The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H111 Generalship and Innovation

Given the popular view of WWI generalship as incompetent and unimaginative, is this view valid? Was there a way avoid the huge casualties of WWI without losing the war?

One of the more progressive things that the WWI leadership advanced was the role of the airplane. In Great Britain they went so far as to create a new service, the Royal Air Force, to manage the new dimension of war.   This was an unprecedented step in military history. Today a new dimension of war is Cyber warfare. Do you think that a Cyber Force –a new service, separate from the other three traditional services, led by its own Chief of Staff is necessary to ensure that the US military has the capability to fight Cyber warfare as part of the joint warfighting team as effectively as necessary?

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

H110 On Strategy

neral Helmut Von Molke, Chief of the German General Staff, 1914


“I answered His Majesty that this was impossible. The deployment of an army a million strong was not a thing to be improvised, it was the product of a whole year’s hard work and once planned could not be changed. If His Majesty were to insist on directing the whole army to the east, he would not have an army prepared for the attack but a barren heap of armed men disorganized and without supplies.”

The Kaiser: “Your uncle would have given me a different answer.”


Given the below definitions from our current doctrine, and the conversation described above, what did Von Molke not understand about strategy? Also, do you think there is a danger of U.S. national and miltiary leadership making a similar mistake? Why or why not?



strategy — A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives. (JP 3-0)

National Security Strategy — A document approved by the President of the United States for developing, applying, and coordinating the instruments of national power to achieve objectives that contribute to national security. Also called NSS. See also National Military Strategy; strategy; theater strategy. (JP 3-0)

national defense strategy — A document approved by the Secretary of Defense for applying the Armed Forces of the United States in coordination with Department of Defense agencies and other instruments of national power to achieve national security strategy objectives. Also called NDS. (JP 3-0)

National Military Strategy — A document approved by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for distributing and applying military power to attain national security strategy and national defense strategy objectives. Also called NMS. See also National Security Strategy; strategy; theater strategy. (JP 3-0)

theater strategy — An overarching construct outlining a combatant commander’s vision for integrating and synchronizing military activities and operations with the other instruments of national power in order to achieve national strategic objectives. See also
National Military Strategy; National Security Strategy; strategy. (JP 3-0)


strategy – (DOD) The art and science of developing and employing instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national and/or multinational objectives. See FM 3-0. (FM 1-02).

military strategy – (DOD) The art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation to secure the objectives of national policy by the application of force or the threat of force. See also strategy. See FM 3-0. (FM 1-02).

November 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

H109 Grooming and Picking Generals

In his article, A Failure in Generalship, Paul Yingling argues that the American army’s process for selecting generals is flawed. He advocates taking the general officer promotion system away from the military and making it a task for Congress. Retired MG Scales wrote an article which seemed to back up Yingling’s view. Numerous other analysts believe that Yingling’s general point is accurate. Defense analyst Tom Ricks has just published a book on the subject called The Generals –I suspect somewhat inspired by Yingling’s article (see the Atlantic article related to the book –click here).

There are essentially two different military philosophies regarding the system used to pick general officers. One view is a view that comes from the French revolutionary armies of the 18th and early 19th century. That view is promotion should be based strictly on merit. In this system officers are selected from among their peers for promotion based on their demonstrated performance of duty. Ultimately, this promotion by merit system results in the most competent officers achieving the highest rank.

November 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments