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Doctrine and Tactical development in War Science

Discussion in 'Pakistan Defence Magazine' started by jhungary, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    This is a purely academic article that deals with Military Tactics and Military Doctrine

    Follow up with my (well, hardly mine alone) work on the article "Cold Start Doctrine" I am following up with this article. Seeing that many member here in this defence forum does not know the different between Doctrine and Tactical Development and the relationship or dynamic between the two, this article is intent to use as a supplement to the Cold Start doctrine and any article in the future that related to Doctrine, Training and Tactical Development.

    What is War Science?

    War Science is the science of war (Roll-eyes) and it is a subject one need to study if one wanted to be a staff commander, it belongs to the Postgraduate Studies type course that usually offered in Military Academy.
    War Science (Or warfare science) is different from Military Science (Which is usually a bachelor degree) which touches on many board field of studies involving warfare (Hence warfare science) Field such as Doctrine Development, Training, Tactical development, Military History, Law of War, Psychology (Warfare), Military intelligence, logistic and so on...

    While military science usually involve introduction to every category of the above, intended to be for Junior Officer training. However, it would be interesting to know, both War(Warfare) Science and Military Science belong to the same Subgroup, which is, Military Science Discipline. So, terminology is a bit confusing....
    Two of the topic are Doctrine and Tactics development. Both belong to the field "Principle of War" Which best summed up by Clausewitz "It directs the planning and execution of battles, operations, and war as a whole"

    What is a Doctrine?

    Doctrine (Or Military Doctrine Strictly) are a training guide for warfare, commonly known as playbooks. It dictate how military force contribute, operate, proceed to military campaign, military operation, battles and engagement.

    What it basically do is a melting pot of all the wisdom and experience that tried previously and melt together to act as a guideline for military actions, it serves the common denominator of warfare, what is similar and what is not. Where the doctrine would ever present to see as a guidance of warfare progress.

    Essentially what doctrine do is to let you expect what you would do in case of a given military operation, but not a step-by-step guide on what you should do. It draws from the common factor of different type of situation, allow a commander to think and initiate their own structure of command, thus building their own mark on how to conduct military operation.

    Doctrine can be of multiple level, for example, the Current US Military ran on a "Full Spectrum Warfare" doctrine, which mean combining Army, Navy and the Air Force in operation, however, Army can have their own doctrine (Such as Combine Warfare Doctrine) which serves the Army part of Full Spectrum Warfare.

    What is Tactics?

    Tactics is the science behind organising a military force, which, in a sense, is a sort of Military planning. Tactics are the lowest in the totem post regarding Military Planning, on top being Strategic Planning, in the middle is Operational Planning and the lowest is Tactical planning.

    As the planning level decrease, the objective to complete increases, in the bottom of the barrel, tactical planning (or development) have to achieve all overall and individual objective of a given war. Where operational level planning only focus on how to balance between strategic goal and tactical objective, where as the strategic planning only focus on achieving political goal for any given operation.

    Military tactics is the "play-by-play" rules of operation, design to counter (or achieve) one objective per tactics, usually to satisfy the tactical consideration for one operation. Tactical consideration can have different phase and can change with time progressed in a given war, so more than one tactics are usually used to fulfil the tactical consideration.

    If a war or an operation have fulfilled all its tactical objective, then that war/operation are said to be a tactical victories for the side fighting. However, winning a tactical victory does not refer to the battle outcome itself, one could lost the battle but win a tactical victory if the tactics requires for the side fighting to lose the battle, commonly happened during delay action. And rare as it seems, the reverse is also true, one can win the battle itself but lose the tactical objective. For example, if the tactical objective for an operation is to keep the war local, yet winning a battle will means a third party being drag in to the war. Which winning the battle itself failed the tactical objective of keeping the fight local.

    As with battle outcome, Tactical objective is also independent with Strategic objective


    How Doctrine affect Tactical thinking?


    In a perfect world, it won't. But we are hardly living in a perfect world. Doctrine are supposed to be a general guide line to how to fight a war, not a step-by-step guide to how to fight a war. What soldiers, sailors and airmen train to fulfilled its role on a doctrine, what they basically do is put themselves in place of a machine, where every little part in their rightful place, then the machine works.

    However, an over-specific doctrine inhabit tactical thinking. as people are expecting certain information along the way, and that piece of information should be keep changing as the battlefield changed every minutes, the problem is, if you are expected what to do and the situation does swing the other way, then what you are doing will not make sense with the battle.

    Soldier in all rank train to deal with situation, or the reaction to the battle. When you are fighting a battle, if you are the one that leading your enemy, and making initiative, there are no need to react, but what if you are at the underhand here? You need to absorb moves from your enemy, then trying to turn the table on him and you make your initiative.

    With a well defined doctrine, not ambiguous enough to let your commander freestyle their tactics, you basically bounded the hand of your commander, okay, some good one would still trying to think outside the box and try to get out of the situation and trying to turn the table, but most likely then not, battle and war loses because the Commander failed to react.

    Another thing matters is a well defined doctrine would provide soldier and commander alike a false sense of security, thus making them predictable, complacent and well, lazy. The 3 words that usually associated with failure. What it does is simple, you have trained and trained and drilled on something, if it's specific enough, and you trained with it well enough, you got tunnel vision, think of it like this, if I stand next to you and yell "Apple" all day, you will be thinking of apple and nothing else the whole day,

    Its the same with training, you trained with something long enough, it's inhabit your own thinking. As you would expect certain situation would just go like this. But will it ever be? What's worse, if that's the only thing you can do, you are getting predictable. Or by-the-book. After all, Doctrine is a playbook, it teaches you what to do when you have to do it, but that's kind of depend on how the doctrine is written. Say for example, I am a lecturer in USMA WestPoint and I want to teach my cadet how to assault a fixed position using the Battle of Brecourt as an example. Will I list the battle move by move from either side? Or would I only list the basic combat requirement and what is required to do so the cadet can figure it out? Remember, no two battle are ever the same, hence doctrine should always provoke thoughts instead of telling soldiers what to do.

    On the other hand, Doctrine cannot just be all about requirement and solution. A very undefined doctrine would serve no purpose at all. While it should be thought provoking, it does have to push you in the right direction. Without detail, doctrine is useless.

    How Tactics affect Doctrine development?

    The relation can some time compare to what's came first? Chicken or Eggs?

    On one hand, tactical advancement would render certain doctrine useless or irreverent. Say nuclear weapon tactics render some massive contingent doctrine useless as well, there are simply nothing you can do about it when nuclear warhead hits. Also tactics evolve with technological advancement. Although most tactics remain the same during the sword and shield era then today, many tactics are increasingly becoming redundant.

    Battlefield changed A LOT during the last 100 or 150 years, think about it, how different you have to fight a war in the 1900s then 2000s? We have TVs, Radar, SatCom, Computer, Digitalized tactical maps. When you got no more than a set of telephone to fight in WW1 or you even don't have a set of telephone during Civil War? Nowadays, you can see your enemy movement even before your enemy realise or materialize their own move. So, with that rapid advancement, doctrine have also need to move forward too, you have to update your doctrine. Or throw out some useless doctrine completely.

    On the other hand. as i said before, tactics evolve around technology, and technology actually evolve around doctrine. You build your own military equipment to work for your doctrine. You don't build your doctrine around the equipment you got. So, the invention of gunpowder and rifle put doctrine using knife and spear to rest, and the invention of machine gun would render the normal rank and file doctrine useless. We can only expect technical advancement keep continuing, while on the other hand, the need to modify doctrine for that advancement have to be able to catch up with the technology. Otherwise it would be a risk to fight under outdated doctrine.

    So, what is the best balance between Tactics and Doctrine??

