Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Strategy: Notes on BH Liddell Hart's Classic

Strategy by BH Liddell Hart
NY:  Frederick Praeger, 1968

(18)  When, in the course of studying a long series of military campaigns, I first came to perceive the spueriority of the indirect over the direct approach, I was looking merely for light upon strategy.  With deepened reflection, however I began to realize that the indirect approach had a much wider application - that it was a law of life in all spheres:  a truth of philosophy.  It’s fulfillment was seen to be the key to practical achievement in dealing with any problem where the human factor predominates, and a conflict of wills tends to spring from an underlying concern for interests.  In all such cases, the direct assault of new ideas provokes a stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of producing a change of outlook.  Conversion is achieved more easily and rapidly by unsuspected infiltration of a differnt idea or by an argument that turns the flank of instinctive opposition.  The indirect approach is as fundamental to the realm of politics as to the realm of sex.  In commerce, the suggestion that there is a bargain to be secured is far more potent than any direct appeal to buy.  And in any sphere it is proverbial that the surest way of gaining a superior’s acceptance of a new idea is to persuade him that it is his idea!  As in war, the aim is to weaken resistance before attempting to overcome it;  and the effect is best attained by drawing the other party out of his defences.

(19)  Is there a practical way of combining progress towards the attainment of truth with progress towards it acceptance?  A possible solution of the problem is suggested by relfection on strategic principles - which point to the importance of maintaining an object consistently and, also, of pursuing it in a way adapted to circumstances.  Opposition to the truth is inevitable, especially if it takes the form of a new idea, but the degree of resistance can be diminished - by giving thought not only to the aim but to the method of approach.  Avoid a frontal attack on a long established position;  instead, seek to turn it by flank movement, so that a more penetrable side is exposed to the thrust of truth. But, in any such indirect approach, take care not to diverge from the truth - for nothing is more fatal to its real advancement than to lapse into untruth. 

(23)  "Fools say that they learn by experience.  I prefer to prosper by other’s experience.”  This saying, quoted of Bismarck, but by no means original to him, has a special bearing on military questions.

(24)  Soldiers universally concede the general truth of Napoleon’s much-quoted dictum that in war “the moral is to the physical as three to one.”

(24-25)  The predominance of the psychological over the physical, and its greater constancy, point to the conclusion that the foundation of any theory of war should be as broad as possible.

(25)  During this survey one impression became increasingly strong - that, throughout the ages, effective results in war have rarely been attained unless the approach has had such indirectness as to ensure the opponent’s unreadiness to meet it.  The inidirectness has usually been physical, and always psychological.  In strategy, the longest way round is often the shortest way home.

(32)  In the succeeding years of pseudo-peace, repeated Athenian expeditions failed to regain the lost footing in Chalcidice.  Then, as a last offensive resort, Athens undertook an expedition against Syracuse, the key to Sicily, whence came the overseas food supply of Sparta and the Peloponnese generally.  As a grand strategy of indirect approach it had the defect of striking, not at the enemy’s actual partners, but rather at his business associates.  Thereby, instead of distracting the enemy’s forces, it drew fresh forces into opposition.

(36)  Epaminondas himself fell in his moment of victory, and in his death contributed not the least of his lessons to subsequent generatIons - by an exceptionally dramatic and convincing proof that an army and a state succumb quickest to the paralysis of the brain.

(41)  Repeated marches and counter-marches of Alexander’s cavalry kept Porus on tenterhooks, and then, through repetition, dulled his reaction.  Having thus fixed Porus to a definite and static position, Alexander left the bulk of his army opposite it, and himself with a picked force made a night crossing eighteen miles upstream.
NB:  Trump

(45)  Normal soldiers always prefer the known to the unknown.  Hannibal was an abnormal general and hence, like other Great Captains, chose to face the most hazardous _conditions_ rather than the certainty of meeting his opponents in a position of their own choosing.

(51)  Unless there is opportunity and favourable prospect for a quick surprise assault, a siege is the most uneconomic of all operations of war.  When the enemy has still a field army capable of intervening, a siege is also the most dangerous - for until it is crowned by success the assailant is progressively weakening himself out of proportion to his enemy.

(52)  Scipio had thrust on his enemy the need of seeking battle, and he now exploited this moral advantage to the full.

(54)  Caesar has ben criticized for his rashness in moving south with such a fraction of his army.  But time and surprise are the two most vital elements in war.  And beyond his appreciation of them, Caesar’s strategy was essentially guided by his understanding of Pompey’s mind.

(57)  It would seem that Caesar’s recurrent and deep-rooted fault was his concentration in pursuing the objective immediately in front of his eyes to the neglect of his wider object.  Strategically he was an alternative Jekyll and Hyde.

(61)  According to Procopius, he [Belisarius] said in the letter:  “The first blessing is peace, as is agreed by all men who have even a small share of reason….  The best general, therefore is that one which is able to bring about peace from war.”  These were remarkable words to come from a soldier so young on the eve of his first great victory.

(63)  Having frustrated the threat, he [Belisarius] was content to shepherd the invaders back on their homeward course.  Such restraint did not please his troops.  Aware of their murmurs he tried to point out to them that true victory lay in compelling one’s opponent to abandon his purpose, with the least possible loss to oneself.  If such a result was obtained, there was no real advantage to be gained by winning a battle - “for why should one rout a fugitive?” - while the attempt would incur a needless risk of defeat, and of thereby laying the empire open to a more dangerous invasion.  To leave a retreating army no way of escape was the surest way to infuse it with the courage of desperation.
NB:  Sun Tzu
To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.

(73)  The subsequent elaboration of these methods [from Belisarius], and the army’s reorganization, can be followed in the two great Byzantine military textbooks, the Strategicon of the Emperor Maurice and the Tactica of Leo.

(82)  The strategy and tactics of the Mongols are dealt with more fully in the author’s [Liddell-Hart] earlier book Great Captains Unveiled.

(107)  To entice the enemy out was not enough;  it was necessary to draw him out.  So also there is a lesson in the failure of the feints by which Wolfe tried to prepare his direct approach.  To mystify the enemy was not enough;  he must be distracted - a term which implies combining deception of the enemy’s mind with deprivation of his freedom to move for counteraction, and with the distension of his forces.
(108)  This enabled him [Frederick the Great] to practise what is commonly called the strategy of “interior lines” - striking outwards from his central pivot against one of the forces on the circumference, and utilizing the shorter distance he had thus to travel to concentrate against one of the enemy forces before it could be supported by the others.

