andrewlb notes

On Tactics

On Tactics

Metadata

Highlights

  • The student of strategy, once he realizes the importance of the concept, has a well-organized field in which to plant the seeds of his intellectual development. (Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine gender is used, both men and women are included.) The furrows are straight and parallel, the plow is sharp and ready, and even the fallow fields are clearly defined. The study of tactics offers no such easy introduction. The fields are unseen, buried beneath tangled undergrowth, thorny bushes, and towering trees. A chaotic mix of overgrown strategic theory, dense doctrine, and of course military history hides the underlying nature of tactics. (Location 71)
  • Theory will have fulfilled its main task it used to analyze the constituent elements of war, to distinguish precisely what at first sight seems fused, to explain in full the properties of the means employed and to show their probable effects, to define clearly the nature of the ends in view, and to illuminate all phases of warfare in a thorough critical inquiry. Theory then becomes a guide to anyone who wants to learn about war from books; it will light his way, ease his progress, train his judgment, and help him to avoid pitfalls.1 (Location 78)
  • For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc., I must respectfully say, “Not really”: (Location 136)
  • We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. —Gen. James Mattis, USMC, November 20, 2003 (Location 140)
  • To assist him in his artistry, the tactician can draw on three sources: doctrine, his own experience, and the experience of others gained through the study of military history. (Location 150)
  • What is missing in military doctrine is context and the context is everything to the tactician. (Location 155)
  • In the words of J. C. Wylie, “[theory] is orderly rationalization of real or presumed patterns of events . . . [that can] help the practitioner to enlarge his vision in an orderly, manageable and useful fashion—and then apply it to the reality with which he is faced.” (Location 165)
  • there is no true division because strategy is made up of tactics and tactics are chosen or modified based on strategy. (Location 185)
  • Tactics that do not serve strategy are wasteful at best and counterproductive at worst. (Location 186)
  • The Syracusans ambushed the Carthaginians in a narrow defile from high ground while the latter were attempting to cross a river. The Carthaginians were annihilated.22 Today, the ambush is the preferred tactic among the Taliban in Afghanistan and other insurgents around the world. The underlying principles that make the ambush effective—surprise, maneuver, firepower, and mass, to name a few—are of warfare’s timeless nature even though the character of the ambushes changes. (Location 311)
  • It is a tactic: independent of specific organization and equipment and fundamentally different in nature from a technique or a procedure. (Location 375)
  • On this sterile plane, there are four predominant ways to gain a physical advantage over the enemy: through maneuver, through mass, through firepower, and through tempo. (Location 448)
  • It is absolutely true in war, were other things equal, that numbers, whether men, shells, bombs, etc., would be supreme. Yet it is also absolutely true that other things are never equal and can never be equal. —J. F. C. Fuller (Location 500)
  • Maneuver can be defined as attacking an enemy force from a position of comparative advantage. (Location 548)
  • The Somali National Army uses mounted squads (typically on pickup trucks with a crew-served weapon also known as a technical) that move independently, keeping within sight of each other, depending on the terrain. (Location 682)
  • It was Jomini’s methods plus Liddell Hart’s indirect approach, plus John Boyd’s focus on acting faster than the opponent. We can see a conclusion forming already: combinations of tactical tenets in ways appropriate to the situation produce tactical success greater than the sum of their parts. (Location 712)
  • Mass is an advantageous concentration of combat power in space and/or time. (Location 738)
  • When it comes to mass, the trick is to concentrate when it is advantageous to do so but stay dispersed when it is not. (Location 746)
  • This concept basically describes the ability of one opponent to shift mass in relation to the enemy. If you have a strong perimeter and the enemy is operating outside of it, the enemy is operating on exterior lines while you are operating on interior lines. (Location 820)
  • For this discussion, then, it is important to point out that by “firepower” in modern warfare, we mean ranged firepower in the form of air support, indirect fires, and crew-served weapons. Firepower is the ability to apply ranged weapons at an advantage against enemy forces. (Location 886)
  • The dominance of the mounted knight was ended by the crossbow and the English longbow. The castle was brought down by artillery. Then fortifications outpaced gunpowder and forts were developed to withstand artillery. Forts lasted until 1914 when the German army used a 420-mm howitzer (most howitzers today are around 155-mm in caliber) firing 2,000-pound shells to literally pulverize Belgian forts, which were then the most modern in Europe.4 Combatants then built down instead of up to escape the steel rain, producing the gargantuan trench systems of the western front. By World War II the advent of the tank and effective close air support meant that giant, almost immobile artillery pieces became targets themselves. Soldiers increasingly turned to camouflage and covered approaches for protection. Speed became protection. So-called guerrilla warfare increased in prevalence. In Vietnam the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) used tunnels, underground barracks, and the thick vegetation to avoid aerial bombardment. In Afghanistan the Taliban and al Qaeda took to caves. Other groups use human shields by hiding among civilians in population centers. (Location 911)
  • Tempo is the ability to control the pace of combat to your advantage and the disadvantage of the enemy. The only major theorist to truly grapple with the dimension of time in tactics is John Boyd. Tempo was central to Boyd’s (Location 1033)
  • The inherent friction in military operations can be mitigated by training, efficient procedures, and repetition, but it can never be eliminated. The paralyzing fear and blanketing confusion that accompanies actual combat magnifies this friction to an almost literal, physical level. (Location 1046)
  • Boyd says if you move and decide faster than your enemy, you will win. (Location 1070)
  • Deception is the manipulation of the enemy’s understanding of the situation in order to achieve an advantageous situation. (Location 1164)
  • Sun Tzu’s statement that “all warfare is deception” is easy to understand. A plan known to the enemy is one that the enemy can counter. Deception corrupts his mind by replacing reality with a false image designed by the opposing tactician. While the tactician raises the probability of success through his use of deception, he also hides the true equation from his opponent. (Location 1226)
  • Surprise in combat is the act of presenting your enemy with a situation or capability for which he is mentally unprepared. (Location 1236)
  • He views strategic surprise as nearly impossible but tactical surprise as rarely decisive. (Location 1282)
  • “For the side that can benefit from the psychological effects of surprise, the worse the situation is, the better it may turn out, while the enemy finds himself incapable of making a coherent decision” (emphasis added).8 (Location 1283)
  • Confusion in combat is a state of mental overload or disarray that makes it difficult both to react to events and understand the situation. (Location 1298)
  • numerous little difficulties along with inherent human factors present in war cause friction within an army. Commanders must overcome this inherent friction. (Location 1300)
  • Boyd saw the same dynamic from another perspective. He did not deny that every military organization has to overcome its own friction, but he also wanted to increase the friction of the opponent in order to gain an advantage or even to cause complete paralysis. (Location 1302)
  • In May 2015 the terrorist group ISIS used a concentrated barrage of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices much like a professional military would use artillery. The Iraqi city of Ramadi was struck with waves of truck bombs, some of which were powerful enough to destroy entire city blocks, that induced the defending Iraqi army units to retreat.10 ISIS occupied Ramadi in the wake of the Iraqi army. (Location 1419)
  • the volunteer soldier who is motivated to fight is superior to the soldier forced to fight. (Location 1490)
  • Modern military units frequently state that mission accomplishment is a unit’s first priority and troop welfare is its second. This is false. Troop welfare that forges the moral cohesion of the unit—and thus its combat effectiveness—is a prerequisite to mission accomplishment. (Location 1535)
  • Concepts like using proportional force and preventing the harm of non-combatants matter both to the strategist and to the tactician. Violations cause feelings of guilt and shame in the ranks, thus diminishing moral power in future battles. (Location 1579)
  • Moral cohesion is not entirely dependent on the morality of the cause. (Location 1599)
  • Joan was a seventeen-year-old peasant who believed she was sent by God to win the war for France. (Location 1611)
  • That a young woman could lead veteran armies, tip the scales of a war, and become such a threat to England solely with inspirational leadership demonstrates the power of moral example. The idea that Joan of Arc innately understood tactics or was receiving instructions from a deity is preposterous. But the French troops believed fervently that she did, and that belief contributed to create moral power that they had lacked. (Location 1618)
  • The moral element in warfare, then, is a combination of morale, cohesion, ethics and morality, and leadership. Combined, it can be termed “moral cohesion.” (Location 1648)
  • The important part for the tactician is simply the recognition of the moral forces at play in battle and their potential to trump physical and mental forces. (Location 1650)
