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 inabling or 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?

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December 5, 2014 - Posted by | H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. During the interwar years, charismatic innovators represented the most important ingredient for successful innovation in this period. In short, the sheer force of charisma (will, ideological fervor, cult of personality, etc) provided the only other external force that could balance out (or overcome) the political factors and service culture influences that manifested themselves more frequently in turf battles than innovation. Beyond simply the power of charisma, this success lays in the fact this singular human being, if they understood the transformation model, could much more efficiently manipulate it than a Service or regular politician ever could. Using the example of Billy Mitchell, he was able rapidly expand both the prestige and budget of the Army Air Corps by manufacturing crisis to the homeland, proposing a solution and skillfully manipulating all the components of the model to reach his desired end state. The political bickering and service rivalry of the interwar period are just as prevelant today and thus in the face of shrinking budgets, a good salesman is just as important.

    Comment by Angela Edmondson | December 17, 2014

  2. The most important factor driving innovation during the interwar years was the imaginative creativity demonstrated by young military officers that would lead to developments such as the aircraft carrier. During the interwar years, carrier innovation played a major role in what would become a decisive capability during World War 2. The first carriers were crude and could not support the aircraft landing back on the ships; however, the American Navy in particular realized the full potential of carriers early on. US Naval innovations began prior to even World War 1 with improvements in armament for ships. Following the invention of the airplane and the demonstrated potential of aircraft, the US Navy began to realize future potential and even conducted flight tests off of ships prior to World War 1. Following World War 1, American innovations continued with a major focus of integrating airpower and naval forces. While the British also took notice and produced several carriers, the Japanese proved to be the most prominent innovators of carrier technology and tactics under a young naval officer by the name Yamamoto. Fortunately, the US Navy integration and development of carrier technology would be the most decisive during World War 2.

    Comment by Aaron Adams | January 25, 2015

  3. Which of the factors was the most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years? The factor most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years was organizational culture of the institutions. During the interwar period three services showed just how important organizational culture was to transformation, the German Army, US Navy and the US Marine Corps. For the German’s the result was that the General Staff ’s culture which emphasized the serious study of the profession of arms and demanded that members pass a rigorous process of selection that included their intellectual abilities. These senior experienced leaders were responsible for examining the lessons of past wars and incorporating them into current doctrine. This process of turning lessons-learned into viable, intelligent doctrine laid the foundation for successful innovation that led to the creation of the German Blitzkrieg in the early 1940s. The US Navy developed carrier capabilities that allowed its forces to turn the Japanese tide in the Pacific despite the loss of virtually the entire battle fleet. In the case of the Marines, their culture during this period was such that in 1931 it closed down academics at The Schools in Quantico for a five-month period and used the officers to write the initial manual of amphibious operations
    that formed the doctrine for operations throughout World War II in both the Pacific and European theater of operations. The culture of both of these military organizations underlines a willingness to develop and experiment with new concepts in an honest and rigorous fashion. Other organizations failed to embrace the need for organizational change through professional education and had major problems in adapting. In the interwar years what factor was the most important to inabling or preventing successful transformation? The most important factor to preventing successful transformation was Senior Leadership (Top level leaders). Which is the most important factor effecting transformation in the U.S. military today? The most important factor affecting transformation in the U.S. military today is organizational culture which starts with organizational leaders.

    Comment by MAJ Tia Caphart | January 27, 2015

  4. Which of the factors was the most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years? The factor most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years was organizational culture of the institutions. During the interwar period three services showed just how important organizational culture was to transformation, the German Army, US Navy and the US Marine Corps. For the German’s the result was that the General Staff ’s culture which emphasized the serious study of the profession of arms and demanded that members pass a rigorous process of selection that included their intellectual abilities. These senior experienced leaders were responsible for examining the lessons of past wars and incorporating them into current doctrine. This process of turning lessons-learned into viable, intelligent doctrine laid the foundation for successful innovation that led to the creation of the German Blitzkrieg in the early 1940s. The US Navy developed carrier capabilities that allowed its forces to turn the Japanese tide in the Pacific despite the loss of virtually the entire battle fleet. In the case of the Marines, their culture during this period was such that in 1931 it closed down academics at The Schools in Quantico for a five-month period and used the officers to write the initial manual of amphibious operations that formed the doctrine for operations throughout World War II in both the Pacific and European theater of operations. The culture of both of these military organizations underlines a willingness to develop and experiment with new concepts in an honest and rigorous fashion. Other organizations failed to embrace the need for organizational change through professional education and had major problems in adapting. In the interwar years what factor was the most important to inabling or preventing successful transformation? The most important factor to preventing successful transformation was Senior Leadership (Top level leaders). Which is the most important factor effecting transformation in the U.S. military today? The most important factor affecting transformation in the U.S. military today is organizational culture which starts with organizational leaders.

    Comment by MAJ Tia Caphart | January 27, 2015


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