Principles of War and Campaign Planning: Is There a Connection?, Ian Gilbert, 9781288306558


The principles of war have been a part of US Army doctrine since 1949. In 1989 with the publication of JCS Pub. 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, the principles of war also became part of Joint doctrine. However, other than their reference in JCS Pub 3-0, the principles of war are not mentioned in any of the other current discussions of campaign planning. With this in mind, the author analyzes the principles of war, seeking to determine how and why they were adopted. One key point to surface in the analysis is the fact that the Army chose the principles of war rather arbitrarily in 1921. Unlike J.F.C. Fuller’s principles of war (upon which they were modeled), the American principles of war were not accompanied by a comprehensive theory of war. The author also analyzes post-WWI American campaign planning doctrine. This analysis reveals two significant points. First, despite the statements in JCS Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, there is not a common set of principles of war. Rather, the services each have a different view of the principles of war. As a case in point, one service (the Navy) does not even recognize their existence. Second, campaign planning doctrine has never used the principles of war in campaign design. As a result of these two points, the author feels that there is, at best, a tenuous relationship between the principles of war and current campaign planning doctrine. In his conclusions, the author suggests that due to this tenuous relationship, and the complex and unique nature of campaign planning, the principles of war should not be a part of current campaign design. Instead a current campaign doctrine should continue to focus on standard procedures to enhance understanding during planning and execution. The elements of campaign design should focus on broader themes, themes that were evident in earlier campaign doctrine and literature such as the 1942 and 1950 versions FM 100-15.

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