  • The tactician must account for the moral trump card when evaluating his hand. Although physical deployments and clever mental manipulations can raise the probability of victory, they can never provide a guarantee and moral force can always show its face. As Clausewitz said, “Battle is the bloodiest solution. . . .—its effect . . . is rather a killing of the enemy’s spirit than of his men.”15 (Location 1654)
  • Clausewitzian concept of the culminating point of victory and its primary driver, friction. War is a human endeavor and humans cannot be expected to fight forever. (Location 1666)
  • It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. —Julius Caesar (Location 1680)
  • In On War he describes a feedback loop between tactical victories and the morale—and thus combat power—of troops in the field. (Location 1690)
  • In order for subordinate commanders to be able to make effective decisions, they must be primed with information regarding the larger context of the battle in which they are engaged. This method of command and control is called Aufragstaktik in German and mission command in English. This method rests on three pillars: commander’s intent, the main effort, and the reserve. The concept itself is essentially a combination of the best practices of centralized and decentralized command. (Location 1854)
  • Moltke himself introduced the concept into the Prussian military and believed, “The advantage which a commander thinks he can attain through continued personal intervention is largely illusory. By engaging in it he assumes a task which really belongs to others, whose effectiveness he thus destroys. He also multiplies his own tasks to a point where he can no longer fulfil the whole of them.” (Location 1863)
  • “[The Joint Force] will, by necessity, act by the guiding star of intent. Mission-type orders will be the norm. Commanders will be required to understand intent to the level of effect; that is, strategic to tactical and across domains. They will be required to clearly translate their intent (and that of higher) to their subordinates and trust them to perform with responsible initiative in complex, fast-changing, chaotic circumstances.” (Location 1906)
  • A reserve force should be heavy enough to make an impact on the enemy but fast enough to react quickly. (Location 1950)
  • The tactician must translate his mission and his vision for its accomplishment into a plan that can be executed in the real world. (Location 1969)
  • Colin S. Gray describes strategy as a bridge between the tactics that occur on the battlefield and the policy goals that those tactics are intended to secure.1 This is an apt metaphor for the concept. Strategy is a two-way thoroughfare, enabling the necessary modifications of tactics by policymakers to bring them in line with political goals and allowing policymakers to make decisions informed by the practitioners that must strive to achieve those goals. (Location 2080)
  • A policymaker who does not understand the capabilities and limitations of the tacticians cannot make effective policy. (Location 2084)
  • Events on the battlefield do not remain there; they resonate among the defeated army and among the government officials whose policy is now in danger and the people whose soldiers were defeated. War is not won on the battlefield; it is won by the effect of battle on the strategic level. (Location 2093)
  • A true tactical victory is won when the cumulative physical and mental means of one side shatters the moral cohesion of the other, as we have seen. This, however, should not be taken to mean that the shattering of moral cohesion is sufficient. It is merely the means to an end that the tactician will further seek through exploitation at the tactical level (which will usually mean the destruction or at least attrition of the enemy force), and the use of the victory for the purpose of the war, to borrow Clausewitz’s phrase. (Location 2098)
  • The actions of Brasidas marked a turning point in the strategies of both sides. Before Brasidas, there was no bridge connecting Spartan tactics with the policy goal of victory over Athens. Once that conceptual bridge had been built, all Spartan decisions flowed from it. (Location 2134)
  • In The Strategy Bridge Colin S. Gray wrote, “They [strategic actors] use their tactical behavior to secure a strongly net positive strategic effect.” (Location 2143)
  • The U.S. military had fallen for the misinterpretation of Clausewitz that stated that the center of gravity was the enemy army. This had been true for the Hussein regime, but that regime was gone. In its place was an insurgency fueled by dissatisfaction with the provisional government, instigated by foreign terrorists motivated by ideology, and quietly supported by countries like Syria and Iran. The U.S. military found itself in a place similar to Sparta’s before Brasidas: in possession of the most dominant military force but without a suitable target. (Location 2201)
  • Strategy must be centralized but tactics must be decentralized. (Location 2222)
  • This requires that those who plan strategy accept that tacticians must be given space within which to operate, not specific directives. (Location 2223)
