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A Means Towards Understanding: Reconnaissance and the Practice of Operational Art
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This monograph examines the relationship between reconnaissance and the application of operational art. The operational artist requires reconnaissance to arrange tactical actions in time, space, and purpose to achieve an overarching strategic objective. The operational artist also requires reconnaissance to mitigate uncertainty by identifying potential risks and opportunities yet unknown, clarifying ambiguous situations, and providing the time and space to react to unforeseen circumstances. A lack of reconnaissance greatly reduces the amount of relevant information the operational artist has to use and invites surprise by increasing the probability that any given tactical action will not achieve its intended results. The monograph reviews the academic literature and military doctrine regarding reconnaissance from 1860 through the present, and then evaluates two campaigns to determine how reconnaissance shaped the arrangement of tactical actions in time, space, and purpose during those campaigns. The campaigns studied are the Vicksburg, Mississippi, campaign during the American Civil War and the Normandy, France, invasion during World War II. The author concludes that the operational artist requires reconnaissance to practice operational art effectively. The information gathered by reconnaissance facilitates understanding and enhances planning and decision making. The failure to utilize reconnaissance information will leave commanders and their staffs vulnerable to surprise.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE