Carl von Clausewitz is one of the most profound military thinkers of all time. His famous book On War is our bible and he is a god among military strategists. But we should stop teaching Clausewitz in the U.S. military.
Most will view this discussion as blasphemy. How dare I advocate that we stop teaching the divine inspirations of Clausewitz. Sean McFate provides a similar discussion in his new book The New Rules of War: "A hagiography exists around the man, and his book On War is enshrined in Western militaries as a bible. When I teach this text to senior officers at the war college, the room grows silent with reverence. His ideas constitute the DNA of Western strategic thought."
On War was published in 1832 and we continue to look to it for timeless principles of warfare, but why? As Ian T. Brown wrote in A New Conception of War, "We must move beyond the past."
Supporting the decision cycle of a joint force commander is important to leaders at the operational and strategic levels of warfare. Commanders pull together operational planning teams from across their staff to solve specific problems. Often, planning teams contain members of the staff across each J-code directorate and members of various divisions and branches within each directorate. Leaders in the staff must understand the various types of personalities they will encounter to effectively run a team.
In June of 1812, Napoleon set off to invade Russia with one of the largest armies the world had ever seen. Six months later, a mere fraction of Napoleon’s army --- perhaps as little as 5% --- hobbled home across the Niemen River.