Center of Gravity - Use and Misuse
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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The concept of center of gravity has proven one of the most valuable concepts a commander can use to effectively accomplish his objectives. This has been amply demonstrated throughout history to include periods before the idea was formally introduced by Clausewitz. The problem is that the US military is demanding too much definition in the concept and has made it a key element in the planning process. A review of what Clausewitz meant demonstrates that center of gravity is a conceptual idea, not a precise definition. Reviewing how it has been used in the past as well as hypothetical examples of how it could be used in the future make clear that center of gravity can be best used when based on a particular situation and not as a step in a doctrinal planning process. Requiring too specific a definition and prescribing when and where it must be used is, in fact, counter-productive. The solution is found in accepting the current joint definition of center gravity as is. It is specific enough to provide guidance without being so restrictive to limit the use of the concept. Use of center of gravity needs to be based on the requirements of the situation and should be removed from the planning process as a formal step.
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