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DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY

UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY


WEST POINT, NEW YORK 10996-1793

COURSE NOTEBOOK

HI 302
HISTORY OF THE MILITARY ART

(2nd Semester, AY 10-11)


Table of Contents

Table of Contents 1
Course Goals 3
Course Objectives 4
Studying the History of the Military Art 5
Glossary of Key Terms 7
How to Use the Course Notebook 16

Subcourse I: The First World War

Subcourse Objectives 17
Lesson 1: War Causation: The Origins of World War I 18
Lesson 2: 1914 – War Plans and Operations 20
Lesson 3: Peripheral Operations – Allied Strategies and the “Indirect Approach” 22
Lesson 4: The Strategic Debate – The Eastern versus Western Fronts 24
Lesson 5: The Tactical Dilemma of Trench Warfare 26
Lesson 6: Breaking the Deadlock of 1916 28
Lesson 7: Comparing British and German Tactical Adaptation 30
Lesson 8: Economic Warfare, War at Sea, and the American Entry into the War 32
Lesson 9: 1917 – Revolution 34
Lesson 10: 1918 – The Final Campaigns and Allied Victory 36
Lesson 11: World War I – Ending and Legacies 38
Lesson 12: The Interwar Period 40
Lesson 13: WPR 42

Subcourse II: The Second World War

Subcourse Objectives 43
Lesson 14: War Causation: The Rise of the Dictators and Origins of World War II 44
Lesson 15: Assessing German Operational Excellence 46
Lesson 16: Britain Alone: The Battle of Britain and the Mediterranean 48
Lesson 17: Opening the War in the East: Barbarossa and the Holocaust 50
Lesson 18: Pacific Theater I: From Pearl Harbor through May 1942 52
Lesson 19: Pacific Theater II: Changing Initiatives 54
Lesson 20: The Eastern Front: From Stalingrad through Kursk 56
Lesson 21: “Sideshows” and Allied Strategy 58
HI 302 COURSE NOTEBOOK 2ND SEMESTER AY 10-11

Table of Contents, Continued

Lesson 22: Battle of the Atlantic, Strategic Bombing, and the Home Front 60
Lesson 23: Research and Writing Period 62
Lesson 24: Normandy Campaign Colloquium 63
Lesson 25: 1944-1945—The End in Europe 64
Lesson 26: End in the Pacific and Assessing Allied Victory 66

Subcourse III: The Cold War and Post-Cold War Era

Subcourse Objectives 68
Lesson 27: The Advent of the Cold War and US Strategic Doctrine 70
Lesson 28: The Korean War – The Military and Political Implications of “Limited War” 72
Lesson 29: The Strategy of Revolutionary War 74
Lesson 30: Vietnam War Overview 76
Lesson 31: Interpretations of the Ground War in Vietnam 78
Lesson 32: Interpretations of Pacification and the Enemy 80
Lesson 33: Interpretations – Politics, the Home Front, and Explaining Defeat 82
Lesson 34: Research and Writing Period 84
Lesson 35: History and the Role of Memoirs 86
Lesson 36: The Legacy of Vietnam – Rebuilding an Army 88
Lesson 37: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan 90
Lesson 38: Waging War in the Post-Cold War Era 92
Lesson 39: The Global War on Terrorism and Beyond 94
Lesson 40: The Era of “Enduring Conflict” 96

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Course Goals for HI301 and HI302

The two-semester course in the History of the Military Art is designed to achieve the overall
program goals established by the Department of History and, more specifically, to instill in each
Military Academy graduate an understanding of the evolution of warfare in the Western world. As
a result of taking this course, cadets should be able to:

1. Think critically and creatively.

2. Analyze historical cause-and-effect relationships.

3. Understand the influence of diverse historical forces – technological, social, political,


and economic – on human behavior, achievement, and ideas.

4. Communicate, especially in writing, in precise language, correct sentences, and concise,


coherent paragraphs – each communication evincing clear, critical thinking.

5. Demonstrate the willingness to pursue progressive and continued intellectual


development, especially as a professional military officer.

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HI 302 Course Objectives

As a result of taking this course cadets should be able to:

1. Understand and employ Carl von Clausewitz’s method of historical analysis so that the
study of history becomes a tool for understanding war as a complex, ambiguous, and
unpredictable human phenomenon rather than rote memorization or the distillation of
superficial “lessons” of history. Fundamental to the Clausewitzean approach is the ability to
evaluate evidence and weigh the utility of different sources.

2. Use historical reasoning to evaluate examples of successful and unsuccessful employment of


military force--at all three levels of war and in operations other than war--including
examination of the causes and outcomes of wars, so as to develop a sophisticated
understanding of the utility and limitations of war as a policy tool.

3. Analyze how political, cultural, ideological and economic factors have shaped national
military organizations and methods of waging war. Crucial considerations include the
structure of national military forces, the mobilization of resources for military purposes, and
various national solutions to questions of civil-military relations.

4. Evaluate the nature of military leadership in different historical and operational


circumstances.

5. Develop an appreciation for the individual personal challenges of war by examining the
experiences of soldiers and leaders in combat.

6. Demonstrate analytical and communications skills through two writing assignments.

7. Understand and correctly apply the fundamental terms and concepts outlined in the Course
Notebook.

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Studying the History of the Military Art

“It is only when we have reached agreement on names and concepts that we can hope to progress
with clearness and ease in the examination of the topic, and be assured of finding ourselves on the
same platform with our readers.”
Carl von Clausewitz

1. Why Military Art? Why call our subject “the military art” when nineteenth-century cadets studied
“Military Engineering and Science of War?” Carl von Clausewitz rejected the notion that war was
science because science aims at knowledge rather than at action. He preferred to see war as a creative art,
but objected that the inanimate objects upon which artists operate do not fight back. Clausewitz
concluded that war was actually “an act of human intercourse,” like card games, commercial transactions,
and politics (On War, 148-149). In the 1920s, the Soviet Army introduced the phrase “operational art” to
describe a specific new military doctrine to be employed at a level between tactics and strategy. In the
1980’s, when the U.S. Army embraced the idea of an operational level of war, it liked the idea of war as
art. While the course title reflects the notion that war is the creative employment of military resources to
achieve political objectives, Clausewitz is perceptive in insisting on treating war as a complex and violent
human interaction.

2. Fundamental Terms and Concepts: An important course objective is for each cadet to master the
fundamental terms and concepts of the military profession. Such mastery provides a common
language for professional discourse and a basis for analysis of military operations of the past,
present, and future. Many of the terms and concepts employed in HI302 come from the 2001 DOD
Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms amended in April 2010. Some terms are not used
today but remain important for understanding historical events and how military ideas have changed
over time.

3. Levels of War: The most fundamental of our terms and concepts is the “levels of war.” War is
a set of interconnected actions ranging from policy making at the national or coalition level to
fighting on the battlefield. We label the three basic levels of action in war the strategic, operational,
and tactical. In studying history, it is useful to remember that these labels are relatively recent and
change over time. Clausewitz’s distinction between tactics and strategy was a recent innovation in
military thinking, and the U.S. Army recognized the “operational level or war” only in 1982. The
strategic level is often divided into sub-levels such a “grand strategy,” “national strategy,” and
“military strategy.”

a. The Strategic Level of War: The Department of Defense currently defines strategy as “a
prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and
integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives.” Strategy is often
described as the orchestration of ends, ways, and means to achieve national objectives. In historical
terms, a strategic decision is one about the basic plan to win the war; it answers the question “what
am I going to do to my enemy to make him concede my objectives?”

b. The Operational Level of War: The DOD definition is “the level of war at which campaigns
and major operations are planned, conducted, and sustained to achieve strategic objectives within
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theaters or other operational areas. Activities at this level link tactics and strategy by establishing
operational objectives needed to achieve the strategic objectives, sequencing events to achieve the
operational objectives, initiating actions, and applying resources to bring about and sustain these
events.” Although the concept of an “operational level” of war had not been articulated during the
period covered in HI302, the phrase can still be used, carefully, to explore the problem of
connecting tactical actions with larger strategic plans.

c. The Tactical Level of War: The DOD definition is “the level of war at which battles and
engagements are planned and executed to achieve military objectives assigned to tactical units or
task forces. Activities at this level focus on the ordered arrangement and maneuver of combat
elements in relation to each other and to the enemy to achieve combat objectives.”

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Glossary of Key Terms

BATTLE: A battle consists of a set of related engagements that last longer and involve larger
forces than an engagement. See ENGAGEMENT.

CAMPAIGN: A related series of military operations aimed at accomplishing a strategic or


operational objective within a given time and space. Historically, a “campaign” was usually the set
of operations conducted by a field army within a single theater during a “campaign season,” i.e.
from spring through fall of one year.

CENTRAL POSITION: A force is said to occupy a central position when its operations diverge
from a central point and when it is therefore closer to separate enemy forces than the enemy forces
are to each other. The force having central position has the possibility of defeating the enemy
forces in detail [i.e. one at a time] but also runs the risk of being surrounding and destroyed by the
converging enemy forces. A force that occupies a central position typically has interior lines. See
INTERIOR LINES.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: Clausewitz introduced the idea that military forces have a "hub of all
power and movement, on which everything depends" and that destruction or neutralization of the
enemy center of gravity was the most direct, though not an easy, path to victory. Clausewitz
thought that the Center of Gravity was usually the main mass of the enemy field army, though it
could also, for example, be a capital city or the enemy commander. The current DOD definition of
COG is “The source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to
act.”

COALITION WARFARE: A war in which two or more nations unite for the common goal of
defeating another power or powers, usually through the conduct of combined operations.

COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT: Combat Service Support (CSS) encompasses activities at all
levels of war that generate and sustain combat power. It provides the essential capabilities and
performs the functions, activities, and tasks necessary to sustain all forces in theater. See
LOGISTICS.

COMBINED ARMS: The synchronized or simultaneous application of several arms, such as


infantry, cavalry, and artillery, to achieve an effect upon the enemy that is greater than if the enemy
were attacked by a single arm or multiple arms acting independently.

COMBINED OPERATIONS: Operations involving units from more than one nation.

COUNTERINSURGENCY: Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and


civic actions taken by a government to defeat an insurgency. See INSURGENCY.

CULMINATING POINT: Clausewitz argues that attacking armies lost strength at they advanced
and identified as the culminating point that point in time and space where the attacker’s effective
combat power no longer exceeds the defender’s or the attacker’s momentum is no longer
sustainable, or both (On War, 527-528). He believed that defending forces have a natural
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advantage in war but defense reaches a culminating point when time is no longer changing the
balance of combat power in their favor, e.g. because the invader is consolidating control over
occupied territories and exploiting their resources. At that point, the defender must seize the
initiative.

DECISIVE BATTLE: An old-fashioned term “decisive battle” popularized in 1851 by Edward


Creasy’s Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World (1851). It refers to battles whose effects have a
profound impact at the strategic level of war. Although not a doctrinal term, it is useful because
many commanders have in the past sought “decisive” battle and because it encourages us to think
about the nature of decision in warfare.

DOCTRINE: The DOD defines doctrine as “fundamental principles by which the military forces or
elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. It is authoritative but requires
judgment in application. By employing and training according to accepted doctrine, military
leaders ensure that soldiers at all levels have a common vocabulary, organization and procedures.

ENGAGEMENT: Historically, an engagement is a small tactical action between opposing


maneuver forces, usually conducted at brigade level and below. Engagements are usually short -
minutes, hours, or a day. Note that the current DOD definition of “military engagement” as an
alternative to fighting (“Routine contact and interaction between individuals or elements of the
Armed Forces of the United States and those of another nation's armed forces, or foreign and
domestic civilian authorities or agencies to build trust and confidence, share information, coordinate
mutual activities, and maintain influence.”)

ENVELOPMENT: See MANEUVER, FORMS OF.

EXPLOITATION: See OPERATIONS, TYPES OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS.

EXTERIOR LINES: A force operates with exterior lines when its operations converge on the
enemy. Normally this implies separated forces operating in cooperation but independently.
Successful operations on exterior lines generally require a stronger force, and pose the risk of defeat
in detail by the force operating on interior lines, but offer the opportunity to encircle and annihilate
a weaker opponent.

FRONTAL ATTACK: See MANEUVER, FORMS OF.

GENERALSHIP: The art of command at high levels involving strategy, operations, tactics,
logistics, and military leadership. Clausewitz argues that the essential qualities of the successful
generalship are vision, determination, and moral courage. These qualities, in addition to judgment,
can be sharpened by historical study.

GRAND STRATEGY: The development and application of the full range of instruments of national
power to achieve national objectives. “Grand strategy” also refers to the military strategy of a
coalition.

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GUERRE DE COURSE: The interdiction of sea lines of communications (SLOCs) through


destruction of the enemy’s maritime commerce.

GUERRILLA WARFARE: Military and paramilitary operations involving primarily actions by


small units operating independently and conducting missions such as patrols, ambushes, and “hit
and run” strikes on military posts or government facilities. The U.S. doctrinal definition of guerrilla
warfare is “military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by
irregular, predominantly indigenous forces,” but historically there have been many examples of
regular forces conducting guerrilla warfare.

INFILTRATION: See MANEUVER, FORMS OF.

INSURGENCY: An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government


through use of subversion and armed conflict. Historically, insurgencies are typically called either
“revolutions” or “rebellions,” depending mainly on whether or not they succeed.

INTELLIGENCE: The product resulting from the collection, evaluation, and analysis of all
available information about opposing forces or nations.

INTERIOR LINES: Describes the condition of a force that can reinforce or concentrate its
separated units faster than the opposing force can reinforce or concentrate. A force has interior
lines when it is in a central position relative to the enemy - unless the enemy can move laterally so
much faster than the force with a central position that it can concentrate or reinforce earlier. In the
latter case, the force without a central position is said to have interior lines as a result of superior
lateral communications. See CENTRAL POSITION.

LIMITED WAR: In the late twentieth century, a term for a war prosecuted by a belligerent who
voluntarily exercises restraint on its conduct of war, particularly with respect to means (not
mobilizing fully), methods (e.g. by declining to use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or by
taking deliberate steps to avoid collateral damage), or geographical area (e.g. by restricting military
action to a single nation, without making attacks across its borders into the territory of allies
supporting the enemy), and objectives.

LINEAR WARFARE: The standard tactical deployment in the early modern warfare. Armies
arrayed themselves parallel to one another in long, tight ranks in order to maximize firepower and
ensure command and control. The number of ranks, which depended on reloading time and armies’
proficiency at drill, ranged from ten in the early seventeenth century to two for the Prussians in the
eighteenth century. The difficulty of achieving “decisive” outcomes from such symmetrical tactics
has led to the misapprehension that “linear” war was deliberately “limited.”

LINES OF OPERATION: A term no longer used but of great historical importance. In the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, lines of operation defined the directional orientation of military
forces in time and space in relation to the enemy. They connected the force with its base of
operations and its objectives. An operation could have single or multiple lines of operation. See
INTERIOR LINES.

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LINES OF COMMUNICATIONS: The land, sea and/or air routes that connect a military force
with its base of operations and along which logistical support is provided. Note that this principally
concerns the movement of supplies, not of information.

LOGISTICS: Logistics is the provision, movement and maintenance of all services and resources
necessary to sustain military forces. See COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT. Logistics includes the
design, development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and
disposal of materiel; the movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel; the acquisition or
construction, maintenance, operation, and disposition of facilities; the acquisition of civilian labor;
and the acquisition or furnishing of services, such as baths, laundry, libraries, and recreation.

MAIN ATTACK: The principal attack or effort into which the commander throws the full weight
of the offensive power at his disposal (DOD).

MANEUVER, FORMS OF:

ENVELOPMENT: An offensive maneuver in which the main attacking force passes around or
over the enemy's principal defensive positions to secure objectives to the enemy's rear (DOD). See
also turning movement. Single envelopments maneuver against one enemy flank; double
envelopments maneuver against both.

FRONTAL ATTACK: An offensive maneuver in which the main action is directed against the
front of the enemy forces (DOD).

INFILTRATION: The movement through or into an area or territory occupied by either friendly
or enemy troops or organizations. The movement is made, either by small groups or by individuals,
at extended or irregular intervals. When used in connection with the enemy, it implies that contact is
avoided (DOD).

