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Strategy and Doctrine: Confusion at a Level of War

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2018,31 May 2019

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Strategy has been an important aspect of military operations since its conception. However, while strategys importance has remained consistent, understanding of its utilization remains debated. Strategy originated as the cleverness of the general but the increasing scope and complexity of war necessitated its expanse beyond the battlefield and into the highest offices of national and military authority. Yet, rather than maintaining strategy as a conceptual tool, the theoretical discourse bifurcated strategy into its cognitive function and a characterization as a level of war. To cope with this bifurcation doctrine synthesized these competing conceptions into the existing military hierarchy and bureaucratic structure, resulting in a confused and incomplete representation of strategy beyond guidance from national leadership. Consequently, by placing strategy at the highest levels of government, doctrine divorced military strategy from a guiding logic for operational art and removed strategic discourse from US Army doctrine. To better understand strategy and its relevance to the military practitioner, this monograph explores the theoretical evolution of strategy to distill continuities and determine strategys nature. This paper also analyzes strategys representation in doctrine with an emphasis on how strategy informs operational art. Finally, this monograph will present an alternate perspective of strategy and discuss potential changes for holistic representation in doctrine and broader utility across all echelons of the force.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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