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32Bravo
01-03-2008, 08:06 AM
What, exactly, do we mean by lead from the front?

We discuss the wisdom of junior leaders putting themselves too far forward, to the point of them being taken out. Is it prudent for junior leaders to put themselves in harms way, with a high risk of being killed, to inspire their men, and, thus, risking leaving their men leaderless?

Are we simply speaking of leading by example, and, if so, what limits should there be placed on setting such an example?

Obviously, there have been and remain occassions when they have had no choice.

What are your thoughts?

Rising Sun*
01-03-2008, 08:35 AM
What, exactly, do we mean by lead from the front?

We discuss the wisdom of junior leaders putting themselves too far forward, to the point of them being taken out. Is it prudent for junior leaders to put themselves in harms way, with a high risk of being killed, to inspire their men, and, thus, risking leaving their men leaderless?

Are we simply speaking of leading by example, and, if so, what limits should there be placed on setting such an example?

Obviously, there have been and remain occassions when they have had no choice.

What are your thoughts?

Company HQ and Battalion HQ don't lead from the front, for the very sound reason that they're the tactical headquarters controlling events at their level.

One dead platoon lieutenant, a dead platoon sergeant, and three dead section corporals equals no headquarters and no leadership, until the lance jacks and privates spring forward. Not the best result.

If leading by example was critical, why bother hiding badges of rank in the field to avoid snipers? After all, if it's done successfully it just exposes the rest of the section or platoon to enemy fire. Hardly leading from the front and copping the enemy fire at the point, is it?

It comes down to a judicious balance between being with the men so that they know you're not putting them forward where you're too scared to go, but not putting yourself forward stupidly so that you deprive the men of your leadership.

After all, how many of the OR's attended the orders group a couple of hours ago and know what's supposed to happen and what to do if it doesn't?

Having said all that, as reasons for conserving junior officers, it's a bit like saying that the captain of a football team (AFL, rugby, soccer, gridiron, whatever) is too valuable to lose and should keep out of the play. The reality is that a good football team captain (about equivalent to a section or half platoon commander in infantry numbers) is up at the sharp end all the time, inspiring his players by his example. While the fat coach in a track suit and the fat owner in a business suit, representing roughly the battalion and divisional commanders, don't go onto the field.

I'm reminded of a comment by, I think, John Masters in whichever book it was on the Chindit exercise / maybe Kohima where he said he hated giving the order as brigade commander to send the best man, i.e. junior officer. Because he knew they had a poor chance of coming back but, unlike many of the other officers of the same rank leading other platoons or companies, they'd achieve the objective or die in the effort.

pdf27
01-03-2008, 01:26 PM
What, exactly, do we mean by lead from the front?

We discuss the wisdom of junior leaders putting themselves too far forward, to the point of them being taken out. Is it prudent for junior leaders to put themselves in harms way, with a high risk of being killed, to inspire their men, and, thus, risking leaving their men leaderless?
That's pretty much why it doesn't happen any more. Junior officers still get pretty close to the sharp end, but nowhere near as much as they did in WW1.

32Bravo
01-03-2008, 02:58 PM
That's pretty much why it doesn't happen any more. Junior officers still get pretty close to the sharp end, but nowhere near as much as they did in WW1.

Yes, I suppose that in WW1 they were still operating in the same way as Wellington's and even Marlborough's armies?

Then, I suppose, the tactical skills were lost with the Old Contemptables?

Is being at the rear of the que at meal times i.e. allowing the men to be fed first, an example of leading from the front? :)