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"Notes on the British General Staff, Arms and Services" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on the British General Staff was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 11, Nov. 5, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


a. The Staff is divided into three main parts as shown below:

|           |          |
"G" Staff  "A" Staff "Q" Staff
|  | |

(1) The General Staff, also known as the "G" Staff or "G.S.," is responsible for operations, intelligence, training, and coordination. At the War Office and other large headquarters, separate branches are established. At headquarters other than the War Office, branches are designated as follows:

G. (S.D.) -- Staff Duties     (War Office designation -- S.D.)
G. (Ops) -- Operations( "     "        "      -- M.O.)
G. (I) -- Intelligence( "     "        "      -- M.I.)
G. (C.W.) -- Chemical Warfare( "     "        "      -- SD.9.)
G. (Trg) -- Training( "     "        "      -- M.T.)

(a) G. (S.D.) Branch is the coordinating General Staff Branch. It is responsible for organization of troops for battle, allotment of priorities of weapons and equipment, policy concerned with organization and armament for battle, etc.

(b) G. (Ops) Branch is responsible for all operation planning, issue of operation orders, etc.

(c) G. (I) Branch is subdivided into three sections -- I (a), I (b), and I (c).

I (a) is responsible for intelligence about the enemy.

I (b) is responsible for all security matters, i.e., preventing the enemy from obtaining information about our troops and other military matters.

I (c) concerns itself with censorship.

(d) G. (C.W.) Branch is responsible for all questions concerning chemical warfare.

(e) G. (Trg) Branch deals with all training (other than administrative subjects), and prepares and writes exercises.

Note: At headquarters below the GHQ of a force, the "G" branches are progressively combined, e.g., S.D. and Trg are combined at Corps Hqs.

(2) The Adjutant General's Staff, also known as the "A" Staff, may be described as the foster father of the individual soldier. It enlists, pays, promotes, looks after his discipline and welfare, supervises his medical care, and eventually discharges or buries him.

The responsibilities of the "A" Staff in no way interfere with or minimize the responsibility of unit commanders for the discipline and promotion of their men.

"A" Branch considers questions of manpower and statistics, and in connection with those subjects it follows that "A" Branch is concerned with the organization of units and manpower generally. There is a very close link with G. (S.D.).

The senior Medical Officer at any headquarters is the adviser to the Headquarters Commander concerning all matters bearing on hospitalization, medical care, hygiene, and sanitation. His approach to the Commander, however, is through the "A" Branch, which coordinates all medical matters from a general staff point of view.

(3) The Quartermaster General's Staff ("Q") outfits the soldier and is responsible for the provision, through its services, of every article (clothing, equipment, weapons, ammunition, food, vehicles, gas, and oil) which is required. It is also responsible for movement, except when troops are actively engaged in operations. Operational movement is controlled by the General Staff.

The subdivision of "Q" duties varies at different headquarters. It is normal, however, to find at large headquarters at least three subdivisions.

(a) Q (Ops) or Q (Maint) provide all that the soldier requires.

(b) Q (ACC) deals with accommodations.

(c) Q (M) deals with movement.

At every British Hqs there is an officer who coordinates "A" and "Q" duties. He is the nearest approach to our Commanding General, Services of Supply.

b. Grades of Staff Officers

Staff officers of the rank of Colonel and above are ungraded and, in general, exercise a coordinating function over a number of branches.

First grade staff officers hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and are in charge of branches at the War Office and larger headquarters.

Second grade staff officers are Majors and third grade are Captains. Their titles are as shown below.

      "G" Staff     "A" Staff     "Q" Staff
First Grade General Staff Officer 1
"G.S.O.1" or "G.1."
Assistant Adjutant
General "A.A.G."
Assistant Quarter-
master General
Second Grade "G.S.O.2" Deputy Assistant
Adjutant General
Deputy Assistant
Quartermaster General
Third Grade "G.S.O.3" Staff Captain (A)
Staff Captain (Q)

The titles "G1," "G2," and "G3" when used in the British Service relate to the gradings and not to the branch of the staff as is the case in the United States Army.

c. Arms and Services

Arms and Services in the British Army concerned with administration are as shown. Control by the Staff is as shown below:

|        |       |
"G" Staff  "A" Staff "Q" Staff
|  | |
Royal Engineers
Royal Signals
Judge Advocate Staff
Medical Service
Graves Registration
Welfare Activities
Pay Service
Provost Service
Elect. & Mech.
Supply Transport
Works Services


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