    The best doctrine is the one that do not give out many information, that updated with the technology being used, on the other hand it have to be thought provoking. If a doctrine failed to bring a command to imagine, that doctrine is not working. Where a doctrine embrace the tactical advantage set forth of the user (ie finding his/her own strength and weakness) it should also point or push the user to think outside the box. What if the situation failed, and finally a doctrine should always accompany by a wide array of tactics at hand, so instead of telling the field commander what to do, it show the commander what option he/she have and he/she choose it by her experience of a command.

    We should limited ourselves to overexposing doctrine either, the simple equation is "Do more, think less and Do less, think more" So, in the end, it kind of depend on the command style of the field commander, but in general, it give you more than enough option for Plan B while it give you more than enough motivation would be considered a good doctrine.

    Thank you for reading this, this Military Academic article is bought to you by @jhungary
     
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  2. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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  3. Slav Defence

    Slav Defence THINK TANK VICE CHAIRMAN: ANALYST

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    Alright,we have now post no#4 and it falls under the category of opinion:D
     
  4. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    @WebMaster - Please look into re installing the bookmark option. All of our bookmarks are gone!
     
  5. Neptune

    Neptune SENIOR MEMBER

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    @jhungary It very well describes the difference between tactical and strategical commands in warfare. Being a staff officer's like the reservation of a flag officer seat (I know it's not that simple lol).
    How's the regulation on becoming a staff officer in US/Sweden and Australia respectfully?

    In Turkey, basic officer training depends from 4 to 8 years branch courses excluded. After your commission, you serve 3 years as a 2nd LT, then you serve 6 years each as a 1st LT and Major. During the period between the the last three years as a 1stLT and the first three years as a Major; you gain the right to apply for War Academies exams if your mil. record is clean. Then another 4 years of staff training. At the end they graduate as Staff Majors.
     
  6. Aepsilons

    Aepsilons ELITE MEMBER

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    Excellent post, @jhungary ! Keep it up, very high quality post. And I also agree with Sir @Horus , let's please put back the book marking platform.

    Thanks!
     
  7. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    did not served in the Australian so i dont know, i can ask around but well, to be honest, dont know many servicemen here...

    In the US, there are 2 ways.

    1 is the grooming part - USMA -> 2LT (Platoon Leader, 2 years) -> 1LT (Assisting Company Leader, 4 years) -> CPT (Company CO, 6 years) -> MAJ (Assistant Battalion Commander, 6 years) ->LTC (War College, Battalion CO , 8 years ) -> COL (Brigade CO , no limit, until congress nominate for general position)

    2nd way is OCS/USMA -> 2LT, ->1LT-> CPT (Regimental staff position or Junior Battalion staff) -> MAJ ( Battalion Staff ) -> LTC (War college (Either battalion Command or Brigade Staff) ->COL -> BG.

    Swedish system is s bit different, basically os a professional soldier system where a Staff Sergeant outrank a 2 LT and a Sergeant Major out rank a 1 LT and those who selected to attend Royal Academy in contrast for cadet in National.Defence College. Literally in the swedish law you can jump from a Colour sergeant to a major.

    The thing is, the Swede used to have a conscription, and everyone start out as a conscript excelt if you defer to finish college. Then once you done with your 1 year service you can choose to stay and join the Commission Officer training if you have enough point or professional soldier if you dont.

    I would think the system has change now seeing Swedish abolished conscription, but my wife left before 2010 abolishion so... not really sure what happened afterward
     
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  8. Neptune

    Neptune SENIOR MEMBER

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    I see, just wanted to know how's the system in other NATO militaries..though Russia's way of training staff officers more interests me after the recent events when the World has focused on the military of the mighty bear.
     
  9. jhungary

    jhungary MILITARY PROFESSIONAL

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    dont know much about the Russian system, but the old soviet invlove political education in their profile, while the NATO are most likely a 9 months Master of Strategic Science course