Sound Military Decision
by U.s. Naval War College
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In any human activity, the proper means to be made available depend on fulfillment of the requirements of

Suitability of the means (in kind and amount) to accomplish the end in view, as determined by the factor of the appropriate effect desired,

Feasibility of the effort to make such means available on the basis of comparative resources as determined by the factor of the means opposed, influenced by the factor of the physical conditions prevailing in the field of action, and

Acceptability of the results of the effort involved, as determined by the factor of the consequences as to costs.

* * * * *

The influence of physical conditions in the field of action may be illustrated by any case where ends otherwise feasible of attainment cannot be achieved without effecting changes in such conditions. The resolution of the uncertainty then requires study to determine what suitable changes can be made. Changes for such a purpose may take various forms, such as the construction of physical features in the area involved, or the destruction of such features already existing; or, again, both methods may be employed. Examples of such changes have existed and still exist in profusion, some of them, military and non-military, being on such a scale as radically to alter the previous status with respect to entire nations. The question as to what changes ought to be effected in the prevailing physical conditions, in order to attain a certain objective, can be answered by the application of what may be called the principle for the determination of the proper physical conditions to be established in the field of action,—as follows:

In any human activity, the proper physical conditions to be established in the field of action depend on fulfillment of the requirements of

Suitability of such conditions to the end in view, as determined by the factor of the appropriate effect desired,

Feasibility of effort to establish such conditions, on the basis of comparative resources, as determined by the factors of the means available and opposed, influenced by the factor of the physical conditions existing in the field of action, and

Acceptability of the results of the effort involved, as determined by the factor of the consequences as to costs.

* * * * *

The factor of consequences as to costs also calls for special notice. The influence of this factor frequently justifies abandonment of suitable ends in view, even though their attainment has been determined to be feasible, because the loss involved would out-weigh the gain. Immediate success may be attained at such cost as to prevent the attainment of larger ends (see the discussion, pages 9 and 10, of the relationship of strategy and tactics).

On the other hand, the circumstances of the case may well justify loss, however great, because the alternative is unacceptable, even though the consequences involve complete destruction. Moreover, the need for swift and aggressive action in many activities (notably in war), for resolute prosecution of the plan, for timely seizure of opportunity, and for acceptance of justified risks, requires that consideration of consequences as to costs never be emphasized beyond its proper weight. To determine such proper weight calls, frequently, for judgment of the highest order, and is, in the military profession, a direct responsibility of command. This responsibility can be discharged by the application of what may be called the corollary principle for the determination of acceptable consequences as to costs,—as follows:

In any human activity, the acceptable consequences as to costs depend on fulfillment of the requirements of

Suitability of the end in view, as determined by the factor of the appropriate effect desired, and

Feasibility of the effort to attain the end in view, on the basis of comparative resources, as determined by the factors of the means available and opposed, influenced by the factor of the physical conditions prevailing in the field of action.

Special Nature of War as a Human Activity. A principle found, by careful analysis, to be governing as to human activities of any nature, is also applicable to the problems of war. This is true because war is a human activity, differing from other human activities only in the specialized character of the factors that enter.

The effect desired in war has a character distinctly military and, ultimately, through the reestablishment of a favorable peace, a political character (see pages 7-9).

The means available (or opposed) in war are the human and material components of fighting strength (page 8). The physical conditions prevailing in the field of action are, in war, the characteristics of the theater of operations. Fighting strength is thus derived from the means available (or opposed) in war, as influenced by the characteristics of the theater. Relative fighting strength (comparative resources in war) involves a comparison of means available with means opposed, due account being taken of the influence exerted on both by the characteristics of the theater. In war, relatively large masses of human beings oppose each other with hostile intent, while the means available and opposed, and the physical conditions established by the operations of war in the theater of action, tend more and more to acquire a highly specialized character.

The consequences as to costs, in war, also assume a special significance, inasmuch as they may materially influence the development of entire nations or of the world situation.

Factors as Universal Determinants in War. Tabulated for convenient reference and expressed in terms in general use in the military profession, the factors governing the attainment of an end in war are therefore:

(a) The Nature of the appropriate Effect Desired, (b) The Means Available and Opposed, (c) The Characteristics of the Theater of Operations, and (d) The Consequences as to Costs.

These factors, thus expressed in abstract form, are the universal determinants of the nature of the objective and of the character of the action to attain it. Their further resolution into factors of more concrete form is indicated hereinafter (see Chapter VI, in the discussion of Section II of the Estimate Form).

The Objective in War. The objective (page 3), a term long in use in the military profession in connection with the "objective point", has acquired by extension the significance of something more than the physical object of action. The latter, as explained later (page 37), is properly denominated the "physical objective".

In the abstract, an "objective", in present general usage as well as in the military vocabulary, is an end toward which action is being directed, or is to be directed; in brief, an end in view, a result to be attained, an effect desired (pages 19 and 30). An objective is an effect to be produced for the attainment of a further objective, itself a further effect. As already demonstrated (page 30 and following), the attainment of an end, in any human activity, requires action to maintain the existing situation or to create a new one. Therefore, in war, a special form of human activity, the attainment of an objective requires that action be actual imposition of an outside agency. The attainment of a correct military objective (discussed in detail in Chapter IV) requires, accordingly, the creation or maintenance of a favorable military situation.

An objective, in the sense of an end in view, a result to be accomplished, is manifestly an objective in mind. As already indicated (page 36), however, military usage also assigns to the term "objective" an additional meaning, a meaning exclusively concrete. Results in war are attained through the actual or threatened use of physical force (pages 8 and 9) directed with relation to something tangible, such as, for example, some physical element of the enemy's strength.

Action as to this tangible feature (e.g., if it is destroyed, occupied, neutralized, or otherwise dealt with) will result in, or further the attainment of, an effect desired. Thus the physical objective occupies a sharply defined position in warfare, in that it establishes the physical basis of the objective and indicates the geographical direction of the effort. Since the physical objective is always an object—be it only a geographical point—, it is more than a mental concept; it is an objective in space.

For example, the objective being "the destruction of the enemy battleship", the physical objective is the enemy battleship.

As used herein the expression "the objective" or "the military objective" (page 55), when unqualified, ordinarily indicates the mental objective. The term is properly applicable to a physical objective when the context makes the meaning clear. Ordinarily, and always when clarity demands, a tangible focus of effort is herein denoted a "physical objective".

Military Operations. Appropriate action to create or maintain a situation will take the form of a military operation. An operation, in the basic sense, is merely an act, or a series of acts. The word is derived from the Latin opus, meaning "work". A military operation is therefore an act, or a series of included acts (i.e., work), of a military character. A military operation may consist of an entire campaign, or even of several such, constituting a clearly defined major stage in a war; or such an operation may consist of portions thereof. The term is also applied, properly, to entire series of acts on the part of successive commands, from the higher to the lower echelons, to and including distinctive military actions which relate to the merest routine.

A plan of action to attain a military objective is, therefore, a plan of military operations, including supporting measures (see page 167), considered or adopted as a method of procedure for the achievement of that end (see page 21). Such a plan or method of procedure requires action with relation to correct physical objectives in such a manner as to attain the objective, i.e., to maintain the existing situation or to create a new one, conformably to the appropriate effect desired.

A plan of military operations may be regarded as reasonably effective if the direction or geographical trend of the effort provides for proper action with relation to the correct physical objectives; if the force concerned utilizes positions advantageous in relation to those of the opponent; if the fighting strength is so apportioned as to provide for requisite power at points likely to be decisive, without undue weakening at other points; and if future actions, in seeking the effect desired, will be unhampered by obstacles with which the force cannot cope. These essentials apply to all of the various combinations of circumstances, i.e., situations (page 20), which may materialize as action progresses and the original situation unfolds.

A properly conceived plan of military operations therefore makes provision, necessarily, for certain salient features of such operations, as follows:

The physical objectives involved, The relative positions utilized, The apportionment of fighting strength, and The provisions for freedom of action.

As will later be observed (Chapters VII and VIII), the content of plans for naval operations may be classified under the headings listed above. In such plans the salient features noted will be observed, also, to occur, subject to certain exceptions, in the sequence above indicated. Similar observations are applicable as to plans systematically prepared for direction of forces operating on land and in the air.

A military operation which is progressing favorably, whatever the medium of action, may therefore be justifiably stated to include provision for the following salient features:

Effective action with relation to correct physical objectives,

Projection of military action from advantageous relative positions,

Proper apportionment of fighting strength, and

Ensurance of adequate freedom of action.

