Topic: Staff Duties
"It is essential that subordinates should not only be able to work intelligently and resolutely in accordance with brief orders or instructions, but should also be able to take upon themselves, whenever necessary, the responsibility of departing from, or of varying, the orders they may have received".
Lectures on Land Warfare, A Tactical Manual for the Use of Infantry Officers, Pub. William Clowes & Sons, Ltd., 1922
Combatant officers of every rank are required to issue orders of some kind or other, and orders for operations should always be committed to paper when circumstances permit. The object of an operation order is to bring orders of about a course of action in accordance with the intentions of the commander, and with full co-operation between all units.
Operation orders of a complicated nature are unlikely be to required from the pen of infantry officers in the junior ranks, and the rules for drafting orders are stated in detail in the official text-books, for the use of officers of the ranks that will be required to issue them.
The general principles underlying orders of all kinds are that they should be "fool proof," and it has been remarked that the writer of orders should always remember that at least one silly ass will try to misunderstand them. They must, therefore, be void of all ambiguity, and while containing every essential piece of information, and omitting everything that is clearly known already to the recipients, they should be confined to facts, and conjecture should be avoided.
"An operation order must contain just what the recipient requires to know and nothing more. It should tell him nothing which he can and should arrange for himself, and, especially in the case of large forces, will only enter into details when details are absolutely necessary. Any attempt to prescribe to a subordinate at a distance anything which he, with a fuller knowledge of local conditions, should be better able to decide on the spot, is likely to cramp his initiative in dealing with unforeseen developments, and will be avoided. In particular, such expressions as 'Will await further orders' should be avoided" ("Field Service Regulations," vol. ii. (1921)).
Apart from the standing rules as to the printing of names of places in block type, including a reference to the map used, dating and signing the orders, numbering the copies, and stating the time and method of issue, etc., the general tenor of all operation orders will always be" The enemy are … My intention is … You will … In other words, all that is known about the enemy, and of our own troops, that is essential for the purposes of the order, should be revealed; then the general intention of the commander who issues the orders; then the part in the operations that is to be played by the recipient. But the method of attaining the object will be left to the utmost extent possible to the recipient, with due regard to his personal characteristics. "It is essential that subordinates should not only be able to work intelligently and resolutely in accordance with brief orders or instructions, but should also be able to take upon themselves, whenever necessary, the responsibility of departing from, or of varying, the orders they may have received" ("Field Service Regulations," vol. ii. (1921)).