Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Rat mate. Don't want to chuck a thundie in the mess, but could I sum up the above as, "trying to work out how a staff supports the commander in counter-insurgency operations?"
Now that raises the question: What is the role of the commander in COIN? My observation of an American two-star and a British three-star in Afghanistan was that they had very different conceptions of their roles.

Both did battlefield circulation, and both considered themselves the 'decision makers' for the command. The differences were:

1. The American felt very comfortable making decisions for his subordinate commanders, routinely requiring that company-level operations be approved by him. The Brit did not.
2. The Brit described himself as a 'precision guided munition' and routinely made himself available for interaction with locals, international actors, NGOs, etc., if it contributed to mission accomplishment. He did however, require meticulous preparation for such engagements, which proved to be a heavy staff burden. The American hated doing such things and routinely left those types of engagements to his subordinates.
3. The American wanted routine, twice-daily, detailed briefings on - well, everything. The Brit only wanted to be briefed by exception - when things changed, when things were going off the rail, when certain milestones were reached.
4. The Brit's Chief of Staff was a decision maker, more important than the various deputy commanders. The American's Chief was an office manager whose role was to assist the deputy commanders in making decisions.

This is related to the thread because the different command styles inevitably impacted the size, shape, and focus of the staff - both staffs were, by the way, simultaneously bloated, undermanned, and undermined by the need to continuously rotate in augmentees.