National Objectives: Those fundamental aims, goals, or purposes of a nation – as opposed to the means for seeking these ends – towards which a policy is directed and efforts and resources of the nation (or alliance) are applied.
National Policy: A broad course of action or statements of guidance adopted by the government (or alliance) at a national level in pursuit of national objectives.
Defense policy: The assumptions, plans, programs, and actions taken by the citizens of the United States to ensure the physical security of their lives, property, and way of life from external military attack and domestic insurrection. Strategy: the general concept for the use of military force; the art and science of developing and using political, economic, psychological and military forces as necessary during war and peace, to secure national objectives.
The levels of war: strategic, operational and tactical. War as a national undertaking must be coordinated from the highest levels of policy making to the basic levels of execution. Strategic, operational, and tactical levels are the broad divisions of activity in preparing for and conducting war. While the Principles of War are appropriate to all levels, applying them involves a different perspective for each.
a. The Strategic Level of Warfare. The level of war at which a nation or group of nations determines national or alliance security objectives and develops and uses national resources to accomplish those objectives. Activities at this level establish national and alliance military objectives; sequence initiatives; define limits and assess risks for the use of military and other instruments of power; develop global or theater war plans to achieve those objectives; and provide armed forces and other capabilities in accordance with the strategic plan. This perspective is worldwide and long-range. The strategic planner deals with resources, capabilities, limitations, and force postures. He sets broad priorities for allocation of resources and time frames for accomplishment. Working within a broad perspective of forces and capabilities, strategy concerns itself with strategic mobility, mobilization, civil defense, forward force deployments, nuclear deterrence, rapid reinforcements and rapid deployment. Cooperation among the services and allied nations to produce a unity of effort is of vital concern in the strategic arena. Strategic planning is not a military function only. It is formulated by input from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The National Security Council, members of Congress, and selected advisors to the President.
b. The Operational Level of Warfare. The level of war at which campaigns and major operations are planned, conducted, and sustained to accomplish strategic objectives within theaters of areas of operations. Activities at this level link tactics and strategy by establishing operational objectives, initiating actions, and applying resources to bring about and sustain these events. These activities imply a broader dimension of time or space that do tactics; they insure the logistic and administrative support of tactical forces, and provide the means by which tactical successes are exploited to achieve strategic objectives. (JCS pub 1-02). The operational art of war is primarily the planning and conduct of campaigns and practiced by large field, air, and fleet unity of the services. It involves joint, combined, and coalition forces that maneuver with the objective of defeating the enemy and achieving strategic objectives within a theater of operations, rather than a specific battlefield. Operations take the form of large-scale maneuvers such as penetrations, envelopments, double envelopments, frontal attacks, naval blockades, air interdiction, turning movements, feints, amphibious landings, and airborne assaults. At the operational level, maneuver may be sometimes entirely movement. Operational art: the activity concerned with using available military resources to attain strategic ends in a theater of war; the use of battles to achieve strategic ends; the conduct of campaigns for strategic purposes.
c. The Tactical Level of Warfare. The level of war at which battles and engagements are planned and executed to accomplish military objectives assigned to tactical units and task forces. Activities at this level focus on the ordered arrangement and maneuver of combat elements in relation to each other and to the enemy to achieve combat objectives. (JCS pub 1-02). The objective of the tactical level of war is the detailed destruction of enemy forces of thwarting directly the enemy intentions. Tactics consists of the employment of division size and smaller units in weapons engagements and battles with the enemy. Close support, interdiction, destroying equipment, disrupting facilities, reconnaissance and surveillance, killing or capturing personnel, positioning and displacement of weapons systems, and supply and support are tactical activities. The tactical commander’s perspective is one of a battle or engagement when he “executes” a plan of movement with fire support to achieve a specific objective such as clearing an area, blocking enemy movement, protecting a flank, gaining fire superiority, or seizing a location. The room for anticipating opportunities and risk-taking is somewhat limited by the confines of the immediate aspects of the battle and the specificity of the objective. Maneuver at the tactical level is nearly always a combination of movement and supporting fires. These two functions are tightly integrated instead of being somewhat discrete as they may frequently be at the operational level. Movement, instead of resulting from opportunities for positional advantage, is usually an effort to position forces to concentrate fires on the enemy or to escape enemy fires.
Tactical unit commanders depend on their higher operational level commander to move them effectively into and out of battles and engagements. Success or failures at the tactical level, when viewed as a whole by the operational-level commander, are the basis for a wider scheme of maneuver. Small unit actions stimulate the operational-level commander’s anticipation for result in victory. The perspective of the tactical commander is somewhat more subjective — his concern is destruction of the enemy forces in his zone of action and his own force’s survival. He must concentrate on executing his portion of the overall operational-level perspective.
Tactics involve the actual conduct of battle, the application of fire and maneuver by fighting units in order to destroy the physical ability and the will of the enemy’s armed forces.
What is war?
Total War: A war conducted by a belligerent in which few restraints on means, objective, geographic area, or time are exercised and in which the involvement of all resources of the society are normally committed. War that targets the entire social and economic infrastructure of the state and that kills civilians indiscriminately. Also known as general war.Total subordination of politics to war.
Absolute War. The term used by Clausewitz to describe war as violence in its most extreme form. A philosophical concept, a logical fantasy, impossible to achieve in reality.A benchmark against which one could measure actual developments in warfare.War in the abstract. War that could NOT be made obsolete by evolving events
Real War. The term used by Clausewitz to describe war as experienced. War constrained by limits in the form of the social and political context, by time and space, by practical factors. War in reality. War experienced on a continuum from limited to unlimited war. War with constraints.
Limited War: A war prosecuted by a belligerent who voluntarily exercises restraints on means, objective, geographic area, or time. A war whose objective is less than the unconditional defeat of the enemy.Armed conflict sort of general war.The wars of pre-revolutionary Europe.A war of limited means and aims. (DOD) Armed conflict short of general war, exclusive of incidents, involving the overt engagement of the military forces of two or more nations.
Unlimited War.War that aims at the complete and utter overthrow of the enemy. Not necessarily the same as total or general war, depending on how the resources of the two states are marshaled. War aimed at a political decision, the overthrow of the enemy; the disarming of the enemy through the destruction of his armed forces. (DOD) Armed conflict between major powers in which the total resources of the belligerents are employed, and the national survival of a major belligerent is in jeopardy.
Civil War: violence between parties in a state; a war within a nation between opposing political factions or regions.
Conventional Warfare: War conducted by forces other than special operations forces or forces capable of using nuclear weapons.
Unconventional Warfare: A broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces that are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. It includes, but is not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, and unconventional assisted recovery. Also called UW War. (DOD)
Revolutionary War: war between factions in a state in the name of an ideological objective.
Coup d’etat: the overthrow of an existing government by an internal faction; does not involve an ideological agenda; the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group
Terrorism: The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological. (DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Publication 1-02).
Guerrilla Warfare: Military and paramilitary operations conducted in hostile territory by irregular and primarily indigenous forces. (DOD)
Insurgency: an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict; a condition of revolt against a government that is less than an organized revolution and that is not recognized as belligerency.
Categories of Operations
Forms of Strategy
Factors involved in war:
Fundamental Questions of Military History
Purpose: to discover the forces that shape the military institutions of a society.
The Threads of Continuity
The study of military history reveals the art of war as an ever-changing phenomenon. Each war is different in some way from those preceding it. Sometimes the changes have been evolutionary; other times, they have been revolutionary. Military leaders must adapt to these changes, often under the pressure of battle. Failure to recognize the impact of these changes, often because reliance upon ideas and concepts that proved successful in the past, has resulted in defeat. On the other hand, there are historical examples of leaders who have accurately judged the impact of these changes, reacted accordingly, and emerged victorious.
Although the art of war has changed from age to age, historians are able to distinguish common factors in different ages, in different societies, and in different armies. These factors that provide a common reference for the study of the changes in the art of war are called threads of continuity. These factors fall into two groups: the internal threads, which are predominantly or exclusively a part of the military profession; and the external threads, which are part of a greater social milieu in which the military exists.
The 11 threads of continuity discussed above do not provide an infallible means of learning about every aspect of the military past. Rather they offer a conceptual framework that seeks to provide a means to reconstruct at least the general outline of the tapestry of the military past. The full meaning and magnitude of that tapestry can be appreciated only after long study or long years of service and significant contribution to the profession of arms
Purpose: to place events in perspective, ways to get at information, a means of organizing military history.
Questions About A Specific War
The Principles of War:
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