patterns Schwind and Laurence or has varied across time Evans This interpersonal networks perspective suggests: Hypothesis 3: In wartime, military leaders who are members of powerful interpersonal networks are more likely to be retained and promoted than leaders who are not members of such networks.

Thus far we have discussed the determinants of leadership turnover. The remaining hypothesis examines how leadership turnover affects combat performance. We note that Hypotheses 1a and 1b assume that organizations believe that replacing low-performing leaders will improve military organizational performance. We test this assumption. This is a bit more difficult to get at, as the best measure of leader effectiveness is of course combat effectiveness, and for falsifiability reasons we wish to avoid measuring the independent variable with the dependent variable.

We take a more indirect approach. One should note the assumption that the new, replacement leader will be of higher quality than the removed leader, an idea that was also explored in a formal model of civilian leadership replacement Meirowitz and Tucker We test our hypotheses by collecting and analyzing new data on the command tenure experiences of generals leading individual ground divisions in the American and German armies fighting in the North African, Italian, and West European theaters in World War II in the years — We focus on lower-ranking generals hereafter referred to simply as generals who each led a single division very roughly ten thousand to thirty thousand soldiers.

Divisions are larger than regiments, battalions, brigades, companies, platoons, and squads and are smaller than corps and armies. For World War II, divisions are preferable to using smaller units, because there are fewer missing data for division-level performance than there are for the performance of smaller units. We focus on generals commanding ground troops rather than naval admirals or air force generals. We focus on World War II for several reasons. First, its scope and extensive historiography provide data that are both comprehensive and high quality, relative to other wars.

Second, the length of the war facilitates testing our hypothesis that past poor performance increases the likelihood of a general being replaced. In shorter wars, such as the Six Day War or the Gulf War, combat does not last long enough for a military to react to poor combat performance by replacing leaders of poor-performing units. Third, World War II has been central to the study of military effectiveness e. It is important to test the Ricks thesis rigorously, as he did not, and it does not reflect a consensus among historians.

Fourth, because Germany is a civilian dictatorship and the United States is not, this comparison provides the independent variable variance needed to test the coup-proofing hypothesis H2. Doing so would introduce substantial heterogeneity in both data missingness and data quality across the Soviet and other campaigns as described below, we code combat outcomes for the North African, Italian, and European campaigns from a single source, and that source does not cover the Soviet campaign. Excluding the Eastern Front also allows us to maintain data homogeneity, as virtually all combat in our data set are between German and American forces.

Focusing on leadership and combat dynamics in a single war provides advantages over conducting empirical analysis on a data set of several wars. The sample is large enough to permit quantitative analysis hundreds of generals and thousands of division-months , but limited enough to permit us to account for context and to collect more fine-grained, higher-quality data. Context is especially critical when assessing combat performance, as the meaning of success in combat can vary substantially across wars, from killing the enemy to capturing territory to securing control of the population Reiter , chapter 4.

In these World War II campaigns, combat success is generally about capturing territory, as Allied armies were attempting to secure territory en route to intermediate objectives such as the capture of Rome and Paris , ultimately culminating with the capture of Berlin see Blanken and Lepore German forces were also attempting to control territory to prevent Allied advances.

A command demotion occurs any time a division commander is relieved of command and given either a lower smaller combat command, no command, or command of a military school. It is important here to note two events that we do not count as command demotions.

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First, if a general transitions to the general staff of a corps or army, this is not a demotion. Transitioning to the staff of a larger unit signifies recognition of promise by a higher-ranking officer and, potentially, signals being groomed for higher command. Second, we do not code a general as being demoted if he was a temporary acting commander returning to his previous, lower-level command once a permanent division commander is designated since such appointments carry the assumption that the appointee will return to a lower command.

We employ competing risks models to model separately factors that make demotion more likely and promotion more likely Box-Steffensmeier and Jones Figure 1 displays the number of generals demoted for each year the United States and Germany participated in the war for more detailed information on all generals in the data set, see our Supplementary Codebook. A general is coded as being promoted if he receives a higher combat command such as a corps or is attached to the general staff of a higher command.

Figure 2 displays the number of generals promoted each year the United States and Germany participated in the war. One of our independent variables is combat performance of the division commanded by the general. Coding combat performance is difficult.

