The concept of staff rides was first developed by Count Helmuth von Moltke, the 19th century Prussian general and military theorist who once wrote “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” The Count believed that only the opening stages of a campaign could be effectively planned: all other decisions happened according to the needs of the moment. Von Moltke, together with a hand-picked group of young staff officers, would visit sites where he felt conflict was likely to happen with future European enemies. He and his students could thus envision the exigencies of the battle on what military historian William Robertson calls the “three dimension chess board of terrain.”
The staff ride is no longer for military personnel alone. ALFI has adapted the practice for executive leadership development training, for history and military enthusiasts and for anyone with an interest in learning the lessons of historic battles and their impact on our present and future. The Battlefield Staff Ride draws on the popularity of experiential learning while exploiting the intensity of combat to dramatize decision-making under the most extreme circumstances.
The battlefields are alive today in that it teaches lessons to us all. Technology, demographics and politics may influence how wars are fought to some degree, but all wars share the same characteristics that Soldiers and civilians alike must understand if they are to make informed judgments about the nature and character of today’s and tomorrow’s conflicts. The battlefield also teaches you timeless lessons about the human dimensions of conflict. War is the most complex of all human endeavors and the fear of violent death and the burden that comes with leading men to their death heightens and illuminates how leaders and led relate to each other in time of crises.
ALFI’s Staff Rides are more than just a battlefield tour. The battlefield is a metaphor for the world of today and tomorrow, whether the context is military, corporate, cultural or personal.