Elements of Military Strategy: An Historical Approach

Article excerpt

Elements of Military Strategy: An Historical Approach by Archer Jones. Praeger Publishers, 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881, 1996, 264 pages, $24.95.

Military historian Archer Jones uses history in Elements of Military Strategy in two ways: for a source of ideas about military strategy and for examples illustrating the elements by showing their application to specific campaigns and for understanding the role of strategy in military operations. The focus is on American military land, sea, and air campaigns from the English colonists' warfare against the Native Americans in the middle 1600s to the Gulf War in the early 1990s.

An unusual historical perspective defines the parameters for examining each campaign. The objective for military strategy is depletion of an adversary's military. Armed forces have the strategic means available for depletion of combat (combat strategy) and depriving the opponent's armed forces of supplies, weapons, recruits, or other resources needed to function (logistic strategy). Four possible combinations make up the strategic means: combat and persisting, combat and raiding, logistic and persisting, and logistic and raiding. The strategy of any military operation is almost certain to fall into one of these combinations.

Areas also effect operations-from either within a base area, from a remote base area, or a mixture of base area access. For most of warfare's history, armies have obtained the bulk of their supplies, especially food, from the area in which they campaigned. An example is the US Army in the 1876-1877 Great Sioux War. Forces operate from a remote base area if they remain long in one place, as in sieges, or are too large for the region to support. …