Operational Art in the Malayan Campaign by LTC Gurbachan Singh
‘the greatest and most humiliating defeat in British history’
Alan Warren, Singapore 1942: Britain’s Greatest Defeat
‘…the fall of Singapore…was…the worst disaster and largest capitulation of British history’
The successful Japanese invasion of Malaya and Singapore was an unprecedented event in world history. So overwhelming were the odds and resounding the victory that it made defunct many of the myths about the strength of the British Empire and its impregnable fortress at Singapore. This achievement has been variously attributed to the lack of a realistic and deliberate Far East strategic policy, the poor training and organization of the allied forces and the strong leadership of Lt-Gen Yamashita, Commander of the 25th Japanese Army. I will however argue that this victory was, to a significant extent, made possible by the application of the concept of ‘Operational Art’ by the Japanese military. The Japanese Army’s planning and numerous adaptations kept up the momentum of their advance and maintained the vital initiative throughout the campaign. Contrary to popular belief we now know that some of these innovations were not pre-planned but adapted during the campaign.
The British forces on the other hand made numerous errors under pressure and never really recovered from the initial surprises. Firstly let us examine what Operational Art is.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE OPERATIONAL ART
While the specific term may not have been used, the notion of operational art can be elicited from the early writings of Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu placed emphasis on attacking the enemy’s plan, on deception (e.g. ‘When able, feign inability; When deploying troops, appear not to be), and on the importance of understanding the terrain. These concepts are key to applying the operational art of war. It would be reasonable to suggest that many ancient battles have also embodied various aspects of operational art. In 490 B.C. Darius, although unsuccessful, attempted to draw the army out of Athens through an amphibious operation at Marathon. In 216 B.C. Hannibal crossed the Alps to attack the Romans. So when did the notion of operational art become evident?
In The Operational Art of War, Claus Telp attempted to trace such developments to the writings of Saxe and the genius of Frederick the Great and Napoleon but qualified that it could also have been developed by the Russians or Austrians. It was at the turn of the 18th century where we begin to see the organisation of fighting units into independent divisions and corps. It was also during this period that the German General Staff was created as a dedicated planning and coordinating staff carefully nurtured by the highest military leadership. It is therefore highly plausible that the Germans could have been the fi rst to examine how to employ divisional forces at the operation level.
It could also be argued that much of what Clausewitz and Jomini wrote on strategy during this period was in fact about the operational level of wars of those times. They were essentially suggesting a framework to better appreciate the decisive battlefi eld successes of Napoleon. It should also not come as a surprise that Napoleon himself studied the exploits of Hannibal and Frederick the Great. John English suggested that it was not until Field Marshall Helmut von Moltke the Elder, that the term operativ was fi rst used. Motlke fi rmly believed that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and therefore further developed the General Staff into a centralised planning entity with a decentralised command and control system. To him, one of the purposes of the General Staff was to plan the manoeuvre of divisions and corps formations to the point of contact with the enemy. Moltke subsequently led the German Army, through carefully coordinated manoeuvres made possible by the general staff system, to great success against the Austrians at Koniggratz and subsequently the French in 1870. While the notion of operational art may have been passed down through practice over time, the term operational art was most likely first used by theRussians, in particular through Mikhail Nikolaevich Tukhachevskii’s concept of deep operations and deep battle. Frederick Kagan summarised Tukhachevskii’s ideas where operations must flow together as though they were simply ‘separate extensions of a single operation’ and where the ‘uninterruptedness of the conduct of operations is the main condition of victory’1. According to Kagan the concept of deep battle was further reinforced by G. S. Isserson, the Chief of the Department of Operational Art at Moscow’s Frunze General Staff Academy who argued that the most important moment is near the end of the operation or before reaching culmination. Isserson advocated that the ‘off ensive must be like a whole series of waves flowing toward the shore with growing strength in order to deliver uninterrupted blows from the depths’. Kagan surmised that at the heart of Soviet operational art was the echelonment of the attack and the principle of strategic dispersion of forces prior to their massing for the final decisive blow2.
Based on historical examples and the literature we can surmise that operational art involves seizing and maintaining the initiative, through good planning, surprise and the synergistic execution of combined arms operations based on good anticipation and decisive action. It is important to emphasise the fact that action or execution and not plans or preparations, wins or loses battles. The key to attaining the initiative is speed and surprise, and the key to retaining the initiative is the uninterrupted conduct of operations. Execution entails continuously anticipating, making adjustments and creating options to maintain the initiative. Th e attack must move rapidly. Speed is absolutely essential to success; it promotes surprise, keeps the enemy off balance, contributes to the security of the attacking force, and prevents the defender from taking eff ective countermeasures. Properly exploited, speed can confuse and immobilise the defender until the attack becomes unstoppable. Finally, speed can compensate for a lack of mass and provide the momentum necessary for attacks to achieve their aims.
Having examined the concept of operational art, it is now time to scope its definition. The US FM 101-5-1 defines operational art as:
The employment of military forces to attain strategic and/or operational objectives through the design, organisation, integration, and conduct of strategies, campaigns, major operations, and battles. Operational art translates the joint force commander’s strategy into operational design, and, ultimately, tactical actions, by integrating the key activities at all levels of war
Or it could be defined as:
‘The orchestration of all military activities involved in converting strategic objectives into tactical actions with a view to seeking a decisive result’
A more action based definition and one that I prefer is as follows:
Maneuvering in space, time and perception, using rapid and focused actions to generate tempo and create opportunities, in order to gain positional and/or psychological advantages so as to decisively achieve the strategic end-state.
The recurring theme in ancient history appears to point towards achieving surprise through bold and decisive initiatives, pitting strength against weaknesses, task organising forces, fl exible movement and concentration of forces, sequencing of events, exploiting success by reserve echelons and sustaining or protecting their lines of operations. Having adequately defined operational art, it is now possible to better understand how it can be achieved.
FACETS OF OPERATIONAL ART DESIGN
From the definition we should be able to discern that are some of the key attributes or ingredients essential for successfully conducting operations. American operational art literature identified some 14 dimensions or facets which include termination, synergy, simultaneity and depth, anticipation, balance, timing and tempo, operational reach and approach, forces and functions, arranging operations, centers of gravity, direct versus indirect approaches, decisive points and culmination. While these facets may be comprehensive, it could be argued that some of these facets appear to be descriptive characteristics while others may be more prescriptive and therefore serve as critical planning considerations for the successful conduct of operational art. One could also reasonably make a case that there are considerable overlaps for example between simultaneity and tempo,depth and operational reach, and synergy and arranging operations.
For purposes of brevity and prescribing an alternative approach, I have chosen to narrow down the dimensions of operational art to the following:
c. Centre of Gravity (COG) and Decisive Points (DPs)
d. Speed and Tempo
e. Synergising and arranging of forces – manoeuvre
f. Culminating Point – Echelonment and Sustainability
The next section will examine the proposed dimensions of operation art within the context of the Malayan Campaign.
MALAYAN CAMPAIGN AND THE OPERATIONAL ART
Japanese conquests in China and ambitions to establish a Greater East Asia Co-property Sphere put the US, Great Britain and Japan on a collision course. Th e situation worsened with the abrogation of the Japanese-American Commercial Treaty in January 1940, and the increasing trade restrictions that ultimately led to a trade embargo against Japan in July 1941. Resource-dependent Japan increasingly began to accept the inevitability of going to war to achieve a negotiated settlement. On 26 Nov 1941 the Imperial Conference decided go to war on 8 Dec 1941 unless war could be avoided.3 Strategically, Japan realised that it could not win a war against a combination of all the major powers that had important interests in the Far East. Japan therefore successfully sought a neutrality treaty to eliminate the Soviet Union from any coalition against it. It also correctly identified that the greatest threat to its conquest for a co-prosperity sphere was the US Pacifi c Fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.
End-state essentially refers to the state of aff airs which needs to be achieved to end a campaign on favourable terms. It is critical to maintain focus on the purpose of the campaign rather than getting distracted by intermediate successes.
