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Jray100
02-04-2007, 07:46 AM
I researched the Chain-of-Command structure used by most military and many other organizations, but could not locate the origin or the organizational structure(s) that it replaced, nor why it came to dominate so many military organizations. Any suggestions?

MattW
02-04-2007, 08:48 AM
The previous system probably goes back to the formation of the Continental and Regimental systems that first codified military organization.

Before that, mercenary companies of the Renaissance utilized ranks that we would find familiar, but not universal in use or meaning.

In the Middle Ages, you almost can't separate military rank from political rank.

Then we're down to the Romans, and they had very well codified ranks.

Some bits here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_rank

Histry Nerd
02-05-2007, 08:54 PM
Welcome, Jray. I can't give you the formal evolution of the military chain of command, but you can probably blame it on a few thousand years of trial and error.

In any group of people, one generally emerges as the leader by virtue of superior skills, charisma, or simple force of personality. The earliest military leaders emerged this way, and later systems codified the natural emergence to a greater or lesser extent. The bottom line is that in a combat environment, an organization with a single strong leader is more likely to reach decisions quickly than one with multiple leaders, and therefore more likely to succeed. Military theorists and historians call this Unity of Command.

As to the development of a chain of command, a human leader can manage at most four or five direct subordinates simultaneously, so subordinate leaders emerge at intermediate levels to make the job easier. That way, a commander deals not with a hundred or a thousand subordinates, but a handful of lower-level leaders. Unity of command at each level, and no commander is overwhelmed by the number of moving parts he has to control. Like the overall unit leadership, armies have codified this natural tendency to a greater or lesser extent.

So to make a long answer longer, the military chain of command structure has emerged because it is 1) the formal expression of a natural human tendency, and 2) the most efficient way we know to run a military organization. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot. But the history of human conflict shows us it works, and until someone figures out a better system it's what we will have.

Clear as mud? I thought so.
HN

TheIT
02-06-2007, 03:00 AM
Welcome to AW, Jray100!

I hope you don't mind if I hijack your thread slightly. I had some questions on chain of command, too, so I figured I'd add them here rather than start a new thread.

In a chain of command system such as the military, is it legal to skip links in the chain? Can someone legally give orders to his subordinates' subordinates, or do the commands have to go through every link in the chain?

Same question, but what about a feudal/manorial system? Let's say a lord assigns some land to a baron to tend. Can the lord give orders to the villagers who live on the baron's land?

Thanks.

Gary
02-06-2007, 06:02 AM
Good military organization requires the chain be followed both ways, but sometimes it doesn't happen. That always causes ruffled feathers and creates all sorts of situtations no one wants to see.

MattW
02-06-2007, 09:02 AM
Welcome to AW, Jray100!

I hope you don't mind if I hijack your thread slightly. I had some questions on chain of command, too, so I figured I'd add them here rather than start a new thread.

In a chain of command system such as the military, is it legal to skip links in the chain? Can someone legally give orders to his subordinates' subordinates, or do the commands have to go through every link in the chain?

Same question, but what about a feudal/manorial system? Let's say a lord assigns some land to a baron to tend. Can the lord give orders to the villagers who live on the baron's land?

Thanks.I can't speak for the military, but I guess its a question of etiquette if the commanders are present and would be in agreement.

If the lowest subordinate knows the intentions of his direct superior, and then receives contradictory orders from a higher up, it may cause confusion.

In the feudal system, it could be more likely a lessor lord would side with his immediate overlord, especially if there is very little central power resident in kings or such. Peasants would follow orders essentially given by anyone of of noble birth, under threat of immediate violence of the noble present.

Histry Nerd
02-06-2007, 06:48 PM
In a chain of command system such as the military, is it legal to skip links in the chain? Can someone legally give orders to his subordinates' subordinates, or do the commands have to go through every link in the chain?

Same question, but what about a feudal/manorial system? Let's say a lord assigns some land to a baron to tend. Can the lord give orders to the villagers who live on the baron's land?

It's legal, certainly. A company commander can give orders to one of his squad leaders, and a division commander can give orders to his battalion commanders. They are his men, after all.

But it's usually bad form. In the confusion of combat, you may find it necessary occasionally. But it's usually preferable to relay the orders through the chain.

For example: as a company commander, when I wanted one of my squads to do something, I went to the platoon leader and said something like "I need you to send SGT Smith's squad to do this" or "Bring SGT Smith and come see me. I've got a job for him." I tried never to leave the intermediate leader out of the loop entirely; if for some reason I ran into SGT Smith first, I might send him and notify the PL later, or tell him to go get his PL so I could tell both of them. Leaders who are left out of the loop by micromanaging superiors tend to feel powerless, which makes them less effective.

On the feudal thing, I would go with MattW's answer. It would depend very much on the personalities and relative strengths of the lords involved. The serfs would certainly obey whoever stood in front of them, but the baron might take exception to his lord ordering his serfs around. If he could command enough troops to challenge the lord directly, his exception might be notable indeed.

For what it's worth.
HN

Silverhand
02-08-2007, 03:35 AM
Since we are talking about chain of command, I want to ask where nobility lines are drawn.

If a Baron was commanding an army, and a Duke showed up, the Duke would then become the commander if he wanted?

Lets assume that your military was run in a similar fashion to todays armies; broken down into officers and grunts. Now, lets assume that a lord came into the mix...and was asked to fight. Would he automatically become an officer? Would he become a high officer? Could he become a general if he wanted?

ColoradoGuy
02-08-2007, 03:59 AM
The feudal system was based upon personal loyalty to individuals, not to the office the individual held. The king was the king, but below that much was murky. Authority was often a problem, for example, during the Crusades. In that sense little had changed since the Iliad.

MattW
02-08-2007, 06:43 AM
Since we are talking about chain of command, I want to ask where nobility lines are drawn.

If a Baron was commanding an army, and a Duke showed up, the Duke would then become the commander if he wanted?Depends.

Does the Duke bring more men to the army than the Baron? Is the Baron a direct vassal of the Duke? Does the Baron hold a specific commission from the King? Are the men with the Baron loyal to him, the cause, the king, or the paymaster? Is either one known as a great commander?


Lets assume that your military was run in a similar fashion to todays armies; broken down into officers and grunts. Now, lets assume that a lord came into the mix...and was asked to fight. Would he automatically become an officer? Would he become a high officer? Could he become a general if he wanted?He could be an officer without having any direct command. He could fight with the elite forces because he can afford the best gear. He might be drafted to a command of his own even if reluctant. He could serve the role of a staff officer because of his connections or rank.

Rabe
02-11-2007, 06:35 AM
In a chain of command system such as the military, is it legal to skip links in the chain? Can someone legally give orders to his subordinates' subordinates, or do the commands have to go through every link in the chain?

Can't say about the military, but I work in a 'paramilitary' organization and there used to be quite a lot of 'link skipping' on the downside.

Woe be to me if I tried to 'linkskip' upside. Fortunately I didn't feel the need to do so. However, it does tend to put someone in a difficult position. For example; I have a written directive from a Lt. and then a Cpl comes along and tells me to do something that directly countermands that directive. I get in trouble either way - either disobeying the Cpl or the Lt. What do I do?

Depends on who the Cpl is, really. If I can respect that when I get called on the carpet, he'll be there to state he told me otherwise then I do what the Cpl says. But I have Cpls who I know I can't trust so I defere to the one who can make for the more awful discipline, which is the Lt.

Also, fortunately for me, I can't be brought up on charges for disobeying an order. Lose my job possibly, days off or some other 'punishment' but it's a lot better than other alternatives.

Rabe...