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Adaptability - A New Principle of War

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Rept. for 2002-2003

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The Principles of War are an accepted tool to assist warfighters. They attempt to model those aspects of war the U.S. military feels are important to consider when planning for war or executing a campaign. The Principles also consciously and unconsciously influence the U.S. military establishment across a wide spectrum outside of war. These include, but are by no means limited to visioning the future military, weapons development and acquisition, and education of American military leadership. The military has always respected adaptability as a hallmark of its warriors. It has identified adaptabilities value in axioms like no plan survives first contact with the enemy or called it by other names such as initiative or ingenuity. But the ability to take the commanders intent and plans and then adapt them to the current situation and environment in order to accomplish the mission is one of the traits of U.S. military fighting men and women and is arguably a trademark of American culture. Incorporating Adaptability in the Principles will emphasize an attitude, mental ability, and physical characteristic that is already valued by all of the military services on the battlefield. The goal is a military, joint in nature, proficient in the application of power across the spectrum of conflict, educated in military history and doctrine, well led with technologically advanced tools, and the ability to adapt to the Combatant Commanders unique requirements. With the continuing complexity of the battlefield, the blurring of lines between strategic, operational, and tactical events and outcomes, and the increased range of military operations, the adoption of adaptability as a Principle of War is an extraordinary opportunity to influence the continuation of U.S. military dominance.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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