Ostensibly, it would seem that the further apart these enemy forces, the easier it must be to achieve a decisive success.  In terms of time, space, and number, this is undoubtedly true.  But once more tjhe morl element intrudes.  When the enemy forces are widely separated each is self-contained and tends to be consolidated by pressure.  When they are close together they tend to coalesce and “become members one of another,” mutually dependent in mind, morale, and matter.  The minds of the commanders affect each other, moral impressions are quickly transfused, and even the movement of each force easily hinder or disorganize those of the others.  Thus while the antagonist has less time and space for his action, the dislocating result of it take effect more quickly and easily.

(112)  To express this in another way, he [Frederick] regarded the indirect approach as a matter of pure maneuver with mobility, instead of a combinaiton of maneuver with mobility and surprise.  Thus, despite all his brilliance, his economy of force broke down.

(113)  The revolutionary spirit which inspired the citizen armies of France created such a condition and impulse simultaneously.  In compensation for the precise drill which it made impossible, it gave rein instead to the tactical sense and initiative of the individual.  These new tactics of fluidity had for their simple, yet vital pivot, the fact that the French now marched and fought at a quick step of 120 paces to the minute, while their opponents adhered to the orthodox 70 paces.  This elementary difference, in days before mechanical science endowed armies with means of movement swifter than the human leg, went far to make possible the rapid transference and reshuffled concentrations of striking power whereby the French could, in Napoleln’s phrase, multiply “mass by velocity” both strategically and tactically.

Another favorable conditon was the organization of the army into permanent divisions - the fractioning of the army into self-contained parts which, while operating separately, could cooperate to a common goal.

(114)  A third condition, linked with this, was that the chaotic supply system and the undisciplined nature of the Revolutionary armies compelled a reversion to the old practice of “living on the country.”  The distribution of the army in divisions meant that this practice detracted less from the army’s effectiveness than in old days.  Where, formerly, the fractions had to be collected before they could carry out an operation, now they could be serving a military purpose while feeding themselves.

Moreoever the effect of “moving light” was to accelerate their mobility, and enable them to move freely in mountainous or forest country.  Similarly, the very fact that they were unable to depend on magazines and supply-trains for food and equipment lent impetus to hungry and ill-clad troops in descending upon the rear of an enemy who had, and depended on, such direct forms of supply.
NB:  Sherman in Georgia

(114-115)  From Bourcet he learnt the principle of calculated dispersion to induce the enemy to disperse their own concentration preparatory to the swift reuniting of his own forces.  Also, the value of a “plan with several branches,” and of operating in a line which threatened alternative objectives.  Moreover, the very plan which Napolen executed in his first campaign was based on one that Bourcet had designed half a century earlier.

From Guibert he acquired an idea of the supreme value of mobility and fluidity of force, and of the potentialities inherent in the new distirbution of an army in self-contained divisions.  Guibert had defined the Napoleonic method when he wrote, a generation earlier:  “The art is to extend forces without exposing them, to embrace the enemy without being disunited, to link up the moves of the attackes to take the enemy in flank without exposing one’s own flank.”  And Guiberts’ prescription for the rear attack, as the means of uptsetting the enemy’s balance, became Napoleon’s practice.  To the same source can be traced Napoleon’s method of concentrating his mobile artillery to shatter, and make a breach at, a key point in the enemy’s front.  Moreover, it was the practical reforms achieved by Guibert in the French army shortly before the Revolution which fashioned the instrument that Napoleon applied.  Above all, it was Guibert’s vision of a coming revolution in warfare, carried out by a man who would arise from a revolutionary state, that kindled the youthful Napoleon’s imagination and ambition.  

While Napoleon added little to the ideas he had imbibed, he gave them fulfilment.  Without his dynamic application the new mobility might have remained merely a theory.  Because his education coincided with his instincts, and because these in turn were given scope by his circumstances, he was able to exploit the full range of possibilities of the new “divisional” system.  In developing the wider range of strategic combinations thus possible Napoleon made his chief contribution to strategy.

(117)  This tendency, as well as the natural effect of his [Napoleon] early experience, is illustrated in one of the most significant and oft-quoted of his sayings  “The principles of war are the same as those of a siege.  Fire must be concentrated on one point, and as soon as the breach is made, the equilibrium is broken and the rest is nothing.”  Subsequent military theory has put the accent on the first clause instead of on the last:  in particular, on the words “one point” in stead of on the last:  “equilibrium.”  The former is but a physical metaphor, whereas the latter expresses the actual psychological result which ensures “that the rest is nothing.”  His own emphasis can be traced in the strategic course of his campaigns.
NB:  Always attack the center

(118)  Here, again, illumination comes from the actual campaign in which Bonaparte put this maxim into execution.  It clearly suggests that what he really meant was not “point,” but “joint” - and that at this stage of his career he was too firmly imbued with the idea of economy of force to waste his limited strength in battering at the enemy’s strong point.  A joint, however, is both vital and vulnerable.

(119) “It may be that in future I may lose a battle, but I shall never lose a minute.”

(122)  Two months later, in January 1797, the Austrians made a fourth and last attempt to save Mantua, but this was shattered at Rivoli - where Bonaparte’s loose group formation functioned almost perfectly.  Like a widespread net whose corners are weighted with stones, when one of the enemy’s columns impinged on it the net closed in round the point of pressure and the stones crashed together on the intruder.

This self-protection formation which thus, on impact, became a concentrated offensive formation, was Bonaparte’s development of the new divisional system - by which an army was permanently subdivided into independently moving fractions, instead of, as formerly, constituting a single body from which only temporary detachments were made.  The group formation of Bonaparte’s Italian campaigns became the more hgihly develoepd bataillon carré, with army corps replacing divisions, of his later wars.

