Auftragstaktik: Empowering Site-Based Leaders

Auftragstaktik: Empowering Site-Based Leaders. What is Auftragstaktik? What are its limitations and risks? How does it free leaders for greater success?

Auftragstaktik NOTICE In the event of a fire, the person closest to the fire extinguisher has the authority to use it. www.jaywren

After the battle the king can do what he likes with my head, but during the battle will he please allow me to use it?” — Friedrich von Seydlitz

The German word Auftragstaktik is coined from the phrase: Auftrag (assignment) taktik (tactics).

The idea is that everyone in an organization needs to know how much authority they have and how to use that authority.

Simple Example

NOTICE: In the event of a fire, the person closest to the fire extinguisher has the authority to use it.

Auftragstaktik and Practical Disobedience

Frequently studied as a form of military command, the concept has its roots in Prussian and German military training.

Frederick II, also known as “Frederick the Great,” was the King of Prussia between 1740 and 1786.  Under his rule, Prussia expanded its territories and became recognized as a military power in Europe.

He was King of Prussia during the Seven Years’ War.  This war pitted England, Prussia, and their allies against the allies of the French and Russian alliance.

The people of Prussia admired their “War King.”  His people and his soldiers affectionately referred to Frederick the Great as “Old Fritz.”

The Micromanager

In battle, “Old Fritz” was a micromanager.

His most precocious and creative general was Friedrich von Seydlitz.  This general was unconventional and independent in his tactics.  His independence on at least one occasion ran counter the “Old Fritz’s” command.

In the Battle of Zorndorf in 1758, the king ordered the general to attack the Russian front.  Instead the general attacked the Russian flank.

“Old Fritz” ordered his general to return to the king’s camp and explain himself.

The general, still engaged in battle, ignored the order.  “Old Fritz” again ordered the general to report to the king’s camp.  A second time, the general ignored the order.  In a third attempt, the king sent an order to the general that he would either report to the king immediately or the king would lop off the general’s head.

The general replied, “After the battle the king can do what he likes with my head, but during the battle will he please allow me to use it?”

Seydlitz tactics worked to win the battle against the Russian army. He went on to become one of Prussia’s greatest generals. King Frederick became one of his friends.  Operating under the thumb of a micromanager, he succeeded through the success he achieved with this mission tactics.

Why is the USS Midway the biggest thing in San Diego?

USS Midway Museum San Diego CA
Photo Credit Jay Wren

The USS Midway: The biggest thing in San Diego

My family and I visited the USS Midway a few weeks ago.  I wish to thank our docent, Joe Veraldi, for the wonderful job that he did to help us with our tour.

For people not familiar with the USS Midway, it is a decommissioned United States aircraft carrier that today serves as a museum.

Upon graduating from college, I served for three years aboard the USS Midway.  Serving as an Officer of the Deck for those three years, I spent more time on the bridge of the Midway than I spent on land.

Bridge of the USS Midway 1972 Jay Wren
Jay Wren, Bridge Watch, 1972

Here is the view of the bridge today.  Our docent, Air Force veteran Joe Veraldi, is in the background in the red shirt and red cap.

Jeff Wren Bridge View
Photo Credit Jeff Wren

Why is the USS Midway the biggest thing in San Diego?

For two reasons.  First, it is the most popular tourist site in the city.

Joe Veraldi said,

“We had over 1.4 million visitors last year, and we are well on the way to breaking that total this year.

Also, last month we were voted as the #1 Naval Museum in the country! Every day is a great day on the Midway.”

The second reason that the Midway is the biggest thing in San Diego is that the ship is twice as large as the largest building in the city.

The ship is the length of three American football fields plus 101 feet.  At the angle deck the ship is 100 feet wider than an American football field.

Aerial view of the USS Midway, 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA
USS Midway, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA, Google Maps

Most of the docents are retired military service members, many of whom served on the Midway.

Seeing everything on the ship will fill a day.  The museum curators have restored nearly the entire ship to its original condition.  From the bridge to the boilers rooms, everything is there to visit.

The museum has spectacular reviews:  Of the 15,296 visitor reviews, 11630 were excellent and 3280 were very good.

The Midway offers self-guided toursdocent tours, and facilities for private events.

Thanks again, Joe Veraldi.  You did a wonderful job!

U.S. Army Awards $6.7 Billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Contract to Oshkosh Corporation

Oshkosh JLTV

Army Awards $6.7 Billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Contract to Oshkosh Corporation

“OSHKOSH, Wis.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) has awarded Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, a $6.7 billion firm fixed price production contract to manufacture the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The JLTV program fills a critical capability gap for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps by replacing a large portion of the legacy HMMWV fleet with a light tactical vehicle with far superior protection and off-road mobility. During the contract, which includes both Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and Full Rate Production (FRP), Oshkosh expects to deliver approximately 17,000 vehicles and sustainment services.  Source: Oshkosh Corporation – U.S. Army Awards $6.7 Billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Contract to Oshkosh Corporation

Promotional Video of the Oshkosh JLTV

  • Standard YouTube License; Image: Screen Capture

VA claims backlog now under 100,000 – lowest in department history

Veteran News
VA claims backlog now under 100,000 – lowest in department history…still more to do.

