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September 06, 2004

Saddle orders

Belmont Club discusses swarming, netcentric warfare and "the Internet cloud of enemies which has descended on the John Kerry campaign." To paraphrase, the VRWC expects every blog to do its duty.

In an earlier, low tech era, this phenomenon was referred to in the German Army as "saddle orders". Because the general principles of the campaign were so well understood by lower-level commanders, Guderian and Rommel could redirect subordinates and trust them to do the "right thing", that is, act consistently within the agreed strategic framework. They could give orders from the "saddle". In contrast, the French High Command had to laboriously consider its reaction to each threat. It was this kind of confidence in the Age of Sail which enabled Nelson to break the French line at Trafalgar. Nelson's captains had served together so long they were like a basketball team that could blind-pass to each other, so that his pre-battle signal consisted simply of "England expects every man to do his duty". Both the German Army of 1940 and Nelson's fleet of 1805 were inferior to the enemy in materiel and numbers. But it did not matter. The surprise of 2004 may be that the Mainstream Media, like the Chars of the French Army or the sailing wonders of Villeneuve, will not matter at all.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 6, 2004 08:00 AM

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Yes, I think they're onto something... a quiet wave...

Posted by: Ben at September 6, 2004 08:10 PM