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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Doctrine Development


Gareth Davies
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This may be of use to anyone with an interest in the Army's development of doctrine/the Army as a learning organisation.

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Thanks for that Gareth, it was interesting. I would say though, that the late Paddy Griffith covered a fair amount of this in his 1996 book Battles Tactics on the Western Front. Indeed, I believe he was probably the first or one of them at least to draw attention to the significance of the SS series of pamphlets and the learning curve. Nevertheless, it helps reinforce the point about taking note of the experiences of the front line soldier, evaluating them, and cascading them.

It is also interesting that schools were seen not just as places of formal instruction, but also somewhere where ideas could be shared. The RE recognised this in their various courses within the BEF, the Company Commanders courses for instance and also at the RE school at Rouen, which was attended by infantry pioneers officers and SNCOs in 1918, not just to learn about latest techniques in field engineering, but also to share their views.

TR

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Very interesting. Fascinating in fact. I like his appraisal of Haldane. One can't bear to imagine how we would have fared in 1914 without his reforms. Something I had not previously considered. Sharp guy. MG

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Thanks for that Gareth, it was interesting. I would say though, that the late Paddy Griffith covered a fair amount of this in his 1996 book Battles Tactics on the Western Front. Indeed, I believe he was probably the first or one of them at least to draw attention to the significance of the SS series of pamphlets and the learning curve. Nevertheless, it helps reinforce the point about taking note of the experiences of the front line soldier, evaluating them, and cascading them.

It is also interesting that schools were seen not just as places of formal instruction, but also somewhere where ideas could be shared. The RE recognised this in their various courses within the BEF, the Company Commanders courses for instance and also at the RE school at Rouen, which was attended by infantry pioneers officers and SNCOs in 1918, not just to learn about latest techniques in field engineering, but also to share their views.

TR

They were lucky, I am quite clear that we don't give our current soldiers/officers enough opportunity to share and explore and experiment (including the soldiers/officers who come through my training school).

I used to tell my students at the Staff College that doctrine should be:

- Written for practitioners

- Have general acceptance

- Readily taught

- Relatively intuitive

- Timeless and enduring

- Relevant and in date

- Manageable

- Accessible

And it should not be:

- Driven by fashion

- Sound bites or bumper stickers

- Imprecise or inaccurate

- Vague

- Overly complicated

- Equivocal

On this basis I am tempted to say that we were better at it in 1917-1918 than we were in 07-08.

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It depends on how you define doctrine and its scope. At the lowest level it can be individual and team drills, at the other extreme it is the application of grand strategy.

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