Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2021
It was inevitable that the commanders of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) would be learning on the job. This was not just because the nature of the war could not have been anticipated and proved an overwhelming challenge for the commanders of all the armies involved; it was also because at the outbreak of the First World War the Australian Army was still in its infancy and relied heavily on the British Army for its ideas and direction. As Australia was a member of the British Empire, the AIF operated as part of the British Army. Further, the Australian forces were deployed by the British high command without consulting the Australian Government, and the commander of the AIF did not believe that it was his role to become involved in higher level questions of strategy. Even at the lower operational levels, senior Australian commanders were not willing, at first, to challenge the orders issued by their British superiors. Much of this would change during the war.
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