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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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. When considering Alliances, they most definitely had an impact upon victory in battle but it was important to maintain a stable relationship and co-operation between allied states through the combined command and control of their armies.

 Conscription in the Napoleonic era led to a mass increase in the size of armies. This meant the command and control of military forces had to be adjusted accordingly to succeed in battle. Napoleon introduced the Corp system where he divided combined infantry, cavalry and artillery into 7 corps. This resulted in greater speed and mobility, the lack of which could cripple a large army. Napoleon also began to develop a general staff; however it was Helmuth Von Moltke who first introduced a fully functioning general staff, to the Prussian army. Where Napoleon failed to delegate Von Moltke promoted a small group of officers to organise and run the army. Historian Micheal Howard said that ‘the Prussian General Staff acted as a nervous system animating the lumbering body of the army’. The Franco-Prussian war exemplified the importance of a general staff and preparation before battle. For example the Battle of Sedan when Marshal MacMahon of the French army became injured command fell to General Ducrot who initiated orders for a retreat, this was soon cancelled upon the arrival of General Emmanuel Félix de Wimpffen who possessed a special commission to take over the Army of Châlons in the event of MacMahon's incapacitation. This confusion in command structure severely weakened the French army leading to their defeat. Furthermore, Germany delivered 380,000 troops to the forward zone within 18 days of the start of the war, while many French units reached the front either late or with inadequate supplies. The French had superior artillery in the form of the Mitrailleuse machine gun but few men were trained in using them. Ultimately the poor organisation and fragile command structure of the French Army cancelled out their technological advantages rendering the command and control of an army the deciding factor in this war.

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 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 ...

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