What is Strategy

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 10 Oct 2018 15:09

Not much needs to be known about military theory to understand how battles are won. It is enough to get acquainted with the work of the most famous military theorist Clausewitz. On the strategy he has literally a few paragraphs. Generalized strategy is ONLY, the distribution by the STATE of the army in space and time. FAU missiles or new tanks designed to change the course of the war are not a strategy. According to the observations of Clausewitz, in the history defeats due to errors in the field of strategy are extremely rare. The definition of a strategy is elementary, so there can be no errors. During the Second World War, the leadership of the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain did not make a single mistake in the field of strategy. The distribution of troops by area is optimal. Hitler made hundreds of mistakes. Starting from the micro level, imposing a positional defense. The generals insisted on flexible tactics. Finishing with errors at the macro level. Hitler did not understand that the troops would do more good in Germany than in Yugoslavia.

http://militera.lib.ru/science/clausewitz/03.html

To show how long the strength of the armed forces was not at all regarded as the main one, it suffices to note that in most 18th century wars, even the most detailed, the number of armies is not mentioned at all, or is given only by the way, and it is never given a special values.

Tempelgof {67} in its history of the seven-year war is the first writer who regularly cites these data, and then only in a superficial way.

Even Massenbach {68} in its many ways a critical review of the Prussian campaigns in the Vosges in 1793 and 1794. He talks a lot about mountains and valleys, roads and paths, but he did not say a word about the forces of both sides.

Another proof lies in the curious idea that roamed the minds of several critically-minded writers and that there is a supposedly known army number recognized as the best — some normal value; armed forces that exceed this limit will be more burdensome than helpful.

Finally, there are many examples where not all of the available armed forces were actually used in combat or in war, as numerical superiority was not given the meaning that it has by the nature of the matter.

Since we are deeply imbued with the conviction that with a considerable preponderance of forces we can achieve everything decisively, such a clear conviction cannot but affect all preparations for war, to come into the field with the largest possible number of troops and either to achieve a numerical superiority or to protect ourselves from overweight of the opponent. This is what can be said about the absolute strength of the army with which it is necessary to wage war.

The size of the army’s absolute strength is determined by the government, and although genuine military activity begins with this definition and the definition itself constitutes an extremely significant part of it, still in most cases the commander, who will then lead the armed forces in a war, will have to look at their numbers as already this value, because whether he did not take any part in its establishment, or because the circumstances prevented to bring it to the proper size.

Thus, the commander remains one: skillful use of these armed forces to achieve relative numerical superiority at a decisive point, even when an absolute superiority of forces is unattainable.

The most significant is the calculation of time and space; This gave reason to look at strategies in this calculation as an object that adequately embraces the entire use of the armed forces. [129] In this direction, they even went so far that they began to see in the tactics and strategies of the great commanders a special secret part specially adapted for this.

But this comparison of time and space, if it is to a certain extent and underlies the strategy and constitutes its daily bread, so to speak, is nevertheless neither the most difficult nor the most crucial moment in it.

If we take a military history with an unbiased look, we will find that cases in which errors in such a calculation did indeed cause a major failure, at least in the strategy, are extremely rare. But if the concept of a skillful combination of the elements of time and space should reflect all cases when, through fast marches, a decisive and active commander of the same army beat several opponents (Frederick the Great, Bonaparte), then we should not be confused in these purely conditional expressions. For clarity and fruitfulness of representations, it is necessary to call things by their proper names.

The correct assessment of their enemies (Down, Schwarzenberg), the risk of temporarily leaving in front of them only insignificant forces, the energy of forced marches, the audacity of lightning attacks, the increased activity that great people show at the moment of danger - these are the real reasons for such victories. What is there to do with the ability to correctly compare such two simple things as time and space.

But this ricochetting game of forces, when victories near Rosbach and Monmirale gave the necessary scope for victories near Leyten and Montro {69}, a game that great commanders repeatedly entrusted their fate to in a defensive war, yet, frankly and frankly, represents a rare phenomenon in history.

More often, the relative preponderance of forces, i.e. skillful concentration of superior forces on a decisive point is based on the correct assessment of this point and on the right direction that the army receives from the very beginning, on the determination required to neglect the unimportant in favor of the important, i.e. keep your strengths more focused. These are the characteristics of Frederick the Great and Bonaparte.

We believe that what we have said has given its numerical superiority its proper meaning; we must look at it as the main idea, and if possible we should look for it everywhere and first of all.

But to consider it for this reason as a necessary condition for victory would be a complete misunderstanding of the thought we develop; we sought only to clarify the significance that should be given to the number of forces in battle. If we collect the forces as large as possible, we are completely satisfied with the principle, and only an assessment of the situation as a whole can decide whether due to lack of strength, we should avoid fighting.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by histan » 10 Oct 2018 17:45

This is the UK definition of "strategy" and how it integrates with "policy" and the "instruments of national power".

Conducting international politics involves applying national power to support our national or collective interests. This involves collaborating and coordinating with allies and partners. Political outcomes and objectives are articulated in policy.
Policy articulates a choice leading to a course of action proposed or adopted by a government. Policy is a statement of intent or a commitment to act.
Strategy is creating and orchestrating the instruments of power in support of policy objectives.

Together policy and strategy describe what we need to achieve (the ends), how we will do this (the ways), and the resources we need (the means).
While policy and strategy are shaped by external factors, they are inter-dependent. Policy only works if there is a credible strategy and strategy demands an achievable policy end-state.

The instruments of national power are:
The Diplomatic Instrument
The Economic Instrument
The Military Instrument

The Military Instrument:
is most effective when employed with the other instruments to achieve national objectives, and
is "not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of policy by different means" [Clausewitz. These days we would probably say different ways and means]

It is straightforward to apply this to the Second World War and working in alliance with the United States and the USSR against Germany.

From the allied point of view - unconditional surrender is a political policy

From the German point of view in 1945 - surrender is a policy, separating the allies and negotiating individual peace treaties is another policy objective.
Looking at the latter the question is - is that an achievable political objective? If the answer is no then there is no strategy that the Germans can devise that would work.

Happy to continue to discuss these and other concepts - such as the nature and character of war, Fighting Power and its components, operational planning (more ends, ways, and means!) and how the Western Allies understood and applied these better than the Germans on the Western Front in 1944 and 1945.

Regards

John

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 10 Oct 2018 19:55

The word "strategy" is often more widely interpreted. For example, the strategy of a game in poker. In fighting, strategy is understood as allocation of forces by the state for fight to the commander. The desire to sacrifice unimportant for the sake of the important, achieving a decisive victory in battle. For example, in the spring of 1943, Manstein asked to strengthen his troops for an offensive against Kursk by 4-5 divisions. Hitler told, he cannot allocate any division. It has the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the threat of landing in Norway ...

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 10 Oct 2018 20:37

From year to year the same. Some of Hitler's mistakes

viewtopic.php?f=76&t=153162
MrApLewis85 wrote:
17 May 2009 16:51

viewtopic.php?f=76&t=153162

16, Allowing German Armies to be encircled and thus destroyed; Stalingrad, Crimea, Tunisia, Falase, Army group centre 44, 6th Army Romania 44, etc

17, Being so arrogant as not to consider that their coding system was unbreakable; as we now know the English had cracked their Enigma machine.

18, Not giving the dessert armies enough resources for outright victory-complete control over the Med would have been a huge tactical victory for Germany. English shipping would have to go all the way around Africa; and thus long range subs could have caused high shipping losses as was the case in the artic sea!

19, Allowing/Relying on European Allied Armies.-Should disbanded all of them and forced those who wanted a military career to join the SS or Wehrmacht. (Again if the National Socialist ideology wasn’t made so perverse in German hands it could have been a unity factor).

20, Not agreeing beforehand that Japan was not the attack USA but Russia or continue their quest for British Territories- since they did not do so the English held on to India, the Russians were able to transport a whole army to the Eastern front in 41, and the USA entered the war.

There are loads of other mistakes Hitler made but here is the top 20! What you think?
16+ defeat on the western and eastern banks of the Rhine is also Fuhrer's handiwork.

I’m more worried about why so few people question the nature of Hitler’s mistakes. Only a saboteur can make so many mistakes. Idiots are sometimes mistaken in their favor. Hitler missed the Russians to the Oder in January 1945, then used the mistake to his advantage and with a flank blow destroyed them all. But he fiercely fought with the generals in refusing to allocate troops for the counterblow.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 10 Oct 2018 21:16

History serves the majority. 90% of ordinary guys who like to drink beer, to descend on football. History at them in black-and-white tones. Russians, Germans, Kursk battle, storm of Berlin. Defeat of Germany. But precisely these guys will die in entrenchments if the next politician conceives to launch war for the vanity. Hitler made everything that after him it any more never repeated.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by histan » 12 Oct 2018 01:59

Looking at US Joint Doctrine shows clearly what strategy is and how it fits into a framework for understanding how the the military instrument of national power is deployed to achieve national/multinational political objectives and end-states.

