Broadly defined as the grey area between strategy and tactics, operational art spans the theory and practice of planning and conducting campaigns and major operations aimed at accomplishing strategic and operational objectives in a given theatre of operations. An intermediate link between strategy and tactics has always existed, but a distinct concept that encompasses a systematic and deliberate plan of campaign for major operations is a mere two hundred years old.
Based on country specific case-studies, this book describes how the concepts that underpin operational art originated, how they received practical expression in various campaigns, and how they developed over time. The point of departure is the campaigns of 'the God of War', Napoleon Bonaparte. The book then proceeds with chapters on the evolution of operational art in Prussia / Germany, the Soviet Union / Russia, the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, and China. The final chapter deals with the future of operational art in irregular warfare.
Theory is critical to refining and improving existing methods of applying operational warfare, and its importance cannot be overstated; however, to be useful, theory and its accompanying vocabulary must be combined with a proper examination of historical trends and practical experience. The present volume attempts to achieve that combination.
This book is a project of the Oxford Leverhulme Programme on the Changing Character of War.
Colonel Dr John Andreas Olsen is Deputy Commander, NATO HQ Sarajevo, and Visiting Professor of Operational Art and Tactics at the Swedish National Defence College. He was the Dean of the Norwegian Defence University College and Head of the Division for Strategic Studies at the Norwegian Defence Command and Staff College from 2006 to 2009. A serving officer, he is a graduate of the Norwegian Defence College (2008) and the German Command and Staff College (2005). Recent assignments include tours as the Norwegian liaison officer to the German Operational Command in Potsdam, as the military assistant to the attaché in Berlin, and as a tutor and researcher at the Norwegian Air Force Academy.
Professor Martin van Creveld was born in the Netherlands, but raised and educated in Israel. After receiving his master's degree at the Hebrew University, he did a PhD in History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Since 1971, he has been on the Faculty of the History Department at the Hebrew University, from which he retired early in 2008. Van Creveld is one of the leading experts on Military History and Strategy, with a special interest in the Future of War. He has authored twenty books. Professor Martin van Creveld has been a consultant for the defence establishments of several countries.
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