From Lawdog [no url]:
There is a mental exercise — probably used by every military organisation since Alexander — which was described to me as a sprogling in Deepest Africa by a Rhodesian officer as “The Sandhurst Flagpole Test.”
“Sandhurst” being, of course, the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, but I’ve heard various iterations of the same riddle posed to me in the U.S. Army.
Anyhoo, the test is as such: a bright young proto-officer is brought into a room where he faces a panel of instructors. This proto-officer is told that the next exercise is a mental one, that the parameters are that he is the officer in charge of a small unit consisting of a sergeant, a corporal and ‘X’ number of soldiers. There is equipment consisting of one standard two-piece flagpole, digging implements, various lengths of rope and bags of concrete. The proto-officer is informed that the task assigned is to erect a flagpole on that very spot, and asked what orders he would give to effectuate this?
At this point, the hapless cadet usually begins giving precise details of whom would be ordered to do what, leading to the lead instructor raising a paw and solemnly announcing that the proto-officer has failed the exercise.
The flustered proto-officer is then informed that there is one order, and one order only, which would pass the test, and that order is: “Sergeant, get that flagpole up.”