Command hierarchy


Command hierarchy

A command hierarchy is a group of people committed to carrying out orders "from the top", that is, of authority. It is part of a power structure: usually seen as the most vulnerable and also the most powerful part of it.

Contents

Sociology

In sociology it is seen as the most visible element of a power network, which itself usually organizes many social networks. The entire network has social capital which is mobilized in response to the orders that move through the hierarchy - and closely controlled. This leads to the phrase command and control.

Chain of command

Chain of Command of the British Army
Latvian platoon at Camp Lejune.jpg
Unit Soldiers Commander
Fireteam 4 NCO
Squad/Section 8–13 Squad leader
Platoon 26–55 Platoon leader
Company 80–225 Captain/Major
Battalion 300–1,300 (Lieutenant) Colonel
Regiment/Brigade 3,000–5,000 (Lieutenant) Colonel/
Brigadier (General)
Division 10,000–15,000 Major General
Corps 20,000–45,000 Lieutenant General
Field army 80,000–200,000 General
Army group 400,000–1,000,000 Field Marshal
Army Region 1,000,000–3,000,000 Field Marshal
Army theater 3,000,000–10,000,000 Field Marshal

In a military context, the chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed within a military unit and between different units. Orders are transmitted down the chain of command, from a higher-ranked soldier, such as a commissioned officer, to lower-ranked personnel who either execute the order personally or transmit it down the chain as appropriate, until it is received by those expected to execute it.

In general, military personnel give orders only to those directly below them in the chain of command and receive orders only from those directly above them. A service member who has difficulty executing a duty or order and appeals for relief directly to an officer above his immediate commander in the chain of command is likely to be disciplined for not observing the chain of command. Similarly, an officer is usually expected to give orders only to his or her direct subordinate, even if it is just to pass an order down to another service member lower in the chain of command than said subordinate.

The concept of chain of command also implies that higher rank alone does not entitle a higher-ranking service member to give commands to anyone of lower rank. For example, an officer of unit "A" does not directly command lower-ranking members of unit "B", and is generally expected to approach an officer of unit "B" if he requires action by members of that unit. The chain of command means that individual members take orders from only one superior and only give orders to a defined group of people immediately below them.

If an officer of unit "A" does give orders directly to a lower-ranked member of unit "B", it would be considered highly unusual (a faux pas) as officer "A" would be seen as subverting the authority of the officer of unit "B". Depending on the situation or the standard procedure of the military organization, the lower-ranked member being ordered may choose to carry out the order anyway, or advise that it has to be cleared with his or her own chain of command first, which in this example would be with officer "B". Refusal to carry out an order is almost always considered insubordination, the only exception usually allowed is if the order itself is illegal (i.e., the person carrying out the order would be committing an illegal act). (See Superior Orders.)

In addition, within combat units, line officers are in the chain of command, but officers in specialist fields (such as medical, dental, legal, supply, and chaplain) are not, except within their own specialty. For example, a medical officer in an infantry battalion would be responsible for the combat medics in that unit but would not be eligible to command the battalion or any of its subordinate units.

The term is also used in a civilian management context describing comparable hierarchical structures of authority.

Communications

In the military the term CCC (or "C3") is sometimes used to include "communications" as the "third C": Command, Control and Communications. Since military situations involve disrupted, hurried, confused or deliberately intercepted and altered communications - see signals warfare and information warfare, and also a degree of manipulation of emotion - see psychological warfare - it is important that communications be closely monitored to ensure that command actually results in control. Possibly the most extensive studies of this were in the Cold War when both the USA and USSR put great effort into ensuring that their strategic missile forces were under full control and that communications to them could not be interfered with, disrupted, or manipulated in any way.

Features

Regardless of the degree of control or results achieved, and regardless of how the hierarchy is justified and rationalized, certain aspects of a command hierarchy tend to be similar:

  • rank - especially military rank - "who outranks whom" in the power structure
  • strict accountability - those who issue orders are responsible for the consequences, not those who carry them out[citation needed]
  • strict feedback rules - complaints go up the hierarchy to those with power to deal with them, not down to those who do not have that power
  • detailed rules for decision making - what criteria apply and when
  • standardized language and terminology
  • some ethics and key beliefs in common, usually enforced as early as recruiting and screening of recruits

Problems

However, people of such compatible views often have similar systemic biases because they are from the same culture. Such problems as groupthink or willingness to accept one standard of evidence internal to the group, but require drastically higher evidence from outside, are common. In part to address these problems:

Much modern management science has focused on reducing reliance on command hierarchy especially for information flow, since the cost of communications is now low, and the cost of management mistakes is higher - especially under globalization - than at any point in the past. It is also easier to replace managers, so they have a personal interest in more distributed responsibility and perhaps more consensus decision making.

Ubiquitous command and control posits for military organizations, a generalisation from hierarchies to networks which allows for the use of hierarchies when they are appropriate, and non-hierarchical networks when they are inappropriate. This includes the notion of mission agreement, to support "edge in" as well as "top-down" flow of intent.

See also

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hierarchy — A hierarchy (Greek: hierarchia (ἱεραρχία), from hierarches, leader of sacred rites ) is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being above, below, or at the same level as one… …   Wikipedia

  • Command-line interface — Screenshot of a sample Bash session. GNOME Terminal 3, Fedora 15 …   Wikipedia

  • Hierarchy of the Early Church — • The word hierarchy is used here to denote the three grades of bishop, priest, and deacon (ministri) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Hierarchy of the Early Church     Hierarchy of the Early Church …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hierarchy — • This word has been used to denote the totality of ruling powers in the Church, ever since the time of the Pseudo Dionysius Areopagita (sixth century), who consecrated the expression in his works, The Celestial Hierarchy and The Ecclesiastical… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • hierarchy — [n] order chain of command*, due order, echelons, grouping, pecking order, placing, position, pyramid, ranking, scale; concept 727 …   New thesaurus

  • Command element (United States Marine Corps) — USMC Combat Operations Center In the United States Marine Corps, the command element or CE is the command and control force of a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). It provides C3I for the MAGTF. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • hierarchy — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. rank, officialdom; order, ranking, succession. See authority. II (Roget s IV) n. Syn. ministry, regime, theocracy, chain of command, pecking order; see also authority 3 , bureaucracy 1 , government 1 …   English dictionary for students

  • hierarchy — noun in the corporate hierarchy, Curt is about six levels below the CEO Syn: pecking order, order, ranking, chain of command, grading, gradation, ladder, scale, range …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • Spiritual Hierarchy — Part of a series on Theosophy Founders of the T. S. Helena Blavatsky · …   Wikipedia

  • Organizational structure and hierarchy of the United States Air Force — The Organizational structure and hierarchy of the United States Air Force refers to the unit designators and organizational hierarchy of the United States Air Force, which starts at the most senior commands. Contents 1 Current levels 1.1… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.