George Washington's Primer for Multinational Operations: Overlooked Keys to the French-American Victory at Yorktown
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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The current world order is such that unilateral military action on the part of the United States is highly unlikely. Consequently, when they are employed, American forces are required to function as part of an alliance or coalition. Such multinational operations present unique challenges, so it is vital that the correct lessons be learned from each opportunity. Formal procedures have been established to capture lessons learned from recent combined operations. However, short shrift is often given to more historical experiences. Is it possible to learn something relevant to present-day or future operations from dated events, such as the American Revolution By examining French-American operations of the Revolution through the lens of present day principles of war, military operations other than war, and multinational operations, it is evident these historical operations offer information that is relevant today. Failed French-American operations were found lacking in tenets such as unity of effort, unity of command, and mutual confidence. Conversely, these same principles were successfully applied in the victory at Yorktown. Todays military leaders must understand that history can provide potential answers to questions regarding present-day and future multinational operations. Also, it is important to understand that the level of trust, comfort, and respect required to conduct military operations with our allies cannot be quickly attained. This paper is not a description or analysis of the Battle of Yorktown, but an examination of the period encompassed by the signing of the French-American alliance in 1778 and the Allied defeat of the British at Yorktown in 1781. Events of the period that affected the French-American alliance and the multinational military operations conducted by the Allies are discussed. Two rather obscure events, the French-American attacks on Newport, Rhode Island, and Savannah, Georgia, are detailed in the appendixes. 17 refs.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics