Cutting Off the Head of the Snake: Applying and Assessing Leadership Attack in Military Conflict
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This study examines a compelling phenomenon in modern conflict. Leaders are being attacked and their leadership is being disrupted at what appears to be an unprecedented rate. Because of this, military decision makers and planners need to know if attacking leadership is an effective strategy. There are numerous and divergent opinions on this subject. This study s purpose is to answer the research question when, if ever, is it advisable to attack adversary leadership in times of military conflict The study differentiates between attacking leadership and the killing or capturing of enemy leaders, commonly called decapitation. Leadership attack is broader than decapitation, as it encompasses additional actions that disrupt the process of leadership within the adversary organization. These include destroying command centers and communication nodes or undermining the adversary leader through psychological attack. The study employs the qualitative research methodology of systematic process analysis to test two competing theories of leadership attack. The primary theory is drawn from the writings of John Warden and J.F.C Fuller, and the competing theory is developed within the study to offer an alternative perspective when considering the historical evidence.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics