The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H105 Military Genius

Genius has been defined in several different ways:

Genius: Distinguished mental superiority; uncommon intellectual power; especially, superior power of invention or origination of any kind, or of forming new combinations; as, a man of genius. [1913 Webster]

Genius refers to a person, a body of work, or a singular achievement of surpassing excellence.

More than just originality, creativity, or intelligence, genius is associated with achievement of insight which has transformational power.

Many military historians, and many of Napoleon’s contemporaries think that he was a genius: Napoleon conquered all of Europe and dramatically changed the way wars were fought. Many French believe that Napoleon’s rise was because of the French system’s emphasis on promotion due to merit. Thus it put the best man, Napoloen, in position to command the Army. The French then built a command system to support him.

Was Napoleon really a genius or just the leader “lucky” enough to be in the right place at the right time?

Was Napoleon’s rise based on merit… or did he lead France due to factors besides merit?

Is the commander centric command system designed to leverage “genius” the right model that the U.S. military should be following? Is the current US system overly commander centric?

What do you think of the idea that in a commander centric system, the commander becomes the single point of failure of the entire system? Is “commander centric” the only logical way to run an army?

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September 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

H104: The True Volunteers

To call an army of paid professionals a volunteer army is a misnomer. Paid professionals don’t volunteer for service, they are paid compensation for services.

A Parent who “Volunteers” at the school library isn’t paid. A professional who is paid to work at the library is not a volunteer but rather a contracted employee of the school.

Professionals are essentially mercenaries who are hired by the state. The only difference between a paid professional army that works for the state and mercenaries is that the mercenaries work for a sub-contractor of the state. The details such as citizenship, military law, and other differences are not differences in kind, but rather just differences in the nature and strictness of the contract that governors the relationship between the paid professional and his employer.

True volunteer armies are those that are manned by the democratically authorized conscription of citizens. A truly volunteer army was the French Army of the Napoleonic period or the American Army of World War I and II. The citizens voluntarily consent to military service through the actions of their elected representatives. That service is truly voluntary in that there is no contract between the state and the individual, and there is no just compensation provided back to the individual soldier.

Do you agree with the above analysis of volunteer army versus professional army? Why / why not?

Regardless of the validity of the above argument, conscript armies have many benefits to the state. What are they? What war making advantages do they have? What are their disadvantages?

The Chinese military is currently a largely conscripted force. Is it a better alternative to the professional army?

What are the concerns regarding a professional army that is not directly connected to the majority of the citizens of the state?

Finally, when helping to create national armies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, is the US model professional army the right model for those societies? What cultural and political factors should be considered when choosing the appropriate army model?

September 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

H103: The Professionals

The 18th Century saw the perfection of the concept of the professional army. From the point of view of the monarch they were a great asset to the kingdom –ensuring protection from enemies from within as well as without the crown’s borders. The professional army had numerous positive attributes. It also had limitations. Both its attributes and its limitations directly effectived how the Kingdoms and Empires of the 18th Century waged wars. What were those effects?

Today the Western military forces, including the U.S. Army, are considered the finest professional military forces ever produced. As a professional military force, what attributes, both positive and negative, does the U.S. military, and the army in particular share with the professional forces of Frederick the Great’s Prussia?

Do the professional attributes of the U.S. military effect how the U.S. military wages war in a way similiar to the professionals effect on war in 18th Century? If so, how?

September 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

H102, Mercenaries –Back to the Future?

The Leavenworth Way of War

The inability of the feudal system to provide reliable armies gave rise to cadres of mercenaries that at first supplemented the aristocratic warriors of the feudal army, and then replaced them. By the Renaissance period, armies were largely made up of hired mercenary companies.  Aristocrats, once the knights of the feudal army, became the owners and officers of the  companies.   Mercenary companies were a key element of warfare throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries.  Many consider that they reached their greatest influence during the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648.  Toward the end of the war they began to decline in importance and by the end of the 17th Century they had largely been replaced by national professional armies.

Why did mercenary companies exist in the first place?  What advantage did they initially bring to the battlefield?

How were mercenary specialists of the Renaissance different from the contract specialists that we used today?

What…

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September 3, 2015 Posted by | H100, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

H100 –Viva la Revolucion!

The Leavenworth Way of War

poster_cheguevara_bigAuthors Knox and Murray, in the textbook, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, analyze the major historical changes in the nature of warfare in the modern period.  They call these Military Revolutions (MR).  A subset of those revolutions are smaller specific changes in the methods of warfare, they consider these smaller scale more focused changes Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMA).  The major military debate coming in the next years is how to structure the American military for the 21st Century.  In that debate it is important to determine if warfare currently is in the midst or has undergone an MR based on emerging and existing digital information technologies.    Do you think the US Army leadership believes that an MR has occurred or is occurring?  What is the evidence of that?  Regardless of what you believe the US Army leadership thinks regarding MRs, what is your opinion?  

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September 3, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Welcome to History CGSC Class of 2018

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Just a short a note to welcome the new CGSC class 2018, Staff Section 19, to the blog. As I have said in class, the purpose of this blog is to continue the discussion of the class room topics in another venue.

I will be posting a class specific blog entry for each class . Anyone in the class, actually anyone –other CGSC students as well anyone from the public, military or civilian, not affiliated with CGSC –can comment on what I post.

I do not plan to edit in any way the comments on the posts. However, in the extremely rare case where someone might spam or flame the comments sections, or post anything I deem inappropriate, I will edit those out. The blog guidelines posted on this page should be considered before posting.

If you have something to say relevant to the class that you want to express that does not go directly to the lead in blog, feel free to add that in the comments section as well. In other words, the topics are not limited to the subjects I suggest, but are limited only limited by what is relevant to our history class and your CGSC experience.

A recommendation: be aware of your writing style and grammar in your comments. Like any public writing, including email, people will judge you by how you write as well as what you write. I won’t be concerned about your style –but it is just natural that others will. Do what I do –write your blog comments in word –spell check and proof read them –and then post them. Its not a big deal, but it is an opportunity to practice good communications habits.

That said, ignore all of my style and grammar errors and focus on my content 😉

Again, welcome to the blog for AY 15 and have fun!

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Admin | Leave a comment