General staff

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Image:Petersburg-square.jpg
Building of the General Staff of the Russian Empire in Palace Square, St Petersburg.

A general staff is a group of officers in a military who act in a staff or administrative role under the command of a general officer (sometimes termed a chief of staff).

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[edit] History

Prior to the late 1700s, there was generally no organizational support for staff functions such as military intelligence, logistics, planning or personnel. Unit commanders handled such functions for their units, with informal help from subordinates who were usually not trained for or assigned to a specific task.

[edit] Berthier and Napoleon

The first modern use of a General Staff was in the French Revolutionary Wars, when General Louis Alexandre Berthier was assigned as Chief of Staff to the French Army of Italy in 1795. Berthier was able to establish a well organized staff support team. Napoleon Bonaparte took over the army the following year and rapidly came to appreciate Berthier's system, adopting it for his own headquarters, although Napoleon's usage was limited to his own command group.

[edit] Prussian system

Prussia also adopted a similar system in the following years. Initially, the Prussian army assigned a limited number of technical expert officers to support field commanders. Before 1805, however, reforms had added management of intelligence and contingency planning to the staff's duties. Later, the practice was initiated of rotating officers from command to staff assignments and back to familiarize them with both aspects of military operations.

After 1806, Prussia's military academies trained mid-level officers in specialist staff skills. In 1814, Prussia formally established by law a central military command General Staff and a separate General Staff for each division and corps.

Despite some professional and political issues with the Prussian system, their General Staff concept has been adopted by virtually all large armies in existence today.

[edit] Modern United States military usage

The following are designations used in the United States Armed Forces:

  • The G-1 is the assistant chief of staff for personnel.
  • The G-2 is the assistant chief of staff for intelligence.
  • The G-3 is the assistant chief of staff for plans, operations, and training (exercises); sometimes called the Operations Officer.
  • The G-4 is the assistant chief of staff for logistics.
  • The G-5 is the assistant chief of staff for future plans and/or international relations or security cooperation. For installation organizations, such as bases and posts, the G-5 may be the civil affairs or public affairs officer.
  • The G-6 is the assistant chief of staff for communications, and computer systems, and is frequently the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the component.
  • The G-7 is the joint operations staff officer. In some organizations, he is the unit inspector. Very few organizations have a G-7 office; most of the offices are J-7, at the Department of Defense level.
  • The G-8 is the resource management officer.

The Navy uses "N" rather than "G". "J" is the designation at the DoD level. At lower command levels (air group, squadron, regiment, battalion), the "G" designations are replaced by "S" designations. It should be noted, however, that the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 specifically prohibits the Joint Staff (which is part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) from acting as a general staff: "The Joint Staff shall not operate or be organized as an overall Armed Forces General Staff and shall have no executive authority. The Joint Staff may be organized and may operate along conventional staff lines." (10 U.S.C. section 155(e).)

The series of numbers derive from those used in the French Army. For example, "2" is the number for intelligence for the same reason that the French intelligence service is the Deuxieme (Second) Bureau.

[edit] See also

[edit] External link

es:Estado Mayor fr:État-major he:מטכ"ל ja:参謀本部 nl:Generale Staf no:Generalstab pt:Estado-Maior ru:Генеральный штаб sl:Generalštab sv:Generalstab zh:总参谋部

General staff

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