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How far did developments in command and control of armies determine the outcome of battles in the period from 1792 to 1945?

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Introduction

´╗┐How far did developments in command and control of armies determine the outcome of battles in the period from 1792 to 1945? The command and control of armies developed throughout the 1792 -1945 period. In the Napoleonic era, Napoleon seldom delegated command to his subordinate officers, developing the logistics of battle himself. Granted, he did begin to develop a General Staff but mainly for reconnaissance purposes and to ensure his orders were communicated to other generals. However, by the end of WWII Dwight Eisenhower had been appointed as the supreme allied commander of the Allied forces in Europe to influence co-operation between various heads of the army, navy and air force operating in that theatre. Each power in WWII had their own general staff who facilitated correspondence between a commanding officer and subordinate military units. They also had to compose contingency plans for future battles accounting for defensive or offensive conditions. I think the developments in the command and control of armies were necessary for success in battle in this period. Without an extensive organisation to aid, help foresee and incite the process of war armies wouldn?t have been able to successfully employ tactics and take advantage of technological developments. ...read more.

Middle

Development in Technology and communications had a great influence on the command and control of armies. For example the successful mobilisation and co-ordination of troops on the battlefield could be attributed to the development of radio, aircraft and tanks. This enabled infantry, planes and tanks to quickly co-ordinate their movements on a large scale, known as the Blitzkrieg tactic. Germany?s early successes in WWII could be related to their innovation of radio-equipped tanks, allowing them to co-ordinate their movements more efficiently than the Allied armies. The Prussian army in the wars of the mid-19th century also benefitted from advances in technology by the mobilisation of its military by railway: The Prussian General Staff had a railway department. During the Austro-Prussian war the Prussian army of 250,000 men was deployed using 5 separate railways across 300 miles to organise and converge quickly on enemy positions. However in the Franco-Austrian war of 1859 poor organisation and planning led to unfulfilled utilisation of railway. For example when the Austrian reserve force used railway they managed to get lost and miss the battle. Similarly, when travelling by rail, despite successfully reaching the battlefield, the French army left their guns and ammunition behind. This shows a direct correlation between careful planning and the control of armies, and the exploitation of developments in technology. ...read more.

Conclusion

Alliances evolved into having their own command structure as in WWI the Allied armies were under the control of Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch. Along with the British commander Field Marshal Haig, Foch planned the Grand Offensive, opening on 26 September 1918, which led to the defeat of Germany. The decision was made to strike on the Somme, east of Amiens, which marked the boundary between the British Expeditionary forces and the French armies, allowing the two armies to cooperate. Alliances could also be proved a hindrance. For example in WWI the German army?s view of its alliance with Austria-Hungary was that they were "shackled to a corpse." Supply shortages, low morale, and the high casualty rate seriously affected the operational abilities of the Austro- Hungarian troops, as well as the fact the army was of multiple ethnicity, all with different race, language and customs. Finally, in WWII Dwight Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander acting as more of a diplomat, admitting that his strategic knowledge was minimal In conclusion, Essentially command and control of armies was more important than generalship in successful war campaigns. Conscription and the forging of alliances led to mass armies so it wasn?t just about being a great tactician and strategist, such as Napoleon, political skill and diplomacy were essential to properly control armies in the most effective way. ...read more.

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