The Commander’s Update Brief.
What is the Commander’s Update Brief? In the military, the Commander of a Formation gets a daily situation report from all of his staff. This report brings the Commander up to date with any changes in the battle, any current logistical issues as well as the planning of any future operations. The Commander is the ultimate person in charge of their formation, but decisions are never made in a vacuum. Behind any Commander is a plethora of staff combing ideas and planning for any eventuality. All of that planning is done around a map. Obstacles, routes, battle positions, fuel dumps, ambush zones, all of these are determined with the aid of a map.
The intent of this blog will be to view battles of history through the eyes of a Commander and his staff. This can be done by viewing and analyzing the types of maps, and planning maps used for the battles. Much of our history is written in hindsight and with all the variables already known. A new appreciation for the complexity of the battlefield will be appreciated when delving into the cartographic sinkhole that currently exists with regards to historical maps of war.
A perfect example is the Battle of the Bulge. The American Twelfth Army Group had decisively engaged the German Army at the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in December of 1944. Though both sides were taking large amounts of casualties, it was thought the Germans had zero reserves left, and that the battle would eventually deplete the German Army. So confident was SHAEF and Twelfth Army Group, that a single division was sent to cover 25 miles of the Ardennes Forest. The 28th Divison was expected to cover three times the normal frontline of an infantry division, as there was expected to be minimal enemy in the area. But on the 16th of December, three German Armies smashed through the 28th Division and dashed towards Bastogne in an attempt to reach Antwerp and divide the Allies. Ultimately this last attempt by the Germans failed. Take a look at the before and after map below to get a good idea what Twelfth Army Group Commander was looking at on the 6th December, and what he saw on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge on the 16th of December
Typical Blog Post
What will a typical Commander’s Update Brief post be about? A typical blog post will focus on a map and discuss four key aspects surrounding the history of the battle. The areas to be discussed will be:
- The Battle: A synopsis to bring the reader up to speed on the current battle being discussed.
- The Map: A talk about the physical map itself, including the features on the map, as well as the features surrounding the map.
- The Terrain: A briefing on the terrain, especially the military aspects of the terrain that would have influenced the commanders on the battlefield.
- The Analysis: A modern approach to viewing the terrain to include slope, vegetation, hydrography, routes and more.
From time to time there will be guest bloggers invited to write articles that pertain to history, the Canadian Forces, maps, etc. I already have a number of great bloggers lined up to write. In the future, you can expect articles about Operation Overlord, Monte Cassino, Cartography and the Canadain Forces, Flames of War and more. It will be my intent to have a monthly guest blog to be 2 weeks after my own blog. This would allow for about two amazing blogs a month. This content will also coincide with my Instagram and Facebook posts, so make sure to follow along if you aren’t already.