by Ted Horwood, Captain –
Over the years we’ve done a lot to adapt both ranks and titles in an effort to… (Sorry, I can’t remember quite why we have done so, but we have!)
Within my own memory I can remember ensigns, brigadiers, senior majors, staff captains, probationary lieutenants (all ranks now gone) and—more recently —Lt. Colonels…some of whom are still alive but holding a now-defunct rank. Then, of course, even “Lieutenant” has a totally different connotation than it did not too long ago.
As recently as 1995-1998,when I was in a UK appointment, many of the THQ functional titles there were changed from “Secretary for….” to “…Secretary.” Or was it the other way around? I do remember that the memo was leaked to a London newspaper who listed all the appointment titles giving what they were and what they were being changed to. The writer of the column (with tongue in cheek) praised the leadership for making such a significant change. Did it make any difference to either job content or effectiveness of the incumbents? Who knows?
I was reading recently (in a book by Fred Gratzon) of a General Helmuth Von Moltke. He was, by all reports, very important, and chief of the military German General Staff from 1858-1888 (during which period, interestingly, The Christian Mission was founded and became The Salvation Army) It is said that, under his command, the German military became the model for all modern military armies.
He used, apparently four criteria by which to measure officers under his command…bright, dull, energetic and lazy. Then he sorted all of his officers into the following categories:
Mentally dull and physically lazy. Officers in this category were given simple, repetitive, unchallenging tasks.
Mentally bright and physically energetic. Officers in this category were, he felt, obsessed with micromanagement and accordingly would be poor leaders. He limited their promotion.
Mentally dull but physically energetic. To Von Moltke, such officers were considered walking, talking, mistake generators that required constant supervision and tended to create messes quicker than they could fix them. He dismissed them.
Mentally bright, but physically lazy. These officers were, Von Moltke felt, worthy of ascending to the heights of ultimate command. This because they were smart enough to see what needed to be done…and also willing and able to delegate details to the eager beaver types.
Now, I am in no way suggesting that this is a model the Army should adopt. But it does make interesting reading.
In stark contrast (or was it?) was the early Army’s attitude to the type of officers it wished to recruit. Read this plea of the then Field-Secretary in his War Cry notes for January 19, 1889:
“Men! Men! Men! Oh, my God, send us men! Never mind, if you do stammer, or if you have a wooden leg, or a weak chest, or if you only have one eye, or have no platform ability. If you are a Salvation Army soldier, and have got brains, energy, tact and business ability, don’t let this appeal haunt you till you die, write the Field-Secretary right away.”
Brains (mental brightness), energy (physically energetic), tact and business ability (ability to see what needs to be done, and to delegate details to the eager beavers)…
Maybe the Field-Secretary was aware of his contemporary, General Von Moltke’s philosophy after all!