Truppenführung ("Handling of Combined-Arms Formations") was a German Army field manual published in 2 parts as Heeresdruckvorschrift 300: Part 1, promulgated in 1933, and Part 2 in 1934.
The original German text, which is notable for its clarity, was prepared by a group led by Colonel General Ludwig Beck (1880–1944) who was later executed by the Nazi regime for his part in the 1944 plot against Hitler. The original publication consisted of a two-part, soft cover, pocket-sized manual, which was issued to all commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers. It contained basic military doctrine for the German land forces (Heer) from its first publication up to the end of World War II. The book was known by the nickname "Tante Frieda". A modified form is still in use today by the Federal German Army (Deutsches Heer). The approximate equivalent U.S. Army field manual was FM 100–5, now re-issued as FM 3–0, Operations (with later revisions) and available for download at the U.S. Army website. The British Army equivalent manual is Field Service Regulations, also available for download at the British Army website.
Truppenführung has its doctrinal origins in the late 19th century Prussian Army although its traditions go back to the Scharnhorst reforms of 1810–1812. The modern basis of this Field Manual can be seen in the reforms of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder in the mid 19th century. It was in Moltke’s "Instructions for Large Unit Commanders" and his concept of separated armies from which modern German doctrine emerged. The system of moving units separately and concentrating as an army before a battle, resulted in more efficient supply and lower vulnerability to modern firepower. To enable a successful flanking attack, he asserted that concentration could only take place after the commencement of a battle. This was a development of the Scharnhorst concept of "March Divided, Fight United".
A consequence of this innovation was the commander's loss of overall control of his forces, due to the limits of means of communication which, at that time were visual (line-of-sight) or couriers, either mounted or on foot. The traditional concept of the elimination of uncertainty by means of total obedience became obsolete and operational initiative had to be delegated to a point further down the chain of command. In this new concept, commanders of distant detachments were required to exercise initiative in their decision making and Moltke emphasised the benefits of developing officers, who could do this within the limits of the senior commander’s intention.
He accomplished this by means of directives stating his intentions, rather than detailed orders and was willing to accept deviations from a directive, provided that it was within the framework of the mission. Moltke held this view firmly and it later became a fundamental of all German military theory. Other theorists were critical but Moltke’s insistence that local commanders be allowed freedom of action, has been defended by many German writers together with the concept that large armies made a loose style of command necessary. Prussian and German Field Service Regulations published after 1870 confirm this concept and it is listed, word for word, in Truppenführung of 1933:
Every man, from the youngest soldier upward, must be required at all times and in all situations to commit his whole mental, spiritual and physical strength. Only in this way will the full force of a unit be brought to bear in decisive action. Only thus will men develop, who will in the hour of danger maintain their courage and decisiveness and carry their weaker comrades with them to achieve deeds of daring.
The first criterion in war remains decisive action. Everyone from the highest commander down to the youngest soldier, must be constantly aware that inaction and neglect incriminate him more severely than any error in the choice of means.(emphasis in the original text)
At the beginning of the First World War, the German armed forces were using a set of Field Service Regulations which had been issued in 1905. Their doctrine drew heavily on Clausewitz and von Moltke the Elder but the main influence was that of General Alfred von Schlieffen, then Chief of the General Staff. Many in the German army of the period did not accept some of Clausewitz's concepts such as the importance of the defense and the relationship between war and politics. Although the traditional image of stagnation and trench warfare is correct, this period also produced many of the tactical concepts which are associated with modern warfare. On the defense (1915–1917) they pioneered and mastered: flexible defense, defense-in-depth and reverse-slope defense. On the offense in 1918, they perfected fluid non-linear infiltration tactics supported by artillery (cf. Stormtrooper ).
After the end of World War I, the Reichswehr , under the direction of General Hans von Seeckt, very carefully studied the conduct and developments of the war. The result of the von Seeckt reforms was the new tactical doctrine manual H. Dv.487, Führung und Gefecht der verbundenen Waffen ("Command and Battle of the Combined Arms"), now generally known as das Fug, published as Part 1 in 1921 and Part 2 in 1923.
An important introduction in the post-World War I reforms was the introduction of Auftragstaktik , which can be translated as "Mission Command" (U.K. forces definition) or "Mission-Type Orders, or Directive Control" (United States forces) and mission-type tactics (Federal German Army). The principle is that the senior commander states his intention (the mission) to his subordinate commanders. He informs them of the mission, the available means and the timeframe within which the mission has to be accomplished. He then places mission planning and execution in the hands of his subordinates and holds himself available to offer helpful advice and suggestions, but only if requested.
For Auftragstaktik to work, it is necessary that a subordinate leader, or even a common soldier, has to fully understand the commander’s intent, also to the next higher level of command, and the purpose of the mission. If he does not understand, then he has the obligation to ask.
