Principles of Military Strategy

Posted on di 19 februari 2019 in tools


Many military strategists have attempted to encapsulate a successful strategy in a set of principles. Sun Tzu defined 13 principles in his The Art of War while Napoleon listed 115 maxims. American Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest had only one: to "[get] there first with the most men". The concepts given as essential in the United States Army Field Manual of Military Operations (FM 3–0) are:

  • Objective: Directly every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective;
  • Offensive: Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative;
  • Mass: Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time;
  • Economy of Force: Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts;
  • Maneuver: Place the enemy in a disadvantageous position through the flexible application of combat power;
  • Unity of Command: For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander;
  • Security: Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage;
  • Surprise: Strike the enemy at a time, at a place, or in a manner for which he is unprepared;
  • Simplicity: Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

Clausewitz's On War has become the respected reference for strategy, dealing with political, as well as military, leadership. His most famous assertion being:

"War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of policy carried out by other means."


Tactics and operations

From existing military doctrine, we can learn not just principles of strategy, but of tactics and operations. Here are some that are useful in asymmetric situations:

  • Concentration of force: Governments and corporations wield entire armies of public and private security forces. We can't possibly compete head-to-head, so must coordinate the people we do have to achieve short term, local superiority in numbers.
  • Planning: Plan each operation carefully and in detail. Keep plans and orders simple, to reduce misunderstanding and confusion. Make them thorough and flexible enough to include alternative responses to contingencies.
  • Intelligence: Gather accurate and up-to-date intelligence on the target, right up to the time of action.
  • Surprise: The system only sanctions tactics which it can co-opt or absorb without fundamentally disrupting business as usual. We must think and act outside the box to achieve the shut downs they won't allow.
  • Seek quick decisions: Since we lose local superiority in numbers once police or private security forces show up, surprise actions must achieve their purpose quickly.
  • Dispersal: After an action, participants should melt back into the population at large to avoid reprisal.