An American Way of War or Way of Battle?
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Serious study of the American approach to waging war began in the early 1970s with the publication of Russell Weigley s The American Way of War A History of U.S. Military Strategy and Policy. Examining how war was thought about and practiced by key U.S. military and political figures from George Washington to Robert McNamara, Weigley concluded that, except in the early days of the nation s existence, the American way of war centered on the desire to achieve a crushing military victory either through a strategy of attrition or one of annihilation over an adversary. U.S. military men and political leaders typically saw the destruction of an opponent s armed might and the occupation of his capital as marking the end of war and the beginning of postwar negotiations. Thus, Americans not unlike many of their European counterparts considered war an alternative to bargaining, rather than part of an ongoing bargaining process, as in the Clausewitzian view. In other words, the American concept of war rarely extended beyond the winning of battles and campaigns to the gritty work of turning military victory into strategic success. Consequently, the American way of war was to rephrase Weigley s argument more a way of battle than a way of war.
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