In 1925, von Seeckt noted
The principal thing now is to increase the responsibilities of the individual soldier, particularly his independence of action, with the profitable result of increasing the capability of the individual.
The influence of das Fug and Truppenführung on the Reichswehr and later the Heer, was wide-ranging.
Truppenführung in this sense was not a set of rules but rather a set of intellectual tools which could be consulted at any time and which would provide intellectual stimulus in any given situation. The unpredictable and chaotic nature of warfare is specifically referred to in the following sections of the manual (quoted in full):
Section 2 The conduct of war is subject to continual development. New weapons dictate ever-changing forms. Their appearance must be anticipated and their influence evaluated. They must be placed in service quickly.
Section 4 Lessons in the art of war cannot be exhaustively compiled in the form of regulations. The principles enunciated must be applied in accordance with the situation. Simple actions, logically carried out will lead most surely to the objective.
Section 6 The command of an army and its subordinate units requires leaders capable of judgement, with clear vision and foresight, and the ability to make independent and decisive decisions and carry them out unwaveringly and positively. Such leaders must be impervious to the changes in the fortunes of war and possess full awareness of the high degree of responsibility placed on their shoulders.
Section 7 An officer is in every sense a teacher and a leader. In addition to his knowledge of men and his sense of justice, he must be distinguished by superior knowledge and experience, by moral excellence, by self-discipline and by high courage.
Section 8 The example and personal bearing of officers and other soldiers who are responsible for leadership has a decisive effect on the troops. The officer, who in the face of the enemy displays coolness, decisiveness and courage, carries his troops with him. He also must win their affection and earn their trust through his understanding of their feelings, their way of thinking, and through his selfless care for them. Mutual trust is the surest foundation for discipline in times of need and danger.
Section 10 The decisive factor, despite technology and weaponry, is the value of the individual soldier. The wider his experience in combat, the greater his importance. The emptiness of the battlefield (die Leere des Schlachtfelds) requires soldiers who can think and act independently, who can make calculated, decisive and daring use of every situation and who understand that victory depends on each individual. Training, physical fitness, selflessness, determination, self-confidence and daring equip a man to master the most difficult situations..
Section 12 Leaders must live with their troops and share in their dangers and deprivations, their joys and sorrows. Only thus can they acquire a first-hand knowledge of the combat capabilities and needs of their soldiers. The individual is a part of the whole and is not only responsible for himself alone but also for his comrades. He who is capable of more than the others, who can achieve more, must guide and lead the inexperienced and the weak. Out of such a foundation grows genuine comradeship, which is as important between the leaders and the men as it is among the men themselves.
As Matthew Cooper states in his book The German Army 1933-45,
"On the question of tactics, die Truppenführung was a brilliant exposition of modern principles and drew sound lessons from Germany’s terrible experience in the 1914-1918 war. Initiative, decisive manoeuvre and envelopment were the keynotes of the German tactical doctrine. Its success in the war years was to prove immeasurably superior to the methods of its enemies"
Truppenführung today is still widely considered to be one of the most influential military manuals ever produced. Surprisingly, until 2001 very little of its text was available in English except for some roughly translated excerpts and hand written notes in U.S. military archives and Gen. Wedermeyer's report on the Prussian General Staff College. Equally surprisingly, the manual was classified by the United States military authorities until 2001 when the first full English translation was completed.
Blitzkrieg is a word used to describe a surprise attack using a rapid, overwhelming force concentration that may consist of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations, together with close air support, has the intent to break through the opponent's lines of defense, then dislocate the defenders, unbalance the enemy by making it difficult to respond to the continuously changing front, and defeat them in a decisive Vernichtungsschlacht: battle of annihilation.
Carl Philipp Gottfriedvon Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege, was unfinished at his death.
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek word strategos, the term strategy, when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", or "'the art of arrangement" of troops. Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy.
Military doctrine is the expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.
In modern use, the order of battle of an armed force participating in a military operation or campaign shows the hierarchical organization, command structure, strength, disposition of personnel, and equipment of units and formations of the armed force. Various abbreviations are in use, including OOB, O/B, or OB, while ORBAT remains the most common in the United Kingdom. An order of battle is distinct from a table of organisation, which is the intended composition of a given unit or formation according to the military doctrine of its armed force. Historically, an order of battle was the order in which troops were positioned relative to the position of the army commander or the chronological order in which ships were deployed in naval situations.
