by SWJ Editors
Army Capstone Concept & the Genesis
of German World War One Assault Squad & Infiltration Tactics
The Historical Linkage
by Dave Shunk
the full article
How German Captain Willy Rohr changed infantry tactics, weapons and doctrine
within the World War One German Army is a remarkable story. He succeeded in
his task as a result of the German Army's ideas of operational adaptability, mission
command and decentralized authority. This paper presents by historical example
the basic ideas and inherent power in the Army Capstone Concept based on the German
model. But first, a few Capstone Concept definitions as a baseline reference....
Operational adaptability requires a mindset based on flexibility of
thought calling for leaders at all levels who are comfortable with collaborative
planning and decentralized execution, have a tolerance for ambiguity, and possess
the ability and willingness to make rapid adjustments according to the situation.
Operational adaptability is essential to developing situational understanding
and seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative under a broad range of conditions.
Operational adaptability is also critical to developing the coercive and persuasive
skills the Army will need to assist friends, reassure and protect populations, and
to identify, isolate, and defeat enemies. 5
So how did the Germany Army of World War One use decentralization, mission command,
and operational adaptability to create infiltration tactics and revolutionize infantry
tactics in World War I? The story revolves around a Captain Willy Rohr.
the full article
Dave Shunk is a retired USAF colonel, B-52G pilot, and Desert Storm combat
veteran whose last military assignment was as the B-2 Vice Wing Commander of the
509th Bomb Wing, Whitman AFB, MO. Currently, he is a historical researcher and DA
civilian working in the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), Fort Monroe,
Virginia. He has a National Security Strategy MS from the National War College.