It provides a framework within which military operations can be discussed in a logical manner, rather than the use of vague words, random pictures taken from the internet, and random maps with lots of arrows on them without any explanation of what they are intended to represent. It provides a framework for asking questions about the overall German strategy, the theatre level objectives set for each theatre in 1944 and 1945, and the operational level plans produced to achieve these objectives.

The DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as of September 2018 has this definition of strategy:

strategy - A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives

It also defines the strategic level of warfare:

strategic level of warfare
- The level of warfare at which a nation, often as a member of a group of nations, determines national or multinational (alliance or coalition) strategic security objectives and guidance, then develops and uses national resources to achieve these objectives.

It defines two other levels of warfare, the operational level and the tactical level.

operational level of warfare - The level of warfare at which campaigns and major operations are planned, conducted and sustained to achieve strategic objectives within theaters or other operational areas.

tactical level of warfare - The level of warfare at which battles and engagements are planned and executed to achieve military objectives assigned to tactical units or task forces.

The three levels of warfare are shown in the diagram below, taken from Joint Publication 1 Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States 25 March 2013 Incorporating Change 1 12 July 2017
Levels of Warfare.jpg
Joint Publication 5-0 Joint Planning 16 June 2017 expands on the definition above
"Strategy is a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives. Strategy can also be described as the art and science of determining a future state/conditions (ends), conveying this to an audience, determining the operational approach (ways), and identifying the authorities and resources (time forces, equipment, money, etc) (means) necessary to reach the intended end state, all while managing the associated risk."
and later
"Plans translate the strategy into operations with the expectation that successful operations achieve the desired strategic objectives. Similarly, the effects of operations, successful or otherwise, change the operational and strategic environment, requiring constant evaluation of the strategic-level objectives to ensure that they are still relevant and feasible.

Regards

John
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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 12 Oct 2018 06:14

histan wrote:
12 Oct 2018 01:59
Looking at US Joint Doctrine shows clearly what strategy is and how it fits into a framework for understanding how the the military instrument of national power is deployed to achieve national/multinational political objectives and end-states.

It provides a framework within which military operations can be discussed in a logical manner, rather than the use of vague words, random pictures taken from the internet, and random maps with lots of arrows on them without any explanation of what they are intended to represent. It provides a framework for asking questions about the overall German strategy, the theatre level objectives set for each theatre in 1944 and 1945, and the operational level plans produced to achieve these objectives.

The DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as of September 2018 has this definition of strategy:

strategy - A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives
This is all right of course, but does not negate the personality factor. Also like the military theory of Clausewitz. The idea to create fortresses on perimeter of defense of the Army Group Center in the spring of 1944 proceeded personally from Hitler. And it was a blunder. The Germans lost their freedom of maneuver even along the front line, the enemy gained more numerical superiority. And when the Germans were surrounded, they continued to sit in fortresses. Hitler made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the "Center" group. Falaise too. Instead of fortresses, on the orders of Hitler, the Germans carried out a counter-offensive when they were surrounded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz
Clausewitz's work is still studied today, demonstrating its continued relevance.More than sixteen major English-language books that focused specifically on his work were published between 2005 and 2014, whereas his 19th-century rival Jomini faded from influence.Historian Lynn Montross said the outcome, "may be explained by the fact that Jomini produced a system of war, Clausewitz a philosophy.The one has been outdated by new weapons, the other still influences the strategy behind those weapons."

The picture above I wanted to show, Hitler deprived the national states of Europe of power, respectively, the ability to order to kill people of other states. Italians, Germans, French, Spaniards are now together. Previously killed. Germany lost the war, Europe won.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by doogal » 19 Dec 2018 22:58

histan wrote: ↑
12 Oct 2018, 02:59
Looking at US Joint Doctrine shows clearly what strategy is and how it fits into a framework for understanding how the the military instrument of national power is deployed to achieve national/multinational political objectives and end-states.

It provides a framework within which military operations can be discussed in a logical manner, rather than the use of vague words, random pictures taken from the internet, and random maps with lots of arrows on them without any explanation of what they are intended to represent. It provides a framework for asking questions about the overall German strategy, the theatre level objectives set for each theatre in 1944 and 1945, and the operational level plans produced to achieve these objectives.

The DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as of September 2018 has this definition of strategy:

strategy - A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives
This is all right of course, but does not negate the personality factor. Also like the military theory of Clausewitz. The idea to create fortresses on perimeter of defense of the Army Group Center in the spring of 1944 proceeded personally from Hitler. And it was a blunder. The Germans lost their freedom of maneuver even along the front line, the enemy gained more numerical superiority. And when the Germans were surrounded, they continued to sit in fortresses. Hitler made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the "Center" group. Falaise too. Instead of fortresses, on the orders of Hitler, the Germans carried out a counter-offensive when they were surrounded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz
Clausewitz's work is still studied today, demonstrating its continued relevance.More than sixteen major English-language books that focused specifically on his work were published between 2005 and 2014, whereas his 19th-century rival Jomini faded from influence.Historian Lynn Montross said the outcome, "may be explained by the fact that Jomini produced a system of war, Clausewitz a philosophy.The one has been outdated by new weapons, the other still influences the strategy behind those weapons."

