Initiative in the Operational Defense--Is It Possible?
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This monograph investigates the possible use of initiative by the operational commander when conducting a defense. AirLand Battle doctrine is based on securing or retaining the initiative and exercising it aggressively to accomplish the mission, however, present U.S. doctrine treats initiative as an attribute of the offensive. Can the operational commander exhibit the tenet of initiative while in the defense, and if so, what aspects of initiative are possible This monograph first examines the theory of initiative and defense to establish clearly both concepts. Subsequently, two campaigns are examined to provide insights concerning the question of initiative in the operational defense. Specifically, Wellingtons defensive campaign in Portugal against the French in 1810 and Slims defensive campaign against the Japanese at Imphal - Kohima in 1944. The monograph concludes with a discussion of the conclusions drawn from the campaign analysis. The study concludes that the operational commander can display initiative while in the defense, although admittedly to a lesser extend than while in the offense. Therefore, the tenet of initiative is as applicable to the defense as it is to the offense in AirLand Battle, yet it may manifest itself differently in each case. The use of the counterattack, which AirLand Battle doctrine stresses, is not the only way to exhibit initiative when in the defense.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics