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Never neglect the psychological, cultural, political, and human dimenstions of warfare, which is inevitably tragic, inefficient, and uncertain. Be skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories, or doctrines that suggest otherwise.
--- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speech at NDU, 29 Sep 2008

Read and reread the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustaphus Adolphus, Turenne and Frederick; take them as your model; that is the only way of becoming a Great Captain, to obtain the secrets of the art of war.
--- Napoleon

The personality of the general is indispensable, he is the head, he is the all of an army. The Gauls were not conquered by the Roman legions but by Caesar. It was not before the Carthaginian soldiers that Rome was made to tremble but before Hannibal. It was not the Macedonian phalanx which penetrated to India but Alexander. It was not the French Army which reached the Weser and the Inn, it was Turenne. Prussia was not defended for seven years against the three most formidable European Powers by the Prussian soldiers but by Frederick the Great.
--- Napoleon

You should not have a favorite weapon.
--- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings

General ResourcesBack to Top

  • see also military journals and papers, especially using cumulative listings to browse for articles

  • see also combat leadership examples on leadership page

  • see also art of design

  • Joint Operations: Insights and Best Practices (local copy), Fourth Edition, Joint Staff J7, March 2013 [previous versions were written by USJFCOM]
    • This paper, written by the Deployable Training Division (DTD), provides an umbrella joint insights document that helps inform both the joint warfighters and key functions within the J7, notably lessons learned, doctrine, education, and future joint force development. In addition to this paper, the DTD has also developed more detailed "focus" papers that share insights and best practices for various specific challenges (such as mission command and cross-domain synergy, assessments, CCIR development and reporting, and lethal and nonlethal integration) observed at joint headquarters. All of these papers are unclassified for broad accessibility.

  • Organizational Theories: Perspectives on Changing National Security Institutions (local copy), by DiBella, in Joint Force Quarterly, 2nd quarter 2013
    • The question remains as to what images will best fit national security organizations in an age that contains both evolving asymmetric threats and the potential for traditional threats. Do we shift from a machine to a network or do we alter the properties of the machine? Either way generates change, but one could argue that only the former represents true transformation. The larger question is how we make such a transformation. Given the political context of our national security apparatus, a dialectic framing of the task ahead seems appropriate. That means enlarging our capacity to resolve conflict.
    • Both the opacity and multiplicity of organization theory contribute to the challenge of working in an interagency or joint environment. It is best to recognize that in those contexts military leaders and civilian managers will have diverse and potentially contradictory views about what organizations are and how they can be changed. Many of us are barely aware of our own theories much less those held by our counterparts who lead other organizations in an interagency or joint context.

  • James Stavridis: How NATO's Supreme Commander thinks about global security - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Imagine global security driven by collaboration -- among agencies, government, the private sector and the public. That's not just the distant hope of open-source fans, it's the vision of James Stavridis, a highly accomplished Navy Admiral. Stavridis shares vivid moments from recent military history to explain why security of the future should be built with bridges rather than walls."
    • [title at TED site is "James Stavridis: A Navy Admiral's thoughts on global security"]

  • On Military Theory (local copy), by Vego, in Joint Force Quarterly, 3rd quarter 2011
    • All too often, the critical importance of military theory either is not well understood or is completely ignored by many officers. A reason for this is their apparent lack of knowledge and understanding of the relationship between theory and practice and the real purpose of military theory. Many officers are also contemptuous of theory because they overemphasize the importance of technology

  • Military Theory, Strategy, and Praxis (local copy), by Kipp and Grau, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2011
    • The enemy will always have a vote. Praxis attempts to make it an insignificant one. Theory and strategy should be about the ends, ways, and means to counter that enemy and adapt to his changes. Praxis should direct future strategic choices, and technology should enhance the conduct of political and military conflict.

  • Ministry of Defence Joint Doctrine Pub 04, Understanding, Dec 2010
    • Understanding provides the context for the decision-making process which informs the application of national power. The purpose of understanding is to equip decision-makers at all levels with the insight and foresight required to make effective decisions as well as manage the associated risks and second and subsequent order effects.
    • The human domain concerns the interaction between human actors, their activity and their broader environment. It is defined as the totality of the human sphere of activity or knowledge. This broad environment is shaped by 4 principal factors: the culture that affects how they interpret and orient themselves towards that environment; the institutions which embody cultural ideas as practices; the technology and infrastructure that people assemble to survive in their environment; and the physical environment in which people live. The human domain framework considers these 4 areas as environments (cultural, institutional, technological and physical) to capture the interaction between human actors and their wider environment. The framework takes the approach that considering the role of people as actors on the global stage - as states, non-state actors, populations, organisations, groups and individuals – provides insufficient depth to develop effective understanding. Actors must be set within their cultural, institutional, technological and physical environments to provide the appropriate context for developing understanding.

  • Military Adaptation in War (local copy), by Murray, for IDA, for OSD Office of Net Assessment, June 2009
    • History suggests that military organizations have been more committed to the ethos of the past than to preparing to meet the future. Most military organizations and their leaders attempt to impose prewar conceptions on the war they are fighting rather than adapting their assumptions to reality. They adapt only after great losses in men and national treasure. Effective military organizations adapt their prewar assumptions and concepts to reality. This inherent tension between the creation of disciplined, obedient military organizations, responsive to direction from above, and the creation of organizations adaptive to a world of constant change makes military innovation in peacetime and adaptation in war so difficult.
    • examines WW I, WW II, and Yom Kippur War

  • Systems versus Classical Approach to Warfare (local copy), by Vego, in Joint Force Quarterly, 1st Qtr 2009
    • Never neglect the psychological, cultural, political, and human dimenstions of warfare, which is inevitably tragic, inefficient, and uncertain. Be skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories, or doctrines that suggest otherwise.
      --- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speech at NDU, 29 Sep 2008

    • Since the mid-1990s, a systems (or sytemic) approach to warfare emerged gradually as the dominant school of thought in the U.S. military, most other Western militaries, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
    • Yet U.S. and NATO experiences in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Israeli experience in the second Lebanon war in 2006, have revealed not only serious limitations but also important flaws in the practical application of the systems view of war.

  • On Metaphors We Are Led By (local copy), by Paparone, in Military Review, Nov-Dec 2008
    • With the clever and often hidden use of metaphors, the most effective thought leaders indoctrinate others to grasp and communicate the intractable or instrutable. This essay proposes a framework that can help military practitioners judge the appropriate use of metaphor and be more reflective about how indoctrination can work to shape their "sensemaking" in important ways.

  • The Militant Ideology Atlas, ed. McCants, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point, Nov 2006
    • in-depth study of the Jihadi Movement's top thinkers and their most popular writings. This is the first systematic mapping of the ideology inspiring al-Qaeda.
    • The CTC’s researchers spent one year mining the most popular books and articles in al-Qaeda’s online library, profiling hundreds of figures in the Jihadi Movement, and cataloging over 11,000 citations. The empirically supported findings of the project are surprising:
      • The most influential Jihadi intellectuals are clerics from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, two of the US’s closest allies in the Middle East.
      • Among them, the Jordanian cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has had the most impact on other Jihadi thinkers and has been the most consequential in shaping the worldview of the Jihadi Movement.
      • In contrast, the study finds that Usama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri have had little influence on other Jihadi theorists and strategists.

  • Transition to the Information Age Demands Improvements to Professional Military Education System (local copy), Congressman Ike Skelton press release, 28 Sep 05
    • Imagine what might happen if a Rembrandt received a box of 16 crayons, and an average Joe was given a full palette of oil paints, easel, and canvas. Which one is more likely to produce a work of art? The analogy may not exactly fit, but the point is clear – the tools matter less than the talent, training, and dedication that create the art. You can’t have a masterpiece without a master. I think we forget that sometimes in the realm of warfare.

  • Research, Writing, and the Mind of the Strategist (local copy), by Foster, in Joint Force Quarterly

  • Changing Nature of Warfare, 25 May 2004 workshop papers from the National Intelligence Council (NIC) 2020 project

  • Airpower Doctrine -Airpower Theory, bibliography by Air University Library

  • From Kadesh to Kandahar: Military Theory and the Future of War, by Evans, in Naval War College Review, Summer 2003

  • The Immutable Nature of War, PBS, NOVA, interview with Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper
    • The art of war and the science of war are not coequal. The art of war is clearly the most important. It's science in support of the art. Any time that science leads in your ability to think about and make war, I believe you're headed down a dangerous path.
    • The art is the thinking. It is the intellectual underpinnings of war. It's understanding the theory and the nature. It's understanding how it is you want to bring combat power to bear, and what the operating concepts are. The science is represented by the weapons.

