The military thought can be divide in professional and analytical or theoretic. Though departing from a common core of education, actions and interests, between the professional military thought and the analytical one are sufficient and important differences and functions, to distinguish them clearly in his sphere and his practice. Both forms of the military thought are two points of view, two approximations to that one, complementary, synergic (that act simultaneously and combined) and not antagonistic nor excluding.
The professional military thought is orientated towards the immediate thing: the methods, the tactics, the official procedures and rules from doctrine, manuals and regulations, the men, the equipment and the supplies and replacements. It is a whole world of interests, worries and obligations, often pressing and extreme. To link, to relate, to study and to operate on them simultaneously or successively, already takes the men sufficient time, interest and effort.
On the other hand, the Military man’s profession is a profession that every time is practically exercised during less time, thanks to God and by means of the civilization. But it does not exclude its unavoidable need for the survival and yet the bloom of the nations. The domain of the methods, tactics and weapons acquires by repetition, in the centers of instruction, the academies, the destinies. But, where to acquire «military experience»? Bismarck was saying that the intelligent man was learning with the other’s experiences. Paraphrasing the Iron’s German Chancellor (Prime Minister), we can complete that the «clever» learns with his own experience and the «idiot» does not learn with any.
The critical or analyst military thought is orientated towards the transcendence. The military study operates out over the combat and the maneuver. Absorbing their facts, elaborating experience and forming criteria, advice and procedure about the good «what to do». Its area are the militaries history and doctrine. That make concrete in the logistics, the operative strategy, the operations, the tactics, the fighting forms, the military strategy. The elaboration of the manuals and the regulations is one of the areas of contact and of joint action of both forms of military thought.
The positions of both forms of military thought are also independent. And they can manage to be self-sufficient and closed. Each one being waterproofed against the flow of knowledge and experiences that creates its another complementary form. This constitutes a serious problem for the military institution.
When does this happen? The Israeli military thinker Martin Van Creveld says that all the armies were tending to turn into «stiffened bureaucracies». And I add, moribund and slightly effective (according with the means that the society gives them; that who creates and nourishes them) for their fighting missions and to achieve their operative and strategic goals. They could continue killing, but they were doing it badly, slowly and expensively. Probably his excessive endogamia demands and forces them to allow that from out of the military organization innovating ideas are given to them. At least, the Americans did so and accepted them. And they tried to incorporate them into their doctrine, regulations and manuals. And, even they tried to put them into practice in their following conventional wars (not in the asymmetrical ones). We see the flexible and promising thing that is a child of a few years. And how is an elder, also healthy, nearly the death: rigid of body and soul, little opened to changes and experiences.
Even, sometimes, the theorist or studious, within the military profession, have problems in order that their ideas are accepted and applied. This one might be John Frederick Charles Fuller’s case. In the middle of the 20s of the 20th century, he compiled a series of lectures that he had given in military British academies and published the book The Foundations of the Science of War. It is a book not overcome yet about the principles of war and their practical application. Almost 65 years after its edition in 1926 it was re-edited by the Marines’ Corps. It is of difficult reading, because uses Spencer’s scientific concepts to justify his theoretical approximation. He was seeking to give his theory a scientific precision, which was removing the study of warfare from the frame, supposedly pejorative, of «art». Though all the social sciences, always and also, they are so, as the human soul is difficult to know, fix or quantify. It had many critiques and, lamentably, the own author later went back of the underlying ideas in the book. His work remained semi forgotten, though he contributed to the definition of the principles of war gathered immediately by the American Army. The critiques, in turn, had as bottom that he had an eccentric personality, in a social group (the military men) tremendously conservative and established by protocol. He had mystical streaks (Hindu philosophy, yoga) and flirted with the Nazi, being got by Hitler, since he was a general. In a Great Britain progressively threatened by the totalitarianisms, this position was out of place.
How is it possible to stop or even correct this powerful trend to the self-opinionated thought and to the degradation of the efficiency? Let’s see in a modern example, how the American Army and the Marines Corps approached their adjustment to the modern maneuvers warfare. Several are the theoretic ones, both civilians and military men, who helped to create a coherent, sufficient, practical and effective doctrine body for this new theory. We will emphasize the analyst and lecturer William S. Lind. Curious and significantly, Mr. Lind did not serve even one day in military active service and nobody has shot him neither. Though still there exist alive a good number of officials of old formation, anxious to remedy the latter practical deficiency of his «vital path». Another fundamental personage was the colonel John Boyd, who was a former fighter pilot of the USAF. Also is interesting the contribution of the colonel Michael Wyly, teacher of the Marines Corps. Chronologically in a second time row, stands out strongly, expanding the torrent of ideas of the theory in march, the colonel of the US Army Robert Leonhard.
Let’s have present also that, the violent dialectic between two national wills, as we might define the war, has at least two big authors or prominent figures. Whose respective ideas, approaches and facts are highly dissimilar. Nevertheless, only one of the actions turns out to be finally correct or, at least, winner. The divergent points of view are typical of many human actions: is there a crisis or we are OK? Or all is changing quite rapidly?
Un comentario en «THE MILITARY THOUGHT.»
Very interesting web site, for it faces an especific topic that not easy to find commoly on the net and, at the same time, quite usefull to understand how World works today!
Gracias por tu aportación 🙂
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