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There are perhaps three different approaches to coding combat performance: coding territory lost or gained, coding balance of casualties Biddle ; Beckley ; Cochran and Long forthcoming; Weisiger , and a subjective coding of success. Coding combat performance simply on the basis of territory lost or gained can be potentially misleading.

If a division on the offensive gains no territory it should be viewed as unsuccessful, whereas a division on the defensive that gains no territory but loses no territory should be viewed as successful. Casualty data pose severe missing data problems, at least for the division level of analysis.

Our exploration of primary sources in the US National Archives indicates that for American division-level casualties on a monthly basis in World War II, about 40 percent of observations would be missing. Missing data rates for German divisions would likely be even higher. Missing data issues aside, there are conceptual problems with using casualty data, as in some circumstances military forces may be willing to suffer casualties, or may need to suffer casualties, in order to accomplish goals such as seizing or preventing the seizure of territory Reiter , chapter 4; Grauer For example, in the first phase of the highly successful change in American military strategy in the Iraq War, US combat casualties went up as American forces took the necessary steps of increasing their patrols among the population Ricks , A division receives a 1 in a particular month for its combat performance if it enjoyed success in achieving its combat goals.

For divisions tasked with launching offensives, a division is considered successful if it conquered net additional territory during that month. For divisions tasked with defense, a division is coded 1 if the division successfully blocked the adversary from gaining consequential territory, even if the defending division itself did not capture any territory. For example, the German 29 th Panzer Grenadier Division helped successfully contain Allied forces around Anzio in early and received a 1 for those months.

A division gets coded as —1 in a month if it failed to achieve its combat goals. Units that fail to achieve planned offensive objectives, such as the German 11 th Panzer Division failing at Remagen in March and the American 36 th Infantry Division failing at the Gari Rapido River in January , are given codings of —1.

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If a division is destroyed, such as the German 84 th Division in Italy in March , or dissolved due to poor performance, such as the German 92 nd Infantry Division in June , it receives a —1. A third possible coding is 0. A division gets a 0 if does not fight in a particular month. A unit engaging in orderly retreat, that is conceding territory without suffering significant casualties, gets a 0.

If a division surrendered without destruction of its unit, a more common outcome at the very end of the war, it gets coded as 0. It also gets coded as 0 if it fights but has mixed success in a month, such as a successful defense and a failed offensive, or a successful defense followed later in the month by retreat. The only publicly available quantitative data set of battle outcomes for all battles going back in time has been the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization HERO battle data set. A number of observers have described flaws in the HERO data e.

The division-month approach avoids these problems by applying consistent temporal and spatial limits. The division is a common organizational unit in military commands of very roughly consistent size. It also permits evaluating the performance of a division when it is fighting but not involved in a major battle.

Testing Hypothesis 2 is empirically straightforward, as it simply forecasts different relationships between combat outcomes and command tenure in the American and German armies. Hypothesis 3 requires new data on the interpersonal relationships of military leaders. Perhaps one of the strongest interpersonal networks within militaries is the set of officers who attended military academies. We collected new data on the military academy attendance of all the American generals in our data set.

We coded a dichotomous variable 1 if the general attended a military academy, and 0 otherwise. Almost all American generals in the data set attending military academies attended West Point one attended the Virginia Military Institute. Proxying personal networks for the German sample with academy attendance is inappropriate as the Germans did not have a standardized system of academy education during World War II as the Americans did.

We do include a variable coding whether a German general is a member of the Schutzstaffel SS. However, we recognize that SS generals may be less likely to be demoted either because of network factors, coup-proofing factors Hitler relied on the SS to maintain internal political control , or combat performance factors SS divisions fought well. The data set contains 1, general-month observations for generals—91 American and German—commanding infantry, armored, and airborne divisions—65 American and German—in the North African, Italian, and Western European theaters in April —May Generals can have multiple commands within the war that is, multiple spells.

We measure command duration in months, and in our data set command duration ranges from one to twenty-five months, with an average of 5. Table 1 provides summary statistics of the data. In the data set a total of twenty-one generals—eight American and thirteen German—lost their command through demotion. Eighteen German generals ended their combat commands through promotion, and thirteen American generals ended their combat commands through promotion. We analyze the full data set, and then the American and German generals in separate models.

