The American Way of War: A Review | Automatic Ballpoint
Jay Luvaas; Russell F. Weigley. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. (The Wars of the United. Due dates are noted in the course schedule. The following book is required reading and is available online at the Norris Center Bookstore. Russell Weigley. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy Weigley. American Way of War, Tuesday, 2 October: The rise of a naval. After a long while of meaning to, I've finished Russell Weigley's magisterial book The American Way of War. Took longer than it should have.
The strategy of annihilation says that the military should focus on the destruction of the enemy's military forces through the application of overwhelming force. The US pursued the strategy of annihilation for several reasons. From the time of the Civil War on, we had the resources and manpower to batter enemy forces into submission, as Grant did to Lee in the campaigns. As a democracy, the strategy of annihilation serves the public need for a relatively rapid victory by defeating the enemy quickly and decisively, avoiding long drawn-out conflicts that would undermine electoral support.
Finally, the US has avoided having to compromise at the end of wars because the strategy of annihilation renders foes completely prostrate, at least before the Cold War. What makes this book so valuable is the clear thinking and presentation of complex ideas about strategy, one of the most overused and misunderstood terms of the present day.
Weigley walks the reader through the problems faced by the US at different times, the doctrinal theorizing, and the successes and failures of the application of doctrine.The American Way of War
The most interesting part of the book is the final section about strategy in the Cold War. The Atomic Revolution rendered the strategy of annihilation moot against America's principle foe, because pursuing the annihilation of the foe would virtually guarantee one's own annihilation.
Ike's massive retaliation policy reflected the American annihilation tradition, but it was unsuited to stopping Communist advances below the level of nuclear or even conventional war. Therefore, the US developed limited war capabilities, including unconventional war, new tactics like airmobile infantry, expanded military aid missions, and counterinsurgency.
The military, however, chafed under increased political restrictions on the use of force in both Korea and Vietnam. Conventional war or irregular war? How did guerrilla activities affect the course of war? Should they have transitioned to guerrilla warfare? Reconstruction and Pacification Quiz 1 on Sept. What was the U. Army mainly successful or unsuccessful as a constabulary force? Why or why not? How did it affect these conflicts?
How did these conflicts affect the American way of war? Meiser, Power and Restraint: Reyeg and Ned B. What was the goal of the Philippine insurgents? How did they fight? How did Americans fight? Banana Wars Required Readings for Oct. Johns Hopkins University Press, Why did we fight? What are the similarities and differences in the response by the Army and Marines to their experience with small wars?
Would we have entered the war if Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor? How did this approach evolve over time? What are the similarities and differences with the pre-WWII approach? Were the insurgencies that emerged after WWII mainly communist or anti-colonial? Vietnam War Required Readings for Nov. How can we reconcile them? Rollback Required Reading for Nov.
What was the same? How a relief mission ended in a firefight. What lessons should the US have learned? How did it affect the operation in Somalia? Afghanistan Required Reading for Nov.
What is the likelihood of American participation in small wars in the coming decades? USAWC, What is the meaning of victory? Final Quiz, Monday, December 14,8: Additional Reading Thomas G. Routledge, Urban Somali Guerrillas in Mogadishu: The University of Portland is a scholarly community dedicated to the discovery, investigation, and dissemination of truth, and to the development of the whole person. Membership in this community is a privilege, requiring each person to practice academic integrity at its highest level, while expecting and promoting the same in others.
Breaches of academic integrity will not be tolerated and will be addressed by the community with all due gravity. Please see the University Bulletin for further information: Accessibility Statement The University of Portland endeavors to make its courses and services fully accessible to all students.
Students are encouraged to discuss with their instructors what might be most helpful in enabling them to meet the learning goals of the course. As with the Civil War thesis, these provocative interpretations are sometimes weakened by sweeping conclusions on the entirety of American history based on historical expertise in a specific area.
Few historians have attempted Weigley's effort to identify a distinct American Way of War emerging from over two centuries of campaigns and operations. One worthy successor, Antulio Echevarria, concluded that in practice the American Way of War has been characterized by extensive political constraints—seldom have US generals been allowed to wage war as they wished.
The American Way of War in History and Politics
Echevarria dismissed arguments that any one war, particularly the Civil War, established a distinct pattern that was henceforth followed by American military leaders. Instead, he found American military leaders have most consistently followed a strategy of expediency. Although they may have wished to annihilate the enemy quickly—what general does not—they usually recognized this was impossible.
Echevarria also argues that, contrary to both the Weiglians and the US armed forces' own claims, the American military have seldom employed overwhelming and decisive force to achieve victory. The only constant in the American Way of War Echevarria identifies is the belief that tactical success will create strategic success, which, as he notes, makes it indistinguishable from the European Way of War. Another approach, very popular with the armed forces, is to define the American Way of War as a redemption narrative.
This was the view of Emory Upton, whose unfinished manuscript, The Military Policy of the United States, continues to exert a strong influence on the writing of military history. In this cyclical narrative, Upton maintained that during peacetime American citizens refused to listen to the wise and impartial counsel of their military leaders. They reduced their armed forces to skeleton organizations while boasting of their native-born martial skills.
When war came, the public demanded immediate action--with the result that better trained and disciplined enemy armies quickly defeated America's citizen-soldiers. Only when the nation faced disaster did it turn the conduct of war over to its professional soldiers, submit to military training, and eventually win after wasting much unnecessary blood and money.
After victory, the nation promptly dismantled its armies, extolled the accomplishments of its natural civilian warriors, and began the cycle again. Closely related to the Uptonian definition of a Way of War is that of the 'prodigal soldiers' who, despite the disinterest of their political masters and the American public, resolutely prepare for war and are ultimately vindicated when it appears.
This is an especially popular narrative in the post-Vietnam War literature. A final approach is to look at the American Way of War less as the practice of war than as how American military officers have conceptualized or envisioned war. This would require us to define a "way of war" as a distillation of the intellectual output of military officers on how they interpreted past conflicts, how they perceived the current military situation, and how they envisioned the future.
There are some who argue that at certain times Americans have undergone a military paradigm shift, replacing one construct of war with another. This argument appears in biographies of such individuals as Alfred Thayer Mahan in naval thought, or Billy Mitchell, John Boyd, and John Warden in airpower, or most recently, David Petraeus in counterinsurgency. There is also an extensive literature that might be termed 'generational biography' that credits the accomplishments of a particular group—such as the post-Vietnam officer corps—in transforming the American Way of War.
But to explore how American military officers have conceptualized warfare requires the long view of perhaps a century, and referencing not only the writings of a few prominent individuals, but the entire corpus—books, articles, war plans, general staff studies, doctrine, student papers, and so forth. Seen from this broader context, a study of the US Army dating back to the s reveals that military intellectuals have remained remarkably consistent in their overall concept of war.
That is, they have been remarkably consistent to one of three viewpoints.
American Way of War Syllabus | Jeffrey Meiser - smena.info
Some view war as a form of engineering or science in which the correct application of principles by professional elites will result in a predictable outcome. This was the vision taught to aspiring officers at the US Military Academy for over a century, the one embraced by Sherman, and still manifested in the s Powell Doctrine that created a set of rules to govern the deployment of military forces overseas. But other military intellectuals have long believed in a heroic vision.
To them, war is a struggle between nations and cultures in which victory goes to the side displaying the most martial virtues—patriotism, discipline, leadership, morale, and so forth.
They often ascribe to specific individuals great powers to transform the conduct of war and impose a paradigm shift on their organizations. The dominant school in the US Army is a third group, the Managers, who envision war as a complex project requiring the coordination of military, political, marketing, economic, and social resources.
All three schools of thought co-exist within the US Army intellectual community. Each will interpret the lessons of recent conflicts according to the precepts of the school, whether it is a counterinsurgency struggle in the Philippines or the Second World War.
Engineers, for example, are already interpreting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a violation of the Powell Doctrine, while Warriors blame politicians and American society. In contrast to much of the literature based on individuals or specific conflicts, a study of the American armed forces' collective writings finds r little change in the military's conceptualization of war.
In the late s, the term American Way of War took on more than historical interest when it began to be employed by a diverse group that included military authors, civilians in the international relations and security studies communities, journalists, and public intellectuals.
Much of their interest was fueled by a belief that emerging technologies such as precision guided munitions, stealth aircraft, computers, and satellite communications provided the means for a Revolution in Military Affairs, or RMA. Used effectively, such technology could not just 'offset' the Soviet superiority in manpower and materiel in Europe, but also insure that such a conflict did not escalate into nuclear holocaust. Initially much of the enthusiasm for the RMA came from critics of American defense policy.
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- The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy
These reformers claimed the US was investing in upgrading traditional weapons systems—tanks, artillery, bombers—in order to wage a conventional slugging war of attrition. What was needed, they argued, were technologies that enabled smaller, lighter, more agile forces to defeat Soviet masses.
The reformers dismissed the "old" or "traditional" American Way of War as methodical, conservative, attritional, bloated, bureaucratic, overly centralized, cumbersome, and conservative.
They asserted that a study of the past showed the nation's military leaders had relied on unimaginative, brute-force tactics and overwhelming resources to grind down and destroy opponents. Against this they contrasted the possibility of a rapid, decisive, and cheap "New American Way of War. Both conservatives and reformers found vindication in the perceived lessons of the Persian Gulf War of To the American armed forces it justified their procurement programs, training, and leadership.
To the reformers, it proved that new technology provided an insurmountable advantage. The US Air Force took the lead by claiming credit not only for its success in the Gulf War but also for creating a radically new way of war. What came to be known as "Effects Based Operations" postulated that information superiority provided precise targeting of crucial 'centers of gravity' at all levels—strategic, operational, and tactical—whose destruction would trigger military collapse.
The American Way of War in History and Politics
Information superiority would also deny the enemy government the ability to control its citizens and its armed forces. A few well-placed bombs could destroy the opposition's communications and isolate, or even kill its leadership. Without any directing brain, armed resistance would be sporadic, uncoordinated, and too slow to respond to American strikes.
It illustrates a sterile, surgical, managerial vision of conflict. The Air Force intends to wage a war by using a mathematical formula to calibrate, with scientific precision, how just 16 bombs dropped in can achieve the cumulative strategic impact of 9, bombs in What the formula provided these equations?
More insidiously, this slide implies a contract with the political leadership and the American public that the Air Force can fight and win wars with minimal expense, time, or trouble.
Like the Air Force, Navy theorists were fascinated by the possibilities of the 'information age' and the vision of forces dispersed across the globe concentrating their military power to quickly overwhelm opposition. Its proponents argued that new technology provided a "transparent battlefield" in which information could flow instantly between the commander and his tactical units, and in which the enemy's positions and movements would be instantly identified and targeted.
Although Navy and Air Force advocates disagreed on which service should be predominant, both Effects Based Operations and Network Centric Warfare shared essentially the same vision of scientific warfare in which American military forces were so 'super empowered' that the enemy was virtually powerless.
From the beginning, the attraction of the New American Way of War was in part ideological. The military reformers claimed the United States was in danger, and if it failed to grasp the opportunities offered by the Information Revolution, its enemies would not. They warned that history revealed numerous examples of great nations brought to ruin by more adaptive opponents.
One particular historical comparison was made over and over. Americans must either embrace the blitzkrieg or the Maginot Line. This became such a commonplace that at the Army War College inI heard one student remark that if he was ever in France in and saw a German tank he now knew exactly what to do.