International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 4

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

TACTICS. The techniques of deploying and directing military forces in coordinated combat activities against an enemy in order to achieve the objectives defined by strategy or operations. Twentieth-century Western military thought and practice have established tactics as those plans that are left to relatively junior officers to carry out. If strategy is the art and science of using resources in support of national objectives, converting power into policy and operational design, tactics convert military strategy into the maneuvering of aircraft, ships, and troops in actual conflict.Tactics offers the same problem of definition that bedevils most military concepts: the line dividing tactics and other things is unclear and changes over time. What seem in theory to be clear and distinctive differences between tactics and strategy become more uncertain in practice. A senior scientific intelligence officer during World War II, R. V. Jones of the British Air Ministry put the point well in his remark that "strategy is nothing but tactics talked through a brass hat" ( Jones 1978, p. 504).Since the end of the cold war, much effort has been expended in countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO) and in those of the former Warsaw Pact to define the whole range of military activities rather more usefully. The consensus accepted the German General Staff's analysis during the first half of the twentieth century. The meaning of strategy was extended upward to incorporate all elements of national decisionmaking about national security, not just military instruments. The lower levels of military strategy were defined as operations-the control and direction of large forces within a single theater of war-and led to the development of operational art. Tactics overlapped the lower end of operations, being the means by which individual field force commanders within the combat theater achieved their objectives. Below that were fighting instructions and rules of engagement, covering precise matters of military detail at the unit level and its command and control. Lately, the evolution of military doctrine has sought to encompass all these elements of the spectrum, thereby accepting the areas of overlap that occur in definition.This conceptual framework works well for total war and the cold war. It has much less applicability to the requirements of United Nations peacekeeping and peace enforcement. With operations in the 1990s, such as Somalia and Bosnia, political micromanagement of military matters in circumstances short of all-out war has been the order of the day. The operational level of war has, in practice, disappeared. And, once again, strategy and tactics have become almost indistinguishable. For those who see command in warfare as an extension of the sciences, this is confusing and regrettable; for those who see it as something closer to art, this is no more than the latest development requiring the application of military flair and genius. PETER FOOT
Jones, R. V., 1978. Most Secret War: British Scientific Intelligence 1939-1945. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Paret, Peter, ed., 1986. The Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Royal The Navy, 1995. The Fundamentals of British Maritime Doctrine. London: HMSO.

TARGET-BASED BUDGETING. A budget reform that requires the budget office to give targets, or maximum amounts to the departments before they draw up their budget requests. The departmental request must be within these targets, or it will be returned to the department for revision.


In its simplest form, target-based budgeting is a budget reform that rejuggles some of the traditional functions of the budget office and the departments during the process of budget requests. Under traditional, incremental budgeting, budget requests came up from the departments based on few or no prior constraints from the budget office. The totals of the requests would normally exceed the revenue available, forcing the budget office to cut back the departmental requests. Such cutbacks would either be across the board, requiring little knowledge of the department's operations, or be targeted, under the assumption that the budget office was armed to find the fat in department budget proposals.

The traditional model led to a number of widely acknowledged problems. Perhaps the most serious of those problems was an oppositional relationship between the budget office and the departments, and a mood of mutual mistrust and game playing. Department heads often inflated their budget requests because they expected across the board cuts and still had to be able to manage their departments. Budget officers came to look on the departments as duplicitous and their requests as exaggerated. The budget office staff learned to watch out for departmental tricks and sometimes evaluated themselves in terms of their ability to find and catch those tricks.

When the budget office staff tried to find and cut the fat in the departments' budgets, they were often frustrated by their lack of understanding of departmental operations. The results were unpleasant on an interpersonal basis and damaging to management. Unrealistic departmental esti-


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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 4
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board *
  • Title Page *
  • R 1901
  • S 2019
  • T 2205
  • U 2297
  • V 2325
  • W 2377
  • Z 2429
  • Index 2437


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