Unshakeable Faith: the Flawed Command of Bomber Harris

In: Historical Events

Submitted By lchaloux
Words 6567
Pages 27
Joint Command and Staff Programme 38
Distance Learning

Rank & Name: Major Lynne Chaloux

Syndicate No: 1

Directing Staff: BGen (ret’d) Gagnon

Course: JCSP 38 DL

Assignment Code: D1/DS 542/ENV/RP-01

Assignment Name: Command Research Paper

Unshakeable Faith: The Flawed Command of Bomber Harris


Assessor: Richard Martin




INTRODUCTION This research paper will focus on Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’ wartime command of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Bomber Command from 1942-1945. This analysis will utilize Dr. Ross Pigeau and Carol McCann’s model to evaluate the dimensions relating to Harris’ Competency, Authority and Responsibility (CAR) and to assess the overall balance and effectiveness of Harris’ command. The CAR model was deemed most suitable to dissect pertinent aspects of this complex and controversial commander, allowing for the necessary depth of analysis into his abilities, responsibilities, beliefs, actions and reactions over a specific timeframe. This paper will illustrate that Harris, although highly skilled in many areas and having demonstrated impressive successes at the helm of Bomber Command, had a singular and seemingly intractable approach to war – to obliterate Germany’s war production capacity by area bombing its cities. This inflexible approach inhibited his ability to see the bigger picture with any measure of objectivity and was the Achilles Heel of his leadership, limiting his command capability and resulting in an abuse of his authority -- and ultimately, having a detrimental effect on the Allied offensive. His unshakeable faith became a measure of “obstinacy and dogmatism . . . [that] prevent Harris from being called a truly great…...

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