The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations

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Oxford University Press, The Roots of Military Doctrine: Change and Continuity in the Practice of Warfare. Combat Studies Institute Press, The sources of military doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between the world wars. Cornell studies in security affairs. Cornell University Press, Winning the next war: Strategy and the National Security Professional: Strategic Thinking and Strategy Formulation in the 21st Century.

Praeger Security International, France, Britain, and Germany between the world wars , Cornell studies in security affairs Ithaca: Skip to main content. Military Strategy vs Military Doctrine. The article argues that while doctrine represents the more scientific side of warfare, strategy represents the artistic side.

Existing doctrine will almost never meet the requirements for winning the next war; it is through the artistic application of generic peacetime doctrine to the specific strategic and operational context, using doctrine as building blocks for a context specific military strategy, that the military commander outwits and defeats or coerces the adversary and achieves the military objectives. Military Doctrine Military doctrine is an important part of the building material for military strategy.

During the early twentieth century, the Principles of War slowly became an essential part of the military's lexicon. Fuller, in an attempt to establish a science of war, was one of the first to codify Jomini's postulates into short, easy to understand concepts. Writing in various military journals, Fuller helped popularize their use. Urged on by the rise of corporate scientific management, American officers also searched for new ways to make warfare subject to a rational analysis.

Thus, in the s, for the first time, the War Department included these principles in its training manuals. Because they were practical, logical, teachable, and above all easy to test, the principles quickly became preferred classroom topics. Today, these lessons remain an important part of the military's educational process. Despite their popularity, some claimed the principles were not adequate in explaining war. Prussia's Karl von Clausewitz affirmed that any attempt to rationalize war into postulates was flirting with fantasy. War, he said in his unfinished work On War , was too involved with immeasurable moral and other factors to be reduced to a science.

Two centuries later, America's Bernard Brodie observed that the principles provided an inappropriate insight into war's ambiguities. Finally, a few scholars claimed that violation of the principles has prompted more successful operations than when they were rigidly observed. Had Halsey not insisted on concentrating his fleet leaving San Bernadino Strait undefended, for example, he might have prevented a vicious Japanese attack against American escort carriers off Samar Island.

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Despite criticisms, the Principles of War remain popular because they provide strategic planners with some basic considerations. Bernard Brodie , Strategy in the Missile Age , Weigley , The American Way of War: Carl von Clausewitz , On War , trans. Alger , The Quest for Victory: The History of the Principles of War , Armed Forces , Joint Warfare of the U.

As a reaction to her World War I experience, France entered World War II with a purely defensive doctrine, epitomized by the "impregnable" Maginot Line , but only to be completely circumvented by the German blitzkrieg in the Fall of France. The principles of military strategy emerged at least as far back as BC in the works of Sun Tzu and Chanakya.

Mahan describes in the preface to The Influence of Sea Power upon History how the Romans used their sea power to effectively block the sea lines of communication of Hannibal with Carthage ; and so via a maritime strategy achieved Hannibal's removal from Italy, despite never beating him there with their legions. One of these strategies was shown in the battle between Greek city states and Persia.

The Battle of Thermopylae in which the Greek forces were outnumbered stood as a good military strategy. The Greek allied forces ultimately lost the battle, but the training, use of armor, and location allowed them to defeat many Persian troops before losing.

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In the end, the Greek alliance lost the battle but not the war as a result of that strategy which continued on to the battle of Plataea. The Battle of Plataea in BC resulted in a victory for the Greeks against Persia, which exemplified that military strategy was extremely beneficial to defeating a numerous enemy. Early strategies included the strategy of annihilation, exhaustion, attrition warfare , scorched earth action, blockade , guerrilla campaign, deception and feint.

Ingenuity and adeptness were limited only by imagination, accord, and technology. Strategists continually exploited ever-advancing technology. As a counterpoint to European developments in the strategic art, the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan provides a useful example. Genghis' successes, and those of his successors, were based on manoeuvre and terror. The main focus of Genghis' strategic assault was the psychology of the opposing population. By steady and meticulous implementation of this strategy, Genghis and his descendants were able to conquer most of Eurasia. The building blocks of Genghis' army and his strategy were his tribal levies of mounted archers , scorched earth -style methods, and, equally essential, the vast horse-herds of Mongolia.