PENETRATION: In land operations, a form of offensive which seeks to break through the
enemy's defense and disrupt the defensive system (DOD).

TURNING MOVEMENT: A variation of the envelopment in which the attacking force passes
around or over the enemy's principal defensive positions to secure objectives deep in the enemy's
rear to force the enemy to abandon his position or divert major forces to meet the threat (DOD).

MOVEMENT TO CONTACT: See OPERATIONS, TYPES OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS.

OPERATION: The DOD recognizes two uses of the word. 1. A military action or the carrying out
of a strategic, operational, tactical, service, training, or administrative military mission. 2. The
process of carrying on combat, including movement, supply, attack, defense, and maneuvers needed
to gain the objectives of any battle or campaign. An overarching term for a military action or
combat, including movement, supply, attack, defense, and maneuvers needed to gain the objectives
of any battle or campaign. Operations is distinct from the operational level of war.

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OPERATIONAL LEVEL OF WAR: SEE THE LEVELS OF WAR: The Operational Level of
War, p. 5.

OPERATIONS, CATEGORIES OF:

COMBINED: Military operations involving the armed services of more than one allied nation.

COMPLEX CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS: Large-scale peace operations (or elements


thereof) conducted by a combination of military forces and nonmilitary organizations that involve
one or more of the elements of peace operations that include one or more elements of other types of
operations such as foreign humanitarian assistance, nation assistance, support to insurgency, or
support to counterinsurgency. Also called CCOs (DOD).

JOINT: Joint operations involve forces of two or more services (e.g. naval and army forces)
under a single commander.

STABILITY An overarching term encompassing various military missions, tasks, and activities
conducted outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of national power to
maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services,
emergency infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief (DOD).

OPERATIONS, TYPES OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS:

MOVEMENT TO CONTACT: A form of the offense designed to develop the situation and to
establish or regain contact. See also meeting engagement; reconnaissance in force.

ATTACK: An attack is an offensive operation that destroys or defeats enemy forces, seizes and
secures terrain, or both.

HASTY ATTACK: In land operations, an attack in which preparation time is traded for speed in
order to exploit an opportunity. (DOD)

DELIBERATE ATTACK: A type of offensive action characterized by preplanned coordinated


employment of firepower and maneuver to close with and destroy or capture the enemy (DOD).

SPOILING ATTACK: (DOD) A tactical maneuver employed to seriously impair a hostile attack
while the enemy is in the process of forming or assembling for an attack. Usually employed by
armored units in defense by an attack on enemy assembly positions in front of a main line of
resistance or battle position.

EXPLOITATION: An offensive operation that usually follows a successful attack and is


designed to disorganize the enemy in depth. See also attack; pursuit. (DOD)

PURSUIT: An offensive operation designed to catch or cut off a hostile force attempting to
escape, with the aim of destroying it. (DOD)

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OPERATIONS, TYPES OF DEFENSIVE OPERATIONS:

MOBILE: Defense of an area or position in which maneuver is used with organization of fire
and utilization of terrain to seize the initiative from the enemy. (DOD)

AREA: A defense which is conducted to deny the enemy access to specific terrain for a
specified time. The fortifications at West Point are representative of an area defense designed to
prevent British freedom of navigation on the Hudson River. Not a current DOD term.

RETROGRADE: Any movement of a command to the rear, or away from the enemy. It may be
forced by the enemy or may be made voluntarily. Such movements may be classified as withdrawal,
retirement, or delaying action. (DOD)

WITHDRAWAL: A planned retrograde operation in which a force in contact disengages from


an enemy force and moves in a direction away from the enemy (DOD).

DELAYING: An operation in which a force under pressure trades space for time by slowing
down the enemy's momentum and inflicting maximum damage on the enemy without, in principle,
becoming decisively engaged (DOD)

RETIREMENT: An operation in which a force out of contact moves away from the enemy
(DOD).

PENETRATION: See MANEUVER, FORMS OF.

PRINCIPLES OF WAR: After the First World War, the U.S. Army adopted nine “principles of
war” based largely on the writings of the French interpreter of Napoleon Antoine-Henri Jomini and
the British military theories J. F. C. Fuller. These principles were historically the bedrock of Army
doctrine. Although they are no longer a component of Army doctrine, they demonstrate an
important tool for analyzing and teaching the conduct of war. The U.S. Army’s nine “Principles of
War” were:

OBJECTIVE: Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive and attainable
objective.

OFFENSIVE: Seize, retain and exploit the initiative.

MASS: Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time.

ECONOMY OF FORCE: Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.

MANEUVER: Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of
combat power.

UNITY OF COMMAND: For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible
commander.
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SECURITY: Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.

SURPRISE: Strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared.

SIMPLICITY: Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough
understanding.

PROFESSIONALISM: A profession is an occupation that requires specialized knowledge of a


given field of human activity acquired through requires long and intensive training and education.
Professions are normally self-regulating, since laymen are not properly qualified to judge the
performance of professionals. Communities depend on the expertise of professionals like doctors,
lawyers, accountants, and soldiers and must be able to trust them not to exploit their special
capabilities and their relative freedom from outside oversight. Consequently, trust between the
professionals and their community is essential. Military professionals are experts in the
management of violence and must be dedicated to the good of the community rather than their own
profit. Note that these specific meanings of profession and professionalism are derived from the
history of the classic professions (especially Law and Medicine), and differ from the colloquial
meanings, which can use “profession” as a synonym for “job” and “professional” for “competent”
or even “well-behaved.”

PURSUIT: See OPERATIONS, TYPES OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS.

RESERVE: Portion of a body of troops that is kept to the rear, or withheld from action at the
beginning of an engagement, in order to be available for a decisive movement (DOD).

RETREAT: Though it is not officially recognized by U.S. Army doctrine, the term "retreat" is
often used generically in literature to describe any movement of a unit away from the enemy. The
term generally implies that the movement is forced by the enemy and is often characterized by a
high degree of disorder.

REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS (RMA): An RMA is a fundamental change in the nature


of warfare. Historians have suggested that an RMA comprises some or all of the following
elements: technological developments that are developed into practical military systems; doctrinal
(or operational) innovations that involve changes in ways of fighting; organizational adaptation
which often result in new military structures; and social, political, and economic developments.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: A method of war developed by Mao Tse-Tung during the Chinese
Civil War and the Chinese Communist Party’s guerrilla war against the occupying Japanese forces.
Revolutionary War is the tool of a militarily inferior side, often a colony struggling for
independence. Mao describes it as protracted, ideological struggle in which the objective is to
politicize the population and time is on the side of the revolution. Although Revolutionary Was is a
twentieth-century term, it offer valuable insights into prior events.

STRATEGIC CONSUMPTION: A term not used by Clausewitz but derived from his observation
that attacking forces diminish in strength as they advance into enemy territory due to the diversions
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of manpower imposed by the expansion of one's area of operations. The many causes of strategic
consumption include the need to defend of lines of communications, disease, desertion, and battle
casualties (see On War, 527).

STRATEGY: SEE THE LEVELS OF WAR: The Strategic Level of War, p. 6.

STRATEGY FORMS OF: Nineteenth-century German military historian Hans Delbruck argued
that military strategy came in two forms. Strategies of “annihilation,” practiced by Alexander,
Caesar, and Napoleon, sought final victory in a single, “decisive” battle. Strategies of “exhaustion”
integrated battle and maneuver according to military and political circumstances and over long
periods of time in order to erode the enemy’s resources and/or will to resist. In an age that
worshipped Napoleonic “annihilation,” Delbrück scandalized the German General Staff by
identifying their hero Frederick the Great as a skillful practitioner of exhaustion. After Delbrück,
some theorists distinguished a third form of strategy, “attrition,” which aimed to erode the enemy’s
combat power over time rather than in a single battle. Defined as “the reduction of the
effectiveness of a force caused by loss of personnel and materiel,” attrition is the only one of the
three forms of strategy recognized today by the Department of Defense.
The notion that there are exactly three forms of strategy such strategies as deterrence (central
to the nuclear age) and shock (as demonstrated by the decision to employ the atomic bomb against
Japan). Contemporary strategic discussions are not couched in such analytical terms, but, for the
purpose of understanding historically important arguments about strategy, the traditional HI301 and
HI302 definitions of the “forms of strategy” are as follows:

ANNIHILATION: A strategy which seeks rapid victory through the immediate destruction or
capture of the combat power of the enemy's armed forces, normally through a single, decisive
battle.

ATTRITION: A strategy which seeks, normally through fighting, the gradual erosion of the
combat power of the enemy's armed forces.

EXHAUSTION: A long-term strategy which seeks the gradual erosion of an enemy nation's will
or means to resist.

SUPPORTING ATTACK: An offensive operation carried out in conjunction with a main attack
and designed to achieve one or more of the following: a. deceive the enemy; b. destroy or pin down
enemy forces which could interfere with the main attack; c. control ground whose occupation by the
enemy will hinder the main attack; or d. force the enemy to commit reserves prematurely or in an
indecisive area (DOD)

SUPPORTING DISTANCE: A concept from Napoleonic warfare. The distance by which two or
more forces can be separated while retaining the ability to reinforce each other before any one can
be defeated individually. Supporting distance is estimated on the basis of terrain, relative mobility,
and relative strength.

TACTICS: See THE LEVELS OF WAR: The Tactical Level of War (p. 6.)

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TOTAL WAR: Total war normally refers to twentieth-century conflicts characterized by


comprehensive national mobilization, radical objectives, powerful ideologies, and with few
constraints on means. The phrase “total war” can also be used to measure the intensity of wars. No
war is “total” in the sense of mobilizing all of the belligerents’ resources and using every possible
method of struggle to achieve the complete destruction of the enemy.

TURNING MOVEMENT: See MANEUVER, FORMS OF.

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How to use the Course Notebook:

The Course Notebook is designed to facilitate your study of the history of the military art and
should be used in conjunction with the assigned readings. Experience suggests using the notebook
in the following manner and always in conjunction with the Course Syllabus, Schedule of Lessons,
and Selected Readings:

1. Use the “Course Schedule” to identify the assignment for the lesson. Locate that lesson in one of
your monographs, the Selected Readings, or on Blackboard. Open to the correct page in your
Course Notebook.

2. Use the Reading Introduction in the Selected Readings and the “Reading Notes” in the Course
Notebook to understand the nature of the assigned material. Identify the author and think about
what you know about him or her. The reading notes will help clarify points in the reading and
summarize sections not assigned.

3. The “Lesson Objectives” and “Study Questions” can help guide your reading. Consider how the
“Lesson Objectives” and “Study Questions” fit the Course and Subcourse Objectives.

4. If the “Terms and Concepts” are unfamiliar, look them up in the glossary and watch for them as
you read.

5. Read with your notebook open, referring to the “Lesson Objectives” and “Study Questions” to
keep focused. Take notes of the key points, especially those pertaining to the objectives.

6. After completing the reading, check that you have a good basic understanding of the “Lesson
Objectives” and record any questions that occurred to you as you did the reading. Bring these
questions up in class.

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Subcourse I: The First World War: At the conclusion of this subcourse cadets should be able
to:

(1) Understand how each combatant’s strategic aims and pre-war assumptions shaped the initial
operations of the war.

(2) Explain the strategies and major operations as planned and executed by the major
combatants during World War I.

(3) Analyze the causes and consequences of the stalemate on the Western Front and evaluate the
attempts at all levels of war—with, however, an emphasis on tactical and organizational
innovation and adaptation—to find solutions.

(4) Evaluate the political, social, ideological, and military reasons why major combatants
decided to either continue to prosecute or abandon the war after 1916.

(5) Understand the immediate legacy of World War I and how developments in the interwar
period helped create the conditions for World War II.

(Skill Based) Demonstrate factual recall and the ability to synthesize information in a well-
constructed, argumentative essay.

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Lesson 1: War Causation: The Origins of World War I

Assignment: HI302 Course Syllabus; Hew Strachan, The First World War, 3-31
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 1, 2, 15a

Reading Notes: Hew Strachan, one of the leading Western scholars on the First World War, notes
that the Balkans, “the most backwards corner of Europe, was where the First World War would
begin.”(4) The first chapter of Strachan’s book examines the geopolitical conditions under which
Austria-Hungary was struggling in the immediate pre-war years. A multinational empire, Austria-
Hungary sought to maintain stability among the hodgepodge of ethnicities within its borders while
simultaneously confronting growing nationalist sentiments. Desperate to contain the divisive forces
of nationalism at home while projecting an image of strength abroad, Austria-Hungary sought to
launch a punitive campaign against the Serbian state. In doing so, Vienna initiated a series of events
that undermined the European balance of power structure and brought the European powers into
war.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Introduce key ideas, methods, and terms employed in HI302.

2. Explore how perceived and real threats to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the immediate
pre-war years facilitated military escalation and war causation.

3. Explain how military alliances and diplomatic agreements influenced the potential for
general war in Europe in 1914.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Balance of Power

2. “Blank Cheque”

Study Questions:
1. How did a regional conflict escalate into to a full European war? How did Austria-
Hungary’s position as a regional and continental power affect this evolution?

2. Why was mobilization a critical element in decision-making and war planning?

3. What was the state of the Austro-Hungarian military in 1914? What were the major strategic
and operational dilemmas faced by its leaders? Did Austria-Hungary achieve any of its
military objectives in August and September 1914? Why or why not?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 2: 1914 – War Plans and Operations

Assignment: Hew Strachan, The First World War, 35-64


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 3-8

Reading Notes: Germany’s role in the initiation of hostilities in 1914 has long been a contentious
issue. This lesson examines Germany’s international status among the other European states and
considers why Germany’s assurances to Austria-Hungary created such alarm among the Triple
Entente powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia). This lesson further examines German and
French war plans developed in the pre-war years, as European powers seemed increasingly inclined
to resort to war to settle outstanding issues of conflicting national interests. Pay special attention to
the assumptions of both the Germans and Austro-Hungarians as they cemented their obligations to
each other on the eve of war and how their strategies complemented (and conflicted with) each
other.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand Entente perceptions of German power in 1914, as well as German observations
regarding the potential threat posed by Russia, Great Britain, and France.

2. Describe French war plans developed in case of war with Germany and the prevailing
strategic thinking that guided their formulation.

3. Describe how the combatants on the Western Front in 1914 implemented their respective war
plans, noting how each plan differed in execution from its original conception.

4. Explain the lasting importance of the Battle of the Marne in 1914.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Schlieffen Plan

2. Plan 17

Study Questions:
1. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the various war plans discussed (particularly the
Germans)? What were these plans designed to do and did they meet the expectations of those
who planned them?

2. Strachan claims that the First World War was “emphatically not a war without purpose.”
How do you evaluate this argument? What interests and ideologies were at work in 1914,
and how did they influence war plans and the conduct of operations?

3. Analyze 1914 on the Western Front at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. How did
the situation devolve from maneuver into stalemate?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 3: Peripheral Operations – Allied Strategies and the “Indirect Approach”

Assignment: Hew Strachan, The First World War, 99-127


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 19-21; 23

Reading Notes: Strachan’s fourth chapter examines the strengths and weaknesses of the Ottoman
Empire before and during the First World War. The chapter explains the Ottoman desire to reclaim
territories and international stature lost over the course of the 19th century and how the Ottomans
believed that a military alliance with Germany would achieve those ends. Strachan also examines
Allied operations in areas under Ottoman control (the Gallipoli campaign and operations in the
Middle East) and considers why the Allies decided to undertake “peripheral operations” outside of
Europe rather than committing more manpower and resources in hopes of breaking the stalemate on
the Western Front in France and Belgium. This lesson explores how the Triple Entente and the
Central Powers hoped to achieve strategic advantages against their enemies outside of Europe,
while simultaneously addressing the difficulties of trying to break the existing deadlock on the
Western Front.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand why the Turco-German alliance was forged.

2. Examine what drove the Germans and Entente powers to seek “indirect” strategic military
advantages against their enemies.

3. Illustrate how operations in the Gallipoli campaign and in the Mesopotamian, Caucasus and
Levant theaters compared to those fighting on the Western Front.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Armenian Genocide

Study Questions:
1. Describe the Ottoman Empire’s general situation at the outbreak of the World War. Why did
it eventually ally with the Central Powers? What strategic advantages or disadvantages did it
provide to the Central Powers?

2. From the Allied perspective, what were the goals of “peripheral operations” in areas such as
the Dardanelles, the Caucasus, and Mesopotamia? What did the Allies gain or lose as a
result of these operations?

3. How did religion and nationalism affect the war planning of the Allied and Central Powers
in theaters outside of Western Europe? To what extent was the British Empire a strength
and/or a liability for the Allies?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 4: The German Strategic Debate – The Eastern versus Western Fronts

Assignment: Hew Strachan, The First World War, 131-160


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 15a and 15b, 16-17, 11

Reading Notes: This chapter describes the war on the Eastern front in 1914 and 1915. Despite its
underestimation by German planners, Russia was able to mobilize forces and assume the offensive
against the Austro-Hungarians and the Germans in the east sooner than expected. Faced with a
stronger foe than it anticipated in East Prussia, the Germans nevertheless won an important victory
at the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914. Fresh from that victory General Erich von Ludendorff,
Germany’s greatest proponent for a mobile war of envelopment on the Eastern Front, found himself
at odds with the new German Chief of the General Staff, General Erich von Falkenhayn who
advocated redoubling German military efforts against the Allies on the Western Front. All the
while, both sides continued to seek additional allies to join their respective causes and to overpower
their enemies. The most notable of these sought-after allies was the Kingdom of Italy, which turned
its back on the Central Powers to join the Entente in 1915.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand Russian war plans leading up to the outbreak of World War I.

2. Understand the strategic disagreements among the German senior leadership concerning the
best prospects for decisive victory on either the Eastern (Ludendorff and Hindenburg) or the
Western (Falkenhayn) Front.

3. Understand the reasons why Italy chose to join the Triple Entente powers in a war against
Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Study Questions
1. Explain how the various Russian war plans in 1914 fit into the Allied strategic vision. What
deficiencies made these plans problematic?

2. Why was operational maneuver possible on the Eastern Front (such as during the campaign
culminating in the battle of Tannenberg) but not on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915?

3. Describe the basic German arguments in the Eastern versus Western Front debate.

4. Why did Italy join the Allied Powers? How was the Italian Front similar or different from
the Western and Eastern Fronts? What caused these differences?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 5: The Tactical Dilemma of Trench Warfare

Assignment: Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the Western Front, 20-44

Reading Notes: Improved weaponry of the early twentieth century not only increased battlefield
lethality but also vastly expanded the frontage that armies were capable of covering. As a result,
both sides on the Western Front established an unbroken chain of defensive entrenchments from the
English Channel in the north to Switzerland in the south. While massive trench networks provided
soldiers a measure of protection and mitigated the lethality of the early twentieth-century battlefield,
the abysmal living conditions led to disease and strained soldier morale. The lack of assailable
flanks challenged traditional notions of tactics and forced leaders to reassess what could be
accomplished at the tactical level of war. They also had to assess what level of leadership was best
suited for making tactical-level decisions. It is important to note that we will return to Griffith
during Lesson 7 to explore how different armies attempted to solve the problem of trench warfare
through tactical adaptation.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the challenges that the British faced in developing a unified tactical doctrine for
trench warfare.

2. Explain the role of railroads, road networks, and communications systems for both attacking
and defending trench systems.

3. Describe the capabilities and limitations of the weapons systems available to First World
War soldiers engaged in trench warfare from both the offensive and defensive perspectives.

Terms and Concepts:


1. “Storm of Steel”

2. Combined Arms Operations

Study Questions:
1. According to Griffith, why was it so difficult to hold or exploit gains made when an attacking
force successfully overran portions of an enemy trench?

2. How did the nature of trench warfare change the level at which tactical decisions were being
made?

3. How did problems in incorporating technological advances into military doctrine affect
combatants’ abilities to overcome the challenges of trench warfare?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 6: Breaking the Deadlock of 1916

Assignment: Hew Strachan, The First World War, 163-197


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 8-10

Reading Notes: Strachan’s sixth chapter illustrates the challenges associated with trench warfare on
the Western Front, particularly in 1915 and 1916. Significantly, trench warfare led to deadlock and
created a whole series of challenges at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.
Attacking and overrunning an enemy entrenchment across no-man’s land was a high-casualty
undertaking but could be accomplished under the right conditions. Following up on this initial
success proved much more problematic. By the offensives of 1915 and 1916, some commanders
questioned whether a breakthrough was even possible and suggested that battles designed to wear
down enemy forces were more likely to bring victory in the long run. Regardless of whether
commanders favored operations that sought breakthroughs or attrition of the enemy, the fighting in
1915 and 1916 called for unprecedented amounts of artillery fire which inflicted still greater
casualties and placed strains on home front production efforts.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Identify how the construction of massive trench networks affected the operational level of
war through an analysis of the Battles of the Somme and Verdun.

2. Further explore the fundamental problems of conducting offensive operations against enemy
trench networks at both the tactical and operational levels of war.

3. Explain how the logistical demands of trench warfare affected both the armed forces and the
home fronts of the various combatant nations.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Attrition

Study Questions:
1. Assess the risks and benefits of trench warfare for both attackers and defenders. How
did the battles of 1915 and 1916 demonstrate the potential and drawbacks of operations
on the Western Front?

2. What were the Germans trying to achieve in launching their offensive against the Verdun
salient? What did the Germans achieve (and lose) in this offensive?

3. What were the Allies trying to achieve in initiating the Battle of the Somme? How do you
assess the accomplishments of this offensive?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 7: Comparing British and German Tactical Adaptation

Assignment: Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the Western Front, 65-83


Timothy Lupfer, The Dynamics of Doctrine, 41-46

Reading Notes: The various combatants on the Western Front all sought doctrinal solutions to the
tactical problems of trench warfare. The specific ways in which each nation responded to these
challenges varied based on experience, technological advancement, and resources available. For the
British, battles like the Somme, although costly in lives, allowed the testing and incremental
perfection of techniques for successfully crossing no-man’s land and seizing enemy entrenchments.
For the Germans, the heavy casualties they had suffered at the hands of Allied artillery in 1916
caused them to reevaluate their defensive methods. The techniques used by both sides on the
Western front in 1917 looked very different from the conflict’s earlier campaigns.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Describe the evolution of British tactical doctrine for attacking enemy entrenchments.

2. Understand the importance of meticulous planning and good staff work for effectively
coping with the challenges of attacking enemy entrenchments.

3. Identify the principle components and methods of German infiltration tactics.


Terms and Concepts:
1. Infiltration Tactics

2. Elastic Defense

3. Creeping Barrage

Study Questions:
1. What were the most important lessons that the British learned from the Battle of the
Somme? How had the British approach to attacking enemy entrenchments changed by early
1917?

2. Why, even after the Battle of the Somme, did many British commanders still emphasize the
bayonet as the principle weapon of the British infantryman? Why did some commanders
discourage both the use of rifle fire and hand grenades?

3. How were German infiltration tactics different from the innovations developed by the
British through 1916? What factors account for these differences?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 8: Economic Warfare, War at Sea, and the American Entry into the War

Assignment: Strachan, The First World War, 201-230


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Map 22

Reading Notes: Because of the war’s global nature, the various combatants had to focus not only
on ground campaigns and operations but also on naval warfare, economic warfare, and the potential
entry of the United States into the war. With their surface fleet neutralized after the Battle of
Jutland, German leaders emphasized a new weapon in hopes of defeating their British enemy. The
introduction of submarine warfare led to significant challenges for the Entente and ultimately
brought the United States into the conflict. All the while, combatant nations struggled to meet the
demands on national resources and manpower that the war consumed at unprecedented rates. By
1917, the economic and social costs of sustaining national war efforts were taking noticeable tolls
on nearly all the combatants.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the effects of the war at sea on the course and outcome of World War I.

2. Evaluate the effects of the British blockade and German U-boat warfare on the various home
fronts and on national military strategies.

3. Understand the reasons for and implications of America’s decision to enter the war.

4. Understand the long-term consequences of the British blockade on German economic and
security attitudes and policies.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

2. Blockade

Study Questions:
1. What were the naval strategies of the British and German fleets? How did each country
attempt to integrate the employment of its navy and economic warfare into its overarching
national strategy?

2. What domestic considerations and conflicts within the German government led to the
decisions to conduct or suspend unrestricted U-boat warfare?

3. Why did the United States enter the war in 1917? What potential and actual contributions
did America offer its new allies when it entered the war?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 9: 1917 – Revolution

Assignment: Strachan, The First World War, 233-265


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Map 12

Reading Notes: While the entry of the United States into the war offered the Entente several
potential benefits, the Allied powers still had to contend with growing disenchantment over the war
both along the front lines and at home. The revolution in Russia and the revolt of the French army
in 1917 served warning that the war still could be lost before American entry tipped the balance in
favor of the Allies. Strachan notes the strains that the war imposed not only on Russian society but
also on the French army as well. Despite these pressures, the war effort continued unabated along
the Western Front and within the Italian Theater. It is worth asking why both sides continued to
fight in 1917 in spite of mutinies, revolutions, and ever-increasing casualty rates within their armies.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand how the strains of a protracted and devastating war affected the strategic choices
for the major powers in 1917.

2. Evaluate why armies continued to fight for national policy objectives after more than three
years of highly destructive war.

3. Understand how the Bolshevik Revolution created potential opportunities for the German
High Command and increased risks for the Entente in 1917.

Terms and Concepts:


1. 1917 French Army Mutiny

2. Bolshevik Revolution

Study Questions:
1. How were the major military campaigns conducted in 1917 different from those in 1914? To
what extent did Entente commanders continue to seek decisive breakthroughs and why did
they believe this was possible?

2. What are the key interrelationships between the home front and military operations?

3. Compare how Petain and Haig looked at the Entente’s strategic problems (and
opportunities) in 1917. Why did they come to different conclusions?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 10: 1918 – The Final Campaigns and Allied Victory


Assignment: Strachan, The First World War, 269-300
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Map 13

Reading Notes: The previous lesson largely concentrated on how the British, French, and Russian
political systems responded to domestic unrest at home and in the trenches. This lesson begins by
returning the focus to Germany and its allies in the final two years of the war. The final campaigns
of 1917 and 1918 demonstrated the difficulties of conducting coalition warfare and how national
interests often diverged within the Central Powers coalition. While the campaigns in the Middle
East came to a rapid conclusion with the collapse of the Turkish armies, tensions between Berlin
and Vienna continued to create obstacles for developing a coherent grand strategy among the
Central Powers. Still, the Brest-Litovsk treaty appeared to present an opportunity on which
Ludendorff sought to capitalize. The resulting spring 1918 offensive would be the final assault
made by the German army in World War I.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand how internal and external pressures affected Germany and its allies during the
final years of the war.

2. Understand the difficulties in balancing national and coalition interests when conducting
combined operations as part of a military alliance.

3. Evaluate how “peripheral” military campaigns fought in the Middle East in 1917
complemented or detracted from the final campaigns of 1918 in Western Europe.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Combined Operations

2. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

Study Questions:
1. How did problems in the Central Powers alliance affect Germany’s strategic options for
1918? Did Austria-Hungary’s alliance with Germany serve to protract the war beyond the
nation’s breaking point?

2. How did the British campaigns in the Middle East affect the remainder of the war?

3. What was the strategic, operational, and tactical logic behind the German offensives of
1918? How did vague objectives and faulty assumptions affect Ludendorff’s spring
offensive?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 11: World War I – Ending and Legacies

Assignment: Strachan, The First World War, 303-340


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 13, 14, 24

Reading Notes: This last chapter of Strachan’s work examines the final months of World War I. In
the wake of the Ludendorff offensives in the spring of 1918, the Allies initially adopted fairly
conservative plans to continue the war, hoping to bring to bear their economic potential and military
capabilities for final victory in 1919. Despite problems of integrating the American Expeditionary
Force into the allied war plans, the Entente increasingly was able to coordinate its attacks across the
breadth of the Western Front by the summer of 1918. Continued allied successes, along with
German instability on the home front, led to war termination in late 1918. The costs, however, had
been staggering. Nearly 10 million soldiers had been killed in the fighting, another 20 million
wounded, and an additional 20 million were killed by the Great Influenza pandemic. The war may
have been ended, but had the Allies achieved a sustainable peace?

Lesson Objectives:
1. Explain how World War I came to an end in the manner it did in late 1918.

2. Analyze the causes of the Entente’s success and the Central Powers’ defeat.

3. Examine the aftermath and consequences of World War I on national political systems,
military organizations, and populations.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Coalition Warfare

2. Versailles Treaty

Study Questions:
1. How well did each side react to the challenges of coalition warfare?

2. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in the
last six months of the war?

3. How did mass mobilization, technology, and military doctrinal changes contribute to the
final Entente offensives of the war?

4. Why does Strachan assert that the Allies had achieved victory but not peace in 1918?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 12: The Interwar Period

Assignment: Murray and Millet, A War to be Won, 18-43


Reading Notes: The twenty years between the end of World War I and the beginning of the Second
World War were characterized by uneven technological and organizational innovation by a variety
of nations, including Germany, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, Japan, Italy, and the United
States. This reading, the second chapter from Williamson Murray and Allan Millett’s single-volume
history of World War II A War to be Won, presents the various responses of the Great Powers to the
aftermath of the Great War. The authors employ a comparative approach to the period, contrasting
the “lessons” each of the powers took from World War I, followed by an assessment of ground, air,
and naval forces during the inter-war period. The organizational, doctrinal, and conceptual changes
that occurred between 1919 and 1939 go far in helping explain the incredible devastation of the
Second World War.
Lesson Objectives:
1. Evaluate how different nations assessed the outcome of World War I as they prepared for
future conflict.

2. Compare the doctrinal and organizational changes made by the armed forces of the major
powers in the aftermath of World War I.

3. Evaluate the concept of a revolution in military operations as used by Murray and Millet to
describe the interwar period.

Terms and Concepts:


1. “Stab in the Back” (Dolschtoss)

2. Deep Battle

Study Questions
1. What did the various Great Powers learn from their World War I experiences? Why did
different nations come to very different conclusions about the war’s outcome?

2. What were the major military changes between 1919 and 1939 that promised to affect
warfare on the land, on the sea, and in the air?

3. Murray and Millet argue that a number of armies embarked on war in 1939 and 1940 with
considerable weaknesses. What were those weaknesses, and how well had these armies
prepared to overcome such disadvantages in their planning?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 13: WPR

Assignment: Review Lessons 1-12

Study Guidance: The Written Partial Review will evaluate your understanding of the material
covered in the first subcourse. With that in mind, you should begin your preparation for the WPR by
reviewing the subcourse and lesson objectives. The examination will include objective questions
designed to test your understanding of concepts and events and a written essay related to the
subcourse objectives. Ensure that you understand your instructor’s expectations and standards for
what constitutes a solidly constructed and well-argued essay.

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Subcourse II: The Second World War: At the conclusion of this subcourse cadets should be able
to:

(1) Analyze World War II as an evolution of modern war based on your knowledge of World
War I.

(2) Summarize the strategies and operations as planned and executed by the Allies and the Axis
powers during World War II.

(3) Explain the conduct of coalition warfare to include the Allied and Axis execution of political
coordination, strategies, and operations in the European and Pacific theaters.

(4) Compare and contrast the conduct of both joint and combined operations by the Allies and
Axis in all theaters, addressing the interrelationship of sea, air, and land forces, as well as
the complexities of providing support to those forces in a global war.

(5) Evaluate how social, political, economic, and cultural factors influenced the way in which
all combatants waged World War II.

(Skill Based) Synthesize in writing the subcourse material by evaluating various samples of
historical evidence regarding a major World War II operation.

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Lesson 14: War Causation: The Rise of the Dictators and Origins of World War II

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 27-58


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 24, 25

Reading Notes: The primary work for the World War II subcourse is Michael Lyons’s World War
II: A Short History, now in its fifth edition. The book provides a general overview of the war based
on a synthesis of scholarly works on World War II. In the first two chapters, Lyons quickly covers
the history of the First World War and its legacy. The third chapter illustrates the emergence of
totalitarian regimes in the USSR, Italy, Germany, and Japan in the period between the World Wars.
Although they took different paths to power, Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and the
military leaders of Japan all took advantage of the political and economic situations they faced to
consolidate power within their respective nations. Lyons’ fourth chapter examines the road to war
in the 1930s as these dictators sought expanded power and influence beyond their borders through
the use or threatened use of military power. Unwilling or unprepared to stop the dictators, the
western powers finally recognized the threat they faced in 1938 and worked to buy themselves time
to better prepare for the war they feared was coming. On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded
Poland and two days later France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. World War II had
begun.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Explain how the dictators in Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR rose to power in the 1920s
and 1930s.

2. Summarize the major events which marked the road to war in 1939.

3. Understand the relationships between the rise of the dictators, the road to war, and military
developments during the interwar period.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Mein Kampf

2. Lebensraum

Study Questions:
1. Compare the rise of the dictatorships in Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR. Why did
totalitarianism develop in these countries, and how did these political systems influence the
road to war in the late 1930s?

2. How did Hitler’s racial views influence his foreign policy goals and the formulation of
German strategy in the late 1930s and early 1940s?

3. How did social, political, economic, and cultural factors influence the way the major Allied
powers dealt with the growing threat of war in the 1930s?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 15: Assessing German Operational Excellence

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 59-85


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 25-30

Reading Notes: Lyons opens Chapter 5 with a discussion on the differing approaches to war in the
late 1930s; it is worthwhile to compare his assessment to that of Murray and Millet from Lesson 12.
The German focus on offensive combined arms operations led to the widely used phrase
“blitzkrieg,” a term actually not found in contemporary German military doctrine or field manuals.
While leaders in the German armed forces prepared for a conflict they saw as increasingly likely,
Hitler successfully challenged the international system by announcing German rearmament (1935),
remilitarizing the Rhineland (1936), unifying politically with Austria and demanding the
Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia (1938), and occupying the remainder of Czechoslovakia (1939).
The German conquest of Norway in early 1940 followed, but quickly was overshadowed by the fall
of France in May and June. This string of victories opened a number of strategic possibilities for
Hitler and lent an aura of invincibility to the German war machine.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Summarize the German campaign in the West, from both a strategic and operational
perspective, from 1939 through the spring of 1940.

2. Explain how the campaigns in Poland, Norway, and France demonstrated both the strengths
and weaknesses of the German approach to modern warfare.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Blitzkrieg

2. Joint Operations

Study Questions:
1. What strengths and weaknesses of the German Wehrmacht were illustrated in the Polish and
Scandinavian Campaigns? What did Germany gain from the Scandinavian Campaign?

2. Why were the Germans successful invading France in 1940? How did the German
Wehrmacht reform after the 1939 Poland campaign?

3. How did German, French, and British decisions in the interwar years contribute to German
victories in 1939-1940?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 16: Britain Alone: The Battle of Britain and the Mediterranean

Assignment: Lyons, World War II: A Short History, 86-103


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Map 45

Reading Notes: By the summer of 1940, Germany stood victorious over Poland, Denmark,
Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France. The Soviet Union, ostensibly allied to Germany, offered
no immediate threat to the German eastern border while the United States, maintaining a neutral
stance to the European conflict, refused to join the Allied cause. With Britain failing to submit,
Hitler devised a plan to invade the British home islands. Success of this design rested on mastery of
the air over the English Channel, setting the stage for the much celebrated Battle of Britain. The
defeat of the German Luftwaffe led Hitler to seek accommodation with Britain as he secured
Germany’s southern flank for the upcoming invasion of Russia. By the fall of 1940, the scope of the
war had spread outside of Western Europe as British forces confronted the Germans in North Africa
and the Mediterranean.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the importance of the Battle of Britain to the eventual Allied victory.

2. Consider German and British strategic options after the fall of Western Europe.

3. Evaluate the strategic balance in 1940-41.

Study Questions:
1. On page 87, Lyons relates Hitler’s belief that “on land, I am a hero. At sea, I am a coward.”
Compare that to Napoleon’s statement: “Our armies are able to fight, especially now, with
advantage over all European armies. But on the sea…we must lower our flags.” 1 What do
these statements reflect about the unique challenges of projecting military power abroad?

2. How does the Battle of Britain compare to what was advocated by the airpower theorists
from your reading in Lesson 12?

3. How did alliances, or lack thereof, influence strategic thinking on both sides? As an
example, how did Italian actions in the Mediterranean Theater influence German strategy?

4. Were operations in North and East Africa strategically important or were they merely
distractions from the main theater?

1
Théodore Iung. Lucien Bonaparte et ses Mémoirs, 1775-1840: d’après les papiers déposés aux archives étrangèrs et
d’autres documents inédits (Paris: G. Charpentier, 1882), II, 160-61.
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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 17: Opening the War in the East: Barbarossa and the Holocaust

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 104-129


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 31-33

Reading Notes: This reading examines the origins, planning, implementation, and ultimate failure
of Operation Barbarossa—Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941—and his regime’s
implementation of a “New Order” in Nazi-occupied Europe. Central to these chapters is the role
Nazi ideology played not only in Hitler’s formulation of strategy but in the governance of the
occupied territories and the treatment of subject peoples, as well. Indeed, as Lyons makes clear, the
war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union witnessed a clash between political ideologies
and cultures which made it particularly brutal. In Chapter 10, Lyons explains how the operational
successes of the Wehrmacht, coupled with the weaknesses of the Red Army, led to catastrophic
losses for the Soviets during the early months of the war. The Soviet Union’s survival in 1941 and
1942 would prove to be one of the more important turning points of the war. Chapter 11 examines
the nature of Hitler’s regime, particularly in the countries conquered by Nazi armies, and how the
Fuhrer’s ideological policies were implemented throughout Europe. Central to these policies was
his brutal persecution of Europe’s Jewish population, which ultimately resulted in the extermination
of six million of them.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Investigate Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941 and understand those
factors that influenced the operational planning for Barbarossa.

2. Compare and contrast the military strengths and weaknesses of Germany and the Soviet
Union in 1941.

3. Understand the origins and nature of the Holocaust and how Nazi ideology informed the
conduct of operations on both sides.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Commissar Order
2. STAVKA
3. Final Solution

Study Questions:
1. Why did Hitler invade the Soviet Union? Which organization—the Wehrmacht or the
Red Army—was better prepared for war in 1941? Why?

2. What were Operation Barbarossa’s objectives? How and why did they change during the
course of the campaign? Why did Barbarossa fail?

3. How did Hitler’s ideological policies manifest themselves in Nazi-occupied Europe? How
did the implementation of these policies differ in Eastern and Western Europe?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 18: Pacific Theater I: From Pearl Harbor through May 1942

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 130-151


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 66-70

Reading Notes: The next two lessons explore the global conflict in the Pacific Theater of
Operations. While the main antagonists were Japan and the United States, this war unfolded within
the setting of fading European colonial empires. The German defeat of Holland, France, and the
near defeat of England, laid bare already strained European rule throughout Asia, including British
possessions in Malaya and Burma, French control of Indochina, the Dutch presence in the Dutch
East Indies (Indonesia), and even the American occupation of the Philippines. Following the attack
at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese spent the next six months conquering vast stretches of Asia from
Burma to the Gilbert Islands. These tremendous military successes in the first six months of the
war shattered the pre-war colonial structure and left an uncertain future in its wake.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Explain why the United States and Japan went to war in the Pacific.
2. Evaluate American and Japanese strategy in the early months of the Pacific War.
Terms and Concepts:
1. Lend-Lease Act
2. Germany First
Study Questions:
1. What were the origins and dimensions of Japanese strategy in the Pacific?
2. How did President Franklin D. Roosevelt manage America’s entry into the Second World
War? What domestic concerns did he have to balance with his growing anxiety regarding
foreign developments?
3. Why does Lyons assert that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a tactical victory for the
Japanese yet failed to achieve Yamamoto’s strategic objectives?
4. How do you explain Allied weakness in the Pacific Theater during the opening months of
the war?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 19: Pacific Theater II: Changing Initiatives

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 152-173


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 71-74

Reading Notes: The June 1942 Battle of Midway, often considered the turning point of the war in
the Pacific, underscored the ability of the United States to mobilize rapidly and fight a global war in
multiple theaters. The shallow tactical success of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor could not forestall an
American counterattack coming less than six months after the onset of hostilities. The June 1942
Battle of Midway, followed by the grueling six-month struggle for Guadalcanal in the Solomon
Islands in the South Pacific, illustrated what would become known as the “twin drive” strategy in
the Pacific Theater. This two-pronged strategy simultaneously combined the U.S. Navy’s Central
Pacific approach with General Douglas MacArthur’s offensive in the Southwest Pacific. The “twin
drives” not only demonstrated the American capacity for industrial mobilization but also revealed
the inability to solve underlying questions of strategy and command relationships.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand Japanese and American war strategy.
2. Understand the role of racial attitudes and their impact on the conduct of military operations.
Terms and Concepts:
1. “Twin Drive” strategy
Study Questions:
1. How did the American victory at Midway affect Japanese and Allied strategy?

