Military term for deferring decision to a superior?
June 12, 2012 8:17 PM   Subscribe

In the military science of Command and Control (C2), is there an official term for deferring a command decision to a superior ranking officer (i.e. non slang for 'passing the buck' or 'kicking it upstairs'). Likewise, is there a term for delegating a duty or responsibility to someone of lower rank?
posted by maya to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Escalating.

posted by dg at 8:31 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

'reaching back' or 'reachback' for the first one.

'tasking' or 'giving a tasker' for the second. These are still a little jargony, but I wouldn't bat an eye seeing them in a briefing.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:38 PM on June 12, 2012


Though when it's bad it tend to be "shit rolls downhill"
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2012

When you do defer a decision to someone of higher rank, you often say that "it is above my pay grade".
posted by procrastination at 9:23 PM on June 12, 2012

Seconding "escalate" and "delegate."

The justification for the decision to do so, per current doctrine, might be that you are delegating for greater operational flexibility, or escalating for greater coordination or unity of command.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:46 PM on June 12, 2012

I disagree on 'reachback', at least in the (Canadian) military context I've seen it used. Reachback is requesting resources, reserve capacity, even technical advice through the chain of command from another part of the organization. Not the same thing as asking a superior for a decision. During an emergency response, for example, a lead group might request reachback support from similar, but not directly involved groups to increase manpower or some other capacity.

Escalation is kicking it upstairs.
posted by bonehead at 12:03 AM on June 13, 2012

I'll have to go with escalate/delegate as the best, but but honestly they're not used often. I'm on my second tour in a staff with the COC going from Admirals on down, and we just "push it up/down". Another verb could be to "staff it" to the correct level.
posted by aggienfo at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2012

I endorse escalation/delegation as the correct terms of art.

Bonhead has my object to reachback neatly summarized and I'd also add that tasking or giving a tasker imply that the decision maker has made an executive decision and is leaving the details of implementation to the subordinate, whereas delegation suggests that you simply pass the entire responsibility for execution to the next level down, which seems more what the OP was seeking.
posted by Lame_username at 9:50 AM on June 13, 2012

In the British Army, going up the chain of command is usually called 'raising' as in 'You should raise that to the Company OC mate.'

Pushing something down the chain is normally called 'dicking', as in 'Bob, dick a couple of lads to get those ration packs loaded, yeah?'.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:04 AM on June 15, 2012

'Reachback' gets used more in the sense of support, yes.

Here's another one for 'delegate': detail. Both noun and verb.

As in:

'Detail some people to clean weapons.'

'What happened to that cleaning detail?'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:52 AM on June 15, 2012

Ah yes, detail is the politer form of 'dick' in the UK too.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:33 PM on June 15, 2012

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