Designing an effective Decision-Forcing Staff Ride
In the interest of getting troops interested in local area history, I have researched the areas around Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) to build cases on then conduct a Staff Ride to. Some areas that are quite interesting near MCMWTC are the Owens Valley Gorge and the battles that occurred there during the Owens Valley Indian War of 1862-1863, another would be the battles of the Civil War that happened along the railroads in Nevada (Union trains with silver being raided by Confederate Sympathizers). How would some of you go about building a case and designing the staff ride to engage the participants including enlisted and officer? How would you include this into unit PME Program? Do you have any places you work like to take members of your unit or club to for a staff ride?
Re: Designing an effective Decision-Forcing Staff Ride
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I really like your ideas for decision-forcing staff rides in the vicinity of Pickle Meadows. The engagements in question are on a scale that is suitable for those who are new to decision-forcing staff rides. I am also quite sure that few, if any, of the participants, will know anything about the events in question, let alone the outcome. In other words, there will be lots of surprises!
The first thing that you need for a good decision-forcing staff ride is a reliable account (or, better yet, several good accounts) of what happened. From those accounts, you can identify the protagonist (the person who made an important decision in the course of the historical event) and the decision (or decisons) that he made. (It often helps to create a time-line of the events. An example is posted below.)
In other words, developing a decision-forcing staff ride is a lot like developing a decision-forcing case, with the addition of concerns about the site. That is, the organizer will have to think about logistics (parking, heads) and administration (permission from landowners and/or park authorities.) He will also have to think about the locations where certain decisions are made. (Ideally, these are the same places where the protagonist - the historical decision-maker - made the decision in question. If that is not possible, you should try for a place where he gathered information prior to making a decision.)
Thus, for example, when I have led decision-forcing staff rides at the Brandy Station battlefield, the site of a battle from the American Civil War (1861-1865), I have always asked students to play the role of Confederate leaders. This is because the places where the Confederate leaders made decisions are part of the battlefield that is open to visitors while the places where the Union leaders made their decisions are, for the most part, on private land.
When, however, I have led decision-forcing staff rides in the city of Fredericksburg (also the site of an American Civil War battlefield), I have asked participants to play the role of Union commanders. This is because most of the command posts of the Union commanders are now located on National Park Service land, while the Confederate command posts were located in what are now private homes. ("Pardon me, Ma'am, may I conduct a decision-forcing staff ride in your living room?")
Interested in the teaching of logistics, the history of the Old West, and decision-forcing staff rides.