Operational Leadership and the Success or Failure of an Operation
Leadership at the operational level requires the ability to link tactical actions to meet strategic objectives. Successful use of operational leadership tenants combined with specific character traits of an operational commander provides a snapshot of an effective leader who can successfully accomplish the determined strategic objectives. Professor Milan Vego provides a framework for the tenets of operational leadership and Field Marshal Slim presents his viewpoint on essential qualities required of an operational commander. , The British leaders, Admiral Carden and General Sir Hamilton will be compared and contrasted with the German leader of the Turkish forces, General von Sanders using selected elements of Vego’s and Slim’s philosophies of operational leadership and command.
Before defining the elements that will be used to compare the leaders of Gallipoli, it is prudent to explain the difference between “command” and “leadership.” Vego’s theory is presented as relating to operational leadership while Slim’s concept describes characteristics considered necessary to be an effective operational commander. These characteristics are connected directly to the position of command at an operational level while the leadership tenants that Vego describes are related to the successful achievement of the operational and strategic objectives. However, it can be argued that a framework to describe operational leadership and command are completely intertwined. Simply put, effective command at the operational level requires the right blend of personality traits that Slim describes in order to apply the tenants of operational leadership described by Vego.
Vego identifies 15 tenants that are important to operational leadership and Slim describes five qualities required of an operational commander. , Many of these tenants and elements overlap, so to clearly and concisely identify the differences in operational leadership of the identified leaders of the Gallipoli, three elements of leadership have been selected that are directly applicable to the outcome of the Gallipoli campaign. The first element is to focus on successfully meeting the objective and understanding its connection to strategy and the resources available to the commander. Second, the element of boldness, to show initiative, flexibility and acceptance of risk while applying force against the enemy. Finally, sound judgment to make decisive decisions in the midst of uncertainty caused by the fog and friction of war. These elements will be applied against each of the leaders by citing specific actions or decisions that were made throughout the conflict.
The assessment begins with Admiral Carden who commanded the British fleet in the Mediterranean at the start of 1915 when the initial planning began to open the Dardanelles. He was asked by Churchill, the Lord of the Admiralty to determine if naval forces...