Defensive Campaigns: Are They Still the Stronger Form of War?   [open pdf - 2MB]

"On a theoretical level, defensive campaigns are the stronger form of war. As Clausewitz said, 'All things being equal defense is the stronger form.' However on the practical side defensive campaigns can only remain the stronger form of war if they are conducted properly according to theory and doctrine, and if campaign planners understand the concept of asymmetry. This monograph will review theory and doctrine on defense and defensive campaigns according to Clausewitz's thoughts in on 'On War'. This will be followed by an analysis of two campaigns and finish with a conclusion based on analyses of the two campaigns. Using criteria derived from Clausewitz's 'On War', an examination of two historical cases, the Russo-Polish War in 1920 and Desert Storm in 1991 will show how the advantages of defense are still valid. However, the successful commander and staff must understand that using Clausewitz's criteria is not enough in the present. The asymmetry of armed forces must be considered, so the campaign planners can make the most of advantages such as technology and negate disadvantages. This monograph concludes that in the early twentieth-century when all things were equal defensive campaigns were the stronger form of war. However, today this may not be true due to the asymmetry of armies. To plan successful defensive campaigns, planners must use Clausewitz's criteria as a guide and understand the concept of asymmetry."

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Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
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