Topic: Military Theory
The Lonely Leader; Monty, 1944-1945, Alistaire Horne, 1994
In Britain, Monty's own training programme was reaching a new pitch of intensity, but what substitute could there be for the actual battlefield, with all its brutality, surprises and lessons? He became the first British commander to develop close tactical support with the air force, something which the Germans had already raised to a high state of perfection by 1940. In close conjunction with Brooke, he saw to it that each of the new British armoured divisions contained at least one lorry-borne infantry brigade—as had the Germans when they crossed the Meuse in 1940. He studied successful Soviet techniques of carrying infantry into the attack on the backs of tanks. (Meanwhile, in Russia, the Germans were now bringing up their infantry close behind the Panzers in cross-country armoured troop-carriers.) He developed the lessons he had gained in the First World War, the need for flexibility in regrouping—what later came to be closely linked with the key Monty formula of 'balance'—and the need to operate, on the offensive, by means of one or more concen-trated attacks on relatively narrow fronts, instead of mass efforts against a wide front. 'Concentration—control—simplicity' was the secret formula he dinned into his officers. Above all, he was crystallizing his philosophy of leadership. The leader, as he developed the theme in his memoirs, has to see his objective clearly and let everyone else know what he wants; he must begin with a very firm 'grip' on his military machine; he must never bring his subordinates back to confer with him, he must go forward (a view that would cause much conflict with the Americans from Normandy onwards); he himself must live in tranquillity, removed from all the exhaustion imposed by detail; he must be able to exercise 'direct and personal' command, to which end would follow his famous system, like his hero Wellington's, of fast-moving young liaison officers.