The chain of command is one of the most important concepts of the military, and of any business for that matter. The chain of command is something that I would consider to be the very backbone of the military. Proper use of the chain of command simplifies daily life. It provides both unit and mission structure and delineates responsibilities and tasks down to an actionable level. Simply put, it brings order to chaos.

I’m going to break down how the chain of command not only proves useful within a military unit or branch but also in any company that wishes to be productive and efficient.

A Way to Order Things

Perhaps the most obvious need for a chain of command is that someone has to be the one giving orders. If in battle everyone stands in a circle and yells differing commands at one another, then nothing will be accomplished and the battle will be lost. However, when there is a battlefield general giving orders to his staff and then his staff giving orders to the company commanders and platoon sergeants, then the troops’ only responsibility is to hear the orders and obey them. This greatly alleviates the stress that would otherwise be inappropriately placed on lower-ranking troops.

Consider a 19-year-old working as a barista at Starbucks. However, there is no chain of command not just at his store but at any Starbucks. Who would make hiring decisions, create new official drink flavorings, or ensure payroll was met? What about the bills? How much extra stress would that 19-year-old incur simply from a lack of a proper chain of command or “system?” The answer is, far too much.

I know this example is a bit extreme, but I’m exaggerating to make my point. The first task the chain of command completes is giving life order.

The President Is (and Isn’t) Your Direct Boss

Biden signing executive orders
President Biden signs Executive Orders in the White House’s Oval Office. (Reuters)

Let’s now look at the chain of command from the macro view. We all know that voters choose a representative of the people as the president of the United States. The president is then tasked with overseeing the entirety of the function of the United States including each military branch of service as the commander in chief.

It would be asinine, though, for the president of the United States to take time out of his schedule to make recruiting callbacks or ensure Platoon 3043 at Recruit Depot San Diego is being trained adequately. It just wouldn’t be a proper use of the president’s time or bandwidth. Regardless of how intelligent someone is (I’m thinking Elon Musk here), even they have a limited amount of bandwidth and time in the day to accomplish tasks. This is why you don’t see Elon Musk on the production line of Tesla ensuring that body panels are straight (maybe then they would be though). But I digress. My point is, regardless of how bright, talented, or charismatic a leader is, everyone has limited time to complete tasks.

The military chain of command helps break down the president’s unimaginable task of running a nation into much more practical, bite-sized pieces. Only then can the tasks be completed and the mission accomplished.