Moreover, since horse milk and horse blood were the staples of the Mongolian diet, Genghis' horse-herds functioned not just as his means of movement but as his logistical sustainment. All other necessities would be foraged and plundered. Khan's marauders also brought with them mobile shelters, concubines, butchers, and cooks. Through maneuver and continuous assault, Chinese , Persian , Arab and Eastern European armies could be stressed until they collapsed, and were then annihilated in pursuit and encirclement. Compared to the armies of Genghis, nearly all other armies were cumbersome and relatively static.

It was not until well into the 20th century that any army was able to match the speed of deployment of Genghis' armies. When confronted with a fortified city, the Mongol imperatives of maneuver and speed required that it be quickly subdued. Here the terror engendered by the bloody reputation of the Mongolians helped to intimidate and subdue. So too did primitive biological warfare. A trebuchet or other type of ballista weapon would be used to launch dead animals and corpses into a besieged city, spreading disease and death, such as the Black Plague.

If a particular town or city displeased the Mongolian Khan, everyone in the city would be killed to set an example for all other cities. This was early psychological warfare. To refer to the nine strategic principles outlined above, the Mongol strategy was directed toward an objective that schwerpunkt main focus being the morale and mental state of the opposing population achieved through the offensive; this offensive was itself characterized by concentration of force, maneuver, surprise, and simplicity.

In the Thirty Years' War , Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden demonstrated advanced operational strategy that led to his victories on the soil of the Holy Roman Empire. It was not until the 18th century that military strategy was subjected to serious study in Europe. In the Seven Years' War — , Frederick the Great improvised a "strategy of exhaustion" see attrition warfare to hold off his opponents and conserve his Prussian forces. Assailed from all sides by France, Austria, Russia and Sweden, Frederick exploited his central position, which enabled him to move his army along interior lines and concentrate against one opponent at a time.

Unable to achieve victory, he was able to stave off defeat until a diplomatic solution emerged. Frederick's "victory" led to great significance being placed on " geometric strategy " which emphasized lines of manoeuvre, awareness of terrain and possession of critical strong-points. The French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars that followed revolutionized military strategy. With the advent of cheap small arms and the rise of the drafted citizen soldier, armies grew rapidly in size to become massed formations.

This necessitated dividing the army first into divisions and later into corps. Along with divisions came divisional artillery ; light-weight, mobile cannon with great range and firepower. The rigid formations of pikemen and musketeers firing massed volleys gave way to light infantry fighting in skirmish lines. Napoleon I of France took advantage of these developments to pursue an effective "battle of annihilation".

Military Strategy vs Military Doctrine | dkvs

Napoleon invariably sought to achieve decision in battle, with the sole aim of utterly destroying his opponent, usually achieving success through superior maneuver. As ruler and general he dealt with the grand strategy as well as the operational strategy, making use of political and economic measures. While not the originator of the methods he used, Napoleon effectively combined the relatively superior maneuver and battle stages into one event. Before this, General Officers had considered this approach to battle as separate events.

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However, Napoleon used the maneuver to battle to dictate how and where the battle would progress. The Battle of Austerlitz was a perfect example of this maneuver. Napoleon withdrew from a strong position to draw his opponent forward and tempt him into a flank attack, weakening his center. This allowed the French army to split the allied army and gain victory.

Principles of War

Napoleon used two primary strategies for the approach to battle. This forced the opponent to either march to battle with Napoleon or attempt to find an escape route around the army. By placing his army into the rear, his opponent's supplies and communications would be cut. This had a negative effect on enemy morale. Once joined, the battle would be one in which his opponent could not afford defeat. This also allowed Napoleon to select multiple battle angles into a battle site. Initially, the lack of force concentration helped with foraging for food and sought to confuse the enemy as to his real location and intentions.

The "indirect" approach into battle also allowed Napoleon to disrupt the linear formations used by the allied armies. As the battle progressed, the enemy committed their reserves to stabilize the situation, Napoleon would suddenly release the flanking formation to attack the enemy. His opponents, being suddenly confronted with a new threat and with little reserves, had no choice but to weaken the area closest to the flanking formation and draw up a battle line at a right angle in an attempt to stop this new threat.

Once this had occurred, Napoleon would mass his reserves at the hinge of that right angle and launch a heavy attack to break the lines. The rupture in the enemy lines allowed Napoleon's cavalry to flank both lines and roll them up leaving his opponent no choice but to surrender or flee. The second strategy used by Napoleon I of France when confronted with two or more enemy armies was the use of the central position. This allowed Napoleon to drive a wedge to separate the enemy armies.

He would then use part of his force to mask one army while the larger portion overwhelmed and defeated the second army quickly. He would then march on the second army leaving a portion to pursue the first army and repeat the operations. This was designed to achieve the highest concentration of men into the primary battle while limiting the enemy's ability to reinforce the critical battle.

The central position had a weakness in that the full power of the pursuit of the enemy could not be achieved because the second army needed attention. So overall the preferred method of attack was the flank march to cross the enemy's logistics. Napoleon used the central position strategy during the Battle of Waterloo.

His subordinate was unable to mask the defeated Prussian army, who reinforced the Waterloo battle in time to defeat Napoleon and end his domination of Europe. Napoleon's practical strategic triumphs, repeatedly leading smaller forces to defeat larger ones, inspired a whole new field of study into military strategy. In particular, his opponents were keen to develop a body of knowledge in this area to allow them to counteract a masterful individual with a highly competent group of officers, a General Staff. The two most significant students of his work were Carl von Clausewitz , a Prussian with a background in philosophy , and Antoine-Henri Jomini , who had been one of Napoleon's staff officers.

One notable exception to Napoleon's strategy of annihilation and a precursor to trench warfare were the Lines of Torres Vedras during the Peninsular War. French Armies lived off the land and when they were confronted by a line of fortifications which they could not out flank, they were unable to continue the advance and were forced to retreat once they had consumed all the provisions of the region in front of the lines.

The Peninsular campaign was notable for the development of another method of warfare which went largely unnoticed at the time, but would become far more common in the 20th century. That was the aid and encouragement the British gave to the Spanish to harass the French behind their lines which led them to squander most of the assets of their Iberian army in protecting the army's line of communications. This was a very cost effective move for the British, because it cost far less to aid Spanish insurgents than it did to equip and pay regular British army units to engage the same number of French troops.

As the British army could be correspondingly smaller it was able to supply its troops by sea and land without having to live off the land as was the norm at the time. Further, because they did not have to forage they did not antagonise the locals and so did not have to garrison their lines of communications to the same extent as the French did. So the strategy of aiding their Spanish civilian allies in their guerrilla or 'small war' benefited the British in many ways, not all of which were immediately obvious. Clausewitz's On War has become the respected reference for strategy, dealing with political, as well as military, leadership.

His most famous assertion being:. For Clausewitz , war was first and foremost a political act, and thus the purpose of all strategy was to achieve the political goal that the state was seeking to accomplish. As such, Clausewitz famously argued that war was the "continuation of politics by other means", and as such, argued that the amount of force used by the state would and should be proportional to whatever the political aim that the state was seeking to achieve via war.

Clausewitz further dismissed "geometry" as an insignificant factor in strategy, believing instead that ideally all wars should follow the Napoleonic concept of victory through a decisive battle of annihilation and destruction of the opposing force, at any cost. However, he also recognized that his ideal of how war should be fought was not always practical in reality and that limited warfare could influence policy by wearing down the opposition through a " strategy of attrition ".

In contrast to Clausewitz, Antoine-Henri Jomini dealt mainly with operational strategy, planning and intelligence , the conduct of the campaign, and "generalship" rather than "statesmanship". He proposed that victory could be achieved by occupying the enemy's territory rather than destroying his army. As such, geometric considerations were prominent in his theory of strategy. Jomini's two basic principles of strategy were to concentrate against fractions of the enemy force at a time and to strike at the most decisive objective. Clausewitz and Jomini are required reading for today's military professional officer.

The evolution of military strategy continued in the American Civil War — The practice of strategy was advanced by generals such as Robert E. Lee , Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman , all of whom had been influenced by the feats of Napoleon Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was said to have carried a book of Napoleon's maxims with him. However, the adherence to the Napoleonic principles in the face of technological advances such as the long-range infantry breechloader rifles and minie ball guns generally led to disastrous consequences for both the Union and Confederate forces and populace.

The time and space in which war was waged changed as well. Railroads enabled swift movement of large forces but the manoeuvring was constrained to narrow, vulnerable corridors. Steam power and ironclads changed transport and combat at sea. Newly invented telegraph enabled more rapid communication between armies and their headquarters capitals.

Combat was still usually waged by opposing divisions with skirmish lines on rural battlefields, violent naval engagements by cannon-armed sailing or steam-powered vessels, and assault on military forces defending a town. There was still room for triumphs for the strategy of manoeuvre such as Sherman's March to the Sea in , but these depended upon an enemy's unwillingness to entrench.

