Accession Number:



Observing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Operational Art in the Ardennes Campaign

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

Corporate Author:

US Army Command and General Staff College, School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The focus of this monograph is the application of operational art during the Ardennes Campaign in 1944 to 1945. The goal is to analyze a historical case study to gain a better understanding of operational art and its application by commanders and staffs to achieve desired end states. This monograph answers the question why the US Army defeated the German Army in the Ardennes Campaign through the practice of operational art, and addresses considerations for future potential conflicts with a peer or near-peer threat. By applying the elements of operational art as criteria with which to draw evidence from the case study, the analysis demonstrates that the German Army failed to develop a feasible campaign plan because it lacked both the resources necessary to accomplish its objectives and the flexibility to maintain operations. By contrast, the US forces quick response and tactical skill led to the achievement of Allied strategic objectives. This monograph concludes that future conflicts will likely resemble operations like the Ardennes Campaign therefore, commanders must adhere to the principles of mission command to empower adaptive leaders. Additionally, commanders and staffs must confirm or deny assumptions, observe indicators, and develop contingencies to increase adaptability and flexibility of their plans.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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