  • Study of War Conferences (summaries) - by Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS) - UNC, Duke U., and NCSU

  • The Roots of Modern American Operational Art (local copy), by Col Mike Matheny, Director (as of Aug 2003 download time) of the Advanced Strategic Art Program (ASAP), US Army War College

  • Educating the Post-Modern U.S. Army Strategic Planner: Improving the Organizational Construct (local copy), by Wilson, a 2003 SAMS paper

  • Why Strategy Is Difficult (local copy), by Colin S. Gray, in Joint Force Quarterly, Summer 1999

  • On Strategic Performance (local copy), by Colin S. Gray, in Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 1995-96
    • A holistic approach operates vertically and horizontally. Seen vertically, strategy includes all aspects of peace and security from political vision to tactical military performance. Horizontally considered, it includes the application of power on land, at sea, in the air, and in space, together with strategic nuclear and special operations forces. It is important that this dual-axis appreciation should be accepted before challenges in detail are offered.
    • Why is strategy difficult to achieve, let alone sustain? With some grateful borrowing and adaptation from Clausewitz, I find six connected reasons. [each is expanded in the article]
      • First, competence in strategy requires mastery of a challenging complexity.
      • Second, by its nature strategy is more demanding of the intellect and perhaps imagination than any structurally more simple activity—policy, operations, tactics, or logistics for prominent examples.
      • Third, it is extraordinarily difficult to train competent strategists, let alone outstanding ones.
      • Fourth, strategy is extraordinarily difficult to conduct with consistent excellence because of the unique physical and moral burdens it puts on would-be strategists.
      • Fifth, it is worth citing what Clausewitz termed friction, although the previous point can be seen as encompassing aspects of this phenomenon.
      • Finally, success in strategy calls for a quality of judgment that cannot be taught.

  • Toward an American Way of War (local copy), by Echevarria, SSI

  • Machines, the Military, and Strategic Thought (local copy), by Lopez et al, in Military Review, Sep-Oct 2004 - with diagrams/semantic webs of relations between actions, influences, and results

  • Knowing - self, enemy, situation (local copy) - a quick, easy read from Navy CIO with topics such as types of cognitive capabilities, and knowing yourself as an agent of change

  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol I: Theory of War and Strategy (local copy), 4th Edition, July 2010, edited by Bartholomees
  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol II: National Security Policy and Strategy (local copy), 4th Edition, July 2010, edited by Bartholomees

  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol I: Theory of War and Strategy (local copy), 3rd Edition, June 2008, edited by Bartholomees
  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol II: National Security Policy and Strategy (local copy), 3rd Edition, June 2008, edited by Bartholomees

  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy (local copy), 2006, edited by Bartholomees
  • U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy (local copy), 2004, edited by Bartholomees
  • U.S. Army War College Guide to Strategy (local copy), 2001, edited by Cerami and Holcomb

  • Airmen and Air Theory - A Review of the Sources, by Meilinger, AU Press, 2001

  • Keeping the Strategic Flame (local copy), by Builder, in Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 1996-97

  • The Mark of Strategic Genius, by Metz, in Parameters, Autumn 1991

  • Strategy and Theory Case Studies, Naval War College

  • Warfare Theory (local copy), by Gattuso, in Naval War College Review, Autumn 1996 - compares attrition theory and maneuver theory, and when each is appropriate

  • Peter Faber

  • The Links between Science and Philosophy and Military Theory: Understanding the Past; Implications for the Future, by Pellegrini, SAAS paper, Aug 1997

  • The Grammar and Logic of Conflict, by Fabyanic, in Air University Review, Mar-Apr 1981

  • The Strategist's Short Catechism: Six Questions without Answers (local copy), Philip A.Crowl, The Harmon Memorial Lectures in Military History, No. 20, October 6, 1977, pp. 1-14 - highlights below
    • The first and most fundamental question to be asked of any prospective war or other military action is: "What is it about?" ... What specific national interests and policy objectives are to be served by the proposed military action? How great is the value attached to those interests and objectives, and what is their fair price?
    • The second question for strategists concerns not the decision to go to war, but the proper methods of fighting the war once it starts. Assuming that a nation at war has some rational objectives, the next question is: “Is the national military strategy tailored to meet the national political objectives?” What this question suggests is that there be a close correlation between the political ends of war and the military means employed to achieve those ends.
    • A third and most difficult question that strategists must ask is: “What are the limits of military power?” This one more than any other sticks in the craw—especially in the craw of us Americans whose major national sin is grandiosity, and even more of American military officers whose professional creed is best expressed in two words: “Can do.” Yet there are many things that armed forces, no matter how powerful, cannot do.
    • Question number four is simply: “What are the alternatives?” What are the alternatives to war? What are the alternative campaign strategies, especially if the preferred one fails? How is the war to be terminated gracefully if the odds against victory become too high?
    • My fifth question is: “How strong is the home front?” Does public opinion support the war and the military strategy employed to fight it? What are the attitudes of influential elites both inside and outside the government in office? How much stress can civilian society endure under the pressures of the wartime sacrifices demanded? Is the war morally acceptable? Can it plausibly be explained as a “just war?”
    • It also brings me to the sixth and final question for strategists, which is a paraphrase of Mahan’s warning already noted. “Does today’s strategy overlook points of difference and exaggerate points of likeness between past and present?” Has concern over past successes and failures developed into a neurotic fixation that blinds the strategist to changed circumstances requiring new and different responses?
    • And one final warning to those of you who are on the threshold of your careers as strategic planners. After all your plans have been perfected, all avenues explored, all contingencies thought through, then ask yourself one final question: “What have I overlooked?” Then say your prayers and go to sleep—with the certain knowledge that tomorrow too will bring its share of nasty surprises.

  • Finesse: a Short Theory of War (local copy), by Forsyth, in Military Review, Jul-Aug 2004

  • On Target for Joint Theater Air Defense, 1996, Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, U. S. Air Force chief of staff
    • "The advent of the Global Positioning System, along with improving computer technology and miniaturization, has resulted in a rapid drop in the price of highly accurate cruise missiles. At the same time, sensor systems are proliferating and in the very near future it will be possible to find, fix and target virtually any surface force in the world."

  • Chaos Theory for the Practical Military Mind, AU research paper by Durham

  • Towards a Theory of Strategy: Art Lykke and the Army War College Strategy Model, by Yarger (local copy)
  • The U.S. Army War College Methodology for Determining Interests and Levels of Intensity, by Yarger and Barber (local copy)
  • Aid to Formulating a Regional Strategic Appraisal, by Sadrak, Army War College (local copy)

  • Dept of War Studies, King's College London

  • War, Peace, and Security Web Server, in English, from Canadian Forces College

  • Fundamentals of Military Strategy, Army War College
  • CATO Institute
  • Air Power Development Centre, Royal Australian Air Force

  • Anticipating the Future: New Perspectives on Prussian and Austrian War Planning, by Echevarria, in Parameters, review of works on 19th century strategy development, incl Moltke and Schlieffen
  • In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, Arquilla and Ronfeldt ed.s, RAND, 1997
  • Thumping the Hive: Russian Neocortical Warfare in Chechnya (local copy), by McIntosh, 2004 NPS paper

  • MILITARY AIR POWER: The CADRE Digest of Air Power Opinions and Thoughts, military quotes book, by Lt Col CHARLES M. WESTENHOFF, 1990, (MS Word), searchable using the Find feature in Word or browser [Zipped file] [PDF file] -- lots of quotes from theorists and leaders and strategists

  • Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, from Marathon to Waterloo (local copy), first published in 1851 (with later editions), by Edward Shepherd Creasy (1812-1878)

  • Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power, by Victor Davis Hanson, New York and London: Doubleday. 2001 - uses nine representative battles of Western versus non-Western forces to illustrate his theories
      • Battle of Salamis, 480 B.C.
      • Battle of Gaugamela, 331 B.C. (aka Battle of Arbela)
      • Battle of Cannae, 216 B.C.
      • Battle of Poitiers, 732 (aka Battle of Tours)
      • Battle of Tenochtitlan, 1521
      • Battle of Lepanto, 1571
      • Battle of Rorke's Drift, 1879
      • Battle of Midway, 1942
      • Tet Offensive, 1968
    • Reviews of Carnage and Culture

  • The Military Leadership of the North and the South (local copy), by Williams, USAFA Harmon Memorial Lecture #2 (DOC file)

  • A Short History of War (local copy), online military history of past 5000 years, from Army War College, with some Air War College additions

  • library online works by Machiavelli, Teddy Roosevelt, Caesar, Mahan, Frederick the Great, Sherman, Xenophon, Marcus Aurelius, Clausewitz, ...

