The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Driving Transformation

A variety of factors influence transformation.  Usually, however, one factor is the initiator.  For example and obvious dangerous threat which has defeated a country in the past could be the factor which initiates  the transformation process.  Once that initiator is successful in “kick-starting” the transformation process the remaining factors interact with each other dynamically to eventually achieve the end result product of transformation.  Which of the factors was the most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years?  In some countries and military services transformation did not occur, or failed to transform into a successful form.  In the interwar years what factor was the most important to preventing successful transformation?  The dynamics that effected transformation in the interwar years continue to effect transformation today.  Which is the most important factor effecting transformation in the U.S. military today?


December 14, 2009 - Posted by | H200 | , , , , , ,


  1. To my mind it was technology that drove the significant transformation of armed forces across the globe during the interwar period or at least underpinned it. This is not a definitive answer though; in different countries different influences had different effects. For example the Royal Navy started to develop, or transform, it’s fleet with aircraft carriers (a technological start-point) well before our allies this side of the Atlantic. In other instances it was a combination of the ‘charismatic innovator’, for example Liddle-Hart, and technology. But generally speaking, during the inter war period, there was a staggering amount of technological development, and it was this that underpinned the Transformation that characterized the period.

    Comment by Maj S E A Cates British Army | December 20, 2009

  2. As far as the US is concerned, I believe that political factors in the sense of public opinion was the largest factor in preventing successful transformation in the interwar period. The inability of the military to articulate a threat to the public prevented the acqusition of necessary resourses. Public and Congressional opinion on lack of threat alo prevented technology from being developed and/or purchased. This left the US completely unprepared for WWII, and left the Army unable to participate in major ground operations for almost a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Comment by MAJ Michael Roe | January 2, 2010

  3. Although I agree that technology is important in any transformation, I believe that political factors have a much stronger influence on the success or failure of military transformations. Tank warfare was introduced during WWI, but military transformation based on tanks varied. The doctrinal and technological developmental transformations each country took varied based on the political climate of that particular country. Similarly, naval aircraft and carrier development by nations was strongly influenced by political climate. Army aviation was also influenced by politics; it almost failed due to internal politics. US modularity is another recent example of politically influenced military transformation. Although inroads were made with technology, political factors provided the greatest impetus. Such factors like direct guidance, public opinion and internal pressures forced the military leaders to earnestly embrace the modular concept. Politics also influenced those technological developments (ie. FCS, WIN-T, etc) and the budget that supported modularity. In short, external and internal politics greatly influences the direction as well as the success or failure of military transformations.

    Comment by MAJ Michele Callahan | January 4, 2010

  4. I agree with Michele that politics was the primary factor for transformation during the inter war years. As we have learned during class and can be seen throughout Europe during that time, most of the Allied countries were tired of war and significantly lacking in funds. Therefore, their political systems and people were not very willing to spend money and resources to advance their militaries. The Germans, however, felt they were being extensively punished for WWI and Hitler, being the great orator that he was, was able to rally support, either actual or forceful, for rebuilding the military. However, even transformation in Germany did not happen at a great pace and they were still not as prepared as they could have been had they waited a few more years. Unfortunately the complacency throughout the rest of Europe and the U.S. left us all less prepared than Germany. To prove my point again, Russia was just as unprepared as the rest of us due to a change in politics and the forced transformation, due to the purging of the higher echelon, that Stalin imposed.

    Comment by Maj Walker | January 26, 2010

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