  • Tactics should not be executed, and neither should they be studied, in a strategic vacuum. (Location 2234)
  • Lieutenants in particular, who can be the sole link between strategy and the tactical actions occurring at bayonet range, are purposely left ignorant of strategy. Military officers are typically not even introduced to strategy until they are senior majors and lieutenant commanders, at which point they have been implementing strategy for well over a decade. Even the reading lists of the services do not include works of strategic theory until this point. Enlisted leaders get nothing. (Location 2238)
  • A cottage industry of shallow military thought attached itself to the Department of Defense like a parasite, selling “new” concepts that ranged from the specious (such as the RMA and effectsbased operations), to the banal (like “hybrid” and “asymmetric” warfare), to the nonsensical (like 4th Generation Warfare and Gray Zones/Wars). (Location 2243)
  • The key for the tactician is not to know the tactical tenets and concepts: the key is to understand them well enough to adapt them to a particular situation in order to achieve tactical success. (Location 2268)
  • Various audiences perceive tactical events and are affected by the outcome. The victors are flushed with the thrill of victory. Their government inches or even leaps toward the policy goal. The civilian population, local or otherwise, takes heart that they are defended or served by great warriors or stolid soldiers. The losing side experiences the opposite. Effective exploitation of a tactical victory—which is the result of ensuring its positive service to the strategy and magnifying its effect—is the difference between victory and decisive victory. (Location 2288)
  • The tacticians that inhabit the battlefield side of the river accrue victories that build the strategy bridge, but always with an eye toward the opposite shore. Woe be the engineer that builds a bridge without first checking that there is indeed land on the other side. The policymakers decide, with the tacticians’ input, where the bridge should be placed. But it is the accrual of tactical success that provides the rebar and concrete. (Location 2299)
  • Overwhelming military success once was enough to bridge the gap between tactics and policy, and thus was a sufficient strategy. (Location 2312)
  • If we do not understand our end, no means will accomplish it, and battle becomes only slaughter. (Location 2313)

public: true

title: On Tactics longtitle: On Tactics author: B.A. Friedman url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2020-04-20 type: books tags:

On Tactics

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • The student of strategy, once he realizes the importance of the concept, has a well-organized field in which to plant the seeds of his intellectual development. (Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine gender is used, both men and women are included.) The furrows are straight and parallel, the plow is sharp and ready, and even the fallow fields are clearly defined. The study of tactics offers no such easy introduction. The fields are unseen, buried beneath tangled undergrowth, thorny bushes, and towering trees. A chaotic mix of overgrown strategic theory, dense doctrine, and of course military history hides the underlying nature of tactics. (Location 71)
  • Theory will have fulfilled its main task it used to analyze the constituent elements of war, to distinguish precisely what at first sight seems fused, to explain in full the properties of the means employed and to show their probable effects, to define clearly the nature of the ends in view, and to illuminate all phases of warfare in a thorough critical inquiry. Theory then becomes a guide to anyone who wants to learn about war from books; it will light his way, ease his progress, train his judgment, and help him to avoid pitfalls.1 (Location 78)
  • For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc., I must respectfully say, “Not really”: (Location 136)
  • We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. —Gen. James Mattis, USMC, November 20, 2003 (Location 140)
  • To assist him in his artistry, the tactician can draw on three sources: doctrine, his own experience, and the experience of others gained through the study of military history. (Location 150)
  • What is missing in military doctrine is context and the context is everything to the tactician. (Location 155)
  • In the words of J. C. Wylie, “[theory] is orderly rationalization of real or presumed patterns of events . . . [that can] help the practitioner to enlarge his vision in an orderly, manageable and useful fashion—and then apply it to the reality with which he is faced.” (Location 165)
  • there is no true division because strategy is made up of tactics and tactics are chosen or modified based on strategy. (Location 185)
  • Tactics that do not serve strategy are wasteful at best and counterproductive at worst. (Location 186)
  • The Syracusans ambushed the Carthaginians in a narrow defile from high ground while the latter were attempting to cross a river. The Carthaginians were annihilated.22 Today, the ambush is the preferred tactic among the Taliban in Afghanistan and other insurgents around the world. The underlying principles that make the ambush effective—surprise, maneuver, firepower, and mass, to name a few—are of warfare’s timeless nature even though the character of the ambushes changes. (Location 311)
  • It is a tactic: independent of specific organization and equipment and fundamentally different in nature from a technique or a procedure. (Location 375)
  • On this sterile plane, there are four predominant ways to gain a physical advantage over the enemy: through maneuver, through mass, through firepower, and through tempo. (Location 448)
  • It is absolutely true in war, were other things equal, that numbers, whether men, shells, bombs, etc., would be supreme. Yet it is also absolutely true that other things are never equal and can never be equal. —J. F. C. Fuller (Location 500)
  • Maneuver can be defined as attacking an enemy force from a position of comparative advantage. (Location 548)
  • The Somali National Army uses mounted squads (typically on pickup trucks with a crew-served weapon also known as a technical) that move independently, keeping within sight of each other, depending on the terrain. (Location 682)
  • It was Jomini’s methods plus Liddell Hart’s indirect approach, plus John Boyd’s focus on acting faster than the opponent. We can see a conclusion forming already: combinations of tactical tenets in ways appropriate to the situation produce tactical success greater than the sum of their parts. (Location 712)
  • Mass is an advantageous concentration of combat power in space and/or time. (Location 738)
  • When it comes to mass, the trick is to concentrate when it is advantageous to do so but stay dispersed when it is not. (Location 746)
  • This concept basically describes the ability of one opponent to shift mass in relation to the enemy. If you have a strong perimeter and the enemy is operating outside of it, the enemy is operating on exterior lines while you are operating on interior lines. (Location 820)
  • For this discussion, then, it is important to point out that by “firepower” in modern warfare, we mean ranged firepower in the form of air support, indirect fires, and crew-served weapons. Firepower is the ability to apply ranged weapons at an advantage against enemy forces. (Location 886)
  • The dominance of the mounted knight was ended by the crossbow and the English longbow. The castle was brought down by artillery. Then fortifications outpaced gunpowder and forts were developed to withstand artillery. Forts lasted until 1914 when the German army used a 420-mm howitzer (most howitzers today are around 155-mm in caliber) firing 2,000-pound shells to literally pulverize Belgian forts, which were then the most modern in Europe.4 Combatants then built down instead of up to escape the steel rain, producing the gargantuan trench systems of the western front. By World War II the advent of the tank and effective close air support meant that giant, almost immobile artillery pieces became targets themselves. Soldiers increasingly turned to camouflage and covered approaches for protection. Speed became protection. So-called guerrilla warfare increased in prevalence. In Vietnam the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) used tunnels, underground barracks, and the thick vegetation to avoid aerial bombardment. In Afghanistan the Taliban and al Qaeda took to caves. Other groups use human shields by hiding among civilians in population centers. (Location 911)
  • Tempo is the ability to control the pace of combat to your advantage and the disadvantage of the enemy. The only major theorist to truly grapple with the dimension of time in tactics is John Boyd. Tempo was central to Boyd’s (Location 1033)
  • The inherent friction in military operations can be mitigated by training, efficient procedures, and repetition, but it can never be eliminated. The paralyzing fear and blanketing confusion that accompanies actual combat magnifies this friction to an almost literal, physical level. (Location 1046)
  • Boyd says if you move and decide faster than your enemy, you will win. (Location 1070)
  • Deception is the manipulation of the enemy’s understanding of the situation in order to achieve an advantageous situation. (Location 1164)
  • Sun Tzu’s statement that “all warfare is deception” is easy to understand. A plan known to the enemy is one that the enemy can counter. Deception corrupts his mind by replacing reality with a false image designed by the opposing tactician. While the tactician raises the probability of success through his use of deception, he also hides the true equation from his opponent. (Location 1226)
  • Surprise in combat is the act of presenting your enemy with a situation or capability for which he is mentally unprepared. (Location 1236)
  • He views strategic surprise as nearly impossible but tactical surprise as rarely decisive. (Location 1282)
  • “For the side that can benefit from the psychological effects of surprise, the worse the situation is, the better it may turn out, while the enemy finds himself incapable of making a coherent decision” (emphasis added).8 (Location 1283)
