Sunday, April 09, 2006

Leadership styles

Rommel continually out-fought his British opponents until the material differential was so great that he had to withdraw. One of the key advantages that Rommel had was that he was more attuned to what was happening on the battlefield, while many of his British opponents were out of touch with their troops and had, therefore, lost control of the battle. Rommel's style was also to lead from the front, while many of the British were so far in the rear, that created their being out of touch. Rommel also had the advantage of having a superior tactical SIGINT unit, which kept him informed of British communications, at least up until they were bagged by the British in the El Alamein area. Having the good tactical SIGINT allowed Rommel often to know more about what was happening to the British troops than the British commanders in the rear knew. Generals O'Connor and Auchinleck were exceptions on the British side, when they were commanding in the field. I find it interesting to speculate about how well O'Connor might have done against Rommel, but he was in the field, only as an advisor during Rommel's initial assault, and he was quickly bagged. General Montgomery got around the problems by partly being close to the front, and keeping rigid control of the battle, so that he could stay in control that way. He greatly disliked fluidity, where he might lose control.

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