New Model Army, army formed in February 1645 that won the English Civil War for Parliament and itself came to exercise important political power.
When war broke out in 1642, Parliament had at its command the local militia, or trainbands, of those districts supporting its cause, notably London, the eastern counties, and southeast England. But militia were always unwilling to fight far from their homes, so in addition Parliament authorized (as did King Charles I) its prominent supporters to raise troops of horse and infantry companies from among their own tenants and associates. These private parliamentary armies were perhaps in better condition than those raised for the king, because Parliament provided for their pay; but strategically they were not effective because of the lack of unified command. Toward the end of 1644 a dispute about the conduct of the war developed between Henry Montagu, earl of Manchester, one of the main parliamentary generals, and his lieutenant general, Oliver Cromwell. In December Cromwell argued in a major speech that the war would never be brought to a conclusion unless Parliament’s military resources were improved. There was already some general feeling that members of Parliament holding military command might be tempted to prolong the war in order to continue their personal power.
As a result, the New Model Army was brought into existence; it was planned to comprise 11 regiments of horse of 600 men each, 12 regiments of foot of 1,200 men each, and 1,000 dragoons (mounted infantrymen). The cavalry, always easier to raise, were mainly veterans drawn from the original armies of Manchester, the earl of Essex, and Sir William Waller; the infantry included some veterans from the armies, with a majority of pressed men drawn from London, the east, and southeast. In April 1645, by the Self-Denying Ordinance, members of Parliament resigned all military and civil office and command acquired since November 1640. Sir Thomas Fairfax (afterward 3rd Baron Fairfax—the “younger” Fairfax) was appointed captain general of the New Model Army, with authority to appoint his senior officers. The army’s organization and the thorough training of its men were accomplished by Fairfax, not Cromwell, who, despite the Self-Denying Ordinance, became his leader of horse just before the great parliamentary victory at Naseby (June 14, 1645). After Naseby the army was mainly occupied in sieges, but it obtained such political power that eventually its authority eclipsed that of Parliament. Under Cromwell it won Dunbar and Worcester, the great battles of the Commonwealth period, against Charles II and the Scots.
In the 1650s the army served in garrisons in England, Scotland, and Ireland, extending the authority of the London government throughout the British Isles for the first time. Repeated purges and reorganizations weakened its unit cohesion, and in 1659–60 it failed to uphold the republic, allowing the restoration of Charles II.
Many wrongly assume that critical thinking was invented by academics or scientists and has only recently been introduced into military thinking. But, the opposite is true. The greatest military leaders in ancient times, including Julius Caesar, Sun Tzu, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Attila the Hun, Gaius Marius, and others, had one important thing in common: they were all superior critical thinkers. They applied their critical thinking skills of analysis, interpretation, inference, and evaluation to strategic, operational, and tactical problems of all kinds.
The same can be said about the great military minds today. Effective leadership at every level is as much about thinking as it is about motivating and following through. Plans must be devised and tested, adaptions made as conditions change, assumptions tested, and contingencies accounted for. To lead anything well is to solve complex ill-structured, real-time, problems and to make sound, informed decisions.
Successful leadership cannot happen without critical thinking.
Strong deductive reasoning skills are vital whenever contexts are precisely defined, whenever operational planning establishes firm deadlines. Deductive reasoning enables the leader to articulate the sequencing, define the performance tolerances, quantify the minimum and maximum limits, insure the provision of essential resources, and plans each event as a necessary condition for the next.
Strong inductive reasoning is essential when making decisions in time-limited contexts involving risk and uncertainty. Inductive reasoning enables the leader to function well with partial or inconsistent intel, when facing a clever and adaptable enemy, when evaluating the downside risks of unwanted secondary or tertiary effects. Using inductive reasoning leaders develop contingency plans, improvise tactical work arounds as conditions change, and judge when to move forward aggressively and when to pivot to an alternative approach.
Adaptation achieved through critical thinking is important at every level of the military and defense structure today, given the challenges of combating stateless terrorism and violent fanatical extremism. Responding to these global and local challenges effectively is not the responsibility of the uniformed military alone. Local law enforcement and intelligence services have major roles to play, as do government officials. The need for critical thinking in our mutual defense has perhaps never been greater.
Leaders trigger critical thinking in themselves and the groups they lead by asking ten key questions:
- How is this situation like prior situations?
- How is this situation NOT like prior situations?
- What happens if we take this element out of the equation?
- What happens if we insert this factor into the equation?
- How is the problem changing over time?
- How can I adjust and adapt to those changes?
- Why are standard approaches consistently failing?
- How can I drive the chances to achieve advantage?
- Why are my people not seeing the complexity?
- Am I missing anything that other leaders are seeing?
Military leaders know that being prepared to think is as important as being prepared to fight. Successful leaders discipline themselves and their people to interpret and analyze intelligence with care, to anticipate the obvious and the not so obvious consequences of alternative courses of action, to evaluate options objectively, and explain clearly to others what must be done and also why. The mental disciplines most valued by thoughtful leaders are focus, foresight, intellectual integrity, professional and communicative confidence, forthrightness, and teamwork.
These disciplines of mind, like the skills, can be reinforced in the field by commanders who create and sustain a leadership environment that values thoughtful, well-informed, and thorough planning and problem-solving. These disciplines are best cultivated before deployment with the proper pre-service educational and in-service training regimens.
In collaboration with military professionals and training personnel, Insight Assessment has developed test instruments that measure each of these thinking skills and mental disciplines. INSIGHT Defense is calibrated for all levels of military organizations including officers and enlisted personnel in field operations, senior leadership and business operations. The Military and Defense Critical Thinking Inventory (MDCTI) is calibrated for use with undergraduate and graduate level enrollees or applicants to military education programs and colleges.
History shows repeatedly that the advantage goes to the leaders who can think! Evaluate critical thinking skills and mindset as part of the recruitment and training process.
- This essay was contributed by Peter Facione, PhD. Dr. Facione served as a civilian consultant to Joint Special Operations Forces and other branches of the military for several years. His work included presenting workshops in critical thinking for officers and senior enlisted personnel. He is the lead author of the Military and Defense Critical Thinking Inventory (MDCTI) and the INSIGHT Defense assessments. These instruments, available through Insight Assessment , were developed in collaboration with military professionals and training personnel, to measure precisely these thinking vital thinking skills and essential disciplines of mind. With Dr. Carol Gittens he co-authored Think Critically, Pearson Education, 2016 .
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