  • Confusion in combat is a state of mental overload or disarray that makes it difficult both to react to events and understand the situation. (Location 1298)
  • numerous little difficulties along with inherent human factors present in war cause friction within an army. Commanders must overcome this inherent friction. (Location 1300)
  • Boyd saw the same dynamic from another perspective. He did not deny that every military organization has to overcome its own friction, but he also wanted to increase the friction of the opponent in order to gain an advantage or even to cause complete paralysis. (Location 1302)
  • In May 2015 the terrorist group ISIS used a concentrated barrage of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices much like a professional military would use artillery. The Iraqi city of Ramadi was struck with waves of truck bombs, some of which were powerful enough to destroy entire city blocks, that induced the defending Iraqi army units to retreat.10 ISIS occupied Ramadi in the wake of the Iraqi army. (Location 1419)
  • the volunteer soldier who is motivated to fight is superior to the soldier forced to fight. (Location 1490)
  • Modern military units frequently state that mission accomplishment is a unit’s first priority and troop welfare is its second. This is false. Troop welfare that forges the moral cohesion of the unit—and thus its combat effectiveness—is a prerequisite to mission accomplishment. (Location 1535)
  • Concepts like using proportional force and preventing the harm of non-combatants matter both to the strategist and to the tactician. Violations cause feelings of guilt and shame in the ranks, thus diminishing moral power in future battles. (Location 1579)
  • Moral cohesion is not entirely dependent on the morality of the cause. (Location 1599)
  • Joan was a seventeen-year-old peasant who believed she was sent by God to win the war for France. (Location 1611)
  • That a young woman could lead veteran armies, tip the scales of a war, and become such a threat to England solely with inspirational leadership demonstrates the power of moral example. The idea that Joan of Arc innately understood tactics or was receiving instructions from a deity is preposterous. But the French troops believed fervently that she did, and that belief contributed to create moral power that they had lacked. (Location 1618)
  • The moral element in warfare, then, is a combination of morale, cohesion, ethics and morality, and leadership. Combined, it can be termed “moral cohesion.” (Location 1648)
  • The important part for the tactician is simply the recognition of the moral forces at play in battle and their potential to trump physical and mental forces. (Location 1650)
  • The tactician must account for the moral trump card when evaluating his hand. Although physical deployments and clever mental manipulations can raise the probability of victory, they can never provide a guarantee and moral force can always show its face. As Clausewitz said, “Battle is the bloodiest solution. . . .—its effect . . . is rather a killing of the enemy’s spirit than of his men.”15 (Location 1654)
  • Clausewitzian concept of the culminating point of victory and its primary driver, friction. War is a human endeavor and humans cannot be expected to fight forever. (Location 1666)
  • It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. —Julius Caesar (Location 1680)
  • In On War he describes a feedback loop between tactical victories and the morale—and thus combat power—of troops in the field. (Location 1690)
  • In order for subordinate commanders to be able to make effective decisions, they must be primed with information regarding the larger context of the battle in which they are engaged. This method of command and control is called Aufragstaktik in German and mission command in English. This method rests on three pillars: commander’s intent, the main effort, and the reserve. The concept itself is essentially a combination of the best practices of centralized and decentralized command. (Location 1854)
  • Moltke himself introduced the concept into the Prussian military and believed, “The advantage which a commander thinks he can attain through continued personal intervention is largely illusory. By engaging in it he assumes a task which really belongs to others, whose effectiveness he thus destroys. He also multiplies his own tasks to a point where he can no longer fulfil the whole of them.” (Location 1863)
  • “[The Joint Force] will, by necessity, act by the guiding star of intent. Mission-type orders will be the norm. Commanders will be required to understand intent to the level of effect; that is, strategic to tactical and across domains. They will be required to clearly translate their intent (and that of higher) to their subordinates and trust them to perform with responsible initiative in complex, fast-changing, chaotic circumstances.” (Location 1906)
  • A reserve force should be heavy enough to make an impact on the enemy but fast enough to react quickly. (Location 1950)
  • The tactician must translate his mission and his vision for its accomplishment into a plan that can be executed in the real world. (Location 1969)
  • Colin S. Gray describes strategy as a bridge between the tactics that occur on the battlefield and the policy goals that those tactics are intended to secure.1 This is an apt metaphor for the concept. Strategy is a two-way thoroughfare, enabling the necessary modifications of tactics by policymakers to bring them in line with political goals and allowing policymakers to make decisions informed by the practitioners that must strive to achieve those goals. (Location 2080)
  • A policymaker who does not understand the capabilities and limitations of the tacticians cannot make effective policy. (Location 2084)
  • Events on the battlefield do not remain there; they resonate among the defeated army and among the government officials whose policy is now in danger and the people whose soldiers were defeated. War is not won on the battlefield; it is won by the effect of battle on the strategic level. (Location 2093)
  • A true tactical victory is won when the cumulative physical and mental means of one side shatters the moral cohesion of the other, as we have seen. This, however, should not be taken to mean that the shattering of moral cohesion is sufficient. It is merely the means to an end that the tactician will further seek through exploitation at the tactical level (which will usually mean the destruction or at least attrition of the enemy force), and the use of the victory for the purpose of the war, to borrow Clausewitz’s phrase. (Location 2098)
  • The actions of Brasidas marked a turning point in the strategies of both sides. Before Brasidas, there was no bridge connecting Spartan tactics with the policy goal of victory over Athens. Once that conceptual bridge had been built, all Spartan decisions flowed from it. (Location 2134)
  • In The Strategy Bridge Colin S. Gray wrote, “They [strategic actors] use their tactical behavior to secure a strongly net positive strategic effect.” (Location 2143)
  • The U.S. military had fallen for the misinterpretation of Clausewitz that stated that the center of gravity was the enemy army. This had been true for the Hussein regime, but that regime was gone. In its place was an insurgency fueled by dissatisfaction with the provisional government, instigated by foreign terrorists motivated by ideology, and quietly supported by countries like Syria and Iran. The U.S. military found itself in a place similar to Sparta’s before Brasidas: in possession of the most dominant military force but without a suitable target. (Location 2201)
  • Strategy must be centralized but tactics must be decentralized. (Location 2222)
  • This requires that those who plan strategy accept that tacticians must be given space within which to operate, not specific directives. (Location 2223)
  • Tactics should not be executed, and neither should they be studied, in a strategic vacuum. (Location 2234)
  • Lieutenants in particular, who can be the sole link between strategy and the tactical actions occurring at bayonet range, are purposely left ignorant of strategy. Military officers are typically not even introduced to strategy until they are senior majors and lieutenant commanders, at which point they have been implementing strategy for well over a decade. Even the reading lists of the services do not include works of strategic theory until this point. Enlisted leaders get nothing. (Location 2238)
  • A cottage industry of shallow military thought attached itself to the Department of Defense like a parasite, selling “new” concepts that ranged from the specious (such as the RMA and effectsbased operations), to the banal (like “hybrid” and “asymmetric” warfare), to the nonsensical (like 4th Generation Warfare and Gray Zones/Wars). (Location 2243)
  • The key for the tactician is not to know the tactical tenets and concepts: the key is to understand them well enough to adapt them to a particular situation in order to achieve tactical success. (Location 2268)
  • Various audiences perceive tactical events and are affected by the outcome. The victors are flushed with the thrill of victory. Their government inches or even leaps toward the policy goal. The civilian population, local or otherwise, takes heart that they are defended or served by great warriors or stolid soldiers. The losing side experiences the opposite. Effective exploitation of a tactical victory—which is the result of ensuring its positive service to the strategy and magnifying its effect—is the difference between victory and decisive victory. (Location 2288)
  • The tacticians that inhabit the battlefield side of the river accrue victories that build the strategy bridge, but always with an eye toward the opposite shore. Woe be the engineer that builds a bridge without first checking that there is indeed land on the other side. The policymakers decide, with the tacticians’ input, where the bridge should be placed. But it is the accrual of tactical success that provides the rebar and concrete. (Location 2299)
  • Overwhelming military success once was enough to bridge the gap between tactics and policy, and thus was a sufficient strategy. (Location 2312)
  • If we do not understand our end, no means will accomplish it, and battle becomes only slaughter. (Location 2313)