chapter  3
30 Pages

Command and control

At the heart of all successful military formations, from the legions of Rome to the modern modular combat brigades of the US Army, resides an effective and proven system of command and control. Command and control, or C2 in contemporary military parlance, differentiates between an armed rabble and a highly controlled unit in which the application, direction and coordination of force is precise and efficient, rather than haphazard and badly organised. Increasingly over time, it has become a critical element in the generation of favourable or unfavourable outcomes on the battlefield and has transcended the traditional heuristics of war such as preponderance, which are no longer considered the critical correlate in predicting victory or defeat (Biddle 2004: 5). Nevertheless, conventional force structures have developed particular command frameworks and specific control mechanisms for the regulation and coordination of units on the battlefield that have been tried, tested and embedded in the makeup and culture of military organisations. Unfortunately, the unorthodox nature and relative newness of Special Forces means that they do not fall easily within the confines of traditional C2 arrangements and require tailor-made provision in order to exploit their impact on the operational theatre to the full. Necessarily, the development of efficient, effective and adaptive C2 arrangements for British and American Special Forces developed slowly throughout the Cold War on a trial-and-error basis with mixed results in different theatres. Unavoidably, notwithstanding these experiences, a degree of tension has invariably persisted in the attempt to integrate conventional and unconventional forces under the overarching umbrella of a generic command and control set-up.