Based on the strategic realities, the Japanese campaign plan was well conceived. Phase I from D to D+50 involved a simultaneous attack on the US Pacific Fleet and the landing at the Kra Ithmus and Northern Malaya for the push towards ‘fortress’ Singapore. Phase II up to D+100 involved the annexation of the Bismarck Archipelago, the capture of the entire Malayan Peninsula and the naval base in Singapore, the occupation of the South Burmese airfi elds, and moves into the Malacca Passage and Straits of Macassar in preparation for an invasion of the Netherlands East Indies. Phase III up to D+150 involved the capture of Sumatra and Java and the occupation of Burma. It was an audacious plan, involving the projection of power that spanned 7000 miles and the near simultaneous destruction of the Pacific Fleet and landing at Thailand. Impressively, 70 minutes before Pearl Harbor, the Japanese successfully landed at Kota Bahru.4 The end-state for the Malayan Campaign was clearly the capture of ‘fortress’ Singapore and the control of lines of communication up to the Malacca Straits. This will decisively defeat the British in the Far East and allow shipping of resources within the co-prosperity sphere.
A through understanding of the end-state at all levels and what it will take to achieve them can be best illustrated by the initiatives exercised at the various potential decisive points near the Th ai border, Jitra and the Slim River. As narrated by Tsuji, the Japanese Chief Operations Offi cer, the Japanese commanders did not wait for instructions and took it upon themselves to seek out and apply pressure on the retreating British Forces.
Th e essence of anticipation can be traced back to Sun Tzu: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” It entails understanding the types of capabilities and forces available to the opponent and using intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to form a clear picture of the enemy’s situation and intentions. Anticipation during execution entails continually analysing the actual situation on the ground and having a range of options to exploit opportunities and respond to uncertainties.
Having clearly identifi ed the military end-state for the Malayan Campaign, the Japanese 25th Army embarked on anticipating what it would entail successfully capture Singapore. Th e Doro Nawa Unit, known as the Taiwan Army Research Section conducted extensive terrain analysis, made templates of projected enemy force dispositions, and analysed likely British actions. The analysis was subsequently confi rmed during secret aerial reconnaissance flights over the Malayan Peninsula. The Japanese were therefore able to accurately assess how the British will defend Malaya and Singapore.
Due to their commitments in the European theatre, the Japanese correctly assessed that the British will rely on the Royal Air Force and Malaya Command to utilise delaying tactics against the Japanese advance while they wait for reinforcements. While the Japanese were aware of British plans to resist them near the Thai frontier, they also correctly assessed the weak enemy air force strength as an indication that the British did not expect a Japanese invasion during the northeast monsoon.5 British strategy also relied on Force Z, spearheaded by two British battleships, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, being an adequate deterrent and as an interceptor of the Japanese landings.6 These realisations shaped the Japanese plan. The priority was to secure the airfields and destroy any naval threat that could jeopardise the mission. Terrain analysis greatly infl uenced the organisation of forces with signifi cant emphasis on engineers. This paid off at the Perak River crossing which was repaired in less than a week instead of a month as anticipated. It also confi rmed the need to use jungle tracks at Kroh-Grik, the employment of tanks for speed and frontal assaults at strong points, outfl anking manoeuvres by boat infi ltrations and the use of bicycles for speedy infantry movement.
More importantly as narrated by Tsuji, during execution, the 25th Army HQ Staff continued to review and adjust the plans based on firsthand frontline reviews/actions. The novel tactics of employing tanks to defeat strong points along roads was apparently also conceived after the initial encounters
COG AND DECISIVE POINTS ANALYSIS
Centre of Gravity (COG) has been variously defi ned as “Th e source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act.” or according to the US Army Operations manual citing Clausewitz as “The hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends.” One possible approach to identifying the center of gravity is to first examine a critical capability of the adversary that could signifi cantly enhance the possibilities of a successful mission. This critical capability is likely to have a critical requirement or condition which could be exploited as a critical vulnerability. The choice of attacking the critical capability or vulnerability depends on several factors.This includes one’s own strengths and vulnerabilities, ease of accessibility, end-state considerations, the potential cascading eff ects and doctrine. As an illustration, the US Army wherever feasible, advocates attacking the strength or critical capability of the adversary while the US Marines generally aim to seek out and attack the critical vulnerabilities or weaknesses that would nullify the capabilities. While the Army may advocate focusing on a single COG, the Air Force tends to identify and attack numerous COGs. The Air Force version stems from its definition as “those operations intended to directly achieve strategic eff ects by striking at the enemy’s COGs … which were the characteristics, capabilities, or localities from which a force derived its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight. There is also a school of thought that COGs could change or shift in the course of the campaign.
