"Command Decision" is a term that, although now much in vogue, eludes precise definition. What it immediately suggests is a military commander, faced with a difficult choice or choices, taking the responsibility for a serious risk on the basis of his estimate of the situation.
It implies the presence of certain elements as basic ingredients of the act of decision: a desired objective or an assigned mission, a calculation of risk, exercise of authority, assumption of personal responsibility, and a decisive influence on the course of events. While all but one of the decisions in this volume were decisions regarding the use of military means, not all were made by military commanders. Again, in some of the most important neither the exercise of authority nor the assumption of responsibility was personal. But the other ingredients mentioned are present in every case, and all are illustrated in a variety of combinations.
Twelve were decisions of chiefs of state. Of these, two (1 and 4) were decisions of a national government, in the first case the government of the United States, in the second that of Japan. Six others (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 23) were decisions of the President of the United States acting as commander in chief of its armed forces; three (2, 12, and 20) were decisions of the Nazi dictator. One (10) was a decision of the Allied chiefs of state. Two (16 and 21) were decisions of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; one (15) a decision of General George C. Marshall as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. The remainder were decisions by commanders in the field: five (6, 11, 18, 19, and 22) by Generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower in their capacity of theater commanders; one (17) by an army group com-
Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian, OCMH. Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University. Taught: University of Delaware; Yale University; Chairman, Department of History, Johns Hopkins. Chief, Historical Section, Army Ground Forces, World War II. Legion of Merit. Colonel (Ret., USAR). Author: Economics and Liberalism in the Risorgimento (Baltimore, 1934); The Historian and the Army (New Brunswick, 1954). Coauthor: Organization of Ground Combat Troops (Washington, 1947), in UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II.