Academic journal article Military Review

CARRYING THE WAR TO THE ENEMY: American Operational Art to 1945

Academic journal article Military Review

CARRYING THE WAR TO THE ENEMY: American Operational Art to 1945

Article excerpt

CARRYING THE WAR TO THE ENEMY: American Operational Art to 1945 Michael R. Matheny, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2011, 334 pages, $25.95

CARRYING THE WAR to the Enemy addresses an important but often overlooked facet of military theory and practice-the planning and conduct of warfare at the operational level. Michael R. Matheny's thesis is that "although the American Army did not officially recognize operational art as a third level of war, it did develop operational art during the interwar period, 1919-1940, and practiced it to great effect during World War II." The operational level of war refers to those aspects of military art that tie tactical actions to the overall strategic goals in order to realize the military and political aims of the war.

Although most military historians credit the invention (or at least the formal recognition) of the operational level of war to German and Soviet military thinkers of the interwar period, Matheny makes a good case that during the same period, the U.S. Army developed and taught doctrinal principles that allowed it to conduct successful large-scale joint and combined operations in World War II. He does so through an empirical examination of the curriculum at the U.S. Army War College and the U.S. Army Command and General StaffCollege (CGSC). He believes the concepts of culmination; lines of operation; phasing; center of gravity; leverage; and the linking of tactical, operational, and strategic objectives were developed by the U. …

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