Monday, September 15, 2014
Some First Principles of American Military Strategy
Some very succinct, clear and common sense guidance that could probably fit under the glass of most desks of people on the Hill and in the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building. Kudos to Army Strategists Bazin and Sukman.
This post was provided by Aaron Bazin and Dan Sukman, US Army strategists. The views expressed in this piece are theirs alone and do not represent the US Army or the Department of Defense.
If the ability communicate complex ideas in an easily understood way is a valuable skill to the strategic thinker, then first principles offer one possible point of departure from which to begin any discussion on strategy. A few months ago, we posed a question on various strategy-related email chains and Facebook pages asking interested parties what the first principles of military strategy were. We got numerous responses; some humorous, some vitriolic, but all very interesting.
Development of a first principle is akin to boiling down information to uncover the elemental truth that lies within. We culled through the responses and necked down the subject to consider only ‘American’ military strategy to add further clarity and context. Then we tried to synthesize, combine, and distill each one down to the core of its essence. Our final list includes eight, but there are undoubtedly many, many more. We offer the outline of the first principles below for your consideration:
Thesis: America is successful when it aligns the use of force with first principles that reflect the essence of its national character. These first principles could include:
1) Have a Strategy. America is successful when it clearly defines success in terms of ends, ways, means, and risk. Failure occurs when policymakers have tactical fixation, lack as unifying vision, or cannot define achievable goals (e.g. McNamara and body counts). Americans love to win; therefore strategy must define what winning means.
(Continued at the link below)
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