Since, at any moment of its successful prosecution, a military operation presents, inherently (page 38), a favorable military situation, the salient features of such an operation constitute, also, the salient features of a favorable military situation. Manifestly, any deficiencies in these respects will indicate that in certain particulars the situation is not entirely favorable, if not actually unfavorable.

Determination of the Salient Features. Because the form which a military operation takes, in the effort to attain a military objective, depends upon the factors which are the universal determinants (page 36) of the character of the effort, the salient features of such an operation are determined by the same factors. A valid guide as to determination of the salient features of a favorably progressing military operation, seen (above) to be identical with those of a favorable military situation, may therefore be formulated as a principle for determining these salient features, as follows:

The determination of

} { Suitability, as determined by } { the factor of the appropriate Correct physical objectives, } { effect desired. } { Advantageous relative } { Feasibility, by reason of positions, } { relative fighting strength, } depends { as determined by the factors Proper apportionment of } on { of the means available and fighting strength, and } their { opposed, influenced by the } { factor of the characteristics Provision for adequate } { of the theater of operations, freedom of action } { and } { } { Acceptability, as determined } { by the factor of the } { consequences as to costs.

Since the particular character of each salient feature of a situation, or of an operation, is determined by the influence, exerted by the identical factors (as noted), there is a resulting interdependency, important though indirect, among the several features. This interdependency is explained hereafter. (Chapter IV).

The Fundamental Military Principle. The Fundamental Principle for the Attainment of an End in human affairs (page 32) has invited attention to the factors, pertinent to suitability, feasibility, and acceptability, seen to be applicable, as well, to any military effort (page 35). As also noted, a military effort will necessarily consist of military operations, whose salient features depend upon the same factors. The factors, in turn, have been observed (page 32 and following) to be interdependent.

These considerations lead to the formulation of a derivative of the Fundamental Principle for the Attainment of an End in human affairs, in the form of

The Fundamental Military Principle

The attainment of a military objective (the creation or maintenance of a favorable military situation) depends on effective operations involving the salient features of

Effective action with relation to correct physical objectives,

Projection of action from advantageous relative positions,

Proper apportionment of fighting strength, and

Ensurance of adequate freedom of action,

each fulfilling the requirements of

Suitability, as determined by the factor of the appropriate effect desired,

Feasibility, by reason of relative fighting strength as determined by the factors of the means available and opposed, influenced by the factor of the characteristics of the theater of operations, and

Acceptability, as determined by the factor of the consequences as to costs,

which factors are in turn dependent on each other.

* * * * *

The Fundamental Military Principle, as a valid guide, encounters no exception in the field it purports to cover. As a practical guide, it brings to attention, in broad outline, all the causes and effects which are involved. The principle affords a proper basis for the formulation of corollary principles for the determination, in any particular situation, of any element noted therein whose value may be unknown but may be ascertained by reference to other pertinent elements which constitute known quantities. (See pages 21-27.)

As later explained (Chapter IV), the two major applications of the Principle relate to the selection of a correct military objective and to the determination of effective military operations to attain an objective (see page 28).

A corollary Principle of the Correct Military Objective will accordingly state that the selection of a correct military objective depends on the due consideration of the salient features and the factors cited in the Fundamental Military Principle. The application of this corollary is discussed in Section II of Chapter IV.

A corollary Principle of Effective Military Operations will similarly state that the determination of effective operations for the attainment of a military objective depends on the due consideration of the salient features and the factors cited in the Fundamental Military Principle. The application of this corollary is explained in Section III of Chapter IV.

These principles can be used as a basis for formulating the plans of the commander concerned, and, accordingly, for determining his own action. They can also be used as a basis for rendering sound opinions, when requested of the commander, as to plans and actions contemplated by higher authority. The principles are in like manner applicable for purposes of historical study involving analysis of operations of the past.



(Objectives—Their Selection and Attainment)

Section I of Chapter IV discusses the major components of all military problems.

Section II deals with the fundamental considerations having to do, generally, with the first of these components, i.e., the selection of correct military objectives; the application, more specifically, is reserved for Chapter VI.

Section III deals with the fundamental considerations having to do, generally, with the second of the two major components, i.e., the determination of effective military operations for the attainment of such objectives; the application, more specifically, is reserved for Chapter VII.

The selection of objectives has a secondary application, also, to the discussion in Chapter VII, while the determination of operations has a similar application to that in Chapter VI. Both subjects, i.e., as to objectives and as to operations, have application also to Chapter IX.

The chart on page ii shows these relationships.


In the two preceding chapters, the study of the natural mental processes has brought to notice that, to meet the requirements of suitability, feasibility, and acceptability as to consequences in the proper solution of a military problem, it is first necessary to establish a sound basis for that solution. Such a basis involves an understanding of the appropriate effect desired and of relative fighting strength (see pages 29 and 30).

In each situation an understanding of the appropriate effect desired, from the standpoint of suitability, requires:

(1) A grasp of the salient features of the situation, favorable and unfavorable, including the perplexity inherent therein,

(2) A recognition of the incentive to solution of the problem, i.e., a realization of the desire or need for attaining a certain effect, an objective (page 36) which will be the maintenance or creation of a favorable military situation, and

(3) An appreciation of this objective in its relationship to the next further result to be accomplished by its attainment.

An understanding of relative fighting strength involves consideration of the means available and opposed, as influenced by the characteristics of the theater of operations. With this understanding there is provided a sound basis for the determination, later, of the feasibility of courses of action and of their acceptability with respect to consequences as to costs.

In the premises, the ability to understand the nature of a military problem is dependent on the knowledge, experience, character, and professional judgment of the commander. These qualities enable him to grasp the significance of the salient features of the situation. The same personal characteristics are instrumental in the recognition of the incentive. Analysis indicates that an incentive may arise (1) by reason of a directive issued by higher authority, or (2) from the fact that a decision already reached by the commander has introduced further problems, or (3) because of the demands of the situation. However, the primary consideration in understanding the nature of the problem is the appreciation of the objective from which the problem originates, i.e., the just estimation or accurate evaluation of this objective. Such consideration is primary because appreciation of this objective involves, as necessary concomitants, a grasp of the salient features of the existing situation (to be maintained or changed) and a recognition of the incentive.

Correct appreciation of this objective, in its relationship to the further effect to be produced, is thus the principal consideration in reaching an understanding of the appropriate effect desired. It is, to repeat, through an understanding of this factor and of the factors of relative fighting strength that the commander establishes the basis for the solution of his problem. (See Section I of Chapter VI, page 118).

The Solution of a Military Problem. When the commander has thus obtained an understanding of the basis of his problem, the actual procedure of solution is undertaken through the consideration of the factors involved in their influence on the various plans for the attainment of the appropriate effect desired, as thus established. The best plan, selected and embodied in outline in the decision, can then be further developed, if necessary, into a general plan for the commander's force and, finally, into a detailed plan, as the solution of the problem. (See page 22.)

The Major Components of a Military Problem. Each plan considered by the commander will involve (page 21) two major considerations: namely—an effect to be produced and the action required to produce it; or, in military terms, a correct military objective (or objectives) and effective operations for its attainment. The selection of correct military objectives and the determination of effective operations for their attainment are therefore the two major components of a military problem, because they are the principal considerations on which depends the soundness of military decision. To meet these requirements is a prime function of command, one which demands professional judgment of the highest order.

The major components of a military problem are of course intimately connected, because a purposeful action, accomplished, is equivalent to an objective, attained. Furthermore, the attainment of an objective involves the accomplishment of effective operations.

Because of the importance of the subject, the relationship between these two major components deserves very careful analysis. As has been observed (page 30), the action to be taken depends, in the first instance, on the effect to be produced. Therefore, the objective is, as compared to the action to attain it, the paramount matter. Moreover, there is necessarily included, in the procedure of selecting a correct objective, a consideration as to whether the action to that end will be feasible and as to whether the consequences involved will be acceptable on the basis of the costs which will be exacted. If, then, the objective has been correctly selected in any situation, this procedure will have included, as a necessary incidental, the determination also, in the proper detail, of the operations required for its attainment.

Of the two major components involved in the selection of the best plan, the primary relates, therefore, to correct objectives. Accordingly, this consideration is most aptly expressed in terms of the "selection" of objectives. The "determination" of necessary operations is a proper expression of the procedure therein involved, because this procedure, though also involving a major component of the problem is dependent on the primary consideration of objectives.

A valid guide for practical use during the process of solving military problems will therefore provide a basis, primarily, for the selection of correct objectives. However, the procedure for such selection, though requiring consideration of the action involved in attaining objectives, will seldom call for a complete analysis of such operations. Therefore, it is also desirable, for the solution of military problems, to provide a valid guide for the determination of effective operations, in detail. This guide may be used on occasions when, the correct objective having been selected, the only remaining problem is to work out the detailed operations involved.

The Fundamental Military Principle, developed in the preceding chapter, has been formulated to fulfill the requirements described in the preceding paragraph. Through the exhaustive analysis of the elements involved, there has been provided, in the form of a single fundamental principle, a valid guide for the selection of correct military objectives and for the due determination of effective operations for their attainment.

In the present chapter, the abstract application of the Principle is discussed in terms of fundamental considerations. Section II of the chapter deals with the selection of objectives; this subject, in more specific terms, is later expanded in Chapter VI. Section III of the present chapter deals with the determination of operations; this subject, in more specific terms, is expanded in Chapter VII. The present chapter affords a treatment applicable to military problems of any nature. Later expansion is applicable, more especially, to naval problems.

This arrangement of the subject matter has been adopted for two reasons. First, discussion of fundamental considerations, thus taken up at the present point, immediately follows the formulation of the principle (in Chapter III). Furthermore, a fundamental treatment, prior to Chapters VI and VII, permits maximum brevity in the discussion, therein. The commander, having mastered the fundamentals dealt with here, can later follow the detailed procedure with minimum distraction due to reference to the preceding discussion.

Essential Elements Involved. As previously stated, the problems of war differ from those of other human activities with respect, only (page 35), to the specialized character of the factors that enter.

The final outcome is dependent (page 8) on ability to isolate, occupy, or otherwise control the territory of the enemy. The sea, though it supplements the resources of land areas, is destitute of many essential requirements of man, and affords no basis, alone, for the secure development of human activities. Land is the natural habitat of man. The sea provides routes of communication between land areas. The air affords routes of communication over both land and sea.

These facts inject into military operations certain factors peculiar to movement of military forces by land, sea, and air (page 60). There are also involved the specialized demands of a technique for the imposition of and the resistance to physical violence. In addition there appear those factors related to the psychology of human reactions to armed conflict.

In any situation involving opposing armed forces, the problem, as in any human activity (page 30), is, from the standpoint of each opponent, a matter of maintaining existing conditions or of bringing about a change. The method employed, if the action is to be effective, will follow lines calculated to shape the ensuing progressive changes in circumstances toward the attainment of the end in view. The action to be taken will be ineffective if it does not support the calculated line of endeavor, i.e., if it is not suitable or adequate forcibly to shape the course of events either toward the creation of a desired new and more favorable situation, or the maintenance of the original conditions.

The analysis of the principal components of a military problem—i.e., the military objectives and the military operations appropriate to the effort for their attainment—therefore requires a study of such objectives and operations in terms, respectively, of a favorable military situation (page 37) and of a favorably progressing military operation (page 38). As has been observed, the salient features of such a situation or operation are, from the abstract viewpoint, identical, as are also the factors which determine the character of such features (page 39). As a covering word for such features and factors, alike, the term "elements" appears especially suitable, inasmuch as it properly comprises the constituent parts of any subject, as well as the factors which may pertain thereto.

Accordingly, the analysis, following, of the procedure for selection of correct military objectives is made in terms of the essential elements of a favorable military situation. For like reasons, the analysis of the procedure for determining the character of the detailed operations required is made in terms of the essential elements of a favorably progressing military operation. (For these elements, see the salient features and the factors cited in the Fundamental Military Principle, page 41.)


Nature of Military Objectives. In the previous discussion (page 36), the military objective has been defined as the end toward which action is being, or is to be, directed. As such it has been noted as an objective in mind. The tangible focus of effort, the physical objective toward which the action is directed, has been observed to be an objective in space. The physical objective is always an object, be it only a geographical point, while the objective, being a mental concept, is a situation to be created or maintained.

The term "objective" requires circumspection, not only in the manner of its expression (see page 53), but in its use. The latter is true because the purport of the objective under consideration will vary with the viewpoint of the echelon concerned. For instance, the proper visualization of an objective, as an "effect desired" (page 19), calls for a correct answer to the question, "Who desires this effect to be produced?" (See page 4).

A variety of viewpoints is thus a natural characteristic of the chain of command (pages 11-13), whose functioning creates what may be called a "chain of objectives".

Necessary exceptions aside, the commander expects to receive, from his immediate superior, an assigned objective, which that superior thus enjoins the commander to attain. The commander, in turn, through the use of the natural mental processes already explained, decides on an objective, for the general effort of his own force, to attain the objective assigned by his immediate superior.

As a subordinate, a commander to whom an objective has been assigned is responsible to his immediate superior for its attainment. The commander may, however, also occupy the position of an immediate superior to one or more commanders on the next lower echelon. In such capacity, he may assign objectives to these immediate subordinates. By attaining such an assigned objective, each of these subordinates thus contributes to the success of the complete effort planned by his immediate superior, to the extent represented by his own assigned share of the effort.

A commander can scarcely expect to receive in full the intelligent support of his subordinate commanders, unless he makes clear to them the character of his own planned effort. It is customary, therefore, when assigning an objective to a subordinate, also to inform him of the purpose which its attainment is intended to further. Stated differently, a commander, when imposing upon an immediate subordinate an effect which he is to produce, informs him, at the same time, of the nature of the military result which he, the immediate superior, has determined to bring about.

This is the part of wisdom, not merely of choice. It acquaints the immediate subordinate with the objective of the immediate superior and thus enables the former to comprehend wherein the attainment of his own assigned objective is expected to contribute to the attainment of the effect desired by his superior.

Since the attainment of the assigned objectives will represent the consummation of the general plan of the immediate superior, the purpose of each of these assignments is to assist in the attainment of the objective announced, for his entire force, by the immediate superior (see also page 12).

From the viewpoint of the subordinate, the objective thus assigned by the immediate superior becomes the appropriate effect desired, essential to the determination of the accomplishment which the former is to effect by his own effort. On occasion, also, the full scope of the appropriate effect desired may require consideration of the objectives of higher echelons in the chain of command, so far as such objectives may be known or deduced.

The responsibility of the immediate superior, in the matter of ensuring that his immediate subordinates understand the purpose of their assigned objectives, is in no respect less than that which falls upon these subordinates in the execution of their own assignments. By failing to provide subordinate commanders, through whatever methods, with a knowledge not only of the details of his plan but of the general objective which their integrated effort is calculated to attain, the superior may actually subject his undertaking to the risk of failure.

The decision as to the general plan (page 44) for the attainment of his assigned objective provides the commander with an objective which he himself has originated. With the plan for the attainment of his general objective clearly fixed in mind, the commander may now proceed to the selection of one or more objectives of a specific nature, the integrated attainment of which will ensure the attainment of his assigned objective. The instructions which he may then give, severally, to his immediate subordinates in a detailed plan of operations, thus indicate to the latter their assigned objectives. (See also page 22.)

The source of the incentive (page 44) has an intimate connection with the assigned objective. Furthermore, whatever the origin of the incentive, the ability to select correct objectives is an essential element in the mental equipment of the commander.

For example, if the incentive arises by reason of a directive received from higher authority, such directive will presumably assign an objective, specific or inferred. The commander to whom such an objective is assigned is responsible for a correct understanding of all the implications involved, including the relationship between the assigned objective and the general objective of the next higher commander, which represents the purpose of the assigned objective. On occasion it will also be necessary for the commander to consider the relationships involved with the further objectives of the higher command (page 49). Again, without any suggestion of cavilling at orders received, the commander may also find occasion to examine, with care, the implications of his assigned objective, because of his responsibility for taking correct action in the premises (page 15).

If the incentive arises from a decision previously made by the commander, it follows that such decision will have embodied an objective, selected by the commander himself.

If the incentive arises because of the demands of the situation, the commander is responsible for recognition of the necessity for action and for the correct selection of an appropriate objective, to be adopted by him as a basis for his own action as if it were assigned by higher authority.

An assigned objective having been established with respect to the basis for his problem, the commander is always responsible for the correct selection of an objective to serve as the end in view for the general, integrated action of his subordinate commanders.

Once such an objective has been selected, the commander is further responsible for selecting, on the basis provided thereby, correct objectives to be assigned to his subordinate commanders.

For various practical reasons, therefore, the responsibility of the commander requires of him the ability to select correct objectives. On the basis of classification with respect to the authority making the selection, analysis will demonstrate the existence of two types of objectives.