  • Hints to Young Generals, by an Old Soldier (BGen. John Armstrong), Kingston: J. Buel, 1812 - [Armstrong was a major in the Revolutionary War, was at the defeat of Burgoyne in 1777, and served as ambassador to France in 1804 and saw Napoleon's army firsthand.]
    • "Books! and what are they but the dreams of pedants? They may make a Mack, but have they ever made a Xenophon, a Caesar, a Saxe, a Frederick or a Bonaparte? Who would not laugh to hear the cobler of Athens lecturing Hannibal on the art of war?"
    • "True: but as you are not Hannibal, listen to the cobler. Xenophon, Caesar, Saxe and Frederick, have all thought well of books, and have even composed them. Nor is this extraordinary, since they are but the depositories of maxims, which genius has suggested, and experience confirmed; since they both enlighten and shorten the road of the traveller, and render the labor and the genius of past ages, tributary to our own. These teach most emphatically, that the secret of successful war, is not to be found in mere legs and arms, but in the head, that shall direct them."

American Way of WarBack to Top Grand StrategyBack to Top Art of DesignBack to Top
  • see also design and process on thinking skills page

  • Planner's Handbook for Operational Design (local copy), by Joint Staff, J-7, 7 Oct 2011

  • Army design methodology: Commander’s resource (local copy), by Grome et al, ARI Research Product 2012-01, Feb 2012
  • Incorporating Army Design Methodology into Army Operations: Barriers and Recommendations for Facilitating Integration (local copy), by Grome et al, ARI Research Report 1954, Mar 2012

  • Design and Operational Art: A Practical Approach to Teaching the Army Design Methodology (local copy), by Graves and Stanley, Military Review, Jul-Aug 2013
    • In an effort to maintain relevance with the operational army and joint force, the SAMS faculty adjusted its design and operational art curriculum based on feedback from commanders and senior Army leaders. Thus, the updated curriculum increases the student officers’ understanding of Army design methodology and improves communication between graduates and their commanders. Previous versions of the SAMS design curriculum did not acknowledge the past application of critical and creative thinking from military practitioners. Instead, the design curriculum relied on theory and concepts from a variety of design disciplines, resulting in a heavy reliance on metaphor to reach understanding about design.
    • This article describes the current SAMS design curriculum, highlights its relationship to the broader SAMS curriculum, and demonstrates a practical way to teach Army design methodology.

  • spiffy UFMCS Red Team Handbook, Apr 2012 (local copy)
    • "Design inquires into the nature of a problem to conceive a framework for solving that problem. In general, planning is problem solving, while design is problem setting. Where planning focuses on generating a plan—a series of executable actions—design focuses on learning about the nature of an unfamiliar problem"

  • A Practical Guide to Design: a Way to Think About It, and a Way to Do It (local copy), by Perez, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2011
    • The structure that Design imparts is straightforward. Design merely asks the commander and his thinking partners to maintain and revise provisional answers to four questions.
      • What is going on in the environment?
      • What do we want the environment to look like?
      • Where—conceptually—do we act to achieve our desired state?
      • How do we act and speak in order to achieve our desired state?

  • Art of Design (local copy, 12 Mb), Student Text, Version 2.0, School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS)
    (low res local copy, 5 Mb)
    • The Art of Design Student Text, Version 2.0 is the next iteration of this understanding of design as the art of strategic thinking. The utility of this student text will not be limited to the classroom. It will also serve as a comprehensive resource for leaders in the field who are already designing exceptionally complex operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Design: Tools of the Trade (local copy), by Kem, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, May 2009
    • Design is the next step on a path to maturing our battle command model for the complexities of operations in an era of persistent conflict. It will provide future generations of leaders with the cognitive tools necessary to master our operations process at a time when our adversaries are adapting at a rate unprecedented in our history – forging an operational paradigm that is as flexible and adaptive as the leaders we are developing.
    • Design is a way to help you think through handling problems – and to get others around you to help using collaboration and discourse to enable the commander’s visualization of a situation.
    • In a collaborative environment, it is important that all – commanders as well as staff officers – bring in what they know and how they see things without being afraid to speak up. After all, even a commander doesn’t know everything, even though some might not be so sure. A learning organization consisting of people with different skills and backgrounds can really help you look at problems from different perspectives – thereby assisting the commander in his mission of leading that organization.
    • ...Design will help you take a complex problem and let you see it for what it is so you can adjust to make things better.

  • Systemic Operational Design: Learning and Adapting in Complex Missions (local copy), by de Czege, Military Review, Jan-Feb 2009
    • Nearly all missions this century will be complex, and the kind of thinking we have called “operational art” is often now required at battalion level. Fundamentally, operational art requires balancing design and planning while remaining open to learning and adapting quickly to change. Design is not a new idea. Command has always entailed responsibility for designing operations while penetrating complexity and framing problems that planners have to solve. Individual ability to learn effectively, adapt rapidly and appropriately, and to solve problems has always been self-evidently valuable to commanders. Yet, collectively, a command’s overall quality of design, learning, and adaptation is what determines results. Military leaders may value individual creativity, critical thinking, continuous learning, and adaptability in their staffs and subordinate commanders, but individual traits do not necessarily add up to collective abilities needed for the best outcomes.

  • Educating by Design: Preparing Leaders for a Complex World (local copy), by Banach, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2009
    • One of the primary objectives of AMSMSP’s Art of Design courseware is to enable students to gain systemic understanding of a situation when it is not clear what action is required and no consensus exists on the nature of the problem.
    • The complex situations that the Army is confronting today defy checklists and templates. Instead a broad framework must be applied to describe the nature of the problem and the capabilities of the organization. These products should result in written and graphical products that clearly communicate the logic of the design.

  • The Art of Design: a Design Methodology (local copy), by Banach and Ryan, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2009
    • America’s International Technology Education Association defines design as an iterative decision-making process that produces plans by which resources are converted into products or systems that meet human needs and wants or solve problems.
    • Once a design team has been formed by the commander to help him understand the situation, it needs to ask:
      • Why has this situation developed?
      • What does it mean?
      • What’s the real story here?

  • From Tactical Planning to Operational Design (local copy), by Davison, Military Review, Sep-Oct 2008
    • The three military decision-making models reflect a parallel progression in the evolution of systems thinking. Initially, rational military decisionmaking supported solving well-structured problems such as those found in a mechanistic system. Decision-making primed by recognition subsequently evolved to address problems occurring in natural settings with which the decision-maker had experience. An intuitive decision-making process then emerged to cope with those situations for which decision-makers had no previous experience.

Principles of WarBack to Top

Tenets of Air and Space PowerBack to Top Strategy Models and CriticismsBack to Top In Other LanguagesBack to Top Bibliographies/CollectionsBack to Top Compare & ContrastBack to Top Sun Tzu (or Sunzi) & moreBack to Top GreekBack to Top RomanBack to Top MedievalBack to Top Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527Back to Top Hermann-Maurice comte de Saxe, 1696-1750Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Saxe, Hermann Maurice de, Marshal of France. Commissioned at age 12, a regimental commander of cavalry at 17; leading military commander of the early eighteenth century; author of My Reveries (1732).

    • "The ultimate object of mobility is to obtain superior power in battle."
    • "Few orders are best, but they should be followed up with care."

  • other quotes
    • It is not big armies that win battles, it is the good ones.
    • Hope encourages men to endure and attempt everything; in depriving them of it, or in making it too distant, you deprive them of their very soul.

  • My Reveries upon the Art of War, by Marshal Herman Maurice de Saxe, Published posthumously in 1757

  • Maurice de Saxe, "My Reveries upon the Art of War," in Roots of Strategy: The 5 Greatest Military Classics of all Time, ed. and trans. Thomas R. Phillips, (Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing Company, 1940; reprinted by Stackpole Books, 1985),
    • I do not favor pitched battles, especially at the beginning of a war, and I am convinced that a skillful general could make war all his life without being forced into one.
    • I do not mean to say by this that when an opportunity occurs to crush the enemy that he should not be attacked, nor that advantage should not be taken of his mistakes. But I do mean that war can be made without leaving anything to chance. And this is the highest point of perfection and skill in a general.

Frederick the Great, 1712-1786Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Frederick II ("the Great"), King of Prussia. Brilliant military leader and domestic reformer; rebelled against military discipline as a youth and was court-martialed; in the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763, he held off the armies of Russia, France, and Austria (all larger powers) through adroit maneuvering, timing, and skill.

    • "Every art has its rules and maxims. One must study them: theory facilitates practice. The lifetime of one man is not long enough to enable him to acquire perfect knowledge and experience."
    • "It would further human knowledge if, instead of writing new books, we would apply ourselves to making decent extracts from those that are already in existence. Then one would hope to avoid wasting his time by reading."
    • "The greatest secret of war and the masterpiece of a skillful general is to starve his enemy."
    • "In order to have rest oneself it is necessary to keep the enemy occupied."
    • "Petty geniuses attempt to hold everything; wise men hold fast to the key points."
    • "Skepticism is the mother of security."
    • "But since the best dispositions become useless if they are not executed, it is essential that the general should be industrious in seeing whether his orders are executed or not."