We use robust standard errors, clustering on the general. All results are robust to clustering on division see Supplementary Appendix. We use the Efron method for breaking ties. Analysis of Schoenfeld residuals reveals that the German generals data set contains a nonproportional hazard for the combat outcomes and the military academy independent variables Box-Steffensmeier, Reiter, and Zorn We accordingly include time interactions for the Germany subsample. The results for analysis of the full data set, the American generals subsample, and the German generals subsample are displayed in Table 2.

Note that we analyze separate models for our two primary failure events, promotion and demotion. In the promotion models, we set command demotion as the competing risk and vice versa. Notes : 1 Robust standard errors reported, clustered on command. Table 2 demonstrates that better combat performance significantly reduces the chance that a general will be demoted, but has no significant effect on the chance that a general will be promoted, across the full, American, and German samples.

This provides support for Hypothesis 1a, but not 1b—performance affects demotion but not promotion. The null result for promotion may be because both militaries wish to remove ineffective generals from their commands, but when a general demonstrates competence, it may be more useful to the operational effort to allow him to keep his command rather than promote him; perhaps combat-proven generals are more greatly needed in battle rather than on a general staff.

Using an alternative measure of interpersonal network, graduation from any college as a proxy for membership in the network of the upper socioeconomic class note that only 10 percent of Americans held a college degree in , around when World War II American generals would have attended college , was also insignificant. Instead we estimate models with a variable indicating whether the general served in the SS. We find very strong evidence, both substantively and statistically, that SS membership significantly reduces the likelihood of demotion.

This lower likelihood of demotion could be because there was an interpersonal network protecting SS generals, Hitler used the SS to safeguard his regime and for coup-proofing reasons might have been hesitant to demote an SS general, 16 or because SS divisions enjoyed higher levels of combat performance. Unfortunately, we do not currently have the data to conclude with confidence exactly why SS generals were less likely to be demoted, in part because of the low number of SS generals. We do not find a significant effect of SS membership on promotion.

We ran a number of robustness checks.

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First, we treat as censored the nine generals that were wounded prior to being demoted, to account for recuperation. Second, we treat as censored three generals that historians indicate may have been removed due to troubled relationships with superiors rather than combat performance. Third, we drop those observations in which divisions are destroyed, surrender, or disband. The results hold across these modifications. One possible concern is that generals might be removed only after fighting has ceased and not while fighting is still ongoing.

However, the data do not indicate such a relationship. There is clear evidence of this trend in only four of the twenty-one cases: Jay Mackelvie, who commanded the American 90 th Infantry Division; Werner Goeritz, who commanded the German 92 nd Infantry Division; Erwin Sander, who commanded the German th Infantry Division; and Eberhard von Schuckmann, who commanded the German nd Infantry later Volksgrenadier Division.

In only these examples is it the case that divisions took a break from the front during the change of command. Though using division-dyads is conceptually appealing, collecting accurate data on division-dyads would be extraordinarily difficult. Relatedly, a single division may be spread piecemeal across a front, with different elements of that one division fighting several enemy divisions. The Battle of the Bulge, for example, involved large numbers of American and German troops. Even attempting to code a small portion of this battle, such as the Battle of St.

Vith, would be problematic, as elements of three American divisions fought elements of four German divisions. The short temporal window addresses this problem at least in part by increasing the likelihood that both the removed general and his replacement will face the same adversary. We also take other steps. This will capture whether any month or front was particularly difficult, perhaps because a division is facing a particularly tough opponent e. The results are robust to the inclusion of these controls.

Unfortunately, our sample size does not allow including dummies for each month of the war, which would more flexibly capture monthly variation. Finally, some may be concerned about potential bias from excluding the Eastern Front in the analysis. It could be the case that underperforming German generals were punished with a transfer or that competent German generals were rushed to the Eastern Front as it crumbled.

This is not the case as there is no difference between the performance of German generals who were transferred and those who were not. The coefficients presented in Table 2 are difficult to interpret directly because they present the subhazard ratios estimated in each model. Numbers less than one and bounded by zero indicate that increases in the independent variable make the failure outcome less likely. In Model 1, for example, the outcome of interest is command demotion. The coefficient on combat outcome is less than one, which indicates that as combat performance improves, the commander is less likely to suffer demotion.

To assess how different levels of combat performance influence the probability of command demotion over time, we plot the cumulative incidence functions 17 over the number of analysis months and present result in Figures 3—5.


