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How desirable is decentralization in a military environment?
  A strong decentralization.viewpoint:  

A strong centralization.viewpoint:
Bringing decision nodes close to field  
Maintaining firm top control and secrecy
action is desirable in any organization    
more important than local initiative
The top must always welcome a flow  
Subordinates are often immature and
of information and ideas from bottom  
must be controlled and kept in their place
Units are often overly regimented to  
If soldiers are allowed to second guess
  compensate for poor political leaders    
political leaders we will have disorder

Sample argument: We see interesting examples of military decentralization even in authoritarian societies. For example, Hitler's Wehrmacht encouraged field commanders to disobey orders at lower levels if it was required to fulfill the overall mission in fluid battlefield situations. Famous high-level commanders such as Erwin Rommel often rode close to the front lines of their units to have a quicker reaction time and a more realistic assessment as situations unfolded. Combat is about realistic problem-solving on a local level no different than problem solving in other types of situations. A leader must always remain open to absorbing feedback and ideas from the lower ranks. Subordinates must have the freedom to show initiative to exploit situations as they unfold. Furthermore, you cannot guard against the commission of war crimes and keep incompetent senior commanders in check without a capacity for lower level complaints to be effective. Ideally, a military force will try to decentralize as much as possible without losing its ability to effectively function as an organization. Some of the most effective units in military history such as Boer Kommando and American pioneer-ranger units have succeeded due to individual initiative and decentralized command. Throughout history, military units are often over-regimented more to keep them under control despite corrupt or incompetent political leadership rather than to handle military necessity.

. . .

Sample argument: Calling for decentralization in a military environment is both impractical and unwise. There is an old saying that councils of war do not attack To defeat an enemy, you need decisiveness and unity of command. You need to move and react faster than him. Democratic processes are just too slow. You need to operate in secrecy, and parliamentary debate is too open. You have a lot of very scared people who have to work effectively together, and for this you need a very clear chain of command and forceful, confident leadership. Without strong discipline, soldiers get lazy or start doing stupid things. Too many of them would get out of combat and go home to their sweethearts if you loosen discipline. The art of military leadership involves recognizing that most lower level enlisted personnel tend to act like children. In the real world, you often have to guide and baby sit them as such. However, if you make it obvious that this is what you really think about them, you will insult their manhood and they will hate your guts. Therefore, you must really be an autocrat without making it too obvious. Lastly, if every soldier felt that he could be his own lawyer and interpret rules on his own, you would have chaos. Making policy is what the top leadership gets paid to do. Only Congress and the President should decide what constitutes a just war or a war crime. We can never afford having soldiers second guess their political leaders. The soldiers who do the best are trained in the most severe disciplinary school, and must learn to obey orders without hesitation.

(last updated 3 Aug 2007 by William B. Fox)

Return to question 12

Decentralization argument:

As the book Effective Group Problem Solving (carried by America First Books) points out, it is very important for organizational success to maintain efficient procedures to continuously solicit and process grass roots feedback and beneficial suggestions. The methods identified in Effective Group Problem Solving can work effectively in a military as well as in a civilian environment.

In my centralized vs decentralized article, I provide three examples of military decentralization that include the WWII German Army:

1). The U.S. military recognizes the need for decentralized decision-making with its "task organization" concept, whereby lower level commanders are expected to reconfigure their force structures to adapt to new environments. For example, an infantry commander moving through swamp terrain may need to divest his tanks and add specialty forms of man-portable firepower, whereas another commander moving through a desert may wish to attach additional armored and close air support units.

2). The book Pork Chop Hill talks about Chinese Communist leaders during the Korean War who were "democratic to the point of recklessness" by sharing vital secrets down to the rifle squad level. Americans theorized that Chinese troops got a "good feeling" from knowing secrets and that this helped them think that a battle plan was the best possible one.

3). Military analyst William Lind describes forms of encouraged insubordination within Adolf Hitler's armed forces in his article "ON WAR # 12:"

...A Third Generation military focuses outward, on the situation, the enemy, and the result the situation requires, not inward on process and method (in war games in the 19th Century, German junior officers were routinely given problems that could only be solved by disobeying orders). Orders themselves specify the result to be achieved, but never the method ("Auftragstaktik"). Initiative is more important than obedience (mistakes are tolerated, so long as they come from too much initiative rather than too little), and it all depends on self-discipline, not imposed discipline. The Kaiserheer and the Wehrmacht could put on great parades, but in reality they had broken with the culture of order.

As I also note in my centralized vs. decentralized article, William S. Lind makes a similar point regarding the British Royal Navy in his April 10, 2007 article "Horatio Hornblower's Worst Nightmare." (part of his On War series, #213). Lind comments

. . .In the latter half of the 18th century, the Royal Navy developed and institutionalized what we now call maneuver warfare or Third Generation war. By the Napoleonic Wars, it was all there -- the outward focus, where results counted for more than following orders or the Fighting Instructions; de-centralization (Nelson was a master of mission-type orders); prizing initiative above obedience; and dependence on self-discipline (at least at the level of ship commanders and admirals) . It is often personified as the "Nelson Touch," but it typified a whole generation of officers, not just Nelson. In the 19th century, the Royal Navy lost it all and went rigid again, for reasons described in a wonderful book, Andrew Gordon's The Rules of the Game. But Hornblower's and Aubrey's navy was as fast-acting, fluid and flexible at sea as was the Kaiserheer on land.

William S. Lind argues repeatedly that the structure and organization of the U.S. military today is completely hidebound by the Second Generation Warfare firepower and attrition warfare approach that requires a culture of order and hierarchy, and lacks the flexibility to adequately engage in Third Generation maneuver warfare against conventional opponents, not to mention Fourth Generation warfare guerilla forces. Please go to the William S. Lind online archive of his On War series at Search for key words such as "Third Generation Warfare" and "Fourth Generation Warfare" and have a great read.

The capacity for a society to exploit the advantages of military decentralization tends to also mirror its capacity for political decentralization. Historically two very important factors favoring a high degree of political decentralization are a) a high degree of racial and ethnic homogeneity and b) the degree of Nordicity of the underlying gene pool.

Racially and ethnically homogeneous societies do not require much "top down" authoritarian moral leadership and police control because they have such a strong social fabric of shared values, ancestral commonality, and a sense of shareholdership in the survival of a common gene pool that all of this is more than adequate to motivate good public behavior among most people. The Nordic peoples have evolved for tens of thousands of years under highly dispersed conditions at the edge of glaciers. These evolutionary conditions selected for individual initiative, a capacity for delayed gratification, and technological adaptiveness. I might add that the Celtic peoples are extremely similar to Nordics. They branched off from a common evolutionary ancestor, as did other whites.

Military decentralization does not mean that one gets rid of discipline. One simply decentralizes it. Military decentralization works best when one is dealing with people who by innate character traits tend to be highly self-motivated, honest, and individualistic. They have the capacity to be harder bosses on themselves than any centralized military leadership structure.

A Marine Corps leadership manual defines discipline as "Prompt obedience to orders, and in the absence of orders, the initiation of appropriate action." The problem with highly centralized military systems is that in the absence of orders, lower level military personnel are often too scared to do anything on their own. Paradoxically, they are violating the second half of the military definition of discipline which involves a higher duty to help achieve success for their nation and people, and not just to blindly obey specific leaders up their chain of command and hence be completely constrained by their foibles and limitations. Hence, one can argue that despite superficial appearances, when it comes to accomplishment of a total mission that includes broad social, political, and other strategic objectives, highly authoritarian military systems can be much less disciplined than decentralized systems where subordinates routinely carry out appropriate action in the absence of top-down direction.

The problems the U.S. military continually experiences today in adapting to reality is probably par for the course in a Neo-Jacobin, multi-racial, multi-cultural, Jewish supremacist dominated empire (see High Priests of War by Michael Collins Piper) where the U.S. military is expected to blindly obey Presidents who order foreign military adventures outside of Congress and the U.S. Constitution (please also see Sgt Skull's Field Manual by Tom Chittum about gross U.S. military dysfunction and the misadventures of "Emperor Bonehead"). The U.S. military requires a lot of extra "top down" structure in order to make up for America's serious lack of domestic social cohesion and severe deficit in high-level political integrity.

I know from my own experience as former Marine officer in the Fleet Marine Force that I and other officers had to always spend a disproportionate amount of time babysitting blacks and other nonwhites (blacks commit as much as 50 times the rate of certain crimes per capita as whites, and pure blacks have an average IQ 15 points that of whites). In fact, I and other officers often had to spend as much as 50% of our management time "running to stand still" to make up for the disruption, inefficiency, and serious disciplinary problems created by retarded, malcontent, or criminal nonwhites. Imagine if that time could be invested instead in increasing unit mission proficiency. Yet one would be punished severely for discussing this openly because of fears at the highest command levels that the Marine Corps would be punished by the Jewish supremacist-dominated controlled media and its Congressional puppets for appearing "racist."

This is, after all, the country where national media "leaders" continue to cover up the Israeli-Mossad murderer of JFK (see Final Judgment by Michael Collins Piper). This is also the country that openly hosts Israeli-Mossad gangsters behind the 9-11 "inside job" (please also see The Viper's Venom by Col Donn de Grand Pre and his articles archive). With this level of corruption and treason, why wouldn't the U.S. military require a lot of "structure" and self-delusion to suppress Dirty Secrets and remain subservient to The New Jerusalem, The Judas Goats and the High Priests of War? (Funny how the titles to Mike Piper's ebooks plug in so easily to my last sentence).

In regard to Erwin Rommel, it is interesting that even early in his career as a company grade infantry field officer in the trenches of World War I it was not uncommon for him to crawl through the mud on his belly at night with his binoculars right up to the barbed wire of enemy positions so that he could better understand the terrain and enemy weak points prior to ordering an assault. See his book Attacks for more details. Later in his World War II North Africa campaigns, he frequently lived day and night out of his staff car that stayed fairly close to the front lines of his highly mobile panzer units.

One of the advantages Erwin Rommel and other great World War II German field commanders enjoyed is the tremendous espirit de corps and teamwork on a grass roots level of their troops. This is because were they working with quality people from a fairly homogeneous white society (about three quarters Alpine and one quarter Nordic) who genuinely believed that their Fatherland was surrounded by real enemies and that they had a duty to serve.

In my introduction to my reconciling opposing ideologies article, I cite the anecdote where Joseph Stalin tore up the Marxist-Leninist rule book as Hitler's panzers were closing in on Moscow. Stalin reopened churches, restored privileges of the officer ranks, and resurrected many other traditional Russian practices to improve the Russian will to fight. By the end of the war, he explicitly lauded the Great Russian ethnic group for its major role in winning the war. (In a country with substantial Asian and Muslim minorities, the Communist leader became an open racist by specifically lauding the superiority of Russian white men). Reasoning that units are more cohesive and fight better when grouped by race and ethnicity, the Soviets kept theirs units racially segregated at the same time that Harry Truman began to racially integrate the U.S. military in the late 1940's. Therefore, on certain issues, the U.S. military was already beginning to move to the ideological left of the Red Army. But then again, the U.S. felt that it had become so big and powerful that it no longer needed to rely on the grass roots racial and ethnic cohesion that helped hold together American units on a highly decentralized level during the pioneer era.

A number of interesting examples of military decentralization took place during the American Revolution in cases where patriot militias seemingly materialized out of nowhere and defeated superior forces of British regulars. A prime example involved the initial skirmishes at Lexington and Concord. The British thought they were up against very small groups of scattered, disorganized groups of hick farmers. Instead, they reawakened the ghosts of Cromwell's New Model Army, and soon found themselves out manned and outgunned by determined patriot militias. The Brits took heavy casualties as they were driven from deep in the countryside all the way back into Boston.

