In this section, we examine the way the scout platoon is managed and whether the management style used could be improved upon.
|| Evaluation of Management style ||
We can imagine Recon Platoon 3SIR to be a privately-own enterprise. At the regimental level, the Commanding Officer (CO) of 3SIR is the equivalent of the CEO. The regiment contains many different branches of operations, the 4 highest commands being the Manpower Branch (S1 Branch), the Intelligence Branch (S2 Branch), the Operations, or OPs Branch (S3 Branch) and the Logistics Branch (S4 Branch). The other rifle companies and the support lines make up the remainder of the battalion.
The scout platoon falls under the direct authority of the S2 Branch. The Intelligence Officer (S2), the officer in charge of the branch, can thus be considered the General Manager of the platoon. The core operations of the platoon are planned by the S2 and all reconnaissance activities carried out by the platoon is directed relayed back to the S2 Branch. The scout teams are therefore in constant contact with the S2 Branch during the entire course of their operations.
At the level of intermediate management, we have seen under the organization and hierarchy of the platoon that the a Platoon Commander (PC) and Platoon Sergeant (PS) are the primary persons in charge.
Although the operations of the platoon are planned by the S2, the PC is the one who gives the final briefing of any operation and disseminates all known information to the various scout team commanders. The PC also highlights the S2 to any potential problems faced by the teams in the process of carrying out their tasks. As such, the PC functions like a middle-man, the important link between the S2 Branch and the entire scout platoon. The Platoon Sergeant assists the PC and his main concern is with the logistics of any operation. In the event that the PC is unable to carry out his tasks (i.e. he got killed in action), the PS assumes the role of Platoon Commander.
The core organization of the platoon lies in formal groups or teams. Essentially, the platoon is broken up into teams, and this is where the scout platoon differs from any other platoon in the regiment: all operation processes are carried out in team levels, and the running of the platoon actually evolves around the management of teams. Although the higher commanders of the platoon (e.g. the PC or even the S2) hold direct authority over the 6 scout teams, every team in the platoon is an autonomous unit. Having said that, the commanders that matter most are actually the team commanders. The team commanders are the ones who makes decisions on the ground, as is required by exisiting conditions (e.g. terrain, enemy patrols etc).
Team work and culture are thus integral parts of the platoon's organization. In fact, a large part of the Reconnnaissance Troopers' Course conducted at SMI focuses on the ability of the teams to "gel" effectively and to function efficiently as a cohesive unit. Because of the autonomous nature of the teams, it can be said that each scout team can still function relatively well even without the supervision of the higher commanders. In fact, it is possible for a scout team to obtain its orders from the CO of the regiment himself and carry out the tasks required of the team. This autonomous nature of the teams also means that the team commanders, or even the average recon troopers in the platoon, enjoy a relatively higher authority in terms of rank compared to their counterparts in the rifle platoons.
The nature of organization and management of the scout platoon very much meets the needs of its key and secondary functions. There is effective division of labour as the operations of a 33-man platoon is spread among 6 specialized teams. Within each team, there exists a further division of labour. This results in what I call a "division in the division of labour" : specialist teams of specialists executing precise tasks in already specialized operational processes. Each specialist in the team has a specific task to perform, and the success of the team depends on each member of the team being able to carry out his tasks effectively and effieciently. The success of the platoon as a whole in turn, depends on the overall success of each individual team. This means that cohesion is of exteme importance for the platoon to function effectively.
Yet, the main advantage of the team, this "division in the division of labour" is also its main weakness. Having specialists to perform specific tasks is a highly specialised division of labour, but it also means that a breakdown in team operations is possible in the event that any one team member is out of action. Recon Platoon 3SIR got round this problem by having each team and every member of a team "crossed-trained" in all aspects of operations so that there is no break in the operation process when any one member should be absent in the team.
The autonomous nature of the teams allows each team to have a lot of leeway in the way tasks are carried out. This is important as each team should be allowed make decisions "on the spot" when conducting covert operations. Some of this decisions may be contrary to the instructions of the higher commanders but extremely vital to ensure both the survival and the success of the teams.
This autonomous nature, however, can be taken advantage of and provide an avenue of resistance to the authority of higher commanders. Sometimes, such resistance can be taken to be outright insubordination. This is further discussed in the section below on Control of Management and Internal Relationships.
In an operational scenerio, stealth and mobility are key factors to the success of the scout teams. A small team is able to move faster as a coherent unit, and having less men reduces the chance of being spotted or tracked by the enemy both on land or by arial reconnaissance. When closing up on an enemy objective for reconnaissance activities, the a "micro-unit" comprising of two men from a team maintains the degree of stealth and mobility for covert operations while allowing both men to "cover" each other for security.
Jeeps provide greater mobility for scout teams during missions.
Motorcyles (not shown here) are used as well.
The downside of having small team in a combat situation is that smaller units have a limited chance to overcome an enemy assault. Scout teams lack firepower and the "arc of fire"-- the area each man can cover and fire into-- is limited and considerably narrower. In fact, statistics from armed forces around the world show that reconnaissance units, once compromised, stand very little chance of survival in combat. The best solution, thus, is to avoid contact with the enemy, and to get one's job done efficiently in the shortest time possible-- the longer you remain in hostile territory, the higher your chances of being compromised.
Despite the minor "setbacks" to the management style of the platoon, this form of organizing the platoon into teams probably ensures the efficiency and effectiveness of this intelligence gathering unit for a simple reason: covert operations are difficult to plan, implement and monitor in large groups.
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