Accession Number:



The Pillars of Generalship

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



A review of the spate of literature on the operational level of war published within the past two or three years suggests that the Army at least those officers writing on the subject is finally agreeing on how the term should be defined. Working definitions of the concept generally argue that the operational level of war encompasses the movement, support, and sequential employment of large military forces in the conduct of military campaigns to accomplish goals directed by theater strategy. Just as the Army has been able to perceive more clearly what warfare at the operational level entails, so also has it observed that the requirements of leadership at that level differ in some important respects from leadership at the tactical level. Indeed, the term operational art implies that the commander at this echelon requires special talents. To identify these special requirements should be a matter of high concern not only to those who aspire to command at the operational level, but also to all field-grade officers who might be staff officers at operational-level headquarters. If it is advisable, then, to learn about the unique demands of leadership at the operational level, where does one look for instruction The ideal circumstance is to serve with a latter-day Clausewitzian genius personally and directly. Commanders with transcendent intellectual and creative powers are rare, however, so to have a chance to observe a genius personally is nearly impossible. A second way, open to all, is through study of the sequence and tendencies of past events and the key personalities who drove them. The present essay rests mainly on this method. As a matter of plain fact, though, most US Army officers do not read military history with a critical eye. The majority of officers look for a third way. The Army has tried to provide just such a third way.

Subject Categories:

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

Distribution Statement: