The australian naval institute



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The Meaning of Strategy

Because its implications are so broad, the term strategy' needs continual definition. Prior to the period of Napoleonic warfare it existed pri­marily as an operational concept referring to the maintenance and employment of armed forces Strategy was delined narrowly as the art of the general' because the battlefield, the environment of strategy, was limited in its parameters of time and space However, the French and Industrial Revolutions represented the political and techno­logical dimensions of a social upheaval which led to fundamental changes in both the conduct and meaning o1 war Industrialization meant that the resources available to the state to wage war in creased dramatically. As a result success in war came to depend on the economic strength to create, move and maintain large forces Moreover the vastness of the resources required for war and the increasing popular participation in govern­ment made power a function of national will as well as capabilities.

These changes had important implications for the meaning of strategy. War was no longer an independent phenomenon of military force but a social development and political instrument Clausewitz was one of the first thinkers on strategy to recognize the broader implications of strategy He described strategy as a trinity com­posed of political motivation, operational activity and social participation However. Clausewitz's most important contribution was in establishing the fundamental importance of the relationship between war and politics in his famous dictum War is not merely a political act, but also .. a continuation of policy by other means He de­fined strategy as the art of the employment of battles as a means to gam the ob|ect of war'

Unfortunately the true implications of Clausewitz s philosophy of war were not recog­nized. Misled by Clausewitz's tendency to the extreme, his disciples accepted the destruction of the enemy s armed forces in battle as the proper objective of strategy. In the First World War the consequences of this misconception were disas­trous. The military considerations affecting the actual application of force completely dominated political objectives and as a result the outcome was marked mainly by the disparity between the end sought, the price paid and the results ob­tained. Even in the Second World War, allied strategy was characterized more by the practical application of technology to operational and m-dustralial problems than by the successful attain­ment of policy objectives

The problem was that while the importance of political, economic and social forces as compo­nents of national power were recognized, these




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