(123)  Thus, instead of advancing to meet the enemy in what he termed “their natural position,” facing west of Alessandria, he gained a “natural position” across the Austrians’ rear - forming that strategic back-stop, or barrage, which was the initial objective of his deadliest maneuvers against the enemy’s rear.  For such a position, offering natural obstacles, afforded him a secure pivot from which to prepare a stranglehold for the enemy, whose instinctive tendency, when cut off from their line of retreat and supply, was to turn and flow back, usually in driblets, towards him.  This conception of a strategic barrage was Bonaparte’s chief contribution to the strategy of indirect approach.
NB:  Strategic barrage as part of leaving an apparent route of escape

(127)  The tactical victory was won, not by surprise or mobility, but by pure offensive power - here expressed in Napoleon’s new artillery tactics, the massed concentration of guns at a selected point.  This was to become more and more the driving shaft of his tactical mechanism.  Although at Friedland, as often later, it ensured victory, it did little to save lives.

It is curious how the possesson of a blank cheque on the bank of man-power had so analogous an effect in 1807-14 and 1914-18.  And curious, also, that in each case it was associated with the method of intense artillery bombardments.  The explanation may be that lavish expenditure breeds extravagance, the mental antithesis of economy of force - to which surprise and mobility are the means.  This hypothesis is strengthened by the similarity of effect seen in Napoleon’s policy.
NB:  “lavish expenditure breeds extravagance” - Trump

(129)  But the real effect of England’s grand-strategy indirect approach in Spain has been obscured by the traditional tendency of historians to become obsessed with battles.
NB:  No discussion of American Revolution but guerrilla war in Spain against Napoleon

(137)  The Peninsular War [of Spain] was an outstanding historical example, achieved by instinctive common sense even more than by intention, of the type of strategy which a century later Lawrence evolved into a reasoned theory, and applied in practice - although without so definate a fulfilment.

(140)  Even so, remarkable as was his [Napoleon] success in retarding the enemy’s advance, it might have been more effective and enduring if his ability to continue this strategy had not been diminished by his inherent tendency to consummate every strategic by a tactical success.

(142)  Training is essential to forge an effective instrument for the general to handle.  A long war or a short peace afford the most favorable conditions for the production of such as instrument.  But there is a defect in the system if the instrument is superior to the artist.

(143)  The American Civil War was the first war in which rail transportation played a major part, and by the fixed form of its own routes it naturally tended to make strategy run on straight and straight-forward lines.

….The railway fostered the expansion of armies - it could forward more men, and feed them, than could fight effectively.  It fostered their wants, and they became tied to the railhead.  At the same time their sustenance “hung by a thread” - the long stretch of the rail-line behind, which was very vulnerable.

(146)  As so often in history a direct doubling of strength meant not a doubling but a halving of the effect - through simplifying the enemy’s "lines of expectation.”  

…  It is significant that in these campaigns of mutual direct approach, such advantage as there was inclined in turn to the side which stood on the defensive, content to counter the other’s advance.  For in such strategical conditions the defensive, by its mere avoidance of vain effort, is inherently the less direct form of two direct strategies.

(151-152)  In the Atlanta campaign he had been handicapped, as he realized, by having a single geographical objective, thus simplifying the opponent’s task in trying to parry his thrusts.  This limitation Sherman now ingeniously planned to avoid by placing the opponent repeatedly “on the horns of a dilemma” - the phrase he used to express his aim.  He took a line of advance which kept the Confederates in doubt, first, whether Macon or Augusta, and then whether Augusta or Savannah was his objective.  And while Sherman had his preference, he was ready to take the alternative objective if conditions favored the change.  The need did not arise, thanks to the uncertainty caused by his deceptive direction.
NB:  always have two possible objectives

(153)  If confidence be half the battle, then to undermine the opponent’s confidence is more than half - because it gains the fruits without a fight.  Sherman might claim, as truly as Napoleon in Austria - “I have destroyed the enemy merely by marches.”

….. Man has two supreme loyalties - to country and to family.  And with most men the second, being more personal, is the stronger.  So long as their families are safe they will defend their country, believing  that by their sacrifice they are safeguarding their families also.

(160)  This survey and analysis of history is concerned with facts and not with conjectures - with what was done, and its result, not with what might have been done.  The theory of the indirect approach which has evolved from it must rest on the concrete evidence of actual experience that the direct approach tends to be indecisive.

(163-164)  Combining the strategical and the tactical examination, we find that most of the examples fall into one of two categories.  They were produced either by a strategy of elastic defense - calculated withdrawal - that was capped by a tactical offensive, or by a strategy of offence, aimed to place oneself in a position “upsetting” to the opponent, and capped by a tactical defensive:  with a sting in the tail.  Either compound forms an indirect approach, and the psychological basis of both can be expressed in the words “lure” and “trap”….

Indeed, it might even be said, in a deeper and wider sense than Clausewitz implied, that the defensive is the stronger form of strategy as well as the more economical. For the second compound, although superficially and logistically an offensive move, has for its underlying motive to draw the opponent into an “unbalanced” advance.  The most effective indirect approach is one that lures or startles the opponent into a false move - so that, as in ju-jitsu, his own effort is turned into the lever of his overthrow,

in offensive strategy, the indirect approach has normally comprised a logistical military move directed against an economic target - the source of supply of either the opposing state or army.  Occasionally, however, the move has been purely psychological in aim, as in some of the operations of Belisarius.  Whatever the _form_, the _effect_ to be sought is the dislocation of the opponent’s mind and dispositions - such an effect is that true gauge of an indirect approach.

(164)  The art of the indirect approach can only be mastered, and its full scope appreciate, by study of and reflection upon the whole history of war.  But we can at least crystallize the lessons into two simple maxims - one negative, the other positive.  The first is that, in face of the overwhelming evidence of history, no general is justified in launching his troops to a direct attack upon an enemy firmly in position.  The second, that instead of seeking to upset the enemy’s equilibrium by one’s attack, it must be upset before a real attack is, or can be successfully launched.

Lenin had a vision of fundamental truth when he said that “the soundest strategy in war is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and easy.”  This is not always practicable, nor his methods of propaganda always fruitful.  But it will bear adaptation -  “The soundest strategy in any campaign is to postpone battle and the soundest tactics to postpone attack, until the moral dislocation of the enemy renders the delivery of a decisive blow practicable.”
(172)  The long-overlooked lesson of the American Civil War was repeated - that the development of railways, and armies’ dependence on such communications, both fixed and fragile, fostered the deployment of larger numbers than could be maintained in long-range operations without risk of breakdown.

