The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H206: The French Are Falling, The French are Falling!

In May 1940 the German military conquered France in a matter of weeks. The new blitzkrieg doctrine was able to accomplish what they had been unable to do despite hundreds of thousands of lives lost in four years of World War I. Was the new German military doctrine that good? Or, was the French internal political disunity, inability to exercise military command and leadership, poor understanding of new technologies and sub-standard small unit training so profound that they “lost” the battle for France more than the Germans won it?

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

H205: 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?

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

H204: The Navy’s 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?

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

H203: The Advocate and Airpower

The transformation case study of the US Army Air Corps in the interwar years focused largely on the personality of BG William “Billy” Mitchell. He has since then been considered one of the “fathers” of the modern US Air Force. Was he really a positive force for the transformation of the Air Force? Could his efforts have been more effective if he had worked inside the structure of the military as did his superior, Major General Mason Patrick, the Chief of the Air Service?

Air power doctrine as advocated by Italian theorist Giulio Douhet, Hugh Trenchard, and Billy Mitchell predicted essentially that decisive strategic effects could be achieved from air. In other words, air power was capable of winning wars without the assistance of the other services. This theory has been echoed by modern US Air Force leaders such as Air Force Chiefs of Staffs Michael J. Dugan and Merrill A. McPeak. These ideas have been detailed in such popular discussions of air strategy as The Air Campaign and Shock and Awe. Can air power win wars decisively and at low cost in some cases? If it can not, what capability justifies a separate Air Force? If it can, does that argue against jointness as central component of US military doctrine?

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

H202: Tanks for the Memories

One of the most dramatic transformation that occurred in the interwar years was the transformation of ground combat. The attrition focused stalemate of the trenches evolved into a new dramatic form of maneuver warfare developed primarily in Germany. When it was executed during the opening months of WWII it was popularly called blitzkrieg and military professionals and the general public alike associated the technology of the main battle tank with this new form of warfare. Was the main battle tank the key enabling technological component of blitzkrieg or was it something else? Was technology really the most important aspect of blitzkrieg? How would you describe the importance of doctrine and leadership, including the idea of mission command, to the blitzkrieg concept. Finally, was blitzkrieg really a new way of war, or simply a better way to prosecute an old way of war?

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

H201: 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?

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments