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The Charge of Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade is a heroic but catastrophic attack that was conducted by the British cavalry under the command of Lord Cardigan. The attack was targeted at the Russian army and occurred during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War on October 25, 1854. This event also went down in history owing to Alfred Tennyson’s poem Attack of the Light Brigade. It was a small operation; however, the result did not reveal a clear winner of the war. Moreover, later this attack received notoriety because people thought that incompetent leadership was the prime reason this fight ended in senseless bloodshed. It would be interesting to analyze this event and discover what factors about leaders in such a case could be applied to the Non Commissioned Officers Common Core Competencies of Leadership.

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First of all, it is important to define competencies. According to researchers, there are six important topic areas that every Non-Commissioned Officer should know. These subjects include “leadership, communications, readiness, training management, operations, and program management” (“NCO Common Core Competencies”, n.d., para. 1). When it comes to analyzing the charge of the Light Brigade, it becomes evident that the leaders did not take into consideration several important topics. For instance, the factor of leadership is one of the most important since the army depends on its leader. For this reason, a commander should carry out daily operations and important missions. In addition, a good military leader should make difficult decisions and provide a role model for his soldiers. Unfortunately, the commander of the British army, Lord Raglan, gave the notorious and obscure order to Lord Lucan, the commander of his cavalry. Lord Raglan wanted the cavalry to quickly advance to the front line and try to prevent the enemy from withdrawing artillery from the battlefield. This decision was not successful and led to many deaths; therefore, it is doubtful if the leader was competent.

Furthermore, the communicational factor is also crucial in military matters. Researchers note that “competent NCOs are effective communicators who cannot lead, train, counsel, coach, mentor, or build teams without the ability to communicate clearly” (“NCO Common Core Competencies”, n.d., para. 3). While giving the order, Lord Raglan did not make it clear what type of artillery was withdrawn from the battlefield. Moreover, he did not state what brigade should engage in the fight, the Light Brigade or the Heavy Brigade. For this reason, Lucan misinterpreted his order and complained that it was unclear and unreasonable. This statement implies that the leader did not transmit his intentions effectively, even though proper verbal and written communication is vital in giving orders.

As for the readiness, the Light Brigade had small and fast horses at its disposal. However, these units were not ready to fight against Russian soldiers. Therefore, since the Non Commissioned Officers are responsible for the army’s readiness, it could be safely assumed that this factor was also not taken into consideration by the leader. As for the operation itself, it was not only poorly communicated, but the leader also did not consider any risks, which led to pointless bloodshed. In conclusion, it would appear that although this fight was certainly heroic, the mistakes of the British military commanders have caused many deaths.


NCO Common Core Competencies. (n.d.). Web.

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