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The Operational Art of Ancient Israel: A Campaign Analysis of Israel's Conquest of Canaan in the 13th Century BCE

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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Israels conquest of Canaan provides an example of how smaller military forces can overcome numerical and technological disadvantages in conventional warfare through the application of operational art. This military conquest resembles contemporary warfare in broad concepts such as offensive and defensive operations, multi-national alliance and coalition warfare, and civilian-military relations. Israels success depended on multiple factors, the most significant being the generalship of its national leader and military commander, Joshua. Campaign analysis through the lens of operational design elements revealed that Joshuas initial operations were linked in time, space, and purpose to set the Israelites in a position of advantage. Joshua created periods of local superiority by massing his forces and isolating elements of the Canaanite armies along single lines of operation. Using lines of effort, Joshua linked subsequent operations to his campaign by purpose only, which enabled him to exercise operational patience as he waited for the optimal conditions for battle. Periodic strategic and operational pauses ensured sufficient operational reach, and popular support enabled him to conduct a patient war effort. This reveals an ancient Israeli way of war that has implications to current U.S. military employment of operational art, which in some ways, challenges conventional wisdom.

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Technical Report,08 Aug 2016,09 Jun 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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