(197)  From these premises was evolved a strategy which was the antithesis of orthodox doctrine.  Whereas normal armies seek to preserve contact, the Arabs sought to avoid it.  Whereas normal armies seek to destroy the opposing forces, the Arabs sought purely to destroy material - and to seek it at points where there was no force.  But Lawrence’s strategy went further.  Instead of trying to drive the enemy away by cutting off their supplies, he aimed to keep them there, by allowing short rations to reach them, so that the longer they stayed the weaker and more depressed they became.  Blows might induce them to concentrate, and simplify both their supply and security problems.  Pin-pricks kept them spread out.  Yet for all its unconventionality this strategy merely carried to its logical conclusion that of following the line of least resistance.  As its author has said:  “The Arab army never tried to maintain or improve an advantage, but to move off and strike again somewhere else.  It used the smallest force in the quickest time at the farthest place.  To continue the action till the enemy had changed his dispositions to resist it, would have been to break the fundamental rule of denying him targets."

(198)  The plan [in WWI South-Eastern Theatre] abundantly fulfilled Willisen’s definition of strategy as “the study of communication,” and also Napoleon’s maxim that “the whole secret of the art of war lies in making oneself master of the communications.”  For it aimed to make the British the masters of all, and all forms of, the Turkish communications.

(202)  Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history attests that loss of hope, not loss of lives, is what decides the issues of war.

(203)  No longer was the blockade [of Germany in 1918] hindered by neutral objections.  Instead, America’s coooperation converted it into a stranglehold under which Germany gradually became limp, since military power is based on economic endurance - a truth too often overlooked.

(210)  The knowledge [of Ludendorff’s 1918 Amiens attack] brings confirmation of two historical lessons - that a joint is the most sensitive and profitable point of attack, and that a penetration between two forces or units is more dangerous if they are assembled shoulder to shoulder than if they are widely separated and organically separate.

(212)  For, as the object of all surprise is dislocation, the effect is similar whether the opponent be caught napping by deception or allows himself to be trapped with his eyes open.

(218-219)  But in hastening the surrender, in preventing a continuance of the war into 1919, military action ranks foremost.  This conclusion does not imply that, at the moment of the Armistice, Germany’s military power was broken or her armies decisively beaten, nor that the Armistice was a mistaken concession.  Rather does the record of the last “hundred days,” when sifted, confirm the immemorial lesson that the true aim in war is the mind of the hostile rulers, not the bodies of their troops;  that the balance between victory and defeat turns on mental impressions and only indirectly on physical blows.  It was the shock of being surprised, and the feeling that he was powerless to counter potential strategic moves, that shook Ludendorff’s nerve more than the loss of prisoners, guns, and acreage.

(223)  Nothing may seem more strange to the future historian than the way that the governments of the democracies failed to anticipate the course which Hitler would pursue.  For never has a man of such immense ambition so clearly disclosed beforehand both the general process and particularly methods by which he was seeking to fulfill it.

(224)  It was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that “the soundest strategy in war is to postpone operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and easy.”  There is a marked resemblance between this and Hitler’s saying that “our real wars will in fact all be fought before the military operations begin.”

(228)  To apply one’s strength where the opponent is strong weakens oneself disproportionately to the effect attained.  To strike with strong effect, one must strike at weakness.

…A strategist should think in terms of paralysing, not of killing.

….. The true purpose of strategy is to diminish the possibility of resistance.  And from this follows another axiom - that to ensure attaining _an_ objective one should have alternative objectives.

(230)  Thus by the spring of 1939 Hitler had decreasing cause to fear an open fight.  And at this critical moment he was helped by a false move on Britain’s part - the guarantee suddenly offered to Poland and Rumania, each of them strategically isolated, without first securing any assurance from Russia, the only power which could give them effective support.  Such a blind step was the rashest reversal of a policy of appeasement and retreat that has ever been conceived.  By their timing, these guarantees were bound to act as a provocation.  By their placing, in parts of Europe inaccessible to the forces of Britain and France, they provided an almost irresistible temptation.  Thereby the Western Powers undermined the essential basis of the only type of strategy which their now inferior strength made practicable for them.  For instead of being able to check aggression by presenting a strong front to any attack in the west, they gave Hitler an easy chance of breaking a weak front and thus gaining an initial triumph.

(233)  The Germans, by contrast, in exploiting its possibilities for surprise, had shown their appreciation of the oft-taught lession that natural obstacles are inherently less formidable than human resistance in strong defences.  
NB:  Ardennes in 1940 when Germany broke Maginot Line

(234)  Here he [Hitler] profited by studying the Bolshevik technique of revolution, just as the new German army had profited by applying the British-evolved technique of mechanized warfare - whether he knew it or not, the basic methods in both sphreres could be traced back to the technique of Mongol warfare under Jenghiz Khan.  To prepare the way for his offensive, he sought to find influential adherents in the other country who would undermine its resistance, make trouble in his interest, and be ready to form a new government compliant to his aims.  Bribery was unnecessessary - he counted on self-seeking ambition, authoritarian inclination, and party-spirit to provide him with willing and unwitting agents among the ruling classes.  Then to open the way, at the chosen moment, he aimed to use an infiltration of storm-troopers who would cross the frontier while peace still prevailed, as commercial travellers or holiday-makers, and don the enemy’s uniform when the word came;  their role was to sabotage communications, spread false reports, and, if possible, kidnap the other country’s leading men.  This disguised vanguard would in turn be backed up by airborne troops.

(234)  While the Allied commanders thought in terms of battle, the new German commanders sought to eliminate it by producing the strategic paralysis of their opponents, using their tanks, dive-bombers, and parachutists to spread confusion and dislocate communications.

(236)  But like Napoleon he [Hitler] had an inadequate gasp of the higher level of grand strategy - that of conducting war with a far-sighted regard to the state of the peace that will follow.  To do this effectively, a man must be more than a strategist;  he must be a leader and a philosopher combined.  While strategy is the very opposite of morality, as it is largely concerned with the art of deception, grand strategy tends to coincide with morality:  through having always to keep in view the ultimate goal of the efforts it is directing.

The immensity of his [Hitler] earlier successes led him, as Napoleon had been led, to believe that the offensive offered a solution of all problems.

