Apostles of Attrition: Sir Douglas Haig, Sir Authur Harris, and Generalship in the Strategy That Dare Not Speak Its Name
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This thesis examines generalship in the strategy of attrition by evaluating the performance of Sir Douglas Haig and Sir Arthur Harris. It seeks to answer the question How proficient were Douglas Haig and Arthur Harris as practitioners of attrition By rigorously examining these mens experiences through their personal correspondence and papers, contemporary strategists should gain useful insights into the link between generalship and proficiency in waging wars of attrition. To analyze how well Haig and Harris employed attrition in support of British national strategy this study subjectively evaluates each generals proficiency using six complementary criteria. They are 1 translating policy objectives into coherent strategy and operations 2 balancing doctrinal adherence with flexible adaptation 3 nurturing relationships with higher civil and military authorities 4 nurturing relationships with subordinate commanders and warriors 5 optimizing operational design and tactical technique and 6 fostering intelligence and technological and doctrinal innovation. Each generals proficiency is evaluated under the individual criteria and receives a composite ranking. The evidence demonstrates that Haig and Harris both proved proficient practitioners of attrition. Both men were adept at translating policy objectives into a coherent strategy executed through optimized operational design and tactical techniques. Their strategic vision and determination could, however, be both a virtue and a vice. Where Haigs obstinacy inhibited him from nurturing relationships with his superiors, Harriss obstinacy clouded his judgment regarding intelligence and innovation. In the end, that Britain won both wars is due significantly to Haigs and Harriss proficiency as practitioners of the strategy of attrition. In summary, this thesis finds that proficiency in conducting a strategy of attrition begins with recognizing the type of war one is fighting.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics