Accession Number:



An Alternate Portrait of Ruin: The Impact of John Boyd on United States Army Doctrine

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The post-Vietnam era unleashed a wave of military thinkers both in and out of uniform to discover new methods of winning in land warfare. Simultaneously the Army released a succession of doctrines and retired Air Force Colonel John Boyd developed and disseminated his general theories of modern conflict. In the wake of criticisms of the Armys 1976 doctrine Active Defense, the Army published a new edition in 1982 and updated it in 1986 titled AirLand Battle. AirLand Battle and John Boyds ideas have been compared favorably in the past, and previous research has attempted, and failed to determine any causality. This monograph seeks to further explore the overlap and highlight the key differences. John Boyds theories were underpinned by his observations on successful trends of military history, theory, and doctrine, many of which the writers of AirLand Battle doctrine also used and cited. This monograph examines the core concepts of John Boyd, including his synthesized ideas of an alternate portrait of ruin named the theme of disintegration and collapse and the Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act cycle. While many of the same core concepts Boyd highlights appear prolifically in AirLand battle, those synthesis ideas do not. Directly and indirectly, John Boyd influenced AirLand battle, but AirLand battle did not adopt his conclusions on the means of successful warfighting.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]