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Concentration of Force. Concentration of force involves the decisive, synchronized application of superior fighting power conceptual, physical, and moral to realize intended effects, when and where required. Economy of Effort. Economy of effort is the judicious exploitation of manpower, materiel and time in relation to the achievement of objectives. Flexibility — the ability to change readily to meet new circumstances — comprises agility, responsiveness, resilience, acuity and adaptability. Cooperation entails the incorporation of teamwork and a sharing of dangers, burdens, risks and opportunities in every aspect of warfare.

Principles of War

Sustainability formerly known as Administration. To sustain a force is to generate the means by which its fighting power and freedom of action are maintained. This short commentary is written as a personal view to explore British Principles of War and whether they are being appropriately applied in 21 st Century UK Defence Policy and Planning. By necessity this commentary will only cover a few of the major principles outlined above to illustrate how current defence planning and resources may not meet these principles and doctrine other than in MOD public relations hype.

It is hoped that a fuller and more complete DefenceSynergia paper may follow in due course. It can be argued at one level that selection and maintenance of a military aim is operationally and politically dependent. However, it can also be argued that from a cohesive defence planning point of view it is difficult to select and maintain an aim that has not been cogently articulated first. Retention and recruitment, especially for specialist personnel — pinch trades — is problematic with attendant knock on effects for morale more generally when major weapons platforms cannot perform or deploy through lack of servicing or operational staffing and have to be temporarily mothballed for lack of technical support.

However, morale in the Army maybe less vulnerable on home base but can suffer very rapid decline on operations if the high tech weapons platforms they rely upon for combat support are not available when the shrapnel begins to fly and casualties begin to mount. Therefore, the ability for the services to support and maintain complex equipment and supply chains in-theatre without contractor input is essential.


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It is often argued by MOD that the combination of high tech equipment being provided for HM Armed Forces negates the effects of downsizing in both manpower and weapons platforms. Where are the force projection and protection enablers — RN and RAF heavy sea and air lift and escorts — to move and protect more than a single army light brigade at short notice?

In the past it has been cogently argued that the alleged British Army failure in Iraq was precipitated by never having enough forces on the ground; a situation that was compounded when the Government and MOD authorised a simultaneous deployment in Afghanistan thereby ignoring the Concentration of Force Principle to meet political expediency. A cynic might argue that economy of effort is the one Principle of War that the MOD has paid most attention to; some might argue to the detriment of all the other principles. For example:.

Principles of War by Carl von Clausewitz

In recent times British Army personnel in Afghanistan took casualties in a minefield partly because no available RAF helicopter had a winch; soldiers on the front line had to negotiate with their Taliban enemy because they were isolated and running out of ammunition; the RN has had to mothball its Scan Eagle drones for lack of sustainment funding, the list goes on. Once the military started to think in terms of Joint Operations the United States learned that the nine principles needed to be augmented.

The US Military based on years of experience in irregular warfare added three additional principles that when combined with the traditional nine creates the Principles Joint Operations. To irregular war historians it is clear that without these three additions it is difficult to keep a force in the field.

Many historians of general war would likely argue that legitimacy, restraint, and perseverance are the cornerstone of all military interventions if the goal is to see peace take hold among the population after the major battles have ended. Legitimacy is arguably the most critical principle on this list but is often the most neglected concept. It is certainly one of the most vulnerable areas for any force involved in modern war.

Next we look at the final traditional principle of the U. This term points us towards the importance of cooperation in war zones where unity of command is not possible because of the diverse character of the actors present. The concept goes hand-in-hand with Unity of Command, which is focused on clearly conferring one commander the authority to get things done.

The purpose of unity of command is to extract every bit of combat power out of a force so that it can be applied at the right place at the right time. In other words in order to achieve unity of effort, coordination, and synchronization one single commander needs to be in charge. This article calls for the achievement of unity of effort by applying the principle of cooperation. The author is not alone in calling for something beyond Unity of Command. The new U. Army doctrine emphasizes the need for integration, coordination, and synchronization of elements inside and outside the military chain of command in order to achieve its desired effects.