  • The King of Prussia's Military Instruction to his Generals (local copy) (lengthy, 161k to download)
  • Particular Instruction of the King of Prussia to the Officers of his Army, and especially those of the Cavalry (local copy) (lengthy, 111k to download)
Napoleon, 1769-1821Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France. Military leader; multiskilled reorganizer of continental European politics and law.

    • "If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering on an undertaking, I have meditated for long and have foreseen what may occur. It is not genius which reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstances unexpected by others; it is thought and preparation."
    • "Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. Space we can recover; lost time, never."
    • "War is composed of nothing but accidents, and though holding to general principles, a general should never lose sight of everything to enable him to profit from these accidents; that is the mark of genius."
    • "A battle sometimes decides everything; and sometimes the most trifling thing decides the fate of a battle."
    • "Fumblings, the middle course, lose all in war."
    • "Nothing is more important in war than unity in command."
    • "The whole art of war consists of a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive followed by rapid and audacious attack."
    • "The first quality for a commander-in-chief is a cool head, which receives a correct impression of things. He should not allow himself to be confused by either good or bad news."
    • "Morale makes up three quarters of the game, the relative balance of manpower accounts for only the remaining quarter."

  • The Military Maxims of Napoleon, by General Burnod, 1827

  • The Human Element and Air Combat: some Napoleonic Comparisons, by Wells, in Aerospace Power Journal, Spring 1988

  • Napoleon and Maneuver Warfare (local copy), by Ross, USAFA Harmon Memorial Lecture #28 (DOC file)

Carl von Clausewitz, 1780-1831Back to Top Centers of GravityBack to Top Culminating PointBack to Top
  • see also tipping point

  • culminating point - (DOD) The point at which a force no longer has the capability to continue its form of operations, offense or defense. a. In the offense, the point at which continuing the attack is no longer possible and the force must consider reverting to a defensive posture or attempting an operational pause. b. In the defense, the point at which counteroffensive action is no longer possible. (from the DoD Dictionary)

  • Culminating Points (local copy), by Hall, in Military Review, July 1989

  • other military references to "culminating point"

Decisive BattleBack to Top Antoine Henri Jomini, 1779-1869Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Jomini, Antoine Henri, General of Brigade of France and Lieutenant General of Russia. Served as Marshal Ney's chief of staff; director of the French general staff's historical section in the Napoleonic Wars; author of The Art of War (1855).

  • The Present Theory of War and Its Utility, by Jomini, 1838 - Jomini discusses almost all the military writers of the period
  • Introductory Material to Summary of the Art of War (local copy), by Jomini, 1838 - different format and packaging of above material, with Jomini's letter to the Emperor
    • Of all theories on the art of war, the only reasonable one is that which, founded upon the study of military history, admits a certain number of regulating principles, but leaves to natural genius the greatest part in the general conduct of a war without trammeling it with exclusive rules.
    • On the contrary, nothing is better calculated to kill natural genius and to cause error to triumph, than those pedantic theories, based upon the false idea that war is a positive science, all the operations of which can be reduced to infallible calculations.
    • In all the arts, as in all the situations of life, knowledge and skill are two altogether different things, and if one often succeed through the latter alone, it is never but the union of the two that constitutes a superior man and assures complete success. Meanwhile, in order not to be accused of pedantry, I hasten to avow that, by knowledge, I do not mean a vast erudition; it is not the question to know a great deal but to know well; to know especially what relates to the mission appointed us.

  • The Art of War (local copy), by baron Henri Jomini
    • To recapitulate, the art of war consists of six distinct parts:—

      1. Statesmanship in its relation to war.
      2. Strategy, or the art of properly directing masses upon the theater of war, either for defense or for invasion.
      3. Grand Tactics.
      4. Logistics, or the art of moving armies.
      5. Engineering,—the attack and defense of fortifications.
      6. Minor Tactics.
    • It is proposed to analyze the principal combinations of the first four branches, omitting the consideration of tactics and of the art of engineering.
    • Familiarity with all these parts is not essential in order to be a good infantry, cavalry, or artillery officer; but for a general, or for a staff officer, this knowledge is indispensable.

  • The Military Leadership of the North and the South (local copy), by Williams, USAFA Harmon Memorial Lecture #2 (DOC file) - with discussion especially of Jomini's influence

  • Jomini, Antoine Henri, AU Library resources
  • Cornell University Making of America (MoA) Collection (300+ hits when searched on "Jomini") Using advanced search can find the following:
    • Baron de Jomini's Treatise on Military Operations, 1865
    • General Jomini (local copy, a quick 15 pages), bio article by G.B.M. in The Galaxy, published 1869
      • He said that it was while studying the accounts of the battle of Leuthen that the great principle which is the foundation of the art of war flashed upon him; and a careful study of Napoleon's early Italian campaigns proved to him that he had at last mastered the secret. ... it was simply this -- to bring the greatest mass of troops to bear upon the decisive point of a field of battle or theatre of operations, at the opportune moment.
      • Not long after [Austerlitz], the Emperor [Napoleon], when at Schönbrunn, with more leisure than usual, directed Maret to read to him the portions of the work ["Treatise on Great Operations"] indicated in Jomini's letter. After listening to a few pages, he exclaimeed:
           "They say the age does not advance! Why, here is a young major, a Swiss at that, who teaches us what my professors never taught me, and what very few generals understand!"
           After hearing a little more, he said, much excited,
           "Why did Fouché allow such a work to be published? It teaches my whole system of war to my enemies. The book must be seized, and its circulation prevented."
           After a few moments' reflection, he again said:
           "But I attach too much importance to this publication. The old generals who command against me will never read it, and the young men who will read it do not command; nevertheless, such works must not be published hereafter without permission."
           He then ordered Jomini's name be placed on the list of promotions for the campaign, as colonel on the general staff; and he was immediately assigned as senior aide-de-camp to Marshal Ney.
      • Jomini conversed frankly about the modern changes and improvements in fire-arms, railways, telegraphs, etc. He freely acknowledged their advantages, and the changes they would bring about in war, but insisted that they could not modify its principles. "Woe to the general," said he, "who trusts in the modern inventions, and neglects the principles of strategy; those principles will remain unchanged through all the improvements of the future, and can never be inconsistent with them; future history will show that under no circumstances can those principles be violated with impunity."
  • Intro to Interpreting Modern War - Jomini, History of Warfighting: Theory and Practice, Command and General Staff College - excellent quick summary of Jomini by Thomas Huber (local copy)

  • Jomini and Clausewitz: Their Interaction, by Bassford, paper from meeting of Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, Ga. St. U.
Dennis Hart Mahan, 1802-1871Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Mahan, Dennis Hart. Professor of military art and science at West Point; founder of professional military study in the United States; influenced many Civil War generals.

    • "Attack the enemy suddenly when he is not prepared to resist. Celerity is the secret of success."

  • McClellan, A Historian's View, with discussion of what he was taught by Professor D.H. Mahan at West Point -"It is doubtful that Professor Mahan ever had a more brilliant pupil than McClellan." -- "Professor Dennis Hart Mahan gave his students the practical lessons of the French Field Commander."

  • Jomini and Clausewitz: Their Interaction, by Bassford ... "[A.T.] Mahan's father, military educator Dennis Hart Mahan, had been a devout Jominian, and so was he."

  • "All officers of this command must now study their books; ignorance of duty must no longer be pleaded. The commanding general has the power at any time to order a board to examine the acquirements and capacity of any officer, and he will not fail to exercise it. Should any officer, high or low, after the opportunity and experiences we have had, be ignorant of his tactics, regulations, or even of the principles of the Art of War (Mahan and Jomini), it would be a lasting disgrace." By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, from: HQ General Orders No.62 (24 July 1862)

  • To do the greatest damage to our enemy with the least exposure to ourselves, is a military axiom lost sight of only by ignorance of the true ends of victory. --Dennis Hart Mahan

  • 1826 Dennis Hart Mahan, highest ranking graduate in the U. S. Military Academy class of 1824, begins four years of study in France.
  • 1830 Mahan becomes an instructor at USMA.

  • The Battle of Gettysburg: A Historical Perspective, 1995 ACSC research project including an interactive Asymetrix Toolbook product
    • "The Toolbook examines the influences of Dennis Hart Mahan and the concept of the decisive battle. Mahan derived his teachings from the works of the Swiss officer, Antoine Henri Jomini. The leaders of both the Northern and Southern armies and the overwhelming majority of their generals were graduates of the United States Military Academy, West Point. An overriding influence in their military education was the teachings of Dennis Hart Mahan, who taught for many years at West Point." -- training of the military leaders at Gettysburg "was dominated by the actions of Napoleon, the writings of Jomini, and formulated by the teachings of Mahan. The advantages of rapidity of movement, invasion of the enemy's territory, and a deadly blow to his forces culminating in a decisive battle, were the tenets that shaped the Civil War decision makers' thinking. They fought as they were trained to fight. A decisive battle was exactly what the generals were expecting and what they were seeking at Gettysburg."

