15 August 2020


The word 'Committee' conjures up images of clerkly people sitting round a boring table doodling with slightly bitten biros. It carries only very slightly any suggestion of dramatic, incisive, and virile action.

I was never surprised that Baroness Thatcher, sending her fleet to the Falklands in order to biff Brother Argie, called it a 'Task Force'. I wonder if she coined the phrase??

Since then, in Whitehall the term has pretty well displaced the word 'Committee'.

But perhaps it is in turn showing signs of aging ... of itself needing the attention of a taxidermist.

Because yesterday, I heard a politician promising the setting up of "A Gold Command Task Force".

One of those really would make Brother Chinaman tremble in fear.


Protasius said...

As it happens, the term task force is considerably older than Baroness Thatcher's term as Prime Minister. It goes back at least to March 1941, when the US Navy grouped the warships of the Atlantic Fleet in ten task forces: Task Force (TF) 1 – Ocean Escort Force; TF 2 – Striking Force; TF 4 – Support Force, etc. The Royal Navy adopted the term in 1944 (cf. Colin D. Robinson, Defense & Security Analysis 36 (2020) 109–122).

It could, however, be that the non-military use of task force as roughly equivalent to committee goes back to Lady Thatcher's reign. The term committee in my imagination usually provokes thoughts of Sir Humphrey Appleby suggesting to Jim Hacker an interdepartmental committee to deal with some task best left undone …

ccc said...

"Task Force" is a specific naval term of art used throughout NATO and the professional War Colleges to indicate a specific force assembled for specific operational level (not strategic or tactical) purposes, though it will also have obvious strategic and tactical effects.

It is used for both Naval and Land Warfare Components. When it crosses service threshholds, it becomes a Joint Task Force, or JTF.

Stephen Barber said...

Gold Command is a term used in managing emergencies. It is the highest strategic level of control. Below it come Silver and Bronze Commands. These are roles, not posts or job titles, and they can be filled by different people as appropriate.

John Patrick said...

No doubt in our march towards Marxism we will need many more committees - Central Committees, Committees for State Security, Political Bureaus, etc. Especially the local committees that insure people aren't doing subversive acts such as attending a church where truth is preached.