The picture above I wanted to show, Hitler deprived the national states of Europe of power, respectively, the ability to order to kill people of other states. Italians, Germans, French, Spaniards are now together. Previously killed. Germany lost the war, Europe won.
Jesk: its hard to follow you sometimes, you talk about the historical development of Strategy and the evolution of the disciplines which comprise the art of war. Moving on to Clausewitz he is placed (rightly) as one of the fathers of military intellectualism, although he stands on a tangent of evolution which in one direction points to Julius Ceasar and Sun Tzu. Others such as Jomini and Bulow, ardent du Pique have added to the fabric of Military intellectualism ( this is all important to any interested reader). But you move into Hitlers forays with Operational Matters and seem only to proclaim Hitlers Guilt (I have no disagreement with that) without establishing the nature of the link between them.

I just don't see how you are connecting these in any relevant fashion.
jesk wrote - Generalized strategy is ONLY, the distribution by the STATE of the army in space and time

jesk wrote - strategy is understood as allocation of forces by the state for fight to the commander.
where did these quotes come from ??????? The second has a 19th c ring to it

The first carries a different meaning from the second, they are both only partially right.

? Are you trying to juxtapose the command level experience and intellectualism of Clausewitz against the untrained Hitler,? Or rather Hitlers poor grasp of the relationship between strategy and the means of achieving it.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by Hanny » 20 Dec 2018 17:53

histan wrote:
10 Oct 2018 17:45
Happy to continue to discuss these and other concepts - such as the nature and character of war, Fighting Power and its components, operational planning (more ends, ways, and means!) and how the Western Allies understood and applied these better than the Germans on the Western Front in 1944 and 1945.

Regards
John
Alexander would have recognised hammer and anvil tactics beying employed in ww2 as a concept, but the technology used in it would have left him bewildered. That technology allowed the the pace of operations, and scale of operations to far exceed what Alexander achieved with muscle power. Alexander took down the largest population holding nation in the western world with a fraction of its human and economic advantages. One advantage was his logistical advantage in speed of movement, no wagons to slow him down.Another was the tactics of hammer and anvil.

German theorists looked to the past for how an inferior human/material resourced nation could achieve strategic outcomes that were not decided by the human/material balance. Austerlitz/Cannae etc were also studied, bringing the battle of annihilation school of thought. Tanneburg in ww1 was an outcome of that thinking.

So by ww2, the same strategy that had existed since the age of muscle, was wedded to newer technology, which increased the pace of operations, fully mech Army was capable of logistically supporting itself to abound of around 300 miles at 20 mph, as compared to horse/mule 15-20 mpd in the age of muscle. Technology increased the casualty infliction rate to be sure, but its principle effect on strategy was the increased tempo of operations rather than a proportional increase in casualty infliction at tactical level.

So was it impossible to win the east using old strategy wedded to new technology?, or just improbable? It worked in western Europe over 1 or 2 operationl bounds, not perfectly, but good enough.

I would agrue it was only improbably because of economic choices made pre war as the the level of mechanisation in German society, had it had, instead of a few Panzer Armys and the bulk of its armed forces still employing animal muscle, given more mech armies, more mechanically mided citizens used to autos it would have had the means to conduct a series of operational bounds that would have precluded the time and space of the SU to recover from.

Anyways, how has technology changed how strategy is understood, has it made any of its concepts obsolete? ( R E Lee sought battles of annihilation but failled, not beacause he was tacticly inept far from it, the defense was stronger than the offense because of technolgy, a defeated surrounded ripe for surrender force could be quickly reinforced by rail and so on) or are were they still current in ww2, or were they they just waiting on technology and had the Germans a reasonable chance to use that new technology to return to inferior resourced nations defeating superior.
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Re: What is Strategy

Post by Hanny » 20 Dec 2018 17:55

doogal wrote:
19 Dec 2018 22:58

where did these quotes come from ??????? The second has a 19th c ring to it
Looks like a collection of copy paste from online PDFs to me.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 31 Dec 2018 10:09

doogal wrote:
19 Dec 2018 22:58
histan wrote: ↑
12 Oct 2018, 02:59
Looking at US Joint Doctrine shows clearly what strategy is and how it fits into a framework for understanding how the the military instrument of national power is deployed to achieve national/multinational political objectives and end-states.