(237)  General Guderian, the creator of the German panzer forces

(247)  The French, trained in the slow-motion methods of World War I, were mentally unfitted to cope with the new tempo, and it caused a spreading paralysis among them.  The vital weakness of the French lay, not in quantity nor in quality of equipment, but in their _theory_.  Their ideas had advanced less than their opponents beyond the methods of the First World War.  As  has happened so often in history, victory had bred a complacency and fostered an orthodoxy which led to defeat in the next war.

(260)  It was natural that Lundstedt should welcome a reinforcement from the north to help him in solving the tough problem with which he was faced on his own front [Kiev operation], and natural, too, that he should appreciate the prospect of achieving a great encriclement victory - the soldier’s dream.

(269)  In these circumstances [July 26, 1941 FDR embargo on oil to Japan and freezing all Japanese assets] the Americans and British were lucky to be allowed four months’ grace before the Japanese struck.  But little advantage was taken of this interval for defensive preparation.

…  The stroke was made ahead of the declaration of war, following the precedent of Port Arthur, the Japanese opening stroke in the war against Russia.
NB:  LIddell Hart criticizes the French and British for forcing the Nazis’ hands in Poland and the USA and British embargo for forcing the Japanese attack

(278)  While Rommel’s deep thrust failed in its aim only by a narrow margin, the penalty of failure was large.  For while he and his three armored divisions (two German and one Italian) were operating over the frontier, far away from the remainder, the split up British forces which he had left behind were able to recover their balance, resume their offensive pressure, and link up with the garrison of Tobruk, before he returned to the relief of his non-mobile formations.  That exemplified the risks of the strategic-raid type of operation, by part of an army, where the pivot is not itself strong enough for lengthy resistance.  Although he succeeded in regaining the advantage temporarily after several days hard fighting and close-quarter maneuvering, it was a barren success.

(291)  It is remarkable how closely Alexander’s plan of operations coincided with the classic pattern of the Napoleonic battle, just as the Battle of the Marne did in 1914 - though without intention.  The characteristics of that pattern were that after the enemy had been pinned and pressed in front, a maneuver was directed against one of his flanks.  This maneuver was not decisive in itself but created the opportunity for a decisive stroke.  For the threat of envelopment caused a stretching of the enemy’s front in the attmept to meet it, and so produced a weak joint, on which the decisive stroke then fell.

(294)  But Hitler was too offensive-minded to pay due heed to those counsels.  He fervently believed that attack was the best form of defence, and that rigid resistance was the next best.  Under this obsession he even rejected every plea for developing the scale of fighter aircraft for Germany’s defense to meet the multiplying Allied bombing offensive, and did not alter this decision until as late as June 1944.

(295-296)  The pattern and rhythm of their operations increasingly came to resemble those of the Allies’ of 1918 counter-offensive in the West - an alternative series of strokes at different points, each temporarily suspended when its impetus waned in face of stiffening resistance, each so aimed as to pave the way for the next, and all close enough in time and space to have a mutual reaction.  It led the German command, as in 1918, to scurry their scanty reserves to the points that were struck, while simultaneously restricting their power to move reserves in time to the points that were threatened and about to be struck.  The effect was to paralyse their freedom of action, while progressively decreasing their balance of reserves.  It was a strategic form of “creeping paralysis.”

This is the natural method for an army that possesses a general superiority of force - as the Allied armies in the West had in 1918, and the Red Army had in 1943.  It is all the more suitable when and where the lateral communications are not ample enough to provide the attacker with the power of switching reserves to follow up a particular success, very quickly from one sector to another.  Since it means breaking into a fresh front each time, the cost of the “broad’ method is apt to be higher than with the “deep” method, and its effect less quickly decisive.  But the effect is cumulative, provided that the side which operates it has an adequate balance of strength to maintain the process.

(297)  Each time the Germans were tied to the defence of a fixed point by Hitler’s orders, an eventual collapse was the costly penalty.  The weaker the defending side, the more essential it becomes to adopt mobile defence.  For otherwise the stronger side can make space its ally and gain a decisive advantage through outflanking maneuver.

(300)  If the Allies’ bombing strategy had been better designed - to dislocate supplies rather than to devastate populated areas - it could have produced a quicker paralysis of German resistance;  but though much of the effort was misdirected, it did spread a creeping paralysis.  Moreover, in the military field, the dislocation of communications was a major factor in immobilizing the German armies’ power to counter the Allied armies’ advance.
NB:  Focus on supplies and communications, logistics as strategy

(304)  Salerno provided one more demonstration of the lesson of history that nothing can be more hazardous for an army than to concentrate its effort at the point where the enemy can calculate on its coming, and can thus concentrate his forces to meet it.

(305)  It [Italian campaign] repeatedly demonstrated that direct attack on narrow fronts commonly leads to negative results.  Even a big superiority of force rarely suffices unless there is room for maneuver - which requires a wider front.

(310)  But Lundstedt, who was Commander-in-Chief in the West, counted on the Allies landing in the narrower part of the Channel between Dieppe and Calais.  That conviction was due not only to the Allies’ past fondness for maximum air cover, and the effect of their present deception plans, but even more to his reasoning that such a line was theoretically the right line since it was the shortest line to their objective.  That was a characteristic calculation of strategic orthodoxy.  Significantly, it did not credit the Allied Command with a preference for the unexpected, nor even with an inclination to avoid the most strongly defended approach.

(322)  The best moment for a major counter-offensive, as for a minor counter-attack, is usually when the attacking opponent has fully committed his own strength without having gained his objective.  At that moment, his troops will be suffering from the natural reaction due to a prolonged effort, while the Command will have relatively few reserves of its own ready to meet a counter-stroke - especially if this comes from a different direction.

(328)  Long ago, the famous pugilist, Jem Mace, summed up all his experience of the ring in the maxim:  “Let ‘em come to ye, and they’ll beat theirselves.”  Kid McCoy later expressed the same idea in his teaching:  “Draw your man into attack - and get him so that he has both hands out of business and you have one hand free.”

(333)  Let us first be clear as to what is strategy.  Clausewitz, in his monumental work, _On War_, defined it as “the art of the employment of battles as a means to gain the object of war.  In other words strategy forms the plan of the war, maps out the proposed course of the different campaigns which compose the war, and regulates the battles to be fought in each.”

