The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

A new demension of war: leveraging the Economic Instrument

The American Civil War vividly demonstrated how the products of the industrial revolution, the rifled musket, steam powered trains and ships, the telegraph, banking, and mass production manufacturing techniques changed tactical and operational warfare.   Less noticable was the way in which the economic base of a country became an important aspect of its war making capability.  Limited economic base meant limited war making capability while a large robust economic base meant a large war making capability.  General Grant consiously developed his attritition strategy followed in the last eighteen months of the war based on his understanding of the economic advantages of the Union.  Simply put, the Union could sustain losses of manpower and material and the South could not.  Thus, tactical and operational victory, though desired, was not necessary to winning the war.  Continuous fighting was necessary to make this happen –not continuous victory.  Thus Grant’s guidance to his subordinate :


Though focused tactically on battle, the purpose of battle was not to achieve tactical victory, but rather to deplete Southern resources, regardless of tactical victory.  Thus, there was no direct link between military tactical victory and strategic victory.  Military operations were necessary to enable the leveraging of the Union’s economic advantage, but the economic advantage was what was decisive not the supporting military campaign.

Today, the economic potential of a country, along with the other instruments of national power,  is captured in the acronym DIME (dipomacy, information, military, and economic).  Do you think the current strategy proposed by General McCrystal for Afghanistan (including the increase in troop strength) is a military strategy within a larger DIME strategy for the region, or is the MacCrystal strategy inclusive of the DIME?  If it is a purely military strategy, when and by whom was the larger regional DIME strategy articulated?  By doctrine, who articulates the comprehensive DIME strategy and in what form?

Click below to read the General McChrystal Assessment.



October 7, 2009 - Posted by | Current Events, H100, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. It is my understanding that in the US(remember please that I am British!) a articulating a coordinated DIME strtaegy is the responsibility of the National Security Council, and that ultimately responsibility lies with the President.

    It would appear that the issue various parties have with MacChrystal’s policy for Afghanistan is that his policy does not ‘nest’ well within the current Administrations overarching DIME strategy(this assumes that there is one…). However it is not his job to do that: he should, as he has, provide military options for the chain of command above him to deliver to the decision making authorities, ie the Combatant Commander and SECDEF.

    The problem with the current situation is that MacChrystal realizes that time is against the coalition and is operating within a Decision Cycle that is faster than the ‘powers that be’ both US and NATO. The second order effect being that he is unsettling his political leadership.

    Comment by Major Sam Cates 17A. British Army | October 13, 2009

  2. I agree with Sam on the point that McChrystal should be setting the strategy for military operations to meet the end state objectives of the President. However, whereas politicians do not have to be military strategists, military strategists (GOs) have to become politicians. I know we discussed this at length in a previous blog so I will not bring it up again here. I do think McChrystal’s proposal is inclusive of the DIME strategy. I think the additional troops is a majority of the M in that strategy, but he also covers portions of the DI&E when he talks about focusing on the people and providing them with stability rather than trying to defeat an elusive and ambiguous enemy such as Al-Qaida. This approach will obviously require the average military soldier to become more diplomatic and understand the culture of the people. It will also require us to help them become more economically stable.
    Unfortunately I would also agree with Sam that the overall DI&E portion of strategy should not be (have to) coming from a senior ranking military General. It should be vetted down from the President through multiple political and interagency (IGO & NGO) organizations for the military to help coordinate and integrate across the entire process.

    Comment by Maj Scott "Spyder" Walker | October 15, 2009

  3. I understand that the overall DIE portion of strategy should be coming from other government agencies, but different situations can create overlapping responsibility. A lot could be done by DIE in countries like Korea, Germany, Israel, etc… However, who is there to implement the DIE portion of strategy in Afghanistan? Ans. Soldiers (at least 99% of it. I’m sure we can find one or two non-military related civilians hiding in the FOB somewhere, haha, J/k). Primarily, we (the military) are the ones walking the streets, spending money, advising government. So, I believe it is okay for our generals to jab at other strategies (DIE) other than military, because they will eventually have some sort of direct effect on the Soldiers. In my opinion, this makes sense until the time when Afghanistan is stable enough to make decisions without foreign military looking over their shoulder. Then again, I could be wrong (never been to OEF, just OIF).

    Comment by Lee, 17B | October 15, 2009

  4. Do you think the current strategy proposed by General McCrystal for Afghanistan (including the increase in troop strength) is a military strategy within a larger DIME strategy for the region, or is the MacCrystal strategy inclusive of the DIME? I believe that the strategy taken by the General is definitely a military strategy within the larger DIME strategy. He is espousing some of our newest Doctrine, specifically FM 3-24. His goal, as I see it, seems to be to finally secure the population and deny the terrain of the population to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Although a very large portion of our military efforts go towards the DI & E in Afghanistan we are still executing it as a military. Our involvement in the remaining elements (DI &E) a product of limited $ or lack of interest of other agencies in the overall end state. For now the Army continues to be the most capable resource our government has to implement their strategy. According to the Overview of United States of America’s National Security Strategy 2009: Counterterrorism Policy Recommendations and Implications, the strategy includes;
    • Weakening the operational capability of al Qa’ida through combat operations directed at strongholds in Afghanistan and Pakistan;
    • Diminishing the Taliban’s influence in Afghani politics and civil society through a renewed approach to OEF
    If it is a purely military strategy, when and by whom was the larger regional DIME strategy articulated?
    It isn’t officially! The National Security Council should articulate the DIME Strategy and it would be promulgated down through DoDs NDS, and CJCS NMS: this is not possible since there is no published NSS for the Obama administration. Obviously that means that Gen McCrystal is developing Operational strategy in absence of a NSS, NDS (the CJCS has published the NMS 2009). GEn McCrystal is leaning forward in the foxhole in the absence of a published NMS!!!

    Comment by Maj Bjorn "SWEDE" Johnson | October 16, 2009

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