  • The History of Warfighting: Theory and Practice, Command and General Staff College -- "As the American Civil War progressed, most senior commanders continued to rely upon Jominian theory as interpreted by Dennis Hart Mahan and [Gen. Henry Wager] Halleck, even though it did not specifically address sweeping technological changes such as railroads and ironclad warships. A few commanders, like U. S. Grant, paid little attention to Jominian rules and adopted a more pragmatic approach that seemed to fit the changed conditions better than the Napoleonic model then in vogue."
Charles-Jean-Jacques-Joseph Ardant du Picq, 1821-1870Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • du Picq, Charles Ardant, Colonel, French Army. Military leader in the Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars; author of the classic Battle Studies (1870).

    • "With equal or inferior power of destruction he will win who has the resolution to advance, who by his formations and maneuvers can continually threaten his adversary with a new phase of material action, who, in a word, has the moral ascendancy."

  • Battle Studies - Ancient and Modern Battle (local copy), by Ardant du Picq
Pre-A.T. Mahan Maritime StrategyBack to Top
  • Mahan's Forebears: the Debate over Maritime Strategy, 1868-1883, by Apt, in Naval War College Review
Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1840-1914Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Mahan, Alfred Thayer, Admiral, USN. Son of Dennis Hart Mahan; naval historian and theorist; author of The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890), one of the most influential volumes of historical analysis ever written.

    • "The strategist is he who always keeps the objective of the war in sight and the objective of the war is never military and is always political."
    • "The proverbial weakness of alliances is due to inferior power of concentration."

  • Jomini and Clausewitz: Their Interaction, by Bassford ... "[A.T.] Mahan's father, military educator Dennis Hart Mahan, had been a devout Jominian, and so was he."

  • Mahan's Classical View and the Profession of Arms, by Chipman, in AU Review, about the enduring lessons which may even apply to air power
  • The Reluctant Seaman, about Alfred Thayer Mahan
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer, AU Library resources
  • Mahan Articles, posted at the Cornell University Making of America (MoA) Collection (700+ hits when searched on "Mahan") Using advanced search you can find many articles, including the following:
    • The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, unsigned review of Mahan's major work, Atlantic Monthly (Oct. 1890)
    • The United States Looking Outward, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Atlantic Monthly (Dec. 1890)
    • Admiral the Earl of St. Vincent, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Atlantic Monthly (March 1893)
    • Admiral Saumarez, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Atlantic Monthly (May 1893)
    • Admiral Lord Exmouth, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Atlantic Monthly (July 1893)
    • The Isthmus and Sea Power, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Atlantic Monthly (Oct. 1893)
    • Possibilities of an Anglo-American Reunion, by Alfred T. Mahan, in North American Review (Nov. 1894)
    • Lessons from the Yalu Fight, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (Aug. 1895)
    • The Future in Relation to American Naval Power, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Harper's Magazine (Oct. 1895)
    • Nelson at Cape St. Vincent, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (Feb. 1896)
    • The Engineer in Naval Warfare, by Alfred T. Mahan, in North American Review (Dec. 1896)
    • Nelson in the Battle of the Nile, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (Jan. 1897)
    • The Battle of Copenhagen, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (Feb. 1897)
    • Nelson at Trafalgar, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (March 1897)
    • Preparedness for Naval War, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Harper's Magazine (March 1897)
    • A Twentieth-Century Outlook, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Harper's Magazine (Sept. 1897)
    • The Strategic Features of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, by Alfred T. Mahan, in Harper's Magazine (Oct. 1897)
    • The Spanish Armada: Introduction, by Alfred T. Mahan, in The Century (June 1898)
    • Current Fallacies Upon Naval Subjects, by Capt. Alfred T. Mahan, in Harper's Magazine (June 1898)
    • The Peace Conference and the Moral Aspect of the War, by Alfred T. Mahan, in North American Review (Oct. 1899)
    • The Merits of the Transvaal Dispute, by Alfred T. Mahan, in North American Review (March 1900)
    • Effects of Asiatic Conditions Upon International Policies, by Alfred T. Mahan, in North American Review (Nov. 1900)
Julian Stafford Corbett, 1854-1922Back to Top Maj Gen Emory Upton, 1839-1881Back to Top Helmuth von (The Elder) Moltke, 1800-1891Back to Top Sigismund Wilhelm Lorenz von Schlichting, 1829-1909Back to Top Early Russian/Soviet Theory and DoctrineBack to Top World War IBack to Top Giulio Douhet, 1869-1930Back to Top Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount, 1873–1956Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Trenchard, Hugh Montague, British Air Marshal, Viscount. Commander of the Royal Flying Corps in the field in World War I; chief of Air Staff from 1919 to 1929; single-minded advocate of air progress.

    • "It may be said that Douhet was the theorist of air power, Mitchell the publicist and catalytic agent, and Trenchard the organizational genius." - Harry H. Ransom
    • "The four principles of air power that I set out were:"
      1. To obtain mastery of the air, and to keep it, which means continually fighting for it.
      2. To destroy the enemy's means of production and his communications by strategic bombing.
      3. To maintain the battle without any interference by the enemy.
      4. To prevent the enemy being able to maintain the battle.

William "Billy" Mitchell, 1879-1936Back to Top Interwar Air Power Theories and DoctrineBack to Top
  • see also Between the Wars on the History page

  • Air Warfare, by William Sherman, 1926

  • The Thread of Doctrine, by Pauly, in Air University Review, May-June 1976 - discusses ACTS and its predecessors, as well as the documents of the period

  • Warden and the Air Corps Tactical School: What Goes Around Comes Around, by Belote, for Airpower Journal
  • Warden and the Air Corps Tactical School: Déjà Vu?, by West, SAAS paper, Oct 1999

  • The Development of US Strategic Bombing Doctrine in the Interwar Years: Moral and Legal?, by Faber, in Journal of Legal Studies, 1996/1997
    • Regarding Employment of Combined Air Force, Air Service Tactical School, 1924-1925
      • The text provides a series of working propositions that establish an intellectual foundation for the follow-on work of the ACTS Bomber Mafia from roughly 1928-1935. In particular, the Combined Air Force text codified five crucial propositions of air warfare for Army airmen.
        1) The goal of an air attack is "to undermine the enemy’s morale, [or] his will to resist."
        2) Airmen can best destroy morale, however, by attacking the interior of an opponent’s territory. Attacks against vital points or centers will not only terrorize populations into submission, they will also save lives. (In the future, for example, the Army will not have to gradually wear down and overcome enemy forces interposed between itself and an opponent’s territory.)
        3) Air power is an inherently offensive weapon that is impossible, in absolute terms, to stop.
        4) Since air power is the only military tool that can hit centers of concentration and sources of supply, and since it is the only tool that can undermine national morale with minimum effort and materiel, combatants should use it extensively in strategic operations. Strategic targets, after all, are typically more important than tactical ones.
        5) Last, "In any scheme of strategical operations the object is to cause complete destruction or permanent and irreparable damage to the enemy which will have a decisive effect."

Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence, 1888-1935Back to Top
  • In 1946, in a conversation with General Raoul Salan of France, Vo Nguyen Giap reportedly informed him, "My fighting gospel is T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I am never without it."

  • Principles of Warfare Culminating Seminar, by Schneider, 13 Apr 2005, School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) - quick summary of Lawrence's ideas and their application today

  • Twenty-Seven Articles, by Lawrence, reprinted from The Arab Bulletin, 20 August 1917, reproduced in Advice for Advisors: Suggestions and Observations from Lawrence to the Present - see PDF page 11

  • from his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom (various editions during the 1920's and 1930's) .. [red highlight added by AWC]
    • "However it was, things in the Hejaz went from bad to worse. No proper liaison was provided for the Arab forces in the field, no military information was given the Sherifs, no tactical advice or strategy was suggested, no attempt made to find out the local conditions and adapt existing Allied resources in material to suit their needs."
    • "As I have shown, I was unfortunately as much in command of the campaign as I pleased, and was untrained. In military theory I was tolerably read, my Oxford curiosity having taken me past Napoleon to Clausewitz and his school, to Caemmerer and Moltke, and the recent Frenchmen. They had all seemed to be one-sided; and after looking at Jomini and Willisen, I had found broader principles in Saxe and Guibert and the eighteenth century. However, Clausewitz was intellectually so much the master of them, and his book so logical and fascinating, that unconsciously I accepted his finality, until a comparison of Kuhne and Foch disgusted me with soldiers, wearied me of their officious glory, making me critical of all their light. In any case, my interest had been abstract, concerned with the theory and philosophy of warfare especially from the metaphysical side."
    • "Here was a pompous, professorial beginning. My wits, hostile to the abstract, took refuge in Arabia again. Translated into Arabic, the algebraic factor would first take practical account of the area we wished to deliver, and I began idly to calculate how many square miles: sixty: eighty: one hundred: perhaps one hundred and forty thousand square miles. And how would the Turks defend all that? No doubt by a trench line across the bottom, if we came like an army with banners; but suppose we were (as we might be) an influence, an idea, a thing intangible, invulnerable, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head. We might be a vapour, blowing where we listed. Our kingdoms lay in each man's mind; and as we wanted nothing material to live on, so we might offer nothing material to the killing. It seemed a regular soldier might be helpless without a target, owning only what he sat on, and subjugating only what, by order, he could poke his rifle at."