These two types of objectives are (see page 30 as to effects and further effects), namely, (1) the assigned objective (page 48) ordinarily indicated by higher authority, exceptionally determined by the commander for himself, and (2) the objective typically selected by the commander, himself, as the end in view for the integrated effort of his subordinates. It will be noted that in the latter category there will fall, not only the general objective referred to immediately above, but numerous other objectives for whose attainment provision may be needed during the actual prosecution of the effort or in anticipation thereof.

Procedure for Selection of Correct Military Objectives. The Fundamental Military Principle (page 41), properly applied, is the basis for the selection of any or all of such objectives. The procedure involves the direct application of the corollary Principle of the Correct Military Objective.

According to this principle, the selection of a correct military objective depends on due consideration of the salient features noted, i.e., correct physical objectives, advantageous relative positions, proper apportionment of fighting strength, and provision for adequate freedom of action. These features, discussed in greater detail hereafter (in this chapter), are determined by factors cited in the Principle (pages 41-42).

The first factor being the appropriate effect desired, a correct military objective is selected, in the first instance, by reference to the requirement of suitability as to this factor. This appropriate effect desired may be indicated by the higher command (page 44), or may be determined by the commander himself as hereinafter explained (page 52).

When the appropriate effect desired has been established, the next consideration is, "What physical objective (or objectives) can be found, action with relation to which will, if successful, attain this effect?"

For example, if the appropriate effect desired were the "reduction of enemy battleship strength" in a certain area, then an enemy battleship appearing therein would manifestly be a correct physical objective. A suitable action with relation thereto would be "to destroy the enemy battleship", in which case the objective involved in the action would be "the destruction of the enemy battleship".

Any lesser accomplishment, such as infliction of damage on the enemy battleship, or its repulse, or its diversion elsewhere, would also be suitable to the appropriate effect desired, though not in the same degree. Each such visualized accomplishment, suitable to the appropriate effect desired, may properly be considered as a tentatively selected objective.

An objective having been tentatively selected on the basis of the appropriate effect desired, its final selection will naturally depend, as indicated in the Principle, on the feasibility of the effort involved in the attainment of each such objective, and on the acceptability of the consequences as to costs.

In investigating such feasibility, account is taken of the relative fighting strength. With relation to the enemy battleship, for example (see above), the commander would consider the means available to him and the means opposed (including the enemy battleship and any supporting forces), as influenced by the characteristics of the theater.

This investigation will include, necessarily, a sufficient analysis of the salient features of the operation required to attain each objective. Such features include the nature of the physical objectives (the battleship and any other forces, for instance), the possibilities of relative position, the problems involved in apportioning the forces on either side, and the proper considerations as to freedom of action.

A similar study with respect to the acceptability of the consequences to be expected, as to the costs involved in the operation, will provide a basis for a conclusion as to that factor.

If the attainment of an objective is found to be infeasible, or feasible only at the expense of unacceptable consequences, the proposed objective will naturally be rejected, and some other objective will be considered (page 33).

The objective finally adopted as the best will be that which, all things considered, is best adapted to the requirements of suitability, feasibility, and acceptability, as outlined in the Fundamental Military Principle.

The Appropriate Effect Desired, as the Basis for the Objective. As will be appreciated from the foregoing discussion, the first factor in the selection of a correct objective is the "appropriate effect desired". The evaluation of this factor is not always easy, for reasons which will be explained.

The procedure (as indicated by the Principle of the Appropriate Effect to be Desired—page 33) is the same as for the selection of an objective. This identity of procedure is natural, because the appropriate effect desired, used as a basis for selecting the commander's general objective, itself involves the appreciation of an objective. The latter is, in fact, one of the "chain of objectives" previously mentioned (page 48).

Under conventional conditions this objective is selected by higher authority, and is assigned to the commander in his instructions from the next higher echelon (page 48). The objective so indicated will of course, under sound procedure, have been selected by higher authority on the basis embodied in the Fundamental Military Principle.

When an established chain of command (page 11) is in effective operation, the path to the appropriate effect desired will therefore normally be indicated through an assigned objective, by the immediate superior. This assignment, however, or the failure to receive such an indication, does not relieve the commander from the responsibility for taking correct action on his own initiative. Such necessity may arise should he find, in the exercise of a sound discretion, that his instructions need modification or alteration, or even that it is necessary for him to depart from his instructions under circumstances of great emergency (page 15-16).

Furthermore, the objective may be adopted by (rather than assigned to) the commander concerned, on his own initiative, in order to meet the demands of a situation (page 50) as to which the higher command has not yet had time or opportunity to act.

Moreover, even when an objective is assigned by higher authority in the usual course, it may be expressed in such terms as to require examination in order to enable the commander to appreciate it (page 43), as to its bearing on his operations. In fact, studious analysis may be necessary for this purpose.

For example, if the objective so indicated does not specify a clearly-defined goal, the commander will need to make a thorough study in order to appreciate the full implications intended. He may find it necessary to analyze his immediate superior's instructions pertaining to the entire force of which his command is a part, and to consider, also, the objectives indicated for other commanders, on his own echelon, who also belong to that force.

On occasion, also, higher authority may acquaint the commander with the general plan adopted by the superior, and may order action—such as movement in a certain direction or to a certain locality—without assigning a more definite objective. Should it happen in emergency that later developments prevent higher authority from making such an assignment, the commander may find himself under the necessity of selecting, for himself, an appropriate objective, to be adopted by him as if it were assigned.

Should the commander find that his instructions do not clearly indicate an objective, or should he find that the one indicated is not applicable under the circumstances of the case, he will select an appropriate objective for his own guidance as if it were assigned by higher authority. He will make such selection through use of the same procedure already described herein as applicable to the selection of an objective of any sort. In such case he puts himself in his superior's place, in order to arrive at a reasoned conclusion such as the higher commander, if apprised of the circumstances, would desire to adopt. Circumstances permitting, the commander will of course communicate with higher authority, and will make constructive representations. (See page 15.)

The appropriate effect desired, as the first factor to be applied in selecting such an objective, will naturally involve the objective indicated in the general plan for the immediate superior's entire force. This general plan is normally announced by the superior for the guidance of the commander and of other commanders on the same echelon. If, however, this further objective is not known to the commander, he will endeavor to obtain a proper point of reference. To this end, he will use his knowledge of the objective assigned to his immediate superior, or of the further intentions of the higher command with respect to the conduct of the operations, or of the campaign, or of the war.

The provisions for the formulation of plans and orders (Chapters VII and VIII) take account of the fact that the commander may require definite information as to the objectives of higher echelons. In organizations where a state of mutual understanding has been well established, the commander will rarely be without some guidance in the premises (see also page 33), by reason of the chain of objectives indicated in plans and orders of the higher command (page 48).

From the viewpoint of the commander, this relationship among objectives presents to him a series, from the present or immediate objective to others more distant in time. Thus there may be one or more intermediate objectives, leading away from the immediate one to the ultimate objective, so far as the concern of the moment is involved.

This relationship of immediate, intermediate, and ultimate objectives may also exist in situations where the commander, operating on his own initiative and responsibility, determines such a chain of objectives for himself.

Such a situation frequently arises in a campaign or a major operation, and is normal, also, as to minor operations (see page 56, as to physical objectives).

As already observed, the relationship of objective and further objective is the criterion for distinguishing between strategical and tactical considerations, from the viewpoint of the commander concerned (pages 9 and 10).

What has been noted in the foregoing as to the objective (singular) is also applicable to situations where such an objective involves two or more objectives collectively considered.


As noted with respect to the Fundamental Military Principle (page 41), the effort required for the attainment of a military objective involves military operations (page 37), whose salient features are listed in the Principle. These features, including physical objectives, relative positions, apportionment of fighting strength, and freedom of action, will now be discussed to indicate how they are correctly determined by the factors, also cited in the Principle, pertaining to suitability, feasibility, and acceptability. Such determination is accomplished through application of the corollary Principle of Effective Military Operations (page 42).

Physical Objectives

Fundamental Considerations. An operation, however splendidly conceived and faultlessly executed, involves waste of effort if directed with relation to wrong physical objectives.

Since a physical objective constitutes the tangible focus of effort (page 47) toward the attainment of the effect desired, its correct determination is of paramount importance both before and during the prosecution of operations.

As has been demonstrated (page 51), the consideration of possible physical objectives (in space) is essential to the selection of suitable objectives (in mind). Moreover, action with reference to one or more physical objectives is the necessary basis for determining the feasibility and acceptability of a plan.

Military objectives can be achieved only through the application of power, actually or by threat (page 8), with reference to physical objectives.

The determination of correct physical objectives is followed, if more than one such objective is found, by the selection of the one or more which are best adapted to the requirements of the situation. The procedure for determination and for selection is a matter for painstaking mental effort, based on the considerations now to be presented.

The term "military objective" is frequently used in military literature to distinguish physical objectives which are combatant in character from those which are noncombatant. The considerations which follow are applicable to physical objectives of all categories.

Procedure for Determination and Selection of Correct Physical Objectives. In a particular set of circumstances, the field wherein correct physical objectives may be found and the best selected, is that of an existent or probable theater of action.

The determination of a physical objective, when correct, initially satisfies the requirement of suitability with respect to the nature of the objective,—this being, in such case, the appropriate effect desired (page 31). Physical objectives not suitable, with relation to the objective to be attained, are manifestly incorrect physical points of orientation with respect to the operations involved in the effort to attain such an objective.

It may be found, however, that the selection of a single physical objective will not fulfill this requirement. A commander may find it necessary to direct his effort simultaneously, or in succession, with relation to more than one physical objective.

When a succession of physical objectives has to be dealt with, the selection will necessarily include such a series. Such a case might occur where a campaign has been found necessary in the form of successive stages as essential features. The visualized termination of each successive stage may be marked by the successful application of effort with respect to one or more physical objectives. Such a series of physical objectives may frequently also occur in operations on a smaller scale; even in very minor actions such a succession of efforts is normal. (See page 54, as to objectives.)

The choice as to the specific nature of physical objectives will extend, for example, from the enemy's organized forces as a whole to the physical body of an individual combatant. Within this range will be included all manner of physical elements of enemy fighting strength, singly and in combination, such as troops, ships, geographical points, lines and areas, fortifications, bases, and supplies.

The physical objective may take the form of a fixed geographical position, the occupation of which, because of its inherent advantages, may be, for example, an essential preliminary to further progress. The position may, for instance, be merely a point in the ocean (page 47), a rendezvous beyond which, although its occupation may be uncontested, it has been deemed unwise to proceed without further information or additional strength.

The physical objective, therefore, does not always take the form of some element of the enemy fighting strength; not infrequently, the occupation of a correct physical objective may be uncontested by the enemy. However, intervening armed forces of the enemy may constitute the physical objective for application of successful effort before a further physical objective may be dealt with. The possibility of enemy opposition may, therefore, place the selection of one or more physical objectives on an indeterminable basis at the time of the original solution of the problem. This may require a commander to defer his choice until the situation has become more fully developed.

For example, his objective may be the occupation of a certain harbor, preliminary to the establishment of a base. The harbor is then a correct physical objective, perhaps the only physical objective which need be dealt with, if there are no other obstacles to prevent or interrupt the operation. Armed forces of the enemy may, however, stand as an obstacle to the undisputed occupation of the harbor and, therefore, to the attainment of the objective. In such case they become, for the time being, the correct physical objective.

While the armed forces of the enemy may frequently present appropriate physical objectives, this is not always the case (see above). It is true that, in war, the armed forces of the enemy, until they can no longer offer effective resistance, prevent the full attainment of the objective of the State. Accordingly, from the broad viewpoint, they may constitute the legitimate and proper physical objective of the opposing armed forces. Armed forces of the enemy which are present in opposition to any projected operations are likely to offer proper physical objectives.

These facts, however, do not restrict a commander, in his choice of a physical objective, to the armed forces of the enemy. Nor do these considerations require him to search for and destroy the enemy forces before directing his effort toward the attainment of an objective under circumstances where the enemy is seen to be incapable of presenting effective opposition.

The correct physical objective may change several times during the course of an operation. This is particularly to be expected in a naval tactical engagement of considerable scope. While the enemy fleet, as a whole, may properly be considered in such a case to be the physical objective, the component parts of each fleet, the types of vessels and their combinations, may, from time to time, find in their opponents a variety of physical objectives, the particular identity of which can scarcely be predicted with assurance. It is here that the importance of the correct selection of physical objectives stands out in bold relief.

Infliction of loss on enemy forces, or support of own forces hard pressed, may always seem tempting immediate objectives in war. However, there may be occasions when disengagement or refusal to engage an enemy force, even though it be of manifestly inferior strength, may be appropriate to the attainment of the end in view. Necessity for speed or secrecy, or other demands, may make the required operations unacceptable. (See page 75 as to the offensive and the defensive.)

Land, as the natural habitat of man (page 46), is always the principal store-house of his indispensable resources, as well as the primary scene of his activities. Naval operations, therefore, have always in view the eventual maintenance or creation of a favorable military situation in critical land areas. From this fundamental viewpoint, the eventual physical objective of military operations is always a land objective.

* * * * *

The suitability of a physical objective having been determined, the next consideration is the feasibility (page 31) of taking such action, with relation thereto, as will, if successful, attain the objective in mind. Feasibility is determined by evaluation of the factors of means available and opposed, as influenced by the characteristics of the theater, in order to assess relative fighting strength (see page 52). In connection with the effort involved with relation to any physical objective, questions of feasibility may make it desirable or necessary to visualize the detailed operations which arise from considerations of relative position, of apportionment of fighting strength, and of provision for freedom of action.

Of particular interest with respect to such operations, it is noted that the premature disclosure of a selected physical objective is a military error. By appearing, however, to operate against more than one physical objective, a commander may lead the enemy to overstrain his resources in the effort to protect them all. Thus the commander may reduce the resistance to be encountered in dealing with what have already, or may finally, become the selected physical objectives. Feints in several directions may even divert all of the enemy's effective defense from the vital points (see also page 68).

* * * * *

After the suitability of a physical objective has been established, as well as the feasibility of the contemplated action with relation thereto, such action is next considered from the standpoint of acceptability with reference to the consequences as to costs. The specific factors involved in acceptability as to consequences have previously been mentioned (page 31).

* * * * *

When the requirements of suitability, feasibility, and acceptability have been satisfied, the locality, the opposing force, or other subject of consideration may be regarded as a correct physical objective.

When more than one correct physical objective has been determined and a choice is indicated, such selection will also be founded on the foregoing requirements.

No doctrine, no advance instructions, can replace the responsible judgment of a commander as to his correct physical objectives. On occasion, higher authority may request recommendations (see page 42, as to opinions) with respect to such objectives. The duty of a commander to depart from his instructions under certain conditions, and the grave responsibility which he thereby assumes, have also been referred to (page 16).

Relative Positions

Fundamental Considerations. The relative positions occupied or susceptible of occupancy by armed forces are matters which demand constant and intelligent attention before and during hostilities. Being fruitful sources of advantage or disadvantage, such relative positions assume primary importance where enemy forces are concerned, and are scarcely of less importance from the standpoint of the correct apportionment of the subdivisions of one's own forces, and from the viewpoint of their freedom of action.

During periods of actual tactical contact, the successful delivery of the decisive thrust against selected physical objectives is greatly furthered by the occupancy and maintenance of advantageous relative positions.

The fundamental significance of relative position lies in the fact that position is the basis of movement, for movement is merely a change of position. Speed is the rate at which movement takes place. The particular factors to be reckoned with are, therefore, time and space. In skillful utilization of these elements lies the successful employment of relative position in the creation or maintenance of a favorable military situation, whether the movement be by land, sea, or air (page 46).

The necessity for movement may be an important consideration in determining possible or likely theaters of operations. Where transportation between two or more positions within a certain area is essential to the successful conduct of a war, the area which includes the routes between these positions, or a portion of such routes, becomes at once a possible or likely theater. Such an area may be normally within the control of one or the other of the belligerents, or the control may be in dispute. Certain of the positions themselves may belong to neither of the belligerents. The area itself may be a land area, or a sea area, or a combination of the two. It may be an area which borders upon the sea, or an island area. In any case, the air is a common characteristic.

The movement of a force is properly regarded, not as an even flow, but as a series of steps from one position to another. The movement may or may not be continuous. Pauses are usual, their occurrence and duration being a matter dependent upon circumstances and calling for the exercise of sound professional judgment. Intermediate positions may be utilized, successively, so as to facilitate occupancy of the final position which is the goal of that phase of operations (page 56). This procedure often effects an ultimate saving of time. In many cases, other advantages also may accrue.

The foregoing considerations are applicable to changes of position whether in the direction of the enemy, toward a flank, or to the rear. Flanking maneuvers and retrograde movements, both sometimes profitably employed to decoy the enemy, may frequently be utilized to gain advantageous relative position. The proper objective of each is the maintenance of a favorable situation, or the alteration of an unfavorable one, either locally or with reference to the larger phases of operations, through measures involving apportionment of fighting strength, or obtaining advantages of position, or retaining or gaining freedom of action. Combinations of forward, flanking, or retrograde movements are frequent in war, the skillful combination of the offensive and the defensive (see page 75) being no less applicable to the problem of relative position than to the other elements of a favorable military operation.