According to Allison Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits in the Department of Veterans Affairs, “This week, VA reduced the disability claims backlog to 98,535. This is the lowest it has ever been in VA’s history, and it represents an 84-percent reduction from its peak of 611,000 claims in March 2013.But this milestone is also personal. I am a Veteran, my husband is a Veteran, and I have countless friends and family members who are Veterans. I came to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) four years ago knowing there was no more noble mission than to care for Veterans, Servicemembers, their families and Survivors.

On day one, I knew that demand for compensation and other VA benefits was exploding. The backlog of claims older than 125 days was over half a million and climbing, and the claims inventory was nearly 800,000 and rising. You were waiting too long for your disability claim decisions, and that wasn’t right.”

Read more at source: VA claims backlog now under 100,000 – lowest in department history – VAntage Point

Other VA news: Sec. McDonald answers questions from the National Gulf War Resource Center

5 Overlooked Facts About Veterans Employment

Veterans Employment

“Fact: The unemployment rate for all veterans is consistently below the unemployment rate for non-veterans.

In July of 2015, the veteran unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, compared to the nonveteran unemployment rate (for individuals 18 years and older) of 5.4 percent.

A recent debate over veterans’ employability has made headlines. We still have more work to do to ensure all veterans can secure meaningful civilian employment, but here are five facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that you should know:”

See the facts: 5 Overlooked Facts About Veterans Employment : U.S. Department of Labor Blog

USS Nimitz Suez Canal Transit

USS Nimitz Suez Canal Transit

Nimitz Suez Canal Transit

As a former Officer of the Deck Underway (Fleet) on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, I found this USS Nimitz Suez Canal Transit fascinating. The Nimitz is an enormous ship to navigate through those narrow waters.

” The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) transits the Suez Canal. Nimitz along with embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, Carrier Air Wing 11, and Destroyer Squadron 23, spent nearly three weeks in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations conducting exercises with NATO allies and making a port call in Naples, Italy.”

Source: USS Nimitz Suez Canal Transit by U.S. Navy

You Do Not Have to be a Genius to Manage Well.

Aerial view of the USS Midway, 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA
Aerial view of the USS Midway, 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA

You do not have to be a genius to manage well.

As a new Navy ensign, I was assigned me to work directly for a limited duty officer.  The first day that he and I met was my first day of service in the Navy.  He did not hire me.  I reported aboard the USS Midway and went to his office.

The Navy has different groups or classes of officers.  The limited duty officers are men and women who have worked their way up through the enlisted ranks into the ranks of officers.  Their opportunity for promotion caps out at the rank commander (pay grade O5).  They are specialists with high aptitudes for certain skills.

The limited duty officer for whom I worked had the ability to master Navy administrative skills far more rapidly than his peers did.

When I transferred into his department, he was a lieutenant.  He assigned me the responsibility of managing the education office.  In this role, I managed a chief petty officer and six enlisted men.  My responsibilities in this office were to give educational support and testing for career advancement of the 5000 enlisted members of the ship and air wing.

However, I knew nothing of my responsibilities as an educational officer.

At the same time, I stood bridge watches.  During these watches, I developed the skills to maneuver an aircraft carrier on the course and speed for launching and recovering aircraft, replenishing ships at sea, and other navigational and working functions.

When I was not on bridge watches, I worked with the limited duty officer, who was my departmental boss.  He quickly taught me how to manage and evaluate the men under my responsibility in the education office.

He and I worked together really well.  I learned a great deal.  I wanted to do a good job.  My boss took the time to teach me how become a better manager.  As a young, inexperienced manager, I had a tendency to give higher evaluations to people I liked.  He showed me to focus on how quickly and accurately people performed their duties as well as how much I enjoyed working with them.

Within a year, the Navy promoted me to lieutenant junior grade.  Within 3 years, I was promoted to lieutenant.  My role in the administrative department had gone from simply managing the education office to manage the ship’s television station and newspaper and managing the ship’s public affairs program.  I wrote press releases that the Navy sent to U.S. Command for declassification and release to media.  I worked with the Bob Hope troupe and the Miss America Troupe for their performances in front of thousands of members of the crew and guests.

At the same time, I became qualified as an officer of the deck for fleet operations.  I was a competent ship handler and enjoyed working alongside senior officers aboard the ship.


My boss in the administration office was perhaps not as smart as I was.  I draw this conclusion because, in 3 years, my skills in the areas where I worked became as strong as the skills of my boss, who had over 20 years of experience.  I also had developed skills for ship’s bridge operations.  My boss, as a limited duty officer, did not qualify to work on the bridge of ship.  Perhaps the best sign that I was smarter than my boss is that I reached the rank of lieutenant in 3 years.  Reaching that rank had taken him nearly 20 years.

I was certainly never upset by the fact that I was smarter than my boss was.  His skills for the department in which I worked helped me greatly.  I was able to learn to do my duties.  I was fortunate to have his leadership and knowledge as tools and examples for growth.

I respected that he had a gift for specialized administrative skills and that he had 20 years developing those skills.  I showed respect by seeking and following his direction.  In addition, I knew that he had 20 years of experience in successfully working with other men and women in the Navy.  I knew that I could and did learn how to work with other people the way he worked with other people, not just for a day, but the grind of day in and day out.  I went to him for direction in dealing with difficult people and situations.

What I learned from this was the value of experience.  I learned that, when I have decisions to make, I should turn to people with experience to help me with ideas on making those decisions.  I learned that you do not have to be a genius to manage well, but that you do have to have experience and skill to manage well.

Google Earth© USS Midway (CV 41); Personal Photos