  • The Evolution of a Revolt, by Lawrence, in Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, Oct 1920 - with mention of Foch, Saxe, Moltke, Hannibal, Mohammed, and others .. [red highlight added by AWC]
    • Tactically the only campaigns I had studied step by step were the ancient affairs of Hannibal and Belisarius, Mohammed and the Crusades! My interests were only in pure theory and I looked everywhere for the metaphysical side, the philosophy of war, about which I thought a little for some years. Now I was compelled suddenly to action, to find an immediate equation between my book-reading and our present movements.
    • While we were training the regulars (of course not sending officer or light machine guns to Feisal in the hills meanwhile), the Turks suddenly put my appreciation to the test by beginning their advance on Mecca. They broke through my "impregnable" hills in twenty-four hours, and came forward from them towards Rabegh slowly. So they proved to us the second theorem of irregular war - namely, that irregular troops are as unable to defend a point or line as they are to attack it.
    • My own personal duty was command, and I began to unravel command and analyse it, both from the point of view of strategy, the aim in war, the synoptic regard which sees everything by the standard of the whole, and from the point of view called tactics, the means towards the strategic end, the steps of its staircase. In each I found the same elements, one algebraical, one biological, a third psychological.
    • The third factor in command seemed to be the psychological, that science (Xenophon called it diathetic) of which our propaganda is a stained and ignoble part. Some of it concerns the crowd, the adjustment of spirit to the point where it becomes fit to exploit in action, the prearrangement of a changing opinion to a certain end. Some of it deals with individuals, and then it becomes a rare art of human kindness, transcending, by purposeful emotion, the gradual logical sequence of our minds. It considers the capacity for mood of our men, their complexities and mutability, and the cultivation of what in them profits the intention. We had to arrange their minds in order of battle, just as carefully and as formally as other officers arranged their bodies: and not only our own men's minds, though them first: the minds of the enemy, so far as we could reach them: and thirdly, the mind of the nation supporting us behind the firing-line, and the mind of the hostile nation waiting the verdict, and the neutrals looking on.
    • It was the ethical in war, and the process on which we mainly depended for victory on the Arab front. The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.... In Asia we were so weak physically that we could not let the metaphysical weapon rust unused. We had won a province when we had taught the civilians in it to die for our ideal of freedom: the presence or absence of the enemy was a secondary matter.
    • It was an irony of fate to entrust this side-show of a side-show, with its opportunity of proving or disproving the theory, to an outsider like myself, not qualified technically to make the best of it. I would have given so much to show that Saxe was the greatest master of his kind of war, but now all I can say is that we worked by his light for two years, and the work stood. This is a pragmatic argument that cannot be wholly derided.
    • The experiment was a thrilling one, which took all our wits. We believed we would prove irregular war or rebellion to be an exact science, and an inevitable success, granted certain factors and if pursued along certain lines. We did not prove it, because the war stopped: but here the thesis is:-
      • It seemed that rebellion must have an unassailable base, something guarded not merely from attack, but from the fear of it: such a base as we had in the Red Sea Ports, the desert, or in the minds of the men we converted to our creed.
      • It must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form of a disciplined army of occupation too small to fulfil the doctrine of acreage: too few to adjust number to space, in order to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts.
      • It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent. active in a striking force, and 98 per cent. passively sympathetic. The few active rebels must have the qualities of speed and endurance, ubiquity and independence of arteries of supply. They must have the technical equipment to destroy or paralyse the enemy's organized communications, for irregular war is fairly Willisen's definition of strategy, "the study of communication" in its extreme degree, of attack where the enemy is not.
      • In fifty words: Granted mobility, security (in the form of denying targets to the enemy), time, and doctrine (the idea to convert every subject to friendliness), victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.
Basil Henry Liddell Hart, 1895-1970Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Liddell Hart, Sir Basil Henry, Captain, British Army. Military theorist and historian; advocate of combined arms warfare and the indirect approach; author of numerous books, including Paris, or the Future of War (1925) and Strategy (1954).

    • "A modern state is such a complex and interdependent fabric that it offers a target highly sensitive to a sudden and overwhelming blow from the air."
    • "Air power is, above all, a psychological weapon--and only short-sighted soldiers, too battle-minded, underrate the importance of psychological factors in war."
    • "Loss of hope, rather than loss of life, is the factor that really decides wars, battles, and even the smallest combats."
    • "War and truth have a fundamental incompatibility."
    • "While the horizon of strategy is bounded by war, grand strategy looks beyond the war to the subsequent peace."
    • "True economy of force is using the indirect approach to effect a psychological defeat without engaging in actual combat."
    • "To strike with strong effect, one must strike at weakness."
    • "If the enemy is certain as to your point of aim he has the best possible chance of guarding himself-and blunting your weapon. If, on the other hand, you take a line that threatens alternative objectives, you distract his mind and forces."
    • "Originality is the most vital of all military virtues as two thousand years of history attest."
    • "The principles of war could, for brevity, be condensed into a single word: concentration."

  • Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, incl how to use the centre
  • Liddell Hart, Basil Henry, AU Library resources

  • Clausewitz and the Indirect Approach… Misreading the Leader, by Davison, in Aerospace Power Journal, Winter 1988 - discusses Liddell Hart's attack on Clausewitz

  • additional references to Liddell Hart and the indirect approach

World War IIBack to Top Mao Tse-tung or Mao Zedong, 1893-1976Back to Top Ernesto "Che" Guevara, 1928-1967Back to Top
  • Che Guevara and Guerrilla Warfare: Training for Today's Nonlinear Battlefields (local copy), by Lewis, in Military Review, Sep-Oct 2001

  • Guerrilla Warfare, by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, written in 1961 - posted at the Small Wars Center of Excellence

  • Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare, by Ernesto Guevara, Frederick A. Praeger Publisher, 1961

  • Ryan, Henry Butterfield. The Fall of Che Guevara: a story of soldiers, spies, and diplomats. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

  • Mary-Alice Waters
    • Edited volumes containing Ernesto Che Guevara's essays and field notes from the Cuban (1957-1959) and Bolivian (1967) campaigns
      • The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara (1994) and
      • Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War, 1956-58 (1996)
Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911-Back to Top
  • Giap, Nguyen Vo. How We Won The War. Philadelphia: Recon Publications, 1995.

  • Currey, Cecil B. Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam’s Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap. Washington: Brassey’s, Inc., , 1997.
    [book review in Air Power Chronicles]
    • from Chapter Eleven
      • And he learned from Ho the need for perseverance.
      • So also did Giap learn from Communist Party theorists, most importantly from Mao Tse-tung and Lenin. From Lenin, Giap came to understand that the goal toward which one strives is much more important than the means one uses to achieve it. Both followers and their welfare could be sacrificed without hesitation if by so doing one furthered the revolutionary struggle.
      • Giap learned the value of the ideas of Karl von Clausewitz, who also insisted on the close relationship between politics and armed struggle.
      • Giap also studied carefully the writings of Mao Tse-tung, then the foremost philosopher of people's wars. Mao believed that all of life was governed by uniform and unchanging laws.
      • Although the similarity of Sun Tzu's doctrine to those developed by Giap is plain, when asked if he had been influenced by the aphorisms in The Art of War, Giap replied, "Sun Tzu has interesting ideas. I once studied him and found that he said that ... if enemy forces are ten times larger, then we should not fight. If I had followed him we would still be in the jungle."
      • In 1946, in a conversation with General Raoul Salan of France, Giap reportedly informed him, "My fighting gospel is T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I am never without it."
      • ... Lawrence noted ... "Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent active in a striking force and 98 per cent passively sympathetic."

Bernard Brodie, 1910-1978Back to Top
  • from Westenhoff quotes book
    • Brodie, Bernard. Eminent strategic thinker; father of nuclear deterrence theory; author of numerous books, including the classics Strategy in the Missile Age (1959) and War and Politics (1973).