Procedure for Determination and Selection of Advantageous Relative Positions. Since the various positions to be occupied become physical objectives for the time being, their proper determination and selection are governed by the same considerations which apply to physical objectives (see page 55 and following).

Thus, it becomes necessary to consider, first, as to suitability, whether the position, once gained, will permit the attainment of the appropriate effect desired.

Secondly, consideration is required as to feasibility. Are the available means adequate to gain or to maintain such position? In answering this question, due regard is paid to opposing means and to the characteristics of the theater.

Finally, there is to be considered, as to acceptability, whether the consequences as to costs, in terms of relative fighting strength, will be such, if the position is gained or maintained, as to permit the attainment of the objective. The possible effect of these consequences on future action, whether the attempt succeeds or fails, may be vitally significant.

* * * * *

With regard to suitability, the factor of the appropriate effect desired calls for special consideration of the requirements with a view to future action. This is true because of the relationship which naturally exists between successive positions (page 60) if changes of location from one to another are to be integrated into movement calculated to accomplish the effect desired. Each position, itself for the time being a physical objective, offers certain advantages or involves certain disadvantages with relation to a further physical objective. The position of the latter, in turn, presents possibilities (or denies them) with respect to future movement. The influence of considerations with respect to time (in addition to those noted above with regard to space) is also a factor whose importance increases when urgency is a matter of immediate concern.

With regard to feasibility, the technical capabilities and limitations of the armed forces (page 67) are, of course, among the principal factors. These capabilities and limitations are respectively promoted and imposed primarily by considerations peculiar to the particular medium of movement involved.

With specific regard to the areas within which military operations may suitably be undertaken, the fundamental distinctions created by recognized political sovereignty require attention. That part of the surface of the earth which comprises its land area is recognized as the property or the charge of one or another of the sovereign states, although in certain cases the title may be in dispute. The air above a nation's territorial domain is generally understood to be part of that domain. The point to be observed is that there are no land areas which belong equally to all nations. Accordingly; because of the factor of neutral sovereignty, both land and air forces of belligerent States may be under the necessity of following indirect routes to their physical objectives.

In the case of the sea, however, all those portions of the earth's surface which are covered by water (exclusive only of the recognized territorial waters of the several nations), i.e., the high seas, are presumably common property. The same applies to the air above the sea.

These considerations, and the fact that the surface of the sea is a broad plane, permit open sea areas to be traversed by a variety of routes to an extent not applicable in the case of land areas and the air above them. In addition, the fact that technological developments have been such as to permit movement, not only on the surface of the sea and through the air above but also beneath the surface, gives distinctive characteristics to the sea when considered as a theater of operations.

The surface of the sea has, from the earliest days to the present, provided roads over which human beings in greatest numbers and the resources of the world in greatest weight and volume can be transported in single carriers. From the standpoint of any belligerent it is imperative that, during war, these roads be kept open to the extent demanded by the needs of the State. It is equally imperative that an enemy be deprived of the advantage which their use might otherwise afford. In both cases localized (even though temporary) control, not only of the surface but of the water beneath and the air above, may be essential. It is pertinent, also, to note at this point the interest of neutrals, or of unneutral nonbelligerent Powers, in keeping open the trade routes via the high seas. Such interest may constitute an important factor in the calculations of a belligerent State.

Considerations of maximum capacity for speed represent the utmost possibilities with respect to movements (i.e., change of positions) (page 60) in a given medium within a given time limit. A knowledge of maximum speed potentialities, one's own and those of the enemy, is required if changes in position are intelligently to be made. A knowledge of the variety of conditions, controllable and otherwise, which affect or preclude the employment of maximum speed, is likewise a requisite. Poor material condition, inadequate training, and incorrect methods of operation are preventable or correctable. The limitations on speed which are imposed by logistics, and by natural obstacles such as the hydrography, the climate, the wind, the weather, and the state of the sea, are susceptible of greatest possible adjustment to circumstances only by the exercise of foresight and judgment. All these conditions indicate the close relationship that exists between relative position and freedom of action (page 70).

The same observations apply to considerations of maximum capacity for endurance, the ability to operate without necessity for replenishment from an outside source. Radius of action is decreased or increased accordingly with resultant restrictions, or otherwise, on freedom of action.

With respect to the freedom of action of armed forces, also a consideration in relation to feasibility, the logistics of a military operation, of whatever scope, constitutes a problem which begins when the plan is in process of formulation. This problem ends only when the necessity for sustaining the movement, and for retaining the position gained, no longer exists.

Ships and other means of conveyance, surface, subsurface, and air, are incapable of providing the necessities of life and the implements of warfare beyond the capacity built into them. Operations which extend beyond the limits of such capacity must cease unless replenishment and support, possible only from other sources, are provided. The logistics problem may be so difficult as to cause rejection of a course of action involving distant operations. From the standpoint of supply, military movements by land, sea, and air are, therefore, vitally associated with positions on land and with their relation to the area of operations (see also page 58).

The same observations apply in larger scope to the State itself, which, because of economic vulnerability with respect to certain essential raw materials, may be compelled to seek support from outside sources lest supplies on hand become exhausted. In all cases, great importance attaches to the geographical location of sources of supply in their relation to a required point of delivery and to the routes which lie between.

It follows that enemy sources of supply may be suitable physical objectives (see page 56). Their destruction or capture, or the severance of the enemy's lines of communication with them, may seriously restrict his freedom of action.

From the standpoint of the relative position of its features, and apart from their inherent military value, the characteristics of the theater of military operations may exert an important influence upon the shaping of events. Each characteristic merits consideration as a potential means of facilitating or obstructing movement. Some localities may have been developed as repair, supply, or air bases. Others may be sources of essential raw materials. Certain points may be heavily fortified. Island formations may be valuable to either opponent, or to both, because of the capacity and security of their harbors, the character of their terrain, or their positions relative to each other. The inherent military value of the several features of the theater may be enhanced or vitiated by the relative position which each occupies with respect to other features, and with reference to the location of the armed forces involved.

So-called "strategic points", historically significant in connection with military operations, derive their importance by reason of their relative position with reference to routes of movement.

The possibilities of utilizing or of changing the characteristics of a theater of operations, to assist, hamper, or deny movement, are governed by considerations previously discussed (see the Principle of the Proper Physical Conditions to be established in the Field of Action—page 34).

In planning the creation or maintenance of a favorable military situation from the standpoint of relative position, there may, therefore, profitably be included an examination into:

(a) The relation which may exist between the geographical location of the subdivisions of one's own forces and

(1) Those of the enemy,

(2) Geographical areas under one's own control, and positions within those areas,

(3) Geographical areas not under one's own control, and positions within those areas,

(4) Areas coveted or in dispute,

(5) Fixed actual and potential repair and operating bases and sources of supply and replenishment, own and enemy, controlled or otherwise.

(b) The relation existing among the geographical locations listed immediately above, including the effect of possible changes in control.

(c) The bearing of the sun and moon, and the direction of the wind and sea.

(d) The length and vulnerability of possible lines of communication.

(e) The time and distance, and resulting relative speeds, involved in movements necessary to change or to maintain an existing relation.

(f) The measures incident to adequate freedom of action.

A more detailed analysis of the factors influencing relative position is made in Section I-B of the Estimate Form (Chapter VI).

* * * * *

In connection with the factor of consequences as to costs, the requirement as to acceptability is a weighing of expected gains and of reasonably anticipated losses, a balancing of the one against the other, with due attention to the demands of future action, (see page 61).

Military movement normally involves an inescapable expenditure of military resources. The characteristics of the theater, alone, will exact their due toll, even if no enemy be present. In the presence of the enemy, such expenditures may increase with great rapidity. The fundamental consideration here is whether the resultant losses are disproportionate to the gains.

Avoidance of movement is frequently the correct decision, because movement, if it offers no advantages, is scarcely justifiable even if it entails no material loss. Movement, merely for the sake of moving, is not a profitable military operation. However, the conduct of military operations without major movement is a concept inherently defensive (page 75), even apathetic, whose outcome, against an energetic enemy, can rarely be other than defeat. In the execution of advantageous movement to achieve correct military objectives, the competent commander is always ready to accept the losses which are inseparable from his gains.

* * * * *

The foregoing considerations as to advantageous relative positions are applicable, not only in the realm of the commander's decisions as to his own action, but also to his judgments rendered when higher authority calls for recommendations (see page 42).

Apportionment of Fighting Strength

Fundamental Considerations. The assignment of a task may be expected to carry with it availability of fighting strength deemed adequate by higher authority for accomplishment of the operation involved.

In appropriate instances, the higher command may call for recommendations as to the amount and character of the means deemed adequate by the subordinate for performance of the task with which he is, or is to be, charged (page 42).

In any case, means having been made available, it remains for a commander to whom an objective has been assigned to apportion these available resources in such manner as to provide the requisite strength at points likely to be decisive, without unduly weakening other points. In effect, he is charged with a practical adjustment of means to ends. This responsibility is discharged by the effective utilization of means and prevention of waste nicely balanced through full consideration of all essential elements of a favorable military operation. The procedure involved has been indicated (see the corollary Principle for the determination of the Proper Means to be Made Available—page 34).

The relation between the strength to be brought to bear in dealing with a selected physical objective, the tactical concern of the moment, and that necessary to the attainment of the strategical aim (see pages 9 and 10), constitutes a fundamental consideration in effecting such a balance.

In making a correct apportionment, there will be involved not only the physical elements of fighting strength, but the mental and moral as well. With respect to mental and moral factors, the capabilities of particular commanders and organizations may be an important factor in apportioning forces to tasks. In the physical field, numbers and types occupy a prominent position, each however, requiring consideration from the standpoint of the existing situation.

Thus, forces composed of appropriate types and suitably equipped and trained may exercise greater effect than numerically larger forces not so well adjusted to the requirements of the situation. On the other hand, numerical considerations become predominant under conditions otherwise substantially equal.

These considerations, viewed in the light of the relationship of naval operations to land areas (page 63), indicate the importance which may attach to immediate availability, with a naval force, in addition to its own air strength, of a proper complement of land forces (with appropriate air strength) which are organized, equipped, and trained for amphibious operations.

The same considerations point also to the vital importance of due provision, with respect to the armed forces of a State, for joint operations involving concerted action on land, by sea, or in the air.

In connection with the capabilities of particular commanders (page 66), it will be appreciated how important it is, more especially in amphibious or joint operations, for responsible officers to have a correct understanding of the powers and limitations of the several types of military forces involved, be their primary medium of movement the land, the sea, or the air.

Factors of dispersion and concentration are also involved in apportionment of fighting strength.

While undue dispersion may result in lack of adequate fighting strength where required, a certain degree of dispersion may be necessary to meet the demands of movement and of freedom of action. Serious errors in this regard, however, may result in inability to furnish support where needed, and in consequent punishment or isolation of one or more valuable detachments.

In distant operations some dispersion is required to safeguard long lines of communication. The requirements for this purpose may sometimes be so great that, unless the total available strength is adequate, a due apportionment to the guarding of long lines of communication may so weaken the main force as to prevent the attainment of the objective. (See also page 63.)

Proper dispersion is, therefore, a requirement to be met, while undue dispersion is to be avoided. But realization is also necessary, in this connection, that there is an equal danger in over-concentration. An undue concentration of means at any point may subject such a force to unnecessary loss. Another disadvantage may be lack of adequate fighting strength elsewhere.

Accordingly, axiomatic advice that it is unwise to divide a total force, while containing a sound element of caution, is misleading and inadequate, for division is often necessary or desirable. To be adequate, a maxim or rule relating to division of force should indicate when, and in what measure, such division may or may not be necessary or desirable. (See also page 25.)

Similarly inadequate, however true as a generality, is the statement that the requirements of effective warfare are met by bringing superiority to bear at the decisive time and place. Such an injunction is of little assistance in solving practical problems as to the appropriate degree of superiority, and as to the proper time and place.

In like manner, any rule is faulty which advises a commander to seek the solution of his problems by always bringing to bear his elements of strength against the hostile elements of weakness. It may be found, on occasion, that it is necessary or desirable to act with strength against strength.

But it is equally faulty to maintain that action, to be effective, seeks always to deal with the enemy by first destroying his elements of strength. Even when the strongest opposition cannot be defeated by direct action of this nature, success may still be possible by first disposing of elements of weakness. When the stronger elements of a hostile combination cannot be defeated without undue loss, yet cannot stand without the weaker, consideration may well be given to an apportionment of fighting strength on the basis of seeking a decision against the latter. The defeat of a relatively small force at a distance from the area where the main forces are concentrated in opposition, may hasten the attainment of the ultimate objective.

The main effort, where the greater force is employed, may be identical with the effort contributing most directly to the final result. This identity, however, does not always exist, and the decisive influence is frequently exerted by a relatively small force, sometimes at a distance from the principal area of action.

Diversions (see also as to feints, page 59) are not likely to be profitable unless constituting a sufficient threat, or unless offering apparent advantages to the enemy which he feels that he cannot forego. Success will attend justified diversions if they lead the enemy to reapportion his fighting strength to meet the threat, either because he expects repetitions (see page 73, as to raids), or because the area involved may become a new theater of action, or for other pertinent reasons.

Means which are inadequate for the attainment of an objective if used in one effort may sometimes be rendered adequate by utilizing them in a series of successive impulses. Similarly, the effect of employing means otherwise adequate may be intensified by the delivery of attacks in waves.

Procedure for Determining Proper Apportionment. The fundamental considerations outlined above as to apportionment of fighting strength have application both to the offensive and the defensive (see also discussion on page 75). As to all of these considerations, the solution for the particular situation is to be found only through an analysis of the factors applying to the particular problem.

Thus, the first consideration relates to suitability, and requires that the apportionment of means be suitable both as to type and as to amount, in order to produce the appropriate effect desired in view of the means opposed and of the influence of the characteristics of the theater. The fundamentals involved, applicable in all human activities (see the Principle of the Proper Means to be Made Available—page 34), are the factors cited above. These are also, of course, indicated in the Fundamental Military Principle.

The correct apportionment may also be influenced by any military changes to be effected in the characteristics of the theater (as indicated in the Principle of Proper Physical Conditions to be Established—page 34). Thus, the establishment of a well defended base may operate, properly, to reduce the requirements for apportionment of a force for a particular duty in that locality. Similarly, the proper use of fortifications, obstacles, demolitions, and routes by land, sea, and air, as well as facilities for exchange of information and orders, all operate to increase fighting strength relative to that of the enemy.

The next consideration, that of feasibility, takes account of the type and of the amount of means that can be apportioned in view of the means available.

In connection with the foregoing there will be appropriate requirements for the operation as a whole and for its component operations. All of these requirements may call for analysis of the relative positions to be utilized, with reference to the selected physical objectives, and of the requirements for adequate freedom of action.

Finally, the requirement of acceptability as to the factor of consequences will call for consideration of the results of the allotments of forces to particular tasks. This is necessary in order to arrive at reasonable conclusions as to the military costs involved either in event of the success of the effort or in event of its failure, and with respect, more especially, to the effects on future action.

The attainment of the objective, however suitable as to the effect desired, may be found, on the basis of due study, to be infeasible or to involve unacceptable consequences. The inescapable conclusion is then that an increase in relative fighting strength is required or that another objective, feasible of attainment and acceptable with respect to consequences, is necessarily to be adopted (see page 52-53).

Freedom of Action

Fundamental Considerations. In providing for proper apportionment of fighting strength, a commander may attain the end in view by increasing the physical, mental, or moral elements of his own strength, relative to the enemy's, or by decreasing the enemy's strength through imposing restrictions on hostile freedom of action.

Freedom of action will enable a commander to prosecute his plan in spite of restrictive influences. That enemy interference will, to a greater or less extent, impose restrictions on freedom of action is to be expected. Restrictions may also be imposed by physical conditions existing in the theater of operations, and by deficiencies and omissions which are within the field of responsibility of the commander to correct.

Even with fighting strength adequate to overcome enemy opposition and physical handicaps, deficiencies and omissions within a commander's own field may become effective checks to further progress unless avoided through the exercise of foresight. To this end, it is desirable to consider certain possibilities which are likely to promote freedom of action if properly exploited, and to restrict it if neglected.

To a considerable extent, a commander has within his own control the degree of influence which his force will exert in the creation or the maintenance of a favorable military situation. The power applied by a military force is determined not only by the fighting strength of its component commands, but also by the degree of coordination of their several efforts in the attainment of the objective (see also page 12). Whatever the inability of the commander to influence the other aspects of a situation, the ability of his command to act unitedly is a matter largely in his hands.