Alexander the Great had a strong army but a very weak navy. In his campaign against the Persians, his success depended upon gaining control of the Mediterranean Sea and he determined that the Persian COG was their shore bases. Securing those bases with his army meant that he was able to gain control over the sea without a naval battle.
The Japanese operational COG was their naval convoy system. To protect the naval convoys, the lines of communication, and the deployment of forces ashore, the Japanese simultaneously attacked Pearl Harbour and used their air and naval forces to gain air and naval superiority over northern Malaya. With good operational security, deceptive routing and simultaneous action at Kota Bahru they were able to secure Singora and Patani. They used nearby airfi elds to subsequently secure the Alor Star aerodrome. The Japanese also actively sought and destroyed the British battle cruiser Repulse and the new battleship Prince of Wales.
The Allied COG was ‘fortress’ Singapore. Its early engagement would result in the collapse of the British defence strategy. From the onset the Japanese sought to bomb Singapore. In order to do this more effectively they needed to attain air and sea superiority early. This was achieved by securing the decisive points of Singora, Patani, Kota Bharu and Alor Star and the aerodromes in the vicinity. From these aerodromes the Japanese Air Force not only eff ectively engaged Singapore but also supported the Army’s speedy advance down the Malayan Peninsula.
The other major decisive points revolved around critical river and jungle terrain constrictions where the only southward movement had to be along axes and across bridges. Th ese included Jitra, Gurun, Kampar, Slim River, Tampin and Muar. When the Japanese broke through the Slim River position, central Malaya was lost and its largest city, Kuala Lumpur, was open for exploitation. The British subsequently never recovered from this defeat.
The poor communication system and flooded trenches made it difficult for the 11th Indian Division to eff ectively defend the Jitra position. On 11th December, a Japanese tank charge into the British defences of the 1/14th Punjab Regiment and the 2/1st Gurkha Rifl es routed the positions. British troops at Jitra undertook an overnight ten mile withdrawal. Japanese troops, originally thought to be inferior in jungle warfare, continued to surprise their Commonwealth counterparts as they moved quickly down the peninsula. The Japanese used bicycles to greatly enhance their mobility through the rubber plantations and jungle tracks.
Th is gap has fairly secure fl anks with the 4000 foot Kedah peak on the left, and the foothills of the central Malayan mountain range on the right. The disorganised retreat from Jitra meant that many units were seriously understrength. Th e Japanese pushed on boldly with one battalion supported by tanks and easily broke through the demoralised British positions.
As a result of very heavy casualties from the severe fi ghting at Jitra and Gurun early on in the campaign, two British brigades amalgamated at the St Michael Institution in Ipoh on Dec 20, 1941. On Dec 23, together with the Indian units, this brigade moved to Kampar to prepare for a stand to hold the advancing Japanese 25th Army. Th e hastily prepared defence position north of Kampar and the counter-fl anking actions of the Punjabi Regiment of the 12th Indian Brigade helped to stall the Japanese advance for 34 days. However, ultimately the British were forced to withdraw to Trolak to avoid being cut off by a flanking movement from Teluk Intan to the south-west.
On 7th January at 0330 Japanese tanks overran the roadblock and defences at Trolak, about 5 miles north of Slim River. About 30 tanks and 100 infantry on trucks advanced to Slim River. Due to the bold action of Lt Watanabe who jumped out of his tank to sever the fuse to the bridges’ demolition charges, the Japanese took the Slim River Bridge at 0830. Two Indian brigades were practically annilihated.
On 14th January, the Japanese encountered troops from the Australian 8th Division, commanded by Major-General Gordon Bennett and experienced a tactical setback, due to the stubborn resistance put up by the Australians at Gemas. Th e battle, centred around the Gemencheh Bridge proved costly for the Japanese, who suff ered up to 600 casualties. Th e bridge itself, which had been demolished during the fighting, was repaired within six hours.
The Japanese correctly anticipated the British main defensive plan of Singapore. This allowed them to successfully deceive the British defenders as to the direction of the main Japanese off ensive from the northwest.
SPEED AND TEMPO ANALYSIS
Speed and tempo facilitates the seizing and maintaining of the initiative through surprise and increasing uncertainty for the adversary. John Boyd also contends that ‘if you can go through the Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) Loop faster then your enemy, you’ll live and he’ll die’. Any pause during the operation could allow the adversary to regroup and regain the initiative. John Boyd advocated that one of the best way to operate faster is to have an implicit guidance throughout the chain of command. Th is notion is depicted in the centre of the diagram below.
