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Most visions of future battlefields are referred to as "chaotic". If Henri de Jomini's belief that war really is a "violent, and an impassioned drama," and Carl von Clausewitz's concepts of "chaos and friction" are correct, then it would seem to me that too many leaders tend to see the battlefield incorrectly, or at least unrealistically. What I mean is that most of us either willingly or, unwillingly through drills, attempt to bring order to something, which is inherently disorderly and chaotic. Would it not be better to learn to live within this disorder? If battle is already chaotic, then why not abandon any attempts to bring order and strive to bring even more disorder to the situation? Before investigating this issue further, we need to review some history.
As Owl likes to remind Pooh, "It is always best to begin at the beginning." The entire history of the development of Auftragstaktik revolved around one simple question: How did the Prussian Army view warfare? All other issues, however interesting or important, are secondary to this pivotal, philosophical question. From an intellectual perspective, the simple answer was what Colonel Trevor Dupuy called the institutionalization of chaos in battle. (1) This concept encapsulated all aspects of Kriegskunst, (2) from General August von Gneisenau's Auftragstaktik to General Gerhard von Scharnhorst's Generalstab to General Helmuth von Moltke's minimalist approach to orders, "nicht mehr befehlen als durchaus notig ..." (3) The conviction that war was a violent, irrational, and uncontrollable human activity was, and remains to this day, the most identifiable embodiment of the Prusso-German school of war. (4) While other armies strove to bring paradesquare order to the battlefield, the Prussian Army ensconced the Clausewitzian concepts of the fog of war, friction and chaos into its tactical doctrine.
This is not to say that Prussian tactics were chaotic. On the contrary, the use of rigid discipline and effective battle drills gave Prussian commanders at all levels the potential to exploit the changing face of battle. The great paradox of Prussian discipline was that precision drill and unquestioning obedience could instil initiative and independence at all levels, from infantry …