(334)  Moltke reached a clearer, and wiser, definition in terming strategy “the practical adaptation of the means placed at a general’s disposal to the attainment of the object in view.”

(341)  Thus a move round the enemy’s front aginst his rear has the aim not only of avoiding reisstance on its way but in its issue.  In the profoundest sense, it takes the _line of least resistance_.  The equivalent in the psychological sphere is the _line of least expectation_.  They are the two faces of the same coin, and to appreciate this is to widen our understanding of strategy.  For if we merely take what obviously appears the line of least resistance, its obviousness will appeal to the opponent also;  and this line may no longer be that of least resistance.

…”Stonewall’ jackson aptly expressed this in his strategical motto - “Mystify, mislead, and surprise.'

(335)  We can now arrive at a shorter definition of stratey as - “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.”  For strategy is concerned not merely with the movement of forces - as its role is often defined - but with the effect.

(336)  The sorry state of peace, for both sides, that has followed most wars cn be traced to the fact that, unlike strategy, the realm of grand strateg is for the most part terra incognita - still awaiting exploration, and understanding.

…Strategy depends for success, first and most, on a sound _ calculation and co-ordination fof the end and the means_.  The end must be proportioned to the total means, and the means uesed in gaining each intermediate end which contributes to the ultimate must be proportioned to the value and needs of that intermediate end - whether it be to gain an objective or to fulfil a contributory purpose.  An excess may be as  harmful as a deficiency.

(337)  Strategy has not to overcome resistance, except from nature.  _Its purpose is to diminish the possibiity of resistance_, and it seeks to fufil this purpose by exploiting the elements of _movement_ and _surprise_.

(339)  Despite many centuries’ experience of war, we have hardly begun to explore the field of psychological warfare.

… In other words, dislocation is the aim of strategy;  its sequel may be either the enemy’s dissolution or his easier disruption in battle.  Dissolution may involve some partial measure of fighting, but this has not the character of a battle.

(342)  It would have been more exact, and more lucid, to say that an army should always be so distributed that its parts can aid each other and combine to produce the maximum _possible_ concentration of force at one place, while the minimum force _necessary_ is used elsewhere to prepare the success of the concentration.

(343)  A deeper truth to which Foch and other disciples of Clausewitz did not penetrate fully is that in war every problem and every principle, is a duality.  Like a coin, it has two faces.  Hence the need for a well-calculated compromise as a means to reconciliation.
NB:  coin also has an edge

… A further consequence of the two-party condition is that to ensure reaching an objective one should have _alternative objectives_.

(344)  A plan, like a tree, must have branches - if it is to bear fruit.  A plan with a single aim is apt to prove a barren pole.

…In general, the nearer to the force that the cut [of communications] is made, the _more immediate_ the effect;  the nearer to the base, the _greater_ the effect.  In either case, the effect becomes much greater and more quickly felt if made against a force that is in motion, and in course of carrying out an operation, than against a force that is stationary.

(347)  The principles of war, not merely one principle, can be condensed into a single word - “concentration.”  But for truth this needs to be amplified as the “concentration of strength against weakness.”  And for any real value it needs to be explained that the concentration of strength against weakness depends on the dispersion of your opponent’s strength, which in turn is produced by a distribution of your own that gives the appearance, and partial effect of disperson.  Your dispersion, his dispersion, your concentration - such is the sequence, and each is a sequel.  True concentration is the fruit of calculated dispersion.

(347 - 350)  The principles of war, not merely one principle, can be condensed into a single word - “concentration.”  But for truth this needs to be amplified as the “concentration of strength against weakness."  And for any real value it needs to be explained that the concentration of strength against weakness depends on the dispersion of your opponent’s strength, which in turn is produced by a distribution of your own that gives the appearance, and partial effect of dispersion.  Your dispersion, his dispersion, your concentration - such is the sequence, and each is a sequel.  True concentration is the fruit of calculated dispersion.

The Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics
1.  Adjust your end to your means.
2.  Keep your object always in mind, while adapting your plan to circumstances.
3.  Choose the line (or course) of least expectation.
4.  Exploit the line of least resistance.
5.  Take a line of operation which offers alternative objectives.

...There is no more common mistake than to confuse a single line of operation, which is usually wise, with a single objective, which is usualy futile.  (If this maxim applies mainly to strategy, it should be applied where possible to tactics, and does, in effect, form the basis of infiltraton tactics.)

6.  Ensure that both plan and dispositions are flexible - adaptable to circumstances.  Your plan should foresee and provide for a next step in case of success or failure, or partial success - which is the next common case in war.  Your dispositions (or formation) should be such as to allow this exploitation or adaptation in the shortest possible time.

7.  Do not throw your weight into a stroke whilst your opponent is on guard - whilst he is well placed to parry or evade it.
8.  Do not renew an attack along the same line (or in the same form) after it has once failed.

The essential truth underlying these maxims is that, for success, two major problems must be solved - _dislocation_ and _exploitation_.  One precedes and one follows the actual blow - which in comparison is a simple act.  You cannot hit the enemy with effect unless you have first created the opportunity;  you cannot make that effect decisive unless you exploit the second opportunity that comes before he can recover.

The importance of these two problems has never been adequately recognized - a fact which goes far to explaining the common indecisiveness of warfare.  The training of armies is primarily devoted to developing efficiency in the detailed execution of the _attack_.  This concentration on tactical technique tends to obscure the psychological element.  It fosters a cult of soundness, rather than of surprise.  It breeds commanders who are so intent not to do anything wrong, according to "the book,” that they forget the necessity of making the enemy do something wrong.  The result is that their plans have no result.  For, in war, it is by compelling mistakes that the scales are most often turned.

… the unexpected cannot guarantee success.  But it guarantees the best chance of success.

(351)  The military objective is only a means to a political end. Hence the the military objective should be governed by the political objective, subject to the basic condition that policy does not demand what is militarily - that is, practically - impossible.

…The object of war is a better state of peace - even if only from your point of view.  Hence it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.  This applies both to aggressor nations who seek expansion and to peaceful nations who only fight for self-preservation - although their views of what is meant by a better state of peace are very different.