Another classic example took place after the British smashed a conventional patriot army at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina. The Brits now thought that they had South Carolina and Georgia under their control. Then one of their premiere units of regulars and loyalists got surrounded at King's Mountain in western South Carolina by patriot volunteers who came across the border from Tennessee. The Brits took heavy casualties and were forced to surrender.

The British probably did not even know that these "Overmountain Men" existed. The Continental Army high command probably did not know very much about them either. Despite the lack of military "central planning" on either side, a significant British force was unexpectedly surrounded, beaten, and forced to surrender at King's Mountain. The battle itself was an all-time classic case where decentralized command and control became a military virtue.

At the start of the battle, one of the major Patriot leaders, Col Isaac Shelby, said "When we encounter the enemy, don't wait for a word of command. Let each of you be your own officer, and do the very best you can..." Interestingly enough, Col Shelby came from the Watauga settlement of eastern Tennessee, which Theodore Roosevelt called the first "free and independent community on the continent." This reinforces the concept that a high capacity for political decentralization goes hand in hand with a high capacity for successful decentralized military operations.

An important factor that helped these patriot units function on a grass roots level was a strong sense of shared ethnic values. There were three cohesive ethnic groups with strong European ancestral identities and militia traditions that proved particularly potent against the British regulars: the Puritan-descended New Englanders, the Scotch-Irish, and Germans. As northern European Protestants, they also had enough in common that they could also effectively intermingle with each other.

The New Englanders were generally of homogeneous, eastern English, Protestant stock. Quite a few were descended from Puritans who had fought under Oliver Cromwell for Parliament in the New Model Army in the English Civil War.

Along the frontier, quite a few of the settlers were Scots-Irish, as James Webb points out in his book Born Fighting: How the Scots Irish Shaped America. In the first volume of his four volume series The Winning of the West, Teddy Roosevelt discusses the importance of the sociological evolution of a coherent pioneer culture among settlers in the western portions of the original colonies to support western expansion across the Appalachians into the Ohio Valley, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Last, but not least, the west-of-the-Rhine German Protestant settlers also known as "Pennsylvania Dutch" ("Dutch" being a slang corruption of "Deutsch" for German) were another very cohesive group with strong militia and grass roots fighting traditions that stemmed from the old country. Known for their expert craftsmanship and engineering skills, German settlers introduced the Pennsylvania rifle in the1740's that was later renamed the Kentucky Rifle and the Long Rifle that played an important role in a number of battles of the American Revolution.

The theme of military decentralization in early America also operated on the individual rifleman level. In The Winning of the West, Teddy Roosevelt describes numerous battles where success rested heavily on individual initiative.

Throughout most of the colonial period the settlers found it very hard to fight the Indians on their own terms in wilderness. For example, Braddock's Defeat was in actuality not due to ambush as much as it was due to the way the Indian allies of the French fanned out after the initial contact, exploited the terrain for cover and concealment, and started whittling down close formations of British regulars and colonial troop at stand off musket range. British tactics emphasized close formations to deliver mass volley fire and to advance upon and overpower specific military objectives. These tactics were ineffective against an amorphous enemy who could easily bide his time while remaining at stand off sniper range in a wilderness. In contrast to Braddock's conventional methods, the famous Rules of Ranging developed by Major Robert Rogers successfully adapted to the highly decentralized tactics used by Britain's enemies during the French and Indian War.

According to Roosevelt, the colonists got a major psychological shot in the arm following the victory of colonial militia in 1774 at the Battle of Pleasant Point, West Virginia, otherwise known by Roosevelt as the Battle of the Great Kanawha. It was located where the Ohio River meets the Kanawha River. In such a wilderness setting, it was very difficult to exercise conventional command and control. The battle essentially consisted of extended soldier-to-soldier (or militia man vs. Indian) combat where about a thousand colonial militia men took on approximately a thousand Indians deep in the Wilderness and finally beat them at their own game. Prior to this, colonists frequently resorted to what might be euphemistically called "asymmetric warfare" (or just plain old fashioned "genocide") where they would avoid fighting Indian braves in the wilderness and instead try to find their relatively unprotected villages and then kill or capture everyone inside.