    • "Air power had a mighty vindication in World War II. But it was Mitchell's conception of it--anything that flies--rather than Douhet's that was vindicated."
    • "Soldiers usually are close students of tactics, but rarely are they students of strategy and practically never of war."
    • "Deterrence now means something as a strategic policy only when we are fairly confident that the retaliatory instrument on which it relies will not be called to function at all."
    • "In wars throughout history, events have generally proved the pre-hostilities calculations of both sides, victor as well as loser, to have been seriously wrong."
    • "The bias toward the offensive creates special problems in any technologically new situation where there is little or no relevant war experience to help one reach a balanced judgment."

  • Strategy as an Art and a Science, by Bernard Brodie, in Feb 1959 Naval War College Review, discusses strategists from Clausewitz to RAND (local copy)
John Boyd (1927-1997) and the OODA LoopBack to Top AirLand Battle DoctrineBack to Top
  • AirLand Battle Doctrine - a selected bibliography, by USAMHI

  • The Evolution of the Airland Battle Concept, by Romjue, in Air University Review, May-June 1984

  • Romjue, John L. "AirLand Battle: The Historical Background." Military Review, Mar 1986, pp. 52-55

  • Galloway, Archie. "FM 100-5: Who Influenced Whom?" Military Review, Mar 1986, pp. 46-51 - discusses the combined influences of Clauswitz, Jomini, and Sun Tzu on the 1982 manual

  • Airland Battle: The Wrong Doctrine for The Wrong Reason, by Powell, Ira C. Eaker Essay, in Air University Review, May-June 1985

  • Army Doctrine and Modern War: Notes Toward a New Edition of FM 100-5, by Kagan, in Parameters, Spring 1997
    • AirLand Battle doctrine, epitomized by FM 100-5/1986, was and still is a very good doctrine for industrial age warfare. Had subsequent editions of FM 100-5 retained it and improved on it, the US Army might now have a sound basis for reviewing its core operational doctrine. Unfortunately, AirLand Battle became one of the casualties of the end of the Cold War; FM 100-5/1993 eliminated it in favor of a generalized doctrine which is antithetical to the key elements of AirLand Battle. The Army's most forward-looking doctrinal piece, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, has subsequently consigned AirLand Battle to the dustbin of history along with other legacies of the industrial age.

Weinberger & PowellBack to Top
  • Prophets or Praetorians? The Uptonian Paradox and the Powell Corollary, by Cassidy, in Parameters, Autumn 2003

  • The Use of Force -- The Six Criteria Revisited, speech by Hon. Caspar W. Weinberger, at AFA Policy Forum, 14 Sep 1999

  • Weinberger Doctrine, 1984 (as recounted in the above speech)
    • First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies.
    • Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning.
    • Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives.
    • Fourth, the relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed — their size, composition and disposition — must be continually reassessed and readjusted if necessary.
    • Fifth, before the U.S. commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.
    • Finally, the commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be a last resort.

  • Force-Protection Fetishism: Sources, Consequences, and (?) Solutions, by Record, in Aerospace Power Journal, Summer 2000
    • Force-protection fetishism is rooted in Vietnam—specifically in the resultant Weinberger-Powell Doctrine, which is the intellectual construct of the strategic lessons that many military professionals drew from the war. Caspar Weinberger, President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of defense, proposed six “tests” for using force, later amended by Gen Colin Powell’s emphasis on overwhelming force. These tests effectively deny the legitimacy of force as a tool of coercive diplomacy by restricting its use to circumstances involving clear and present threats to manifestly vital national interests

  • Alan Ned Sabrosky and Robert L. Sloane, The Recourse to War: An Appraisal of the "Weinberger Doctrine," Carlisle, Pa.: US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 1988

John WardenBack to Top
  • Warden vs Pape, by Bence, in Air & Space Power Chronicles

  • The Enemy as a System, by Warden, for Airpower Journal - the Five-Ring Model
    • We cannot think strategically if we start our thought process with individual aircraft, sorties, or weaponsor even with the enemy's entire military forces. Instead, we must focus on the totality of our enemy, then on our objectives, and next on what must happen to the enemy before our objectives become his objectives. When all of this is done rigorously, we can begin to think about how we are going to produce the desired effect on the enemy -- the weapons, the delivery systems, and other means we will use.
    • As strategists and operational artists, we must rid ourselves of the idea that the central feature of war is the clash of military forces. In strategic war, a clash may well take place, but it is not always necessary, should normally be avoided, and is almost always a means to an end and not an end in itself.
    • If we are going to think strategically, we must think of the enemy as a system composed of numerous subsystems. Thinking of the enemy in terms of a system gives us a much better chance of forcing or inducing him to make our objectives his objectives and doing so with minimum effort and the maximum chance of success.

  • Air Theory for the Twenty-first Century, by Warden, in Battlefield of the Future
  • Warden and the Air Corps Tactical School: What Goes Around Comes Around, by Belote, for Airpower Journal
  • Warden and the Air Corps Tactical School: Déjà Vu?, by West, SAAS paper, Oct 1999

  • The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat, by Warden, published in hard copy by NDU Press

Robert PapeBack to Top

  • Warden vs Pape, by Bence, in Air & Space Power Chronicles

  • The Changed Nature of Strategic Air Attack, by Conversino, in Parameters
      "Strategic bombing doesn't matter." With that, Dartmouth political scientist Robert Pape dismissed an entire airpower mission as essentially irrelevant to contemporary, non-nuclear warfare.[1] His book, Bombing to Win, a comprehensive examination of the employment of "strategic" airpower, is, however, undermined by his reliance on a flawed and outdated paradigm. Pape continues to view "strategic" in obsolescent terms that relate to the platform employed or the target attacked. He is hardly alone in holding this view.

  • Competing Theories of Airpower: a Language for Analysis, by Faber, in Aerospace Power Chronicles - short article

      With the above goals in mind, let us look at a conceptual framework (and air-centered "language") that anyone can use to analyze multiple theories of airpower. The framework is the creation of Dr. Robert Pape, who deliberately attempts to link military means with political ends. ...

      Question #1: according to Dr. Robert Pape and Colonel Pat "Doc" Pentland, USAF, all theorists must answer a key question before they begin air operations. Pape's question asks the following: should I adopt a punishment strategy, which tries to push a society beyond its economic and psychological breaking point, a denial strategy, which tries to neutralize an opponent's military ability to wage war, or a decapitation strategy, which destroys or isolates an opponent's leadership, national communications, or other politico-economic centers? (Note that punishment and denial strategies try to translate military effects into political change. A decapitation strategy, in contrast, does the opposite.)

  • Making the Connection: An Air Strategy Analysis Framework, SAAS paper by Ehrhard
      This study analyzes and builds on Dr. Robert Pape’s framework for analyzing airpower strategies. The analysis shows the underlying value of his Targets and Timing, Mechanism, Outcomes construct as well as the considerable clarification and expansion it requires in order to perform comprehensive air strategy analysis for the broad range of strategic air and space tasks.

  • The Mechanism for Strategic Coercion: Denial or Second Order Change?, SAAS paper by Sullivan
    • from the abstract
      • Two contemporary theories of strategic coercion seem to offer promising alternatives to brute force. First, Robert Pape’s Denial Theory is based on the assumption that states make decisions as if they are rational, unitary actors attempting to maximize the utility of their choices. Essentially, nations perform a cost-benefit evaluation to determine the best course of action. Theoretically, one may be able to coerce a target nation by raising the expected costs to a prohibitive level, but Pape advocates that this is generally ineffective in conventional conflicts. Instead, coercion requires that the target nation be denied the probability of achieving the sought-after benefits. Denial Theory proposes that the specific means for coercion is the opponent’s military vulnerability: defeating an opponent’s military strategy denies him the probability of achieving benefits and results in coercion.

Huba Wass de Czege & Positive Ends strategyBack to Top

  • Biographical Sketch (from SSI)
      HUBA WASS DE CZEGE is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general. During his career as an infantry officer, he served two tours in Vietnam and gained staff experience at all levels up to assistant division commander. General Wass De Czege was a principal designer of the operational concept known as AirLand Battle. He also was the founder and first director of the Army’s School for Advanced Military Studies where he also taught applied military strategy. After retiring in 1993, General Wass De Czege became heavily involved in the Army After Next Project and served on several Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency v advisory panels. He is a 1964 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and holds an MPA from Harvard University.

  • Towards a Strategy of Positive Ends (local copy), by Wass de Czege and Echevarria, SSI paper, 2001
    • Defense planners and strategists have recently proposed a variety of alternatives for America’s role in what many see as a dramatically different international situation. Most of those proposals, though, continue with a Cold War paradigm of trying to foresee what the next threat might be and how the United States might best prepare itself to respond to it. Consequently, the possibility of taking advantage of the intrinsic dynamism of the new security environment in order to create conditions that might promote positive ends-long-term peace, stability, and prosperity-has remained largely overlooked.