… History shows that gaining military victory is not in itself equivalent to gaining the object of policy.  But as most of the thinking about war has been done by men of the military professon there has been a very natural tendency to lose sight of the basic national object, and identify it with the military aim.  In consequence, whenever war has broken out, policy has too often been governed by the military aim - and this has been regarded as an end in itself instead of as merely a means to the end.

(355)  For by making battle appear the only “real warlike activity,” his {Clausewitz] gospel deprived strategy of its laurels, and reduced the art of war to the mechanics of mass-slaughter.  Moreover, it incited generals to seek battle at the _first_ opportunity, instead of creating an _advantageous_ opportunity.

(362)  Whereas strategy is only concerned with the the problem of winning military victory, grand strategy must take the longer view - for its problem is the winning of the peace.  Such an irder of thought is not a matter of “putting the cart before the horse,” but of being clear where the horse and cart are going.

(364)  …”the least possible permanent injury, for the enemy of today is the customer of the morrow and the ally of the future.”
NB:  he rejects strategic bombing on civilian targets, believes it should concentrate on communications and logistics structure instead

(368)  Economy of force and deterrent effect are best combined in the defensive-offensive method, based on high mobility that carries the power of quick riposte.

(369)  Although war is contrary to reason, since it is a means of deciding issues by force when discussion fails to produce an agreed solution, the conduct of war must be controlled by reason if its object is to be fulfilled.  For -
(1)  While fighting is a physical act, its direction is a mental process.  The better your strategy, the easier you will gain the upper hand, and the less it will cost you.

(2)  Conversely, the more strength you waste the more you increase the risk of the scales of war turning against you;  and even if you succeed in winning the victory, the less strength you will have to profit by the peace.

(370)  (3)  The more brutal your methods the more bitter you will make your opponents, with the natural result of hardening the resistance you are trying to overcome;  thus, the more evenly the two sides are matched the wiser it will be to avoid extremes of violence which tend to consolidate the enemy’s troops and people behind their leaders.

(4)  These calculations extend further.  The more intent you appear to impose a peace entirely of your own choosing, by conquest, the stiffer the obstacle you will raise in your path.

(5)  Furthermore, if and when you reach your military goal, the more you ask of the defeated side the more trouble you will have and the more cause you will provide for an ultimate attempt to reverse the settlement achieved by the war.

Force is a vicious circle - or rather, a spiral - unless its application is controlled by the most carefully reasoned calculations.  Thus war, which begins by denying reason, comes to vindicate it - throughout all phases of the struggle.

… Victory in the true sense implies that the state of peace, and of one’s people, is better after the war than before.

…  It is wiser to run risks _of_ war for the sake of preserving peace than to run risks of exhaustion _in_ war for the sake of finishing with victory - a concluison that runs counter to custom but is supported by experience.
NB:  Sun Tzu - no nation benefits from long war

(373)  If you wish for peace, prepare for war.

…If you wish for peace, understand war - particularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war.

(374)  A wider and more profound treatment of the subject appeared a century later in TE Lawrence’s _Seven Pillars of Wisdom_.  That masterly formulation of the theory of guerrilla warfare focused on its offensive value, and was the product of his combined experience and reflection during the Arab Revot against the Turks, both as a struggle for independence and as part of the Allied campaign against Turkey.

(375)  [1954 after hydrogen bomb]  Vice-President Nixon then announced:  “We have adopted a new principle.  Rather than let the Communists nibble us to death all over the world in little wars, we will rely in future on massive mobile retaliatory powers.”

….The policy did not make sense, and the natural effect was to stimulate and encourage the forms of aggression by erosion to which nuclear weapons were an inapplicable counter.
NB:  stimulated the activity Nixon’s action was supposed to quell

(376-377)  Guerrilla warfare must always be dynamic and must maintain momentum.  Static intervals are more detrimental to its success than in the case of regular warfare, as they allow the opponent to tighten his grip on the country and give rest to his troops while tending to dampen the impulse of the population to join or help the guerrillas.  Static defense has no part in guerrilla action, and fixed defense no place, except in the momentary way involved in laying an ambush.

Guerrilla action reverses the normal practice of warfare strategically by seeking to avoid battle and tactically by evading any engagement where it is likely to suffer losses.

…”Hit and run” is a better term, being more comprehensive.  For a multiplicity of minor coups and threats can have a greater effect in tipping the scales than a few major hits, by producing more cumulative distraction, disturbance,and demoralisation among the enemy, along with a more widespread impression among the population.  Ubiquity combined with intangibility is a basic secret of progress in such a campaign.  Moveroever, “tip and run” is often the best way to fulfill the offensive purpose of luring the enemy into ambushes.  

Guerrilla war, too, inverts one of the main principles of orthodox war, the principle of “concentration” - and on both sides.  Dispersion is an essential condition of survival and success on the guerrilla side, which must never present a target and thus can operate only in minute particles, though these may momentarily coagulate like globules of quicksilver to overwhelm some weakly guarded objective.  For guerrillas the principle of “concentration” has to be replaced by that of “fluidity of force” - which will also have to be adopted and modified by regular forces when operating under a liability of bombardment by nuclear weapons.  Dispersion is also a necessity on the side opposed to the guerrillas, since there is no value in a narrow concentration of force against such elusive forces, nimble as mosquitoes.  The chance of curbing them lies largely in being able to extend  a fine but closely woven net over the widest possible area.  The more extensive the controlling net, the more likely that anti-guerrilla drives will be effective.

The ratio of space to forces is a key factor in guerrilla war.  This was vividly expressed in Lawrence’s mathematical calculation about the Arab Revolt - that to hold it in check, the Turks would “have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than twenty men,”  so the requirement would be 600,000 men for the area they were trying to control, whereas they had only 100,000 available.

(378)  The ratio of space to forces is a basic factor, but the product varies with the type of country and the relative mobility of the two sides, as well as their relative morales.  Rugged or forest country is the most favourable to guerrillas.  Deserts have diminished value for them with the development of mechanised ground forces and aircraft.  Urban areas have mixed advantages and handicaps, but tend on balance to be unfavorable to guerrilla operations, although good ground for a subversive campaign.

…  A guerrilla movement that puts safety first will soon wither.  Its strategy must always aim to produce the enemy’s increasing overstretch, physical and moral.
NB:  Inducing overstretch and loss of equilibrium through safety first?