It will be interesting to see what might spontaneously arise on a citizen militia level sometime after America's coming economic collapse. Please see Civil War Two: The Coming Breakup of America by Tom Chittum (carried by America First Books) for some ideas.

Centralization argument:

The same general arguments that apply to businesses that I cover in my centralization vs. decentralization article can also be applied to the military.

An obvious advantage of military centralization is the ability to move massive resources quickly and decisively with great secrecy.

According to an older edition of the U.S. Army Leadership Manual, "Councils of war don't attack" was a comment made by one of General George Mead's staff officers following the failure of Pickett's Charge on the Third Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Now that the Confederate Army had expended itself, the big question for Gen Mead was whether the numerically superior Union forces should go on the offensive and try to crush the Confederates before they could retreat though southern Pennsylvania back to Virginia. Mead called for another council of war, and did not attack. Both sides remained separated and focused on licking their wounds while Lee executed his retreat.

There are also many emotional reasons that have been programmed into average Americans to favor military centralization. I'll bet a lot of American's who take this survey who ordinarily talk about "fighting for freedom" will reflexively mark the survey on the side of centralization when it comes to military issues.

This is because America has gone way beyond the old "melting pot" concept and has become such a rootless, multi-racial, multi-cultural morass that in order to fill an emotional vacuum many Americans adopt governmental organizations such as the standing U.S. military Leviathan as their emotional "father figure," "tribal identity," and primary source of "contact comfort." They view the U.S. military as a last refuge of order, high standards, authority, and masculinity amidst a decadent, permissive, and feminized society. Therefore, a "decentralized" response probably feels threatening to them on an emotional level.

Speaking of "contact comfort," this concept comes from psychological experiments involving little monkeys who are deprived of the sensation of getting to hug their natural mothers. Baby monkeys who have nothing to hug experience a vastly higher infant mortality rate. Those that survive have severe emotional problems. Researchers have discovered that offering baby monkey something to hug like a surrogate mother composed of chicken wire and cloth can significantly reduce the rate of infant mortality and severe neuroses.

Similarly, white Americans are offered jobs in the U.S. military and other federal bureaucracies as a terry cloth mother substitute for membership within a genuine, ancestrally-conscious white racial and ethnic folk community, especially after having already been deracinated by our government-funded schools, our alien-controlled national media, greedy globalist corporate leaders who import alien labor to drive down wages, and other insidious influences.

There is an interesting quote I once saw by Theodore Roosevelt at an exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution where he said he thought it was a great thing to draft Americans into the U.S. Army because this would take Americans of many different European national backgrounds and homogenize out their differences while forcing them to work together.

In other words, the U.S. military has been used as a social reengineering tool for quite some time, simultaneously dehomogenizing white ethnic communities while offering a federal government terry cloth mother as a substitute.

This is just one more example of intrusive federal government monkey business that makes people at the grass roots level so dependent on centralized political leaders that once they wake up and discover they have been duped by tyrants, they no longer have any effective grass roots means to resist.

Let me add that quite a few contemporary libertarians despise Teddy Roosevelt as an authoritarian statist who turned the U.S. Presidency into a cult of personality and who ran roughshod over Congress by unilaterally ordering American imperial military adventures abroad. However, suffice to say that by the turn of the century the U.S. military was already being transformed into a highly regimented, centralized, social reengineering instrument in the service of a centralized, neo-Jacobin Federal imperium fostered by America's Lenin, also known as King Lincoln.

The idea that it is too dangerous to have people at lower levels "act as their own lawyers" regarding such issues as refusing to participate in what may be considered illegal wars and war crimes is a major component of the U.S. Army's current court martial case against Lt. Ehren Watada over the war in Iraq. See the latest at

Proceed to commentary for question 13


Flag carried by the 3rd Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Cowpens, S. Carolina, 1781

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