Army not only needs the other U. This concept of getting all the rowers to pull on the oar at once is called unified action.

Nine Principles of War

Why is cooperation the right concept to achieve unity of effort and unified action? Whereas coordination, integration and synchronization imply that a leader has the authority to organize and harmonize the organizations in his area of operations cooperation denotes that no such authority exists. Cooperation augments unity of command and creates the legitimacy needed to underwrite a mission. The final section of this article describes a case where a mission was accomplished by applying the principle of cooperation in Afghanistan. In order to assist the Afghan government in achieving its desire to begin the Reintegration of low-level anti-Afghan Government fighters and Reconciliation with Insurgent Leaders the ISAF forces under General McChrystal developed an organization to enhance cooperation of the numerous stakeholders involved with the concept.

Under the leadership of Lieutenant General retired Sir Graeme Lamb a diverse team of people from a variety of military and civilian organizations cooperated to transform the concept of reintegration and reconciliation from a vague idea into international policy in less than one year. The keys to success were creating a shared understanding among the stakeholders involved in the process, providing them with a clear purpose, and developing the appropriate incentives to get them to cooperate.

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Some of the stakeholders in this enterprise included military personnel, Afghan leaders, lawmakers, presidents and prime ministers, diplomats, intelligence officers, non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, the media, universities, regional and international organizations, government aid organizations, neighboring and regionally concerned nations, and the myriad of anti-Afghan Government fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The first step towards cooperation was to correctly identify who all the stakeholders were inside and outside the military and government.

Principles of warfare

To achieve the necessary cooperation among this diverse group required that the people assigned or volunteering at the F-RIC be drawn from among of these stakeholders. Additionally the F-RIC spent a large amount of its time studying the problem and gaining an understanding of the motives of the stakeholders. Finally the F-RIC learned to give and take with each of the stakeholders until they reached a workable agreement. It is likely that the current principles of war will continue to influence leaders in combat.

If the world learns the lessons of modern war it may add the principle of cooperation to this short list of valuable ideas.

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On the other hand militaries may fall back to the advice a seasoned Sergeant Major once gave to a future British Chief of the Imperial General Staff when he was just a cadet. In summary cooperation can help leaders achieve unity of effort when unity of command is not an available option. Cooperation enhances legitimacy and helps to build a shared understanding of the problem and the achievable solutions.

Finally cooperation is a principle that can be applied at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U. Page iv. If we're going to engage in coalition and whole of government and whole of society efforts, then cooperation is needed.

A principle of war should apply whether we're fighting unilaterally or as a member of a coalition, and this one doesn't.

Book Excerpt: Principles of War and Strategy

It also falsely implies that we have to cooperate to achieve our military objectives. We don't, and too many times for unsound reasons we're too quick to form multinational coalitions which often severely degrade our ability to follow the other principles of war. The illusion of international legitimacy is apparently more important than winning at the operational and tactical level.

If you look at the four strategic lines of effort diplomacy, information, military and economic or even expanded to DIMEFIL , we probably need a war czar like entity in some cases to synch the efforts, and I suspect the best individual to do that doesn't wear a uniform. That would allow the military to actually focus on its core capability of securing area and conducting offensive operations its core mission , and of course due to its manpower it would play a supporting role to the other strategic LOEs, but not get distracted to the point they lose sight of their core combat role.

The old grumpy Sergeant Major was right, and I suspect some day in hindsight the officers who don't get it will after they have time to reflect on the effectiveness or lack there of of recent coalition operations. I'm having a hard time articulating my immediate objection to this recommendation.

Perhaps a quick review of the principles' purposes and their corollaries might illustrate. Maneuver - retain the ability define the place of engagement : corollary - denies the enemy the ability to choose the place of engagement. Objective - have an achievable and clear objective : corollary - permits mass and economy of force while ensuring unity of effort.