The Schlieffen Plan was a name given after the First World War to pre-war German war plans, due to the influence of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen and his thinking on an invasion of France and Belgium, which began on 4 August 1914. Schlieffen was Chief of the General Staff of the German Army from 1891 to 1906. In 1905 and 1906, Schlieffen devised an army deployment plan for a war-winning offensive against the French Third Republic. German forces were to invade France through the Netherlands and Belgium rather than across the common border. After losing the First World War, German official historians of the Reichsarchiv and other writers described the plan as a blueprint for victory. Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, succeeded Schlieffen as Chief of the German General Staff in 1906 and was dismissed after the First Battle of the Marne. German historians claimed that Moltke had ruined the plan by meddling with it out of timidity.
Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, generally called Count Schlieffen, was a German field marshal and strategist who served as chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906. His name lived on in the 1905–06 "Schlieffen Plan", then Aufmarsch I, a deployment plan and operational guide for a decisive initial offensive operation/campaign in a two-front war against the French Third Republic.
Vernichtungsgedanke, literally meaning "concept of annihilation" in German and generally taken to mean "the concept of fast annihilation of enemy forces", is a tactical doctrine dating back to Frederick the Great. It emphasizes rapid, fluid movement to unbalance an enemy, allowing the attacker to impose its will upon the defender and to avoid stalemate. It relies on uncommonly rigorous training and discipline and thoroughly-professional leadership. Much of Vernichtungsgedanke can be seen in Carl von Clausewitz's classic treatise German: Vom Kriege, lit. 'On War'.
The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially the Great General Staff, was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army, responsible for the continuous study of all aspects of war, and for drawing up and reviewing plans for mobilization or campaign. It existed unofficially from 1806, and was formally established by law in 1814, the first general staff in existence. It was distinguished by the formal selection of its officers by intelligence and proven merit rather than patronage or wealth, and by the exhaustive and rigorously structured training which its staff officers undertook. Its rise and development gave the German armed forces a decisive strategic advantage over their adversaries for nearly a century and a half.
Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke was a Prussian field marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field. He commanded troops in Europe and the Middle East, commanding during the Second Schleswig War, Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War. He is described as embodying "Prussian military organization and tactical genius." He was fascinated with railways and pioneered their military usage. He is often referred to as Moltke the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, who commanded the German Army at the outbreak of World War I.
Johannes "Hans" Friedrich Leopold von Seeckt was a German military officer who served as Chief of Staff to August von Mackensen and was a central figure in planning the victories Mackensen achieved for Germany in the east during the First World War.
Walter Karl Ernst August von Reichenau was a field marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. Reichenau commanded the 6th Army, during the invasions of Belgium and France. During Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, he continued to command the 6th Army as part of Army Group South as it captured Ukraine and advanced deep into Russia.
Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare, is a military strategy which attempts to defeat the enemy by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption.
The Oberste Heeresleitung was the highest echelon of command of the army (Heer) of the German Empire. In the latter part of World War I, the Third OHL assumed dictatorial powers and became the de facto political authority in the empire.
Mission-type tactics, is a form of military tactics where the emphasis is on the outcome of a mission rather than the specific means of achieving it. Mission-type tactics have been a central component of the military tactics of German armed forces since the 19th century. The term Auftragstaktik was coined by opponents of the development of mission-type tactics. Opponents of the implementation of mission-type tactics were called Normaltaktiker. In today's German army, the Bundeswehr, the term Auftragstaktik is considered an incorrect characterization of the concept; instead, Führen mit Auftrag is officially used, but the older, unofficial term is more widespread.
Principles of war are rules and guidelines that represent truths in the practice of war and military operations.
Mission command, also referred to as mission-type tactics, is a style of military command, derived from the Prussian-pioneered mission-type tactics doctrine, which combines centralized intent with decentralized execution subsidiarity and promotes freedom and speed of action, and initiative, within defined constraints. Subordinates, understanding the commander's intentions, their own missions and the context of those missions, are told what effect they are to achieve and the reason why it needs to be achieved. They then decide within their delegated freedom of action how best to achieve their missions. Orders focus on providing intent, control measures, and objectives, allowing for greater freedom of action by subordinate commanders. Mission command is closely related to civilian management concept of workplace empowerment and its use in business has been explored by writers such as Bungay (2011) and Tozer. It is advocated, but not always used, by the militaries of the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom. Mission command is compatible with modern military net-centric concepts, and less centralized approaches to command and control (C2) in general.
The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.
The Truppenamt or lit. 'Troop Office' was the cover organisation for the German General Staff from 1919 through until 1935 when the General Staff of the German Army (Heer) was re-created. This subterfuge was deemed necessary in order for Germany to be seen to meet the requirements of the Versailles Treaty. It completely revised German tactical and strategic doctrine and thereby conserved, re-energised and unified the military thinking and capability of the Reichswehr, later to become the Wehrmacht.
The German Army was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it ceased to exist in 1945 and then was formally dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13.6 million soldiers served in the German Army. Army personnel were made up of volunteers and conscripts.
Media related to Truppenführung at Wikimedia Commons