The mathematical-cum-geographical factors and situation represented in the ratio of space to forces cannot be separated from the psychological-cum-political factors and situation.  For the prospects and progress of a guerrilla mvoement depend on the attitude of the people in the area where the struggle takes place - on their willingness to aid it by providing information and supplies to the guerrillas by withholding information from the occupying force while helping to hide the guerrillas.  A primary condition of success is that the enemy must be kept “in the dark” while the guerrillas operate in the light of superior local knowledge combined with reliable news about the enemy’s dispositions and moves.  That mental light is all the more necessary because guerrilla moves must be carried out largely at night for security and surprise.  The extent to which they obtain the details and speedy news required depends on their progress in gaining the aid of the local population.

(379)  Guerrilla war is waged by the few but dependent on the support of the many.  Although in itself the most individual form of action, it can operate effectively and attain its end only when collectively backed by the sympathy of the masses.

…In the past, guerrilla war has been a weapon of the weaker side, and thus primarily defensive, but in the atomic age it may be increasingly developed as a form of aggression suited to exploit the nuclear stalemate.  Thus the concept of “cold war” is out of date, and should be superseded by that of “camouflaged war.”

… War is always a matter of doing evil in the hope that good may come of it, and it is very difficult to show discrimination without failing in determination.  Moreover the cautious line is usually a mistake in battle, where it is too commonly followed, so that it rarely receives  credit on the higher plane of war policy, where it is more often wise but usually unpopular. In the fever of war, public opinion craves for the most drastic measures, regardless of where they may lead.

(380)  …But when these back-area campaigns [guerrilla actions in France and Balkans during WWII] were analysed, it would seem that their effect was largely in proportion to the extent to which they were combined with the operations of a strong regular army that was engaging the enemy’s front and drawing off his reserves.  They rarely became more than a nuisance unless they coincided with the fact, or imminent threat, of a powerful offensive that absorbed the enemy’s main attention.

At other times they were less effective than widespread passive resistance - and brought far more harm to the people of their own country.  They provoked reprisals much more severe than the injury inflicted on the enemy.  They afforded his troops the opportunity for violent action that is always a relief to the nerves of a garrison in an unfriendly country.  The material damage that the guerrillas produced directly, and indirectly in the course of reprisals, caused much suffering among their own people and ultimately became a handicap to recovery after liberation.

But the heaviest handicap of all, and the most lasting one, was of a moral kind.  The armed resistance movement attracted many “bad hats.”  It gave them licence to indulge their vices and work off their grudges under the cloak of patriotism, thus giving the point to Dr Johnson’s historic remark that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  Worse still was its wider effect on the younger generation as a whole.  It taught them to defy authority and break the rules of civic morality in the fight against the occupying forces.  This left a disrespect for “law and order” that inevitably continued after the invaders had gone.

Violence takes much deeper root in irregular warfare than it does in regular warfare.  In the latter is it counteracted by obedience to constituted authority, whereas the former makes a virtue of defying authority and violating rules.  It becomes very difficult to rebuild a country, and a stable state, on a foundation undermined by such experience.

Eric Dorman-Smith on 1940-1942 North African Campaign 
(384)  As Wavell once wrote me:  “A little unorthodoxy is a dangerous thing, but without it one seldom wins battles.”

(395)  Attack and defence must be employed according to the dictates of obliquity.  Strategic defense may dictate attack.  Strategical attack may best derive from an initial tactical defensive.  The attitude of mind is important.  Obliquity is always offensive.  A defensive _spirit_ towards one’s opponent, however powerful he may appear, is a defeated spirit.  The object of obliquity is to find the chink in the armor, the mental armour at that.  One’s object is the psychological disruption of the oppoising command, and the yardstick of success is the degree of freedom of action one enjoys at the end of the process.  To this end one seeks all possible means of keeping the enemy guessing, hence the value of alternative objectives.  But there are no tangible rules and there is no hope for the direct-minded “bon general ordinaries” to whom the “dust upom the shewbread is holy over all.”  

There is little doubt that the true mental qualities for succes on all the planes of military action are common sense, reason and obliquity;  and the last quallity becomes the more necessary as one ascends the scale to the plane of independent command.  The way of the indirect approach is assuredly the way to win wars.

(396)  Let us examine what this requires:  Against the principle of surprise - continuous activity by the various intelligence agencies.  Against the principle of maintenance-of-aim - tactical diverisonary attacks and strategical, psychological and political offensives.  Against the principle of economy-of-force - attacks against lines of communications and stores in the rear, thereby pinning down the enemy’s forces and dispersing them. Against the principle of coordination - strike against the channels of administration.  Against the principle of concentration - diversationary attacks and air activity to split up the enemy’s forces.  Against the principles of security - sum total of the above activities and those that follow.  Against the principle of offensive-spirit - offensive spirit. Against the principle of mobility - destruction of lines of  communications.

(397)  To exploit the principles of war for our purpose and base ourselves upon strategic indirect approach, so as to determine the issue of the fighting even before fighting has begun, it is necessary to achieve the three following aims:

(a) to cut the enmy’s lines of communication, thus paralyzing his physical build-up;
(b) to seal him off from his lines of retreat, thus undermining the enemy’s will and destroying his morale;
(c) to hit his centres of administration and disrupt his communications, thus severing the link between his brain and his limbs.

Reflection on these three aims proves the truth of Napoleon’s saying:  “The whole secret of the art of war lies in the ability to become master of the lines of communication."

(398) Yigael Yadin on 1948 Arab-Israeli War:  See in this connection the very lucid considerations of Jacob in his preparations for battle with Esau in Genesis 32.  Liddell Hart very aptly wrote:  “A plan, like a tree must have branches if it is to bear fruit;  a plan with a single aim is apt to prove a barren pole.”

(400)  “Operation Ayin” demonstrated clearly the truths mentioned above - that the aim of a strategical plan is to decide the issue of battle even before battle begins, or at least to create such conditions that the battle itself is sure to bring about a decision.

(401)   The various “Rhodes operations” and the operation for our establishment in Elath as well as our expansion in the so-called trinagle and Wadi Arah (Megiddo Pass) bring out the lesson that the tools employed in strategy often differ from the tools employed in tactics - in that strategy sometimes chooses political tools to achieve conditions favorable to tactical decision.  These tools, when they succeed, save a great deal of blood and sweat.

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