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The Brain of an Army: A Popular Account of the German General Staff
Six years ago a Royal Commission, under the presidency of Lord Hartington, was known to be inquiring into the administration of the national defence. There was much talk in the newspapers about the Prussian staff, and many were the advocates of its imitation in this country. Very few of those who took part in the discussions seemed to know what the Prussian staff was, and I thought it might be useful to the Royal Commission and to the public to have a true account of that institution, written in plain English, so that any one could understand it. The essay was published on the 11th of February, 1890, the day on which the Report of Lord Hartington's Commission was signed. The essential feature of the Prussian staff system consists in the classification of duties out of which it has arisen. Every general in the field requires a number of assistants, collectively forming his staff, to relieve him of matters of detail, to act as his confidential secretaries, and to represent him at places where he cannot be himself. The duties of command are so multifarious that some consistent distribution of functions among the officers of a large staff is indispensable. In Prussia this distribution is based on a thoroughly rational and practical principle. The general's work is subdivided into classes, according as it is concerned with administration and discipline or with the direction of the operations against the enemy. All that belongs to administration and discipline is put upon one side of a dividing line, and upon the other side all that directly affects the preparation for or the management of the fightingin technical language, all that falls within the domain of strategy and tactics. The officers entrusted with the personal assistance of the general in this latter group of duties are in Prussia called his "general staff." They are specially trained in the art of conducting operations against an enemy, that is in the specific function of generalship, which has thus in the Prussian army received more systematic attention than in any other. In the British army the assistants of a general are also grouped into classes for the performance of specific functions in his relief. But the grouping of duties is accidental, and follows no principle. It has arisen by chance, and been stereotyped by usage. The officers of a staff belong to the adjutant-general's branch or to the quartermaster-general's branch, but no rational criterion exists by which to discover whether a particular function falls to one branch or to the other. That this is an evil is evident, because it is manifest that there can be no scientific training for a group of duties which have no inherent affinity with one another. The evil has long been felt, for the attempt has been made to remedy it by amalgamating the two branches in order to sever them again upon a rational plane of cleavage. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 55022
Author: Wilkinson, Spenser
Release Date: Jul 1, 2017
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