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An Examination of Clausewitz's Relevance to the United States Army's Structure and Composition

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According to the two generals quoted here, General Carl von Clausewitz and General Sullivan, combat readiness is the key goal of military activity and the overarching objective of the military, if called to fight, is to achieve a decisive victory over enemy forces. It seems unbelievable that these two Generals are separated by almost 200 years. One might suggest naively that the similarity is merely a coincidence resulting from the fact that both generals have experienced combat. However, a more sophisticated analysis would suggest that the similarities provide a shining example of how extensively Clausewitzs principles of war have been integrated into the doctrine and vision of the modern United States Army. This paper examines the relevance of Clausewitzs principles to the modern U.S. Army force structure and resource priorities. The authors thesis is that Clausewitzian concepts of training, readiness, structure, and composition remain pertinent in todays Army. To accomplish this examination, the paper focuses on four key areas the training and education of Army forces, the concept of Regular Armies versus Reserve Armies, the size of the Army, and the effect of continued downsizing on the Clausewitzian influence. Three areas are discussed under the umbrella of training and education combat training and readiness, levels of education, and leader development. The author concludes that Clausewitzs principles are currently alive and well in several facets of Army structure. His concepts remain applicable to the Armys approach to training and education and to its view of Regular versus Reserve Armies. However, his principles are no longer integral to the Armys size and composition. It remains to be seen how valid Clausewitzs principles will be in the future, but it appears that his influence will diminish in conjunction with the Armys downsizing.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations

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