The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Adaptability versus Developing Doctrine and Technology

The US, at the beginning of WWII, was behind on tactics (doctrine) and technology in two fronts. In naval matters it lacked Japan’s ability to mass carrier air power through unified carrier and naval air operations. It was also behind on technology by way of aircraft range and maneuverability. In Europe we were likewise behind on tank technology, tactics, and the joint war-fighting concept. Nonetheless, we won in both fronts. If our ability to adapt, learn, and innovate are the key differential how does this apply to us now in another interwar period? Should we be focusing on maintaining a costly technological edge? Is doctrine what we should be concerned with or is it more valuable to invest in our strengths…the ability to innovate, flexibility and adaptability?

Provided by MAJ Joshua “Blue” Kubacz, USAF, Section 11 C

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H200 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Strategy and Today’s Operating Environment

At one time nuclear strategy was one of the central pillars of U.S. national defense strategy and foreign policy. Its related technologies were probably the most expensive items in the U.S. defense budget. Deterence was the central concept in the U.S. national strategy to meet the threat of nuclear attack. It was most graphically illustrated by the idea of mutually assured destruction (MAD). However, since the end of the Cold War the idea of nuclear war has been pushed to the margins of the national defense strategy debate. Since 9/11, strategy discussions have continued to largely ignore the issue of nuclear weapons.

There are two nuclear scenarios which have received some attention, both related to the issue of proliferation: one is nuclear armed “rogue” states –most specifically a nuclear armed Korea and the potential for a nuclear armed Iran; and the other threat is small scale “suitcase” nuclear terror attack. These threats are catagorized by the national defense strategy (NDS) as “catastrophic challenges.”

The 2005 NMS identifies the threat of WMD but it does not clearly articulate the role of the U.S. nuclear arsenal relative to the WMD and other threats. The 2006 national military strategy to combat WMD says that offensive operations ” Kinetic (both conventional and nuclear) and/or non-kinetic operations [will] defeat, neutralize or deter a WMD threat or subsequent use of WMD.” The NMS for WMD implies that deterence is still a central part of strategy to combat the threat of nuclear attack.

Some questions to consider regarding the role of nuclear weapons in current strategy:

Is deterence a viable strategy agains the nuclear threats in today’s operating environment? Is deterence against WMD integrated suffeciently with the overall national strategy? Is current U.S. strategy asymetric or symetric?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Current Events, H300, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Its the Economy Stupid Comrade!”

Maoist revolutionalry war theory puts the priority of effort on the political line of operations. Our experience with our own domestic politics indicates that the key to successful politics is the economy. Therefore… maybe:

COIN = Politics

Politics = Economy

.’. COIN = Economy

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H300, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Regulars versus Militia in Revolutionary War


If you look at the American Revolution as a People’s Revolutionary War, the revolutionaries had two military tools –the militia and the continental army. Both served important political purposes. The continental army forced the British to keep most of their forces consolidated thus limiting their mobility and ability to control ground. They also represented a conventional military capability that won international allies. The militia controlled all the ground where the British regulars were not physically present and thus ensured revolutionary political domination of the colonies.

Which of the two roles was more important? Could one have been successful without the other? Was it impossible for the British to be successful politically, given the problems and limitations of 18th Century military power?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H300, military history | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Mao and Current Insurgencies

There are a wide variety of insurgent groups who have operated against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Very few, if any, have followed a Maoist strategy. Some analysists believe that this fact proves that Mao’s Revolutionary War theory is not relevant to the type of adversaries faced by the U.S. in the GWOT. Are these analysists correct?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H300, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Naval Air Force?

During the years 1919 to 1941 Naval Aviation carved out a place for itself in the Navy by being a member of the battleship team.  Naval aviation supported the battleship-centric fleet by finding the enemy fleet, fixing and harassing the enemy fleet through air attack, and defending the fleet from enemy air.  WWII forced navies around the world to recognize that airpower at sea had become the dominant capability of naval forces.  As a result, the aircraft carrier became the center of naval strategy, operations, tactics and force development.   However, the rise of the aircraft carrier in the US miltiary during WWII occured in an enviroment in which a US Air Force did not exist.  How did the absence of a US Air Force help the development of Naval Aviation in the US in the interwar years?

The first clash between the US Air Force and Naval Aviation over roles, missions, and most importantly, budget, occured after the draw-down of the US miltiary after WWII and was known as the “Revolt of the Admirals.”  Are we destined for another revolt of the Admirals?  What is the core capability of Naval Aviation today and is it worth the cost in the budget of maintaining a fleet built around aircraft carriers?  What does the aircraft carrier provide the US military that is unique and different from what the Air Force is capable of?  Should todays US Navy be built around a unique naval capability such as the submarine, rather than the aircraft carrier which seems to perform a similar role as the US Air Force?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Semper Fi!

The transformation model proposed by miltiary historians Allan Millet and Williamson Murray proposes a number of different factors that can influence an organization’s ability to be innovative and transform itself.  What factors do you think most influenced the USMC’s adoption of amphibious warfare doctrine in the interwar years?  In particular, was the USMC more driven by war plans and the nature of the threat than it was by the very real possibility that budget constraints might eliminate it as an organization?  In an era of real budget restrictions that the US military will face in the future, what core capability does the modern USMC bring to the table?  Does that capability warrant a USMC that is 25% the size of the army?  Will there be a future fight over the USMC and its mission or is the USMC so much of a part of the American military tradition that it doesn’t have to justify its mission?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Current Events, H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Doctrine Right or Wrong

The results of flawed doctrine: Unescorted Daylight Strategic Bombing

The focus of H200 was an analysis of how useful doctrine developed in peace time, based on previous war experience, proved to be in the conduct of operations in World War II.

The history of interwar transformation and doctrine development process provides insights into the relationship of peacetime visions of future wars and the actual conduct of war. In World War II the German army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Army Air Force all attempted to execute doctrine developed in the years after WWI, on the battlefields of WWII.

In some cases, blitzkrieg doctrine for example, the doctrine proved remarkably effective. In other cases, the primacy of the battleship in navy doctrine for example, the doctrine failed to meet the requirements of modern war. Were there organizational characteristics that permitted a particular service (the German army) to have an accurate understanding of tactical ground warfare, and another (the U.S. navy) fail to understand the importance of key technologies?

Some observers believe that writing doctrine in peace time is a futile exercise because the lessons of history are such that the conditions of the next war will be completely different from the last war and impossible to predict. Getting doctrine right is more luck than genius. Thus only very multi-functional formations are of any use to the army of the future, and only vague, general and generic doctrine is appropriate for the current and future operating environment. Do you agree or disagree?

Are there doctrinal issues which our current military refuses to recognize because we have invested too much in organization, training, and equipment to change the doctrine at this point? If so what are they and why are they flawed?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doctrine versus Technology

In the video above, virtually none of the technology, or even the tactics techniques and procedures used to attack Iwo Jima were available seven years earlier when the Marines issued their 1938 manual on landing operations.

In the interwar years the Germans and the U.S. Marine Corps developed concepts for operations (doctrine) before they developed the enabling technology. Ultimately, the doctrine would not have been successful without the technologies that were added later. However, without the initial doctrine the technologies may not have ever been developed, or may have been utilized in a different way. Is this the right way to transform? Should doctrine always precede technology? Are there situations where technology should precede doctrine? Which comes first in the U.S. military today?

January 24, 2013 Posted by | H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment