Accession Number:

ADA279612

Title:

Center of Gravity: A Most Important Concept Mostly Misunderstood

Descriptive Note:

Final rept.

Corporate Author:

NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI DEPT OF OPERATIONS

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1994-02-08

Pagination or Media Count:

35.0

Abstract:

This paper examines the concept of center of gravity and the military. The purpose is to determine if current understanding of the concept is correct, universally accepted and correctly applied at the operational level. The scope of the paper includes an examination of historical definitions and current understanding. Further, an original definition for center of gravity is proposed together with a framework for understanding its application during conflict. A broad review of case studies is conducted to support the definition and clarify the nature of center gravity. The general concept is narrowed to focus on joint doctrine and the operational commander. In summary, it is proposed that the book shouldnt be closed with the current understanding of center of gravity. Expert military opinion is diverse. Service and joint doctrinal definitions are not consistent. While there is agreement that center of gravity is important and must be defeated to win the war, the question of What is the center of gravity is open to almost limitless interpretation. Failure of the United States to understand the center of gravity was largely responsible for defeat in Vietnam. The current institutionalized misunderstanding of the concept of center of gravity could negatively impact the outcome of future conflicts. To conclude, center of gravity must be refined in joint doctrine. Also, guidance for the operational commander must focus more closely on the center of gravity and the various options available for its defeat. Clarifying center of gravity is critical to the future of US joint warfare and operations

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE