Command in War

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1985 - History - 339 pages

Many books have been written about strategy, tactics, and great commanders. This is the first book to deal exclusively with the nature of command itself, and to trace its development over two thousand years from ancient Greece to Vietnam. It treats historically the whole variety of problems involved in commanding armies, including staff organization and administration, communications methods and technologies, weaponry, and logistics. And it analyzes the relationship between these problems and military strategy.

In vivid descriptions of key battles and campaigns--among others, Napoleon at Jena, Moltke's Königgrätz campaign, the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, and the Americans in Vietnam--Martin van Creveld focuses on the means of command and shows how those means worked in practice. He finds that technological advances such as the railroad, breech-loading rifles, the telegraph and later the radio, tanks, and helicopters all brought commanders not only new tactical possibilities but also new limitations.

Although vast changes have occurred in military thinking and technology, the one constant has been an endless search for certainty--certainty about the state and intentions of the enemy's forces; certainty about the manifold factors that together constitute the environment in which war is fought, from the weather and terrain to radioactivity and the presence of chemical warfare agents; and certainty about the state, intentions, and activities of one's own forces. The book concludes that progress in command has usually been achieved less by employing more advanced technologies than by finding ways to transcend the limitations of existing ones.

 

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Contents

On Command
1
The Stone Age of Command
17
Mars Shackled
55
The Campaign 78 1806 The Battle
90
Railroads Rifles and Wires
103
Planning and Deployment 115 The Campaign in Bohemia
122
The Triumph of Method
140
The Modern Alexander 148 Disaster at Somme
155
MachineAge Warfare
184
Masters of Mobile Warfare
189
The Helicopter and the Computer
232
Reflections on Command
261
Notes
277
Works Cited
320
Index
333
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