The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H108: The American Way of War

The American Civil War vividly demonstrated how the products of the industrial revolution, the rifled musket, steam powered trains and ships, the telegraph, banking, and mass production manufacturing techniques changed tactical and operational warfare. Less noticable was the way in which the economic base of a country became an important aspect of its war making capability. Limited economic base meant limited war making capability while a large robust economic base meant a large war making capability. General Grant consiously developed his attritition strategy followed in the last eighteen months of the war based on his understanding of the economic advantages of the Union. Simply put, the Union could sustain losses of manpower and material and the South could not. Thus, tactical and operational victory, though desired, was not necessary to winning the war. Continuous fighting was necessary to make this happen –not continuous tactical victory. Thus Grant’s guidance to his subordinate :


Though focused tactically on battle, the purpose of battle was not to achieve tactical victory, but rather to deplete Southern resources, regardless of tactical victory. Thus, there was no direct link between military tactical victory and strategic victory. Military operations were necessary to enable the leveraging of the Union’s economic advantage, but the economic advantage was what was decisive not the supporting military campaign.

Grant focused on destroying the Southern Army, and then Southern governance. Nothing done in the Civil War or after addressed the third aspect of Clausewitz’s trinity –the passion of the people. Some argue that this was the reason for the failure of Reconstruction and domination of former Confederates of the South after the war.

Historian Russel Weigley sees the Civil War as a template for an “American Way of War:” “The Civil War tended to fix the American image of war from the 1860s into America’s rise to world power at the turn of the century, and it also suggested that the complete overthrow of the enemy, the destruction of his military power, is the object of war.”

Does Weigley’s template for the American Way of War still apply today? Are we pursuing a Grant model strategy in Afghanistan focused on insurgents and insurgent leadership, and ignoring the “passion” that supports the insurgency?

How does a strategy address the “passion” aspect of war? Is it part of the military strategy or should it be part of the national strategy? Who in government is the lead for attacking the enemy’s passion?

October 20, 2017 Posted by | H100, Professional Military Education, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World; Inside Islam

Understanding Islam:  An Introduction to the Muslim World, by Thomas W. Lippon is a 1995 beginner’s guide to Islam and the Middle.  Lippman was the Washington Post Bureau Chief in the Middle East and he uses information gained through living and traveling through Islamic countries, as well as the words of the Holy Koran and other Islamic works.  The religion of Islam is a message sent by GOD to the Prophet Mohamed may peace be upon him (MPUH), and understanding Islam is not difficult but the majority in the West judge Islam through the acts of some Muslims who do not necessarily represent the Faith..  The author provides information about the rules of Islam and how some governments use Islam to show the right path for policy.   This book contributes to an understanding of Islam. I recommend this book to students that are interested in learning the basic information about Islam and interested in a book that talks fairly about other religions and cultures.

 LTC Abdullah Alsomad

The author of Inside Islam, Anne-Marie Delcamber, is a French citizen who holds doctorates in law and in Islamic Civilization. She is professor of Arabic at Lycee Louis-le-Grand, Paris. She has written many books that relate to Islam and the prophet Mohammed (peace upon him).  Since the events of 9/11, several books on Islam have appeared in bookstores. Two major trends characterize these books. On one hand are authors who seek with their work to facilitate genuine and critical discussions about Islam and its civilization devoid of religious and cultural polemics. The goal of these authors is to encourage dialogue between the Muslim world and the West.  On the other hand are works of authors notorious for their polemics, rather than substance. These authors have found, in the tragic incident of 9/11, an opportunity to spread deep-seated hatred, prejudice, and ignorance about Islam and Muslims. In the latter genre falls “Inside Islam” by Anne-Marie Delcambre.   As far as Delcambre is concerned, there is only one interpretation of Islam, fundamentalist Islam, which is about internalizing and practicing the prohibitions of juridical Islam.  “Inside Islam” is not a work of scholarship, but a collection of personal views, mostly bordering on bigotry, racism and ignorance disguised as academic research. It is a work of ‘selective justice.’ I don’t recommend the book for students who want to learn about Islam in particular and Middle East issues in general.

MAJ Ahmed Ambu-saidi

May 5, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Reviews: Urban Warfare Books

The following are short book reviews done by students in A620, The History of Modern Urban Operations:


A Savage War for Peace, by Alstaire Horne.


A Savage War of Peace is an epic story of the history of the final eight years of struggle of the Algerian people for independence. 

After reading the book and then the modern reviews of the book one has to wonder how the press could give such an inaccurate account of the actions of our Soldiers in Iraq.  While there are parallels, likening the Algerian war for independence to the Iraq occupation differs immensely.

MAJ Blaine Wales


The Sling and The Stone – On War in the 21st Century, by T.X. Hammes


COL Hammes shows how we as a military are failing to address the challenge of 4GW (4th Generation Warfare) and that without major political and military reform we are destined to fail.  He uses historical references to show how, through minor adaptations, that small less powerful organizations have systematically defeated large conventional armies.  The book is extremely useful for all levels of command by bringing adaptations of Mao’s principals of insurgency to light in the tactical, operational and strategic environment.

MAJ Dan Kidd


Battle for Hue, by Keith W. Nolan


The Battle for Hue, as captured by Keith Nolan, is an extensive chronology of combat actions fought in an urban environment during the TET Offensive of 1968.  Written predominantly through the eyes of the Marines that fought in and around Hue, the third largest city in South Vietnam, Nolan uses both Marine Corps Archives and firsthand accounts from over 35 Service Members to present a very comprehensive view of one of the longest and fiercest battles during the US participation in combat operations in Vietnam.

MAJ Jason Marquiss


No True Glory, by Bing West


This Book No True Glory is about the American fight against the insurgency in the year of 2004. The Author, Mr. Bing West, wrote this book based on time spent with strategic Leaders and with the Soldiers and Marines in the Infantry Battalions at the final Battle of Fallujah. This book covers the Final Battle of Fallujah in-depth at the Company and Squad leader level.

MAJ Darren Keahtigh


November 7, 2008 Posted by | books, Urban Warfare | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment