How Have the Theories of Carl Von Clausewitz And/Or Antoine Henri Jomini Influenced the Birth of Combined ARMS Warfare?
At least three important military theorists emerged from the experience of the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon: The Austrian Archduke Charles; the Swiss writer Antoine-Henri Jomini; and the Prussian Carl von Clausewitz. The archduke has had very little influence in the United States or Great Britain, since his work was never translated into English. The military-theoretical traditions founded by Jomini and Clausewitz, however, have very definitely had an impact on our military thinking.
What makes Clausewitz’s now longstanding domination of his subject so remarkable is that since his death in 1831, warfare as a field of study has continuously occupied the professional attention of thousands of very smart, thoughtful human beings. A fair number of these men, and a few women, soldiers and civilians alike, have made important contributions to a steadily growing canon of classic works on warfare that began some 2,500 years with Thucydides and Sun Tzu. Yet, when it comes to understanding the nature of war and strategy today, none of the works in that canon is spoken of so often, or with such reverence and respect, as Clausewitz’s On War. Moreover, since his passing, literally hundreds of wars have been fought, and soldiers and historians have proclaimed uncontroversially that warfare has been transformed and revolutionized not once, but a handful of times.
Since the close of the Vietnam War, the ideas expounded by the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) have come—very often in twisted, garbled, or mutated form—to thoroughly permeate American military writing (doctrinal, theoretical, and historical). His book On War (published posthumously in Prussia as Vom Kriege in 1832), was adopted as a key text at the Naval War College in 1976, the Air War College in 1978, and the Army War College in 1981. It has always been central at the U.S. Army's School for Advanced Military Studies at Leavenworth (founded in 1983). The U.S. Marine Corps's brilliant little philosophical field manual FMFM 1: Warfighting (1989) was essentially a distillation of On War (with a heavy maneuverist flavoring from Sun Tzu), and the more recent Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDPs, c.1997) equally reflect many of Clausewitz's basic concepts.
Overall, organizations create their future through the strategies they pursue. In such high-stakes choice making, an ad hoc approach will not cut it. We must have a shared process inspired by the right thinking. In fast-changing conditions, static methods don’t work. An organization’s survival depends on the mastery of a dynamic process for generating ongoing renewal. Strategy, like any other discipline in the modern world, as Alvin Toffler reminds us, requires constant learning, unlearning, and relearning. This requires a shift of gears from strategy as planning to strategy as learning. Embedding this adaptive capability is, in the final analysis, the only route to a sustainable competitive advantage.
Colonel Richard M. Swain, U.S. Army, The Hedgehog and the Fox: Jomini, Clausewitz, and History
Command and General Staff School, Principles of Strategy for an Independent Corps or Army in a Theater of Operations (Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Command and General Staff School Press, 1936), p.19.
Carl von Clausewitz, eds./trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret, On War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976/1984), Book One, Chapter 1, section 25.