Leadership vs Command

In a world where there are hereditary nobles, knights, and military officers and an uneven overlap between those three roles, there are bound to be some complex interactions between them through military and political leadership and command. Hopefully this Staff Note will clear some of them up.

Armsman Officers

The Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Captains which command the men-at-arms form a separate chain of command from knights, with each rank having distinct and discrete responsibilities. Sergeants command squads of 9 other soldiers, Lieutenants serve as executive officers to Captains and staff officers to Generals (who are usually nobles and are appointed only for the duration of an engagement), and Captains command companies of 100 soldiers (plus themselves and a 1-3 lieutenants). These Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Captains directly command the men assigned to them, but almost always take their strategic and operational direction from nobles or knights. They have no direct political role between Houses unless there are no knights or nobles with the force.

Knights

The mass of knights (those with the rank of 'Knight') provide more leadership than command. They serve as rallying points for the men and women around them, and — if their talents lie in that direction — can be given tactical command of units over 10 soldiers and under 100. Usually, however, they do not command more than a patrol of 20-ish soldiers. Higher command almost always falls upon the Knight Lieutenants and Knight Captains, although if no Knight Lieutenant or Knight Captain is present, a knight may provide political guidance to the soldiers with him or her.

Knight Lieutenants

Knight Lieutenants are Knights with a decade or more of experience (although there will undoubtedly be a few with less as the Third System War wears on) who have been given leadership roles beyond those of a normal knight. Knight Lieutenants often command entire flanks in smaller battles or even entire companies on detached duties. Of the 11,000 knights in the Haven System, perhaps 400 are Knight Lieutenants. Promotion to Knight Lieutenant is by recommendation of a Knight Captain to the Knight Commander.

Knight Captains

Knight Captains are proven Knight Lieutenants with the administrative, command, and political talent to move up even further within the command structure of Haven. Knight Captains command entire battles if the battle includes only a few companies, and command flanks in larger battles. Not all noble houses have Knight Captains within their ranks, as these promotions are made by the Crown on the recommendation of the Knight Commander, but all of the Paramounts and most of the First Tier Vassals with a significant number of knights have at least one Knight Captain. Of the 11,000 knights in the Haven System, perhaps 50 are Knight Captains. Because this is a political rank as well as a command rank, almost all Knight Captains are noble-born.

Generals

When the full weight of a Paramount House comes together, or when multiple large vassals take to the field together, one of the Knight Captains or nobles present will be named General by the collected House leadership. The General has overall strategic, operational, and tactical command of the battle, but only serves for the duration of the campaign, and can be replaced at any time by the agreement of the Heads of the Houses who have committed troops to the battle.

Nobility and Command

Simply having noble rank does not provide one with any command authority on a battlefield. Noble-born knights, for example, hold no more authority toward the tactical disposition of troops than does a Citizen-born knight. Now, the noble knight may have a great deal more influence on where and why military force is used in the first place, but the soldiers themselves are commanded by their Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Captains, along with the Knight Lieutenants and Knight Captains assigned to the force. Non-knight nobles with extensive training in command and warcraft can be given command responsibilities at the order of their Head of House, but barring such order, they hold absolutely no place in the chain of command.

Heirs and Heads of House

Heirs and Heads of House hold a unique position in that they are the ultimate decider for all things involving their House, but they — Heirs in particular — may technically hold no more rank than that of a standard knight. In that case, the noble would usually make the decision whether or not to fight, and what the goals of the fight are, and then leave it to the professional commanders to determine how to achieve those goals and win the fight. Technically, the Head of House (and their Heir if the HoH is not present) has ultimate authority over their soldiery, but in general, those untrained in military command will allow the professionals to do their job, and only interfere if political issues require it.

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