Rank Second Semester Exam Compare and Contrast Essay

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  • Subject: Military
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Rank

Second Semester Exam

Compare and contrast organizational climate with organizational command.

Understanding organizational theory is critical as it facilitates both improved leadership and greater unit cohesiveness and morale. Two key concepts in organizational theory are that of organizational climate and command structure. Climate can be understood as the elements which play into unit motivation and how it affects unit productivity. To offer a definition, climate is a set of behaviors shared by all or most members of a unit and can be understood as their shared values, attitudes and assumptions which define daily life and how an individual feels about and judges their unit. On the other hand, command structure can be defined as the building blocks of the military as units and formations under the control of a single officer. Command structure is a mechanism to delegate authority in a manner to maximize productivity across a number of integrated and operationally attached sub-units that are usually combat-capable.

Although organizational climate and command structure are related, climate often proves easier to assess and change, to improve unit productivity than overall command structure. At an individual level of analysis the concept of influencing unit climate is called individual psychological atmosphere. These individual perceptions are often aggregated for understanding at the team or group level leading to changes in overall team behavior that can influence unit outcomes. To contrast, organizational command influences group efficiency through ensuring the problem distribution of command from top to bottom and facilitating the resolution of problematic issues (i.e. complaints, obstacles) from bottom to top. However, by quantifying climate much more immediate steps can be taken in the field to improve unit outcomes than by modifying the command structure which is often difficult to modify.

In conclusion, the modern soldier can gain valuable knowledge through an understanding of the differences between organizational climate vs. command. Organizational climate is the general atmosphere of a unit and how it influences its efficiency in completing its objectives. Command on the other hand is how authority is delegated within the group and how obstacles to the unit tasks are overcome. George Patton once said, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." Via an understanding of both the nature of organizational climate and command, the best possible outcomes can be achieved.

Question 2: Compare and contrast situational awareness with situational understanding.

The issue of understanding situational awareness vs. situational understanding is critical to all aspects of the military from the commander to the common soldier. Situational awareness can be understood as a proper grasp of the issue at hand, while situational understanding is an appreciation of the causes of the issue thereby allowing an effective action plan to be devised. An example of situational awareness is the school principal who sees that his students' grades are dropping comparing to other schools. However, it is only via an understanding of the academic and socioeconomic factors in play producing this outcome, such as teachers retiring or a school schedule disruption, that necessary steps to remedy the situation can be taken. The two concepts can be compared in that both focus on the reality facing the military unit and are mechanisms to resolve strategic and tactical problems. Through understanding how they are different and employing them effectively it is possible to produce better overall outcomes.

To contrast the difference between situational awareness and understanding, an excellent example is the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg when Lee made his fatal decision to assault the center of the Union line. Lee believed this was the weakest spot in the Union position due to the events of the preceding day when his men almost broke through at four different occasions. On the third day he sent Jeb Stuart and 4,000 cavalry to ride behind the Union lines and attack from the rear while initiating a simultaneous frontal attack on the Union's right flank. Lee also ordered his artillery to bombard the center of the Union line leading up to the infamous ordering of Pickett's Charge. Once the bombardment began, Lee's faulty situational awareness was reinforced as the Union cannon on the bluffs stopped firing back leading him to believe that they were being destroyed rather than holding their fire.

Unfortunately, Lee did not have a valid situational understanding of what was actually happening. What really was occurring was that the Union artillery commander sensing that a Confederate attack was imminent informed his men to, "Cease your fire. There will be an infantry attack. Conserve your ammunition." Lee's situational awareness, however, was telling him his cannons were hitting the intended target. The heavy smoke from the artillery masked the fact that the Confederate shells were exploding with little to no effect and were falling out of range behind the Union line. Furthermore, Lee did not realize that Jeb Stewart's cavalry attack had been halted by Union cavalry and the ordered diversionary assault on the Union's right flank was delayed. Therefore, when Pickett made his charge into the center of the Union line, he met a disastrous defeat and within 45 minutes nearly 10,000 Confederates were killed or wounded. Lee failed both because he lacked awareness of what was going on I in the field and because he lacked the situational understanding to fix the communication problems which crippled his plans. The third day of the Battle of Gettysburg is a classic example of the difference between situational awareness and situational understanding.

In conclusion, situational awareness and understanding are as important today as they were during the Civil War. Both concepts allow both the commander and common soldier to understand what is going on and execute their missions with maximum efficiency.

Question 3: Compare and contrast operational art with operational design.

Businessman Alex Laisen once quipped that "Failing to plan is planning to fail." In preparing military operations and campaigns, commanders employ strategic guidance and direction in organizing the actions of their units. Strategic guidance and direction taken in concert can be defined as operational art - the use of forces to achieve strategic goals through the organization, integration, and conduct of strategies, campaigns, major operations and battles. In a similar vein, operational design is the reconciliation of strategic potential with practical operations taken into account a military's objective, desired end state and the identification of the enemy's situation. The product is a formal expression of strategic purpose that provides the logical framework for the structuring of military operations. Through understanding the difference between these two concepts it is possible to better understand the dynamics of operating planning.

To compare and contrast operational art vs. design it is necessary to expand on their meanings. Operational art helps commanders use resources efficiently and effectively to achieve strategic objectives by bridging strategy and tactics. Without operational art, war would be a set of disconnected engagements, with relative attrition the only measure of success or failure. Operational art requires broad vision, the ability to anticipate, and effective joint and multinational cooperation across multiple command ranks. Operation design can be compared to the arrangement of the pieces on the chessboard before the game (the art) begins. The designer is the primary coordinator who reconciles strategic potential with practical operations. No commander can effectively design operations without a thorough understanding of the difference between operational art and design and how the two concepts work hand in hand.

An example to better highlight the similarities and differences between the two concepts can be seen in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944. The strategic aim of the operation was to invade the European mainland and destroy the German military's capacity to conduct further operations. This goal demanded the coordination of army, navy and air forces from a…

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