Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Training and Development of German General Staff Officers - Siegfried Westphal
Author: Siegfried Westphal
Publisher: Lightening Source
General der Kavallerie Siegfried Westphal served in the German Army from 1917 until 1945. During that time he was employed in line and staff positions at a variety of levels; specifically Chief of Staff at Divisional, Corps and Army Group level. Following the successful conclusion of the Second World War, the Allied forces under Col SLA Marshall undertook a program of drawing upon German senior officers to draft treatise on their areas of expertise for future generations. Westphal, focused his efforts on the training and professional progression of staff officers within the German General Staff Officer development program.
The book is a reproduction of the original document prepared by Westphal, therefore, while the duplication value is satisfactory, it is not of the highest quality. Nevertheless, the information imparted by Westphal on the German program is of the highest value to both military and civilian agencies. He has divided his report into four distinct parts: The Selection and Education of General Staff Officers in Peace and War, the Organization, Work and Inner Life of the General Staff, the General Staff in WW2 and Basic Problems of the General Staff. Each of these sections is subdivided into areas of detailed study that provide an in-depth analysis based on his personal experience and professional evaluation of these broader headings.
His analysis is insightful and forthright. The recency of his practical experience under high intensity combat operations lends credence to his observations. He emphasizes the necessity to adjust aspects of the training and development of these officers to meet the realities of operations but he identifies key areas which must remain untouched. Additionally, he highlights those aspects of the training that were deficient and had a real time negative effect upon the effectiveness of German combat operations; specifically, he is referring to the logistics and support elements of planning and execution.
This treatise is not long but it is extremely useful in learning from an expert whose has experienced the good and bad of the German General Staff Officer program. That the Germans were well ahead of their counterparts at the time in the development and training of their staff experts is well documented and acknowledged; Westphal’s work provides additional depth and breadth regarding the strengths and weaknesses of this noteworthy organization.