Operational Art in a War of Limited Aims: General Robert Cushman Jr. in I Corps Tactical Zone, 1967-1969
Technical Report,01 Jun 2017,31 May 2018
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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Although wars of final victory enable campaigns to flow logically from beginning to end, wars of limited aims have been the rule since the end of World War II. Given the contemporary prevalence of limited wars, how have commanders previously aligned ends, ways, and means in wars of limited aims The following paper examines General Cushmans operational art as the commanding general of III Marine Amphibious Force MAF, June 1967-March 1969, to understand how a commander negotiated the challenges of aligning ends, ways, and means and mitigated risk in a war of limited aims. Although General Cushman preceded the formal adoption of operational art into US military doctrine, his approach to the challenges facing III MAF provide an example of operational art incorporating full spectrum operations in a complex environment across the depth and breadth of a large territory. After briefly framing the arguments with a discussion of operational art, this paper examines the strategic context of III MAF operations, General Cushmans understanding of the operating environment, and General Cushmans operational approach to demonstrate how General Cushman integrated ends, ways, and means and mitigated risk to organize and employ III MAF. General Cushmans operational art provides a useful example of negotiating the demands of a rapidly changing operating environment with shifting operational limitations in a war of limited aims. While many histories of the Vietnam War highlight the American militarys inability to link tactical actions with strategic aims, General Cushman provides an example of a commander who did. His cognitive approach to a complex operating environment and mission provide a model for contemplating contemporary conflicts.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Military Forces and Organizations