When time permits, subordinate commanders, apprised of contemplated tasks in general terms, may be called upon to submit recommendations as to the detailed instructions to be issued them, as well (page 66) as to the means to be allotted for the purpose. By this procedure, individual initiative (page 15) is fostered and the higher command enabled to utilize the first-hand knowledge and experience gained on lower echelons without, however, divesting the higher command of any of its responsibility.

The command system may provide for unified action through unity of command or through cooperation resulting from mutual understanding. On the assumption that commanders are competent and that communications are adequate, unity of command is the more reliable method. However, it cannot be obtained everywhere and at all times, because of the necessary decentralization of the command system in areas distant from the commander. In such areas, unity of effort may sometimes be assured by provision for local unity of command. At other times, unity of effort may depend entirely on cooperation between adjacent commands within the same area. (See page 12.)

Organization (see page 13), the mechanism of command, is most effective when, through the establishment of authority commensurate with responsibility (page 12) and through the assignment of tasks to commanders with appropriate capabilities (see also page 66), the highest possible degree of unity of command is attained. The command organization and mutual understanding are of primary importance as methods of ensuring maximum power with available fighting strength, and of affording consequent maximum contribution to freedom of action.

Deficiencies in technical training are capable of imposing grave restrictions upon freedom of action. Material equipment, even though it may represent the acme of perfection in design and construction, will not surely function unless skillfully operated and maintained. Even though mobility and endurance be otherwise assured, the capacity which they represent is not susceptible of effective employment unless the methods of movement, i.e., of effecting change in relative position (page 59), are intelligently planned and are developed to a point which assures facility of operation when in the hands of skilled personnel.

Tactical training, not omitting that required for joint operations (page 67), is one of the vital factors of fighting strength, with respect, more especially, to its contributions to freedom of action.

A state of high and stable morale (page 9), founded upon sound discipline, is an invaluable characteristic of fighting strength. An understanding of the human being is therefore an important feature of the science of war.

Discipline, in its basic meaning, is the treatment suitable to a disciple. The objective of discipline is therefore the creation and maintenance of the spirit of willingness to follow where the commander leads. The exercise of leadership is not restricted, however, to those occasions when the commander can be physically present. The exigencies of war and the requirements of control prevent the commander from being always, personally, in the forefront of action. These restrictions as to considerations of space however, impose no limitations on leadership in terms of time.

The influence of the competent commander is a factor always acting to shape the situation according to his will (page 47), though the necessities of the moment may compel his presence elsewhere. The ability to create and maintain a faithful following who will execute the commander's will wherever he may be (page 15) is, accordingly, a primary attribute of command.

With this objective in mind, the true disciplinarian runs no risk of confusing harshness with the exercise of justice. He understands the difference between an overbearing arrogance, arising from unconscious ignorance, and the pride which springs from a justified self-respect. He appreciates the distinction between mere stubbornness, which would alienate his followers, and the necessary firmness which binds the bonds between the leader and the led. He realizes that comradeship, without presumptuous familiarity, is the firmest foundation for mutual loyalty (page 14). He knows that kindness and consideration, without suggestion of pampering, will not be mistaken for weakness by any subordinate worthy of the name.

Military subordination, which implies a proud obedience without trace of servility, is the essential basis for the development of the qualities of command. It is an old adage that, to know how to command, one must know how to obey. In the profession of arms, every man is at once a leader and a follower; the uncertainties of war may suddenly confront any individual, even on the lowest echelon, with the call to exercise command.

The requirements of sound discipline are thus the correct basis for all training. By proper training of his command, by instilling in it a spirit of resolute determination and by otherwise fostering its morale, and by weakening the morale of the enemy, a commander may increase his own fighting strength and reduce that of the opposition. When a command is inured to the ill effects of fear, despondency, lack of confidence, and other weakening influences, it may more effectually employ measures calculated to upset the morale of the enemy.

In connection with these measures, surprise, when judiciously conceived and successfully employed, may be a most potent factor. Surprise (see page 26) is the injection of the unexpected for the purpose of creating an unfavorable military situation for the enemy. Its effect is particularly telling when it results in disruption of enemy plans, and thus promotes the execution of one's own.

The raid, an offensive measure swiftly executed, often by surprise, and followed by a withdrawal, may be a valuable operation when employed to attain objectives within its capacity. The collection of information, the destruction of important enemy equipment or supplies, the neutralization of enemy positions, the severing of physical means of communication and transport, and the like, are suitable objectives. The attritional effect of repeated raids may be very great. Skillfully executed raids frequently produce panic among the populace and thus, by political pressure, cause a change in the existing apportionment of fighting strength to the extent of upsetting military plans in other theaters. This is particularly likely to occur when there is fear, justified or otherwise, of repetition (see page 69).

However, because a raid necessarily includes a withdrawal and cannot, therefore, accomplish the occupation of territory (see page 46), it can have only indirect bearing, however important, upon the final outcome of the hostilities against a strong and competent enemy. Like other forms of surprise, the raid, injudiciously employed, may serve only to disclose one's presence, and thus to betray more important future plans. If the raid fails to attain its objective, it may even strengthen enemy morale.

The form which surprise may take is not confined to the stratagem, the ruse, or the sudden appearance. Any unexpected display of novel methods or of fighting strength, moral, mental, or physical, the last-named sometimes assuming the character of new and especially effective weapons or equipment, is included in the category of surprise. The potential value of such methods or weapons is, however, reduced or even completely vitiated by the leakage of advance information concerning them, not only as to their details, but as to the fact of their existence.

Other conditions remaining unchanged, an offensive surprise measure is therefore more likely to be effective when the opponent has not been given time to prepare a defense against it. On the other hand, where there is knowledge that an opponent or possible opponent is taking steps of a new or unusual nature and no adequate defense is prepared, the equivalent of surprise has been granted him.

Security measures are necessary in order to minimize or prevent surprise, or to defeat other efforts aimed at disruption of plans. Protection brings security; its basic objective is the conservation of fighting strength for future employment. Primarily requiring the maintenance of secrecy and the exercise of vigilance and foresight, security may be furthered by efficient scouting, by appropriate dispositions and formations within the command, and by the use of protective detachments and of various types of works in the sphere of engineering. Previous discussion (pages 64 and 69), with respect to relative position and to the apportionment of fighting strength, has indicated how, through fortification and related measures, the commander may increase relative fighting strength and thereby promote his own freedom of action while restricting that of the enemy.

A commander will be hampered in maintaining his fighting strength at its maximum unless he has arranged for, and has at his disposal, adequate logistics support. Because of its intimate relationship to mobility and endurance, such support is an essential to freedom of action. Logistics support requires provision for procurement and replenishment of supplies, for evacuation, proper disposition, and replacement of ineffective personnel, and for material maintenance. Freedom of action is restricted beyond those limits to which logistics support can be extended. (See page 63.)

The initiative is of paramount importance in ensuring freedom of action. If the initiative is seized and maintained with adequate strength, the enemy can only conform; he cannot lead. If initiative is lost, freedom of action is restricted in like measure.

The offensive, properly employed, is a method of seizing the initiative, and of regaining it if lost. Even though there be an actual numerical superiority in fighting strength, an offensive will, however, seldom assume practical form unless founded on an offensive mental attitude, which ever seeks the favorable and suitable opportunity to strike. Completely to abandon the offensive state of mind is to forswear victory.

Whether physically on the defensive or the offensive, the competent commander is always engaged in a mental and moral attack upon the will of the enemy commander (see page 8). By effective attack upon the hostile will, the commander disintegrates the enemy's plan, i.e., the enemy's reasoned decision, as well as the detailed procedure on which the enemy relies to carry this decision into effect.

It does not follow that offensive action is possible or even desirable under all circumstances. Even with superior strength the most skillful commander will scarcely be able, always, to apportion forces in such manner as everywhere to permit the assumption of the offensive. Without adequately superior strength, it may be necessary to adopt the defensive for considerable periods. If the offensive mental attitude is retained, together with fixed determination to take offensive measures as soon as appropriate to do so, the calculated and deliberate adoption of the defensive, for the proper length of time, may best promote the ultimate attainment of the objective. It is of the utmost importance, however, that a static defensive be not adopted as a settled procedure (see page 65) beyond the time necessary to prepare for an effective offensive.

Both the offensive and the defensive have their places in an operation whose broad character is primarily either defensive or offensive. In operations which involve movement over a considerable distance, a combination of the offensive and the defensive is usually found necessary (see also references to distant operations on pages 63 and 74). Though the movement itself be offensive, the ensurance of freedom of action may require both defensive measures and tactically offensive action. The enemy, primarily on the defensive, may be expected to seize every opportunity to employ the offensive.

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