  • The Psychology of Coercion: Merging Airpower and Prospect Theory, SAAS paper by Kimminau

Coercion TheoryBack to Top

Air Control TheoryBack to Top Prospect TheoryBack to Top
  • Psychologist wins Nobel Prize, by Smith, in Monitor on Psychology

      The team's findings have countered some assumptions of traditional economic theory--that people make rational choices based on their self-interest--by showing that people frequently fail to fully analyze situations where they must make complex judgments. Instead, people often make decisions using rules of thumb rather than rational analysis, and they base those decisions on factors economists traditionally don't consider, such as fairness, past events and aversion to loss.

      For example, they found that people's decisions can be swayed by how the situation is framed. When Kahneman and Tversky asked people to hypothetically decide what procedure to take to cure a disease, most preferred a procedure that saved 80 percent of people to one that killed 20 percent.

  • more references on Prospect Theory, by Kahneman and Tversky
Chaos and ComplexityBack to Top Jihadist IdeologyBack to Top
  • Strategic Culture and Strategic Studies: An Alternative Framework for Assessing al-Qaeda and the Global Jihad Movement (local copy), by Shultz, Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), May 2012
    • More than a decade after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda and a year after the death of Osama bin Laden, Dr. Richard Shultz offers an innovative analysis of that organization’s strategic culture. His analysis upends the conventional wisdom that only nation-states can have a strategic culture, an internal process through which issues of strategic significance and intent are discussed, debated, refined, and executed.

  • Combating Terrorism Center, West Point
    • The Militant Ideology Atlas
      • The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is pleased to announce the release of The Militant Ideology Atlas, an in-depth study of the Jihadi Movement's top thinkers and their most popular writings. This is the first systematic mapping of the ideology inspiring al-Qaeda.
      • The CTC’s researchers spent one year mining the most popular books and articles in al-Qaeda’s online library, profiling hundreds of figures in the Jihadi Movement, and cataloging over 11,000 citations. The empirically supported findings of the project are surprising:
        • The most influential Jihadi intellectuals are clerics from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, two of the US’s closest allies in the Middle East.
        • Among them, the Jordanian cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has had the most impact on other Jihadi thinkers and has been the most consequential in shaping the worldview of the Jihadi Movement.
        • In contrast, the study finds that Osama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri have had little influence on other Jihadi theorists and strategists.
Counterinsurgency & Irregular WarfareBack to Top Hybrid Wars, Hybrid WarfareBack to Top
  • see also future of warfare on future warfare studies page

  • see also 4th and 5th generation warfare on future warfare studies page

  • Hybrid Warfare and Challenges (local copy), by Hoffman, in Joint Force Quarterly, 1st Qtr 2009
    • DOD needs to implement the options identified in the Joint Staff assessment of GPF IW capabilities and capacity. The general purpose forces need a new COIN and CT paradigm; the current paradigm of U.S.-based joint expeditionary forces organized into JTFs is inappropriate for steady-state IW requirements. DOD should embrace a return to the Cold War paradigm of large numbers of empowered MILGRPs operating under the direction of U.S. Chiefs of Mission and collaborating regionally to defeat transnational adversaries.
  • Conflict in the 21st Century: the Rise of Hybrid Wars, by Hoffman, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Dec 2007
  • "How marines are preparing for hybrid wars,". by Hoffman, in Armed Forces Journal, March 2006

  • Hybrid Wars (local copy), by McCuen, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2008
    • The critical point is that to win hybrid wars, we have to succeed on three decisive battlegrounds: the conventional battleground; the conflict zone's indigenous population battleground; and the home front and international community battleground.

Effects-Based Approach to OperationsBack to Top Decisive ForceBack to Top Shock and Awe, Rapid Dominance, Rapid Decisive Operations (RDO)Back to Top Barnett, Cebrowski and CompanyBack to Top
  • see also Transformation of War

  • see also Network Centric Warfare

  • The American Way of War (local copy), by Cebrowski and Barnett, Transformation Trends newsletter, 13 Jan 2003
  • The Global Transaction Strategy (local copy), by Barnett and Gaffney, Transformation Trends newsletter, 16 Dec 2002

  • Barnett
    • The Top 100 Rules of the New American Way of War (local copy), by Barnett and Gaffney, 3 Jan 2003
    • The Pentagon's New Map, by Barnett

        Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder. These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core. But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and-most important-the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap.

        Globalization’s “ozone hole” may have been out of sight and out of mind prior to September 11, 2001, but it has been hard to miss ever since. And measuring the reach of globalization is not an academic exercise to an eighteen-year-old marine sinking tent poles on its far side. So where do we schedule the U.S. military’s next round of away games? The pattern that has emerged since the end of the cold war suggests a simple answer: in the Gap.

    • Thomas Barnett draws a new map for peace - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "In this bracingly honest talk, international security strategist Thomas Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering U.S. military that is both sensible and breathtaking in its simplicity: Break it in two."

Chinese Warfare TheoryBack to Top Psychology of WarBack to Top Dimensions of WarBack to Top
  • Command and Control Implications of Network-Centric Warfare, by Phister and Cherry, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Feb 2005
    • As shown in Figure 2, C2 elements span four dimensions of warfare:
      • (1) physical,
      • (2) information,
      • (3) cognitive, and
      • (4) social.
      C2 sensors, systems, platforms, and facilities exist in the physical domain. Information collected, posted, pulled, displayed, processed, and stored resides in the information domain. Perceptions and understanding of this information exist in the cognitive domain, which also contains the mental models, preconceptions, biases, and values that influence how the information is interpreted and understood, along with the nature of responses that may be considered. C2 processes and the interactions among individuals and entities that fundamentally define organization and doctrine are part of the social domain. Given the variety of elements involved in information age warfare and its effects-based orientation, command intent must be congruent across joint forces, coalition elements, interagency partners, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.
Tipping PointBack to Top
  • see also culminating point

  • The Tipping Point: How military occupations go sour, by Swidey, in Boston Globe, 27 Apr 2003
    • A tipping point is a concept drawn from epidemiology, where it describes the moment at which an infectious disease becomes a public health crisis. The idea is that small changes will have little or no effect on a system until a critical mass is reached. Then just one additional small change ''tips'' the system, producing dramatic consequences. The concept has been applied to human behavior to describe everything from the breakout of bestsellers to the spread of buzzwords.
    • ''A tipping point is a reflection of a set of structural conditions that allow any match that's lit to set off a grass fire,'' says Lustick. A pigeon-hunting fracas between a few British soldiers and some peasants midwifed the Egyptian independence movement. A traffic accident between Israeli soldiers and a couple of Palestinians sparked the first Intifada. In both cases, the occupier was caught off-guard. Being alert to the underlying conditions requires solid, on-the-ground information about how people are feeling, and an awareness of the cultural codes and networks connecting various parts of society. That's hard to come by for an occupying power.

  • other tipping point references

Other Theories, Laws, etc.Back to Top Related ResourcesBack to Top
    Your first act against the enemy shouldn't be a nibble! It should demonstrate determination and have traumatic impact!
    --- Sir John Woodward

  • In Praise of Attrition, by Peters, in Parameters, Summer 2004
    • There is no substitute for shedding the enemy’s blood.

  • Virtuous Destruction, Decisive Speed (local copy), by Peters, May 2004, for National Intelligence Council NIC2020 project
    • The next two decades will challenge us with technologies we cannot anticipate, with implacable, anti-Western enemies we cannot dissuade and with no shortage of regional crises we cannot discourage. Yet, the greatest military obstacles facing the United States are, and likely will remain, of our own making: Misconceptions about the nature and demands of warfare as morally obtuse as they are intellectually lazy.
    • The lessons of recent wars, which we willfully misread, are many. Among them are that there is no substitute for shedding the enemy’s blood in adequate quantities; that an enemy must be convinced practically and graphically that he is defeated; and that speed of resolution in tactical encounters has emerged as a crucial determinant in strategic success.
    • We have entered a new age of attrition warfare which we refuse to recognize.
    • Attrition is the essence of warfare, not something to be avoided—and no rule says that attrition must be fairly distributed.

  • Dominant Maneuver and Precision Engagement (local copy), by Reimer, in Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 1996-1997
    • Many believe that precision strike weapons can win all future wars. Yet history has shown that the human dimension of warfare cannot be countered by technology alone. War is essentially an expression of hostile attitudes. Technology cannot overcome the greed, fear, hate, revenge, or other emotions that cause wars.

  • The Time Value of Military Force in Modern Warfare: The Airpower Advantage, by Givhan, a SAAS paper, 1996

  • Memoirs, by Gen. William T. Sherman

  • Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

  • Eisenhower as Strategist: the Coherent Use of Military Power in War and Peace (local copy), by Metz, SSI

Studying the MilitaryBack to Top

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