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THE PRINCIPLES OF WAR
(Taken from AFSC Pub 1, 1997)

a. As you develop your professional base of experience in joint planning, you will have to filter from the ocean of information some key lessons learned or certain guiding principles that have universal application. In our profession, the principles of war represent some of those fundamental truths that have stood the test of time. Students who have reviewed and researched warfare over the years still have not reached consensus on a single list of principles of war; but they all will attest that such principles are a good starting point for evaluating military strategy and tactics, and form the foundation for operation planning.

b. Indepth discussions of our current principles of war can be found in joint and Service publications. Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the U.S. Armed Forces, discusses the principles of war and their application in joint warfare. Army Field Manual No. 100-1, The Army, Naval Doctrine Publication 1, Naval Warfare, Air Force Manual 1-1, Basic Doctrine of the U.S. Air Force, and Fleet Marine Force Manual FMFM 6-4, Marine Rifle Company/Platoon, all contain extensive discussions of the principles of war. Excellent articles about the principles of war can be found in Military Review (May 1955 and September 1981) and U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (November 1986). Figure 1-1 summarizes these joint and Service publications and references. As you can see, the principles of war differ from country to country.

Figure 1-1 PRINCIPLES OF WAR

UNITED STATES

GREAT BRITAIN
AUSTRALIA

FORMER SOVIET UNION
"Principles of Military Art"

FRANCE

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Objective

Selection & Maintenance of Aim

   

Selection & Maintenance of Aim

Offensive

Offensive Action

   

Offensive Action

Mass

Concentration of Force

Massing & Correlation of Force

Concentration of Effort

Concentration of Force

Economy of Force

Economy of Force

Economy, Sufficiency of Force

   

Maneuver

Flexibility

Initiative

 

Initiative & Flexibility

Unity of Command

Cooperation

   

Coordination

Security

Security

   

Security

Surprise

Surprise

Surprise

Surprise

Surprise

Simplicity

       
 

Maintenance of Morale

Mobility & Tempo
Simultaneous Attack on All Levels,
Preservation of Combat Effectiveness,
Interworking & Coordination

Liberty of Action

Morale,
Mobility,
Political Mobilization,
Freedom of Action

Adapted from JT Pub 1, FM 100-1, AFM 1-1, and FMFM 6-4

Military Review, May 1955, and Soviet Battlefield Development Plan


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