Russian Imperial Military Doctrine and Education, 1832-1914

Russian Imperial Military Doctrine and Education, 1832-1914

Russian Imperial Military Doctrine and Education, 1832-1914

Russian Imperial Military Doctrine and Education, 1832-1914

Synopsis

This work examines the evolution of military-scientific research and theory as it was taught to student-officers at the Nicholas Academy. It is the only work (in English or Russian) that follows the development of this intellectual tradition within the institutional context of the Russian Imperial General Staff and its growing professional responsibilities in the late 19th and early 20th century. The book contains five portraits of influential Russian military theorists and educational administrators. Russian Imperial Doctrine features extensive use of original Russian language bibliographic sources and extensive use of French, British, and American archival sources.

Excerpt

The defeat of Napoleon's reconstituted Grand Armée on the fields of Waterloo in June 1815 concluded some thirty years of war marked by the introduction of massive conscript armies capable of maneuver and destruction unprecedented in the history of European warfare. Although the Congress of Vienna was to set the course of European politics once more upon traditional diplomatic norms, the legacy of Napoleon's brilliant military career continued to preoccupy the minds of great statesmen, literary figures, and military professionals. Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, Russian and other European military theorists marveled at the Napoleonic ideal -- the individual genius of the commander-and attempted to make this genius the main component in strategic theory. Emphasis was placed on the ability to bring together both superior material and moral military force against an opponent at a decisive location and time.

In the previous century the warring profession had been seen as a relatively prosaic, geometrical affair. Contemporary theories assumed that the commander, demanding complete subordination of troops and officers to his will, possessed a transcendental mind which could see through the incidental chaff in the circumstances of battle to comprehend a strategic universal or certainty of action in the form of normative principles. However, for military theorists and historians coming to terms with the wanton violence and chaos of modern warfare, the study of Napoleon's poetic and destructive genius brought a new perspective to the theory of strategy. It had become the personal expression of a commander who was to make the best of ever-evolving circumstances through the execution of sophisticated judgment:

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