The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H110/111 WWI Strategery


“I an220px-vonmoltkeswered 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 22, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Based on the discussion, it appears that Von Moltke does not realize that as military officers, we are required to be an integrated part of national strategy. Our job is to provide national leadership with options that are acceptable to meet the national security strategy. When military strategy is discussed in FM 3-0, it references the art and science of employing the armed forces to secure the objectives of national policy. Through a better understanding of the balance between the art and science, Von Moltke would be able to develop a strategy that is capable of being successful on any front.
    As it pertains to national and military leadership, there is a potential for some levels to become singularly focused on accomplishing a particular objective. However, utilizing doctrine as a guideline and the checks and balances that are applied throughout the system, the likelihood of being singularly focused is minimized as it forces commanders to back brief their understanding of how their strategy is nested to meet the National Security Strategy as part of the DIME construct. Additionally, when combatant commanders analyze a requirement through the Ends, Ways, Means and Risk construct, they are more likely to take a holistic view in order to develop strategy that is flexible to meet the needs of the current operating environment.

    Comment by ryan bruner | November 25, 2016

  2. Regarding strategy, it is certainly possible to find yourself in the frame of mind that says, “this is how we need to execute because we’ve planned for it.” But what if that plan no longer accomplishes the objective? This is the natural transition that needs to occur between understanding the problem presented to you and finding a creative solution to solve it (reference H109 blog). In the case of Von Moltke the younger, he failed to see that there was a better option because he had only ever prepare to execute one plan. That plan, while certainly flawed, simply did not account for major variables like the UK. In many ways, the U.S. fell victim to the same type of mentality after 11SEP01. Many dangerous assumptions and linkages were made in order to justify war with Iraq. These assumptions have ultimately led us to the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in today. Just as with the last blog, it seems that our nation is at constant threat of repeating the same mistakes if we do not actively think differently about situations. It is only then that we will be able to learn from what has happened in the past and not risk making the same mistakes.

    Comment by Justin Reddick | November 25, 2016

  3. Great article that provides almost all of the definitions of the Strategy. From my opinion, the Strategy basically means a big plan, that talk about what we want to accomplish to reach to the future we deserve and the good strategy should cover all of the consideration like enemies, allies, strength, weakness, …etc. Von Molted the younger, from my opinion he missed understanding all of that, as he had only one plan, that he wanted to accomplish whatever the Sacrifices. He did not plan for Russia as he did not put enough troops in its side. He did not expect any other countries may be involved in this conflict. Von Molted the younger miss understanding was not only the main reason of the failure of the operation against French but also the fall of the Prussian empire. Strategy is very important component in any success, USA planned very unique and perfect strategy in the desert storm war and it gained many benefits from that. the second War in Iraq was also well planned but only in the tactical level which cause success in the tactical level but for the strategy was not planned with the same level of quality, and as a result the strategic gain was not good in comparing with the desert storm. CGSC play a very important role in preparing the new generation of the future leaders who will make their focus in the strategy, and the CGSC is providing them with many tools that improve their ability in creative and critical thinking.

    Comment by mohamed ibrahim | November 26, 2016

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