Naval War College Review


John Gooch


The British chiefs of staff system first came into existence eighty years ago as part of a package of reforms designed to create a higher organization for defence. It was born of political pressures and created by civilians to fulfil political needs. The deficiencies of a monolithic military structure were clearly revealed during the Boer War (1899-1902), a campaign conducted without the benefit of any forward planning or intelligence such as European general staff were equipped to provide.