Speed and tempo are by far the most signifi cant attributes of the Malayan Campaign. When the initial landing at Kota Bahru was detected, Krohcol force (a 2-battalion task force from the 3rd Indian Corps) was ordered to cross the border and take up a position at the ‘Ledge’, a position in South Thailand critical for the defence of North Malaya. While Krohcol force failed to reach the ‘Ledge’ by the next day, the Japanese cleared the 75 miles from Patani to the ‘Ledge’ by the 10th of December.
Throughout the campaign the Japanese aggressively pushed on with their advance, and refused to provide the British any opportunity to regroup, reorganize or resupply. There was relentless pressure placed on the withdrawing Commonwealth forces by air attacks and outflanking manoeuvres. Despite the numerous bridges, the Japanese engineers were always at hand to maintain the momentum of the advance.
SYNERGISING AND ARRANGING OF FORCES ANALYSIS
Synergising is by far the most important capability and one that could be finessed through greater experience in conducting operations. Commanders needs to know the capabilities and limitations of their forces and sequence their employment in an optimal manner where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By exploiting the services’ capabilities, we can greatly enhance our reach and tempo while significantly increasing the uncertainty of the adversary. Taking into consideration the geography and the adversary’s actions, the commander must maneuver in space and time using rapid and focused actions in order to gain a position or psychological advantage over the enemy. Forces must be capable of marching separately and concentrating at the decisive points. The joint or combined arms capability and capacity must be exploited to achieve the critical flexibility and agility in operations.
There was intense inter-service rivalry between the Japanese Armed Forces before the war.7 However, the cooperation achieved between the services during the Malayan Campaign was unprecedented. The cooperation was between the 25th Army, 3rd Air Group, the Southern Squadron, 22nd Air Flotilla, and the 4th and 5th Submarine squadrons. The unity of command was achieved in many ways by the common objective of capturing Singapore, and the specific limitations of the Services. The naval forces needed air protection for their vulnerable sea transport convoys and specifically from Force Z. Th e Air Force needed to secure the critical aerodromes in Northern Malaya and needed manpower from the army to improve the airfields in southern Thailand. The army was heavily dependent on the naval forces for transport and numerous coastal hook operations, and on the air force to attack the numerous strong points and maintain pressure on the retreating British Forces.
Concentration of force was another factor that contributed significantly to the successful conduct of the Malayan Campaign. Yamashita took an unprecedented decision to exclude one allocated division from his final plan. This eased up naval transport and subsequent logistic support requirements. The vulnerable landings at Singora and Patani were supported by an initial landing at Kota Bahru. The plan also entailed the concentration of the Imperial Guards via the land route through Thailand.
The arrangements for the capture of Malaya and Singapore were also well conceived. The Japanese developed and employed an innovative form of maneuver using successive amphibious operations, ‘leap-frogging’ forces down the peninsula in a well-orchestrated and integrated joint force effort. This allowed them to make simultaneous frontal assaults and place forces to the flanks and rear of heavily prepared enemy defenses and major combat forces.
While the British strategy was to delay the Japanese advance as far as possible to ‘buy the time and space needed to bring in reinforcements’, General Yamashita embraced a strategy of the ‘driving charge’ where the army would relentlessly pursue the enemy, to repel or destroy the enemy without allowing him the opportunity to regroup8. To forestall the British defence plan of Northern Malaya, an attack on Kota Bharu was simultaneously made with the landings of the main force at Singora and Patani with the aim of diverting the attention of the RAF and the allied land forces. The Japanese swiftly bombed the Sungei Patani aerodrome and also captured the important aerodromes of Kota Bharu and Alor Star to negate the threat of the British Air Force from the onset. The Japanese 22nd Air Flotilla promptly sought out the Prince of Wales and the Repulse and sunk them off Kuantan.
To maintain flexibility and agility, the Japanese plan catered for multiple approaches. This plan was continually adjusted based on changing circumstances. For instance, the 25th Japanese Army HQ redirected the 18th Division to land at Singora despite the objections of the Southern Army HQ (superior HQ of 25th Army) which wanted them to land at Mersing. Throughout the campaign the ground commanders exercised a high degree of initiative and promptly responded to challenges and opportunities. Upon seizing the initiative at Jitra and Alor Star, the Japanese relentlessly pursued the Commonwealth troops, causing signifi cant chaos at successive defence lines and achieved overwhelming victories.
The element of surprise was exploited by masking the main landings at Singora and Patani by the landing at Kota Bahru, Speed and tempo of battle and a deliberate deception plan at Pulau Ubin executed by the Imperial Guards continuously kept the British off balance.
CULMINATING POINT ANALYSIS
A Culminating Point in an operation or battle is reached when the current operation can just be maintained but not developed to any great advantage. (JWP 5-00) Th is must be avoided at all cost by the time tested use of echelonment and judicious logistic and/or mobility planning and execution. To prevent a premature culminating point, it is critical that the operation is sustained in terms of fighting spirit, options as well as logistics.
The Japanese did this very well by continuously rotating forces at all levels. On several occasions, the frontline forces were given reprieve. Th is was achieved on the move by landing and deploying fresh troops to the frontline. Fortunately for the Japanese such initiatives were facilitated by the requisition of ‘Churchill Supplies’ left behind by the Commonwealth forces. Moreover, the Japanese were quick to utilise captured transport and supplies to sustain their operations. Despite their successes, Yamashita’s decision to push on with the attack on Singapore almost brought him to his culminating point. Fortunately for him, the British decided to surrender a short while after.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE 3rd GEN SAF
Th e various operational lessons learned from the Malayan Campaign could serve as a useful checklist for the SAF as it formulates its 3rd Gen organisation, systems and processes.
It is clear that development of the leadership and fi ghting spirit must continue to be the primary focus of the 3rd Gen SAF. Offi cers must fully understand the end-state and be well grounded in the operational art of war. The execution of operations is by their very nature going to be uncertain. Officers at all levels must be conversant with the human factors that can impact warfare e.g. building trust, morale, fi ghting spirit and managing fear, uncertainty and setbacks. Much of this cannot be trained in peacetime and will have to be picked up from reading widely in military history. Officers must be trained to anticipate and take the initiative to adapt and innovate without the need to check back for instructions or directions. Not all wartime solutions need to be technological in nature. They will need to take bold and decisive actions at all levels. There must a strong linkage between top leadership and the junior offi cers at the frontline. Helmuth von Moltke transformed the Prussian General Staff into a “unique instrument combining fl exibility and initiative at the local level with conformity to a common operational doctrine and to the intentions of higher command.”
SYSTEMS & OGANISATION
From the analysis, it becomes apparent that the 3rd Gen SAF must be highly integrated across Services and formations so as to achieve the desired reach, speed and tempo to seize and maintain the critical initiative and the agility and fl exibility to respond to opportunities and uncertainties. It must also have superior mobility and logistics to maintain its momentum. Th e 3rd Gen SAF must always anticipate and challenge current ‘realities’ continuously. It is also critical for every level to ensure that it has the necessary reserve capacity to handle opportunities and uncertainties. The command and control system needs to be based not on technology and bandwidth but on the implicit guidance/communication between the various levels.
While the Japanese were fortunate to have lived off the ‘Churchill supplies’ left behind, modern day equipment and systems may not off er similar advantages. There is a need to ensure that logistics systems and structures which in peacetime may not appear to directly contribute to combat power are not overlooked or compromised.
It is vital for the 3rd Gen SAF to increase the level of joint training between the Services. While it may be necessary to maintain a healthy level of inter-Service rivalry, the speed, reach and responsiveness of a well integrated joint task force is no longer a matter of choice. Joint doctrine needs to be developed and validated to ensure that there is a detailed and through understanding of each others’ capabilities and limitations. At the operational level the training must aim to develop a deep sense of mutual trust and respect for each other. The Army’s Appreciation of Situation while important and comprehensive, needs to be used judiciously during execution. Its numerous levels and channels of parallel coordination could potentially gridlock and compromise flexibility at the operational level. The move should be towards greater independence of action through organic firepower and sustainability at the lower level. Commanders must have the capacity and agility to adapt quickly to the changing dynamics of real war (uncertainties and opportunities) and be prepared to adjust or change their plan without extensive upward coordination.
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