THE GENERAL STAFF THAT WASN’T

The charter was…to look at preparation of the Navy for the defense of maritime security and the coasts In the early 1900’s the U.S. Navy found itself creating strategy in an ad hoc manner in the midst of modernization and calls for officer corps structure and education reform. In response the Secretary of the Navy […]

A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO WAR? ANTOINE-HENRI JOMINI (GREAT STRATEGISTS)

In this episode in our Great Strategists series, U.S. Army War College historians Bill Johnsen and Con Crane present one of the more enigmatic figures in military theory, Baron Antoine-Henri Jomini. Historians have given Jomini mixed reviews in terms of evaluating his theories and contributions, but almost all recognize his influence.

Modern analysts often pit Jomini and his contemporary, Carl von Clausewitz, as polar opposites, creating “Jominian” and “Clausewitzian” camps. In reality, both were informed by their experiences with the Napoleonic Wars, but they took different perspectives–Clausewitz from the Prussian perspective, Jomini from the French. And while Clausewitz died in 1831, Jomini lived to be an old man and prolific writer, so you can see elements of Clausewitzian thought in Jomini’s writing. Still, Jomini was interested in finding general principles of warfare that could translate directly to success on the battlefield; a task that seemed simple when he could draw from observations of Napoleon’s greatest victories.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/19-117-A-SCIENTIFIC-APPROACH-TO-WAR-ANTOINE-HENRI-JOMINI-GREAT-STRATEGISTS.pdf

THERE IS NO SPOON: RETHINKING WAR IN THE GRAY ZONE

Would a cyberattack that takes down the Texas power grid in the peak of summer be an act of war? “There is no spoon.” The 1999 film, The Matrix, held a critical lesson for its protagonist, Neo. One cannot change physical reality; one can change only oneself. The message came from a young boy who […]

STRATEGY AS PERFORMANCE: EDUCATING STUDENTS TO GO BEYOND ENDS, WAYS, & MEANS

One weakness of the way we view strategy … is that we neglect the environment Professional military education (PME) plays a vital role in preparing military leaders to fight and win the nation’s wars. PME occurs at all levels of leadership, required for the most junior non-commissioned officers to the most senior flag officers and […]

ON HOLDING THE ENEMY ACCOUNTABLE: CUSTOMS OF RETALIATION IN THE CIVIL WAR

The ritual of retaliation codified what makes you legitimate [as a combatant] and what makes you not legitimate How did combatants enforce the lawful practice of war prior to the Geneva Conventions and other conceptions of international laws of warfare? During the Civil War period, the answer was the customary practice of retaliation, which provides […]

FACING A FUTURE WITH ORGANIZED WEAPONIZATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Propagandists now exercise increasing sophistication in their communications In February 2019, in (Indian-administered) Southern Kashmir, a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist cell attacked an Indian paramilitary convoy with an improvised explosive device (IED). Two weeks later, when India launched airstrikes against a suspected JeM camp in Pakistan, it escalated the incident to a military crisis. Pakistan quickly […]

IF YOU ARE NOT FIRST YOU ARE LAST: GAINING AN ADAPTIVE EDGE THROUGH PROTOTYPE WARFARE

Prototype warfare is more than the rapid prototyping of technology … It is a mindset In motor racing there is very little time to either celebrate or dwell on defeat.  The stark realities of competition demand that even as one race car is being primed, another is being built to take its place. Where military […]

AN UNBEATEN ROMAN GENERAL: SCIPIO AFRICANUS (GREAT CAPTAINS)

These two commanders, Scipio Africanus vs. Hannibal … demonstrated [strategic leadership] to a great degree A BETTER PEACE continues the Great Captains series with the sequel to a previous episode on the renowned Carthaginian general Hannibal. This episode tells the story of Hannibal’s opponent in the Battle of Zama, Scipio Africanus. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus […]

HUMAN SHIELDS AND PERFIDY: ADDRESSING ILLEGAL CONDUCT IN OPERATIONS

Misusing protected persons in war presents real and present challenges in the Middle East Remember Saddam Hussein’s use of human shields during the Persian Gulf War? His illegal and contemptible movement of innocent civilians to military bases and other strategic locations was intended to deter the international coalition. In that instance, the Iraqi ploy had […]

