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Old 12-04-2016, 01:56 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2007
Default Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science

Part of the skill in S&T (yes, I used to subscribe decades ago) is knowing how to do things when you DON'T have enough information to be certain. This latter element is one missing from most civilian studies of strategy and operations.

The "fog of war" is quite real and not just a title for a documentary. Clausewitz did see action as a junior officer at Jena (IIRC) and was an observer at Borodino, one of the most costly battles in Western history. Any military commander of note has to make the right decisions when he (and nowadays, she) has not enough information to be certain about the whereabouts & strength and current activity of his/her own troops, much less the enemy's.

A good exploration of this is Andrew Gordon's The Rules of the Game about Jutland 100 years ago. British Admiral Jellicoe had to make his own decisions about where & how to deploy with utterly inadequate information about the locale & actions of his own fleet and worse info about the German battle squadrons. While he made some errors he did quite well considering.

Years after the war Jellicoe was lecturing at a British naval college and some questions came up about Jutland. There was a plan present showing the various fleets at a key moment. Jellicoe paused and then used his hands to cover most of the plan. "These were the ships I could see -- " some 20 out of the 250 total present. "I had to make my decisions based on this."

I expect any other commander could make similar statements.

There have been, however, amateurs who have done a good job in planning & sometimes operations with limited military experience. Geo. Washington was, IIRC, at only two battles (both losses -- Fort Necessity & Braddock's Defeat) before he became CinC of the Continental Army. Vo Nguyen Giap was a history professor before he became the planning chief of the NVA in the 1950s. Cromwell had, IIRC, never been on a battlefield before the English Civil War. Henry Knox was a Massachusetts bookseller who had an interest in military history before he became Washington's chief of artillery. (Perhaps all rolled a Critical Success in strategy or tactics' studies?)
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