Military Strategy vs Military Doctrine

Towards the end of the war, especially in defense of static targets as in the battles of Cold Harbor and Vicksburg , trench networks foreshadowed World War I. Under Moltke the Prussian army achieved victory in the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War —71 , the latter campaign being widely regarded as a classic example of the conception and execution of military strategy. In addition to exploiting railroads and highways for manoeuvre, Moltke also exploited the telegraph for control of large armies. He recognised the need to delegate control to subordinate commanders and to issue directives rather than specific orders.

Moltke is most remembered as a strategist for his belief in the need for flexibility and that no plan, however well prepared, can be guaranteed to survive beyond the first encounter with the enemy. He advocated the "strategy of annihilation" but was faced by a war on two fronts against numerically superior opposition. The strategy he formulated was the Schlieffen Plan , defending in the east while concentrating for a decisive victory in the west, after which the Germans would go on to the offensive in the east.

Influenced by Hannibal's success at the Battle of Cannae , Schlieffen planned for a single great battle of encirclement, thereby annihilating his enemy. His theory defied popular military thinking of the time, which was strongly in favour of victory in battle, yet World War I would soon demonstrate the flaws of a mindless "strategy of annihilation". At a time when industrialisation was rapidly changing naval technology, one American strategist, Alfred Thayer Mahan , almost single-handedly brought the field of naval strategy up to date. Influenced by Jomini's principles of strategy, he saw that in the coming wars, where economic strategy could be as important as military strategy, control of the sea granted the power to control the trade and resources needed to wage war.

Mahan pushed the concept of the "big navy" and an expansionist view where defence was achieved by controlling the sea approaches rather than fortifying the coast. His theories contributed to the naval arms race between and At the start of World War I strategy was dominated by the offensive thinking that had been in vogue since , despite the more recent experiences of the Second Boer War — and Russo-Japanese War —05 , where the machine gun demonstrated its defensive capabilities.

By the end of , the Western Front was a stalemate and all ability to maneuver strategically was lost. The combatants resorted to a " strategy of attrition ". The German battle at Verdun , the British on the Somme and at Passchendaele were among the first wide-scale battles intended to wear down the enemy. Attrition was time-consuming so the duration of World War I battles often stretched to weeks and months. The problem with attrition was that the use of fortified defenses in depth generally required a ratio of ten attackers to one defender, or a level of artillery support which was simply not feasible until late , for any reasonable chance of victory.

The ability of the defender to move troops using interior lines prevented the possibility of fully exploiting any breakthrough with the level of technology then attainable. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of strategy in World War I was the difference among the British between the "Western" viewpoint held by Field Marshal Haig and the "Eastern"; the former being that all effort should be directed against the German Army, the latter that more useful work could be done by attacking Germany's allies.

The term "Knocking away the props" was used, perhaps as an unfortunate consequence of the fact that all of Germany's allies lay south of i. Apologists and defenders of the Western viewpoint make the valid point that Germany's allies were more than once rescued from disaster or rendered capable of holding their own or making substantial gains by the provision of German troops, arms or military advisers, whereas those allies did not at any time provide a similar function for Germany. That is, it was Germany which was the prop, and her allies particularly Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary did not suffer significant reverses until Germany's ability to come to their aid was grossly impaired.

On other fronts, there was still room for the use of strategy of maneuver. The Germans executed a perfect battle of annihilation against the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg. In Britain and France launched the well-intentioned but poorly conceived and ultimately fruitless Dardanelles Campaign , combining naval power and an amphibious landing, in an effort to aid their Russian ally and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

The Palestine campaign was dominated by cavalry , which flourished in the local terrain, and the British achieved two breakthrough victories at Gaza and Megiddo Lawrence and other British officers led Arab irregulars on a guerrilla campaign against the Ottomans, using strategy and tactics developed during the Boer Wars.

World War I saw armies on a scale never before experienced. The British, who had always relied on a strong navy and a small regular army, were forced to undertake a rapid expansion of the army. This outpaced the rate of training of generals and staff officers able to handle such a mammoth force, and overwhelmed the ability of British industry to equip it with the necessary weapons and adequate high-quality munitions until late in the war.

Technological advances also had a huge influence on strategy:

The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations
The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations
The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations
The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations
The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations
The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations The Principles of War in the 21st Century: Strategic Considerations

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