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Figure 3 examines the effect of different combat outcomes over time on the likelihood of suffering a command demotion. As performance improves, the likelihood of demotion decreases. Figures 4 and 5 describe the effects of combat performance on the American and German samples, respectively. Analysis indicates that there is no statistically significant difference between the effect of combat performance on the likelihood of demotion in the American versus German generals, providing evidence against Hypothesis 2, though American generals appear more likely to be demoted regardless of performance.

It is possible that the relationship between combat performance and leadership tenure may have changed as the war endured. Specifically, it may be that in the later years of the war as the German war effort was collapsing, German army underperformance would be more likely to be forgiven, and the relationship between poor combat performance and leader demotion might have weakened. We find that the results hold in these subsamples, casting doubt on the speculation that the combat-command tenure relationship changed in the German army as the war endured. Some might argue that selection effects contaminate our ability to draw inferences about the effects of military academy attendance on likelihood of promotion or demotion.

For example, individuals with more intrinsic aptitude might be more likely to attend military academies. We do not have the data to model factors that affect decisions to attend military academies, nor do we have the data to permit a matching strategy to get at this threat to causal inference. One possible solution to this threat to inference is to evaluate the interactive effect between combat performance and military academy attendance. That is, conditional on combat performance, does military academy attendance affect the likelihoods of promotion and demotion?

Put differently, does military academy attendance insulate a poorly performing general from demotion, and does military academy attendance mean that a high-performing general enjoys an especially high likelihood of promotion? We analyzed models including an interaction of combat outcome by military academy in the American subsample. The results fail to find that military academy attendance influences the effect of combat outcome on demotion and promotion. Thus far, we have examined the determinants of command demotion and promotion, demonstrating that poor command performance increases the likelihood of being removed from command.

We next test Hypothesis 4, asking, if a low-performing commanding general is replaced, does the performance of the division, under the command of the new general, improve? We explore this possibility in two empirical tests, using regression. In the first, we compare two sets of divisions: divisions that are led by generals who replaced a general who was removed for low performance, and divisions that are led by generals who replaced a general who was removed for some other reason.

In This Article

The dependent variable ranges from —1 to 2. Table 3 presents this analysis, with the independent variable being a dichotomous variable coded 1 if a general was replaced following low performance. Regression analysis of the effects of general replacement on combat performance: comparing generals of similar command tenure. Notes : 1 Significance tests are one-tailed. That variable is positively signed and statistically significant, providing support for Hypothesis 4. Replacement moves combat performance a full point on the three-point scale of —1 to 2.

One possible concern about the test described in Table 3 is that the observed improvement in performance when a low-performing general gets replaced could be regression to the mean and that the observed correlation between the replacement of a low-performing general and an improvement in performance is spurious rather than causal Kahneman We assess the possibility that the observed improvement in performance following replacement of a low-performing general is spurious by comparing two groups. The first group includes divisions four months after a general was replaced following low performance.

The second group includes divisions some four months after a low level of performance was observed that is, performance at the same low level as those divisions that experienced commander replacement , but only those divisions that did not experience replacement. But, if replacing a poor-performing general does cause an improvement in performance, then we should observe difference between the two groups. Table 4 describes this analysis. The positive and significant coefficient for the replacement variable suggests that we can be more confident that the observed relationship in Table 3 is not spurious.

Instead, the replacement of generals did lead to higher performance, as forecasted in Hypothesis 4. Regression analysis of the effects of general replacement on combat performance: comparing divisions after poor performance is observed. The results are robust to including a number of control variables Supplementary Tables A7 and A8 , see Supplementary Appendix. We rerun the regressions in Tables 3 and 4 with a host of biographical information, including whether or not the commander attended a military academy, commanded a battalion, or commanded a regiment.

We also control for the month of the war and the front in which the division is fighting. The results are robust to these specifications. Finally, one may be concerned that the improvement in combat performance is instead the result of the division receiving replacement troops, equipment, or rest. We examined what divisions tended to be doing during the month their commanders lost command. In only four cases do the divisions appear to be not fighting when their commander is relieved Jay Mackelvie, Werner Goeritz, Erwin Sander, and Eberhard von Schuckmann.

While it is certainly possible for a division to receive replacements while fighting, we, unfortunately, do not have sufficient data to examine these possibilities in greater detail. This article has demonstrated rigorous empirical evidence for the importance of a previously underappreciated determinant of military effectiveness, military leadership. In our empirical sample, militaries improved combat performance by replacing poorly performing generals.