It provides a framework within which military operations can be discussed in a logical manner, rather than the use of vague words, random pictures taken from the internet, and random maps with lots of arrows on them without any explanation of what they are intended to represent. It provides a framework for asking questions about the overall German strategy, the theatre level objectives set for each theatre in 1944 and 1945, and the operational level plans produced to achieve these objectives.

The DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as of September 2018 has this definition of strategy:

strategy - A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives
This is all right of course, but does not negate the personality factor. Also like the military theory of Clausewitz. The idea to create fortresses on perimeter of defense of the Army Group Center in the spring of 1944 proceeded personally from Hitler. And it was a blunder. The Germans lost their freedom of maneuver even along the front line, the enemy gained more numerical superiority. And when the Germans were surrounded, they continued to sit in fortresses. Hitler made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the "Center" group. Falaise too. Instead of fortresses, on the orders of Hitler, the Germans carried out a counter-offensive when they were surrounded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz
Clausewitz's work is still studied today, demonstrating its continued relevance.More than sixteen major English-language books that focused specifically on his work were published between 2005 and 2014, whereas his 19th-century rival Jomini faded from influence.Historian Lynn Montross said the outcome, "may be explained by the fact that Jomini produced a system of war, Clausewitz a philosophy.The one has been outdated by new weapons, the other still influences the strategy behind those weapons."

The picture above I wanted to show, Hitler deprived the national states of Europe of power, respectively, the ability to order to kill people of other states. Italians, Germans, French, Spaniards are now together. Previously killed. Germany lost the war, Europe won.
Jesk: its hard to follow you sometimes, you talk about the historical development of Strategy and the evolution of the disciplines which comprise the art of war. Moving on to Clausewitz he is placed (rightly) as one of the fathers of military intellectualism, although he stands on a tangent of evolution which in one direction points to Julius Ceasar and Sun Tzu. Others such as Jomini and Bulow, ardent du Pique have added to the fabric of Military intellectualism ( this is all important to any interested reader). But you move into Hitlers forays with Operational Matters and seem only to proclaim Hitlers Guilt (I have no disagreement with that) without establishing the nature of the link between them.

I just don't see how you are connecting these in any relevant fashion.
jesk wrote - Generalized strategy is ONLY, the distribution by the STATE of the army in space and time

jesk wrote - strategy is understood as allocation of forces by the state for fight to the commander.
where did these quotes come from ??????? The second has a 19th c ring to it

The first carries a different meaning from the second, they are both only partially right.

? Are you trying to juxtapose the command level experience and intellectualism of Clausewitz against the untrained Hitler,? Or rather Hitlers poor grasp of the relationship between strategy and the means of achieving it.
Not only. By the own words about Clausewitz's conclusions. Should not go deep into the theory where there is no sense. The German troops in 1945 outside Germany it is not correct and facilitated defeat. The principle of concentration of forces is broken. Clausewitz wrote about such strategy. The war in Norway when Russians storm Berlin, Americans force Rhine, it is wrong.

Norway, may 1945

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by jesk » 31 Dec 2018 10:16

Hanny wrote:
20 Dec 2018 17:53
So was it impossible to win the east using old strategy wedded to new technology?, or just improbable? It worked in western Europe over 1 or 2 operationl bounds, not perfectly, but good enough.
The Germans could move on the territory of the USSR, without encountering military resistance. Russian with weapons as an enemy imposed by Hitler. Without it, the instant destruction and capture of all Russian troops anywhere else.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by Hanny » 31 Dec 2018 12:50

jesk wrote:
31 Dec 2018 10:16

The Germans could move on the territory of the USSR, without encountering military resistance. Russian with weapons as an enemy imposed by Hitler. Without it, the instant destruction and capture of all Russian troops anywhere else.
Authentic gibberish, not related to the quote.
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Re: What is Strategy

Post by Hanny » 31 Dec 2018 12:51

Strategy is doing the right job.
Tactics is doing the job right.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Re: What is Strategy

Post by Sheldrake » 31 Dec 2018 13:43

There are several families of definitions of strategy as the term is used in a military , political and business context. Business school text books include cases from statecraft and military history as well as business.

One of the best guides to ways of thinking about strategy is "Strategy Safari" by Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampl. You can download a copy here https://epdf.tips/queue/strategy-safari ... ement.html

The military definitiosn of strategy sit within analytical, positioning and planning schools. However, to understand what happens it is worth looking at some of the other approaches. The concepts of strategy by muddling through and the politics of decision making have a relevance in looking at the world wars.

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