RELIVING THE CIVIL WAR THROUGH BATTLEFIELD STAFF RIDES

It’s natural to ask what can we gain from this ‘old war’? … You can read [history] in a book, but when you actually walk the field, it rams home into your head and stays there In an earlier episode of A BETTER PEACE, Learning Strategy by Walking the Ground, Andrew Hill and Len Fullenkamp […]

LEARNING PAINFUL LESSONS FROM AFGHANISTAN

Conflicts, both in Afghanistan as well as at home, will continue to have both a complex civilian and military character When the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) finally closed shop in Afghanistan in 2014, many participating nations professed a weariness with complex, civil-military, out-of-area operations. These operations demanded close, often awkward, relationships of cooperation, co-existence, […]

REMOTE WARFARE & RISKS OF RELYING ON LOCAL FORCES

‘Is Remote Warfare Cheaper?’ ‘So that’s a really hard question to answer. … We actually have very little data’ A BETTER PEACE explores the implications of NATO members’ ongoing shift away from large-scale coalition operations to smaller-scale operations that rely primarily on local forces, militias, or other groups supported by Western resources, training, and small […]

BEYOND THUCYDIDES: HERODOTUS, XENOPHON & UNDERSTANDING WAR (GREAT STRATEGISTS)

What if we spent one day on Herodotus, one day on Thucydides, and one day on Xenophon [at the War College]? Students with a basic foundation of ancient military history are likely to know about Thucydides and his accounts of the Peloponnesian War from both strategic and operational perspectives. But it would be an oversight […]

*SECOND* BEST FIELD ARMY COMMANDER: WHITEBOARD RESPONSE

attributes essential for field army command: professional competence, courage (physical and moral), initiative, self-confidence, and intuition, the ability to see and feel things in the context of time and space We thank all those who contributed entries to our latest Whiteboard where we asked the following question: State, with no explanation, who you think is […]

JOHN WARDEN AND THE ENEMY AS A SYSTEM (GREAT STRATEGISTS)

The great benefit of looking at John Warden’s system is that it [employed] effects-based objectives [for] attacking an enemy A BETTER PEACE continues the Great Strategists series with a look at the systems-based theory of John Warden III, Colonel, U.S. Air Force retired. Out of the emerging theories of airpower and his own experiences in […]

WE NEED AN AI-BASED ENEMY ANALYSIS TOOL … NOW!

Right now, AI programs struggle to beat capable human adversaries, but it is only a matter of time During maneuvers, the 5-20 Infantry battalion staff begins planning an attack on Objective MURRAY, a complex piece of terrain surrounded by forests on three sides with an expected enemy company in the area. The approach to the […]

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH FORCE AFTER YOU WIN?

We don’t have a sophisticated genre about what do militaries do in the wake of victory What is the role of the military in consolidating victory? This has been a difficult question at least since World War II and is very salient now. A BETTER PEACE explores this topic with the help of Dr. Wayne […]

A ‘BIG DATA’ APPROACH TO WINNING THE ASYMMETRIC FIGHT

Fundamentally in asymmetric conflicts, the struggle is over information that comes from the [local] population. This is different from the traditional ‘hearts and minds’ view A BETTER PEACE welcomes Jacob Shapiro from Princeton U., co-author of Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution in Modern Conflict. Conventional wisdom in conflict has been that those combatants […]

JOHN BOYD AND THE “OODA” LOOP (GREAT STRATEGISTS)

The OODA loop kinda represents how … humans and organizations learn, grow, and survive A BETTER PEACE continues its series on Great Strategists with a look at airpower theorist John Boyd, who conceived of the “OODA” (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act) Loop. Originally expressing an approach to tactical engagement, Boyd later expanded the idea to […]

THE *SECOND* BEST FIELD ARMY COMMANDER — A WHITEBOARD

Destroying enemy armies provides the best litmus test for ranking great army commanders Who’s the ‘best’ football player of all time? Or entertainer? Or U.S. President? Many people would answer with strong opinions which are difficult to argue against. It’s a subjective call – ‘best’ might be interpreted as ‘favorite,’ rather than the highest rated […]