2. If the Allied coalition’s grand strategy was “Germany First,” why did the Americans commit
so many resources to the war in the Pacific?
3. How did Operation Cartwheel set a pattern for future Pacific campaigns and—along with changes in
naval logistics—undermine the assumptions of Japanese strategy?

4. Describe the American command structure for waging war in the Pacific. How effective was
it?
5. How did racial prejudices influence the conduct of fighting in the Pacific?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 20: The Eastern Front: From Stalingrad through Kursk

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 174-186


Glantz and House, When Titans Clashed, 154-159
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 34-41

Reading Notes: Although Operation Barbarossa ended in December 1941 with a Soviet winter
counter-offensive, the Germans remained strong enough to resume the attack in the summer of
1942—though certainly not in the strength of a year earlier. The German 1942 offensive,
culminating in the epic Battle of Stalingrad, laid bare the fundamental flaws of Hitler’s strategy in
the east. By July 1943, when the Germans launched their final offensive, Citadel, against the Kursk-
Orel salient, it became increasingly clear that the Soviets had recovered fully from their initial
losses in 1941 and had improved their operational capabilities in regards to intelligence, logistics,
and planning. The Soviet defeat of the Citadel offensive destroyed the offensive capability of the
Wehrmacht, though the daunting task of pushing the Germans out of the Soviet Union still
remained. With no cross-channel invasion in 1943, the Soviet Union bore the brunt of ground
combat for the Allies and went far in preparing the way for a successful Anglo-American assault of
France in 1944.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the fundamental flaws in German strategy for the Eastern Front in 1942 and
1943.

2. Evaluate the maturation of Soviet operational art in 1942 and 1943.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Deep Operations
Study Questions:
1. Why was Stalingrad so important to both the Germans and the Soviets if it is true, as Lyons
argues, that the city was “not a vital objective?”

2. How did the German inability to secure victory on the Eastern Front in 1942 shape Allied
strategy across all theaters?

3. How significant was the battle of Kursk and why?

4. How did the battles at Stalingrad and Kursk demonstrate the growing capabilities of the Red
Army?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 21: “Sideshows” and Allied Strategy

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 187-207


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 45-47

Reading Notes: While Hitler conquered Western Europe and assaulted the British Isles, Mussolini
concentrated on expanding the regional influence of Italy. Mussolini’s poorly planned and executed
campaigns in North Africa and the Balkans forced Germany to commit valuable military resources
to protect its ally as well as its southern flank. American entry into the war prompted a reevaluation
of Allied strategy and emphasized differences between the British and American partnership. While
the Americans favored a direct cross-Channel attack, the British advocated for an invasion through
North Africa to the “soft underbelly” of Europe.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Consider Allied and Axis strategies in the aftermath of the Battle of Britain.

2. Understand why Britain (and later the United States) adopted an African-Mediterranean
strategy in 1941-42.

3. Evaluate the shift in strategic balance after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the
American declaration of war on Germany.

4. Evaluate leadership during the North Africa, Sicily, and Italy Campaigns.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Ultra
2. Second Front
Study Questions:
1. What were General Erwin Rommel’s accomplishments in North Africa through 1943? How
was he able to do achieve his operational objectives? How did Montgomery defeat Rommel
in the Western Desert?

2. Why did the Allies decide to invade North Africa, and then continue on to Sicily and Italy,
instead of concentrating all resources on a future cross-channel attack?

3. How did Allied operations in North Africa and the Mediterranean fit into the overall Allied
strategy, especially given Stalin’s push for the Americans and British to open a “second
front?”

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 22: Battle of the Atlantic, Strategic Bombing, and the Home Front

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 210-245

Reading Notes: A common theme connecting the three chapters in this lesson is the mobilization of
the home front to produce and distribute the war materials necessary for victory. In Chapter 19,
Lyons details the naval war in the Atlantic which centered on the German effort to force Britain out
of the war by using U-boats to destroy its overseas economic lifeline to its colonies and the United
States. In Chapter 20, Lyons examines the Allied effort to destroy German industry and break their
morale through the use of strategic bombing. Finally, in Chapter 21, the author introduces the
concept of total war, the “close interrelationship between a nation’s economy, its technology, and
the mobilization of its civilian population for the purpose of winning the war,” as he examines the
home front in Germany, Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, and Japan.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Describe the Battle of the Atlantic and understand its importance to the outcome of the war.

2. Summarize the Allied strategic bombing campaign and understand its effects on the German
and Allied war efforts.

3. Understand how social, political, economic, and cultural factors influenced the way the
major powers mobilized for war on the home front.
Terms and Concepts:
1. Total War
2. Strategic Bombing
Study Questions:
1. Why was it important that the Allies win the battle of the Atlantic? What role did joint and
combined operations play in the Allied victory over the U-boats? How did the German U-
boat campaign of World War II compare with that of World War I?

2. How successful was the Combined Bomber Offensive in World War II? Was the strategic
bombing effort worthwhile?

3. Compare how the major powers mobilized their populations and resources for war. What
factors account for any similarities and differences?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 23: Research and Writing Period

Assignment: Following the guidance provided by your instructor, use this time to work on your
research paper and your role in your section’s World War II colloquium for Lesson 24. You should
also use this time to begin reading your assignment from Hastings’s Overlord.

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Lesson 24: Normandy Campaign Colloquium

Assignment: Hastings, Overlord, pages to be determined by your instructor

Lesson Notes: Following the guidance provided by your instructor, this lesson will focus on an
aspect of VII Corps’s campaign in France during the spring and summer of 1944. You will receive
specific instructions from your instructor during Subcourse I. Take note that your research paper for
Subcourse II will be tied directly to the events you will study in this lesson.

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Lesson 25: 1944-1945—The End in Europe

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 246-270


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 51-65

Reading Notes: Two guiding principles of Allied grand strategy were “Germany First” and
“unconditional surrender.” The Allies understood that these required a cross-channel invasion and
occupation of the German homeland. The Soviets had long demanded a second front in order to
relieve pressure on the Red Army. In June 1944, the Allies finally invaded France and drove to
Germany’s border. By the summer, the Allies had initiated almost simultaneous offensives on the
Eastern and Western fronts as well as in Italy. The Combined Bomber Offensive had broken the
back of the Luftwaffe, permanently granting air superiority to the Allies. The United States and the
Soviet Union now dominated the Allied coalition relegating Britain to a subsidiary role. As the
Western Front slowly collapsed, the Soviets began the last battle at Berlin in April, 1945. Allied
forces met at the Elbe on 25 April 1945 and Germany surrendered on 8 May.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Assess Allied combined and joint operations during the Normandy campaign.

2. Evaluate the arguments over Allied strategy in the aftermath of Operation Cobra in 1944.

3. Evaluate the contributions of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union to the
final defeat of Germany in 1945.

Terms and Concepts:


1. “Broad-Front” versus “Single-Thrust” Strategy
Study Questions:
1. What were the most important factors leading to the success of Operation Overlord in 1944?
Why was the breakout from the beachheads so difficult?

2. What were the key arguments of the “broad-front” versus “single-thrust” strategic debate in
the summer of 1944? What difficulties does this argument demonstrate about waging
coalition warfare?

3. What evidence supports Lyons’s claim that it “would appear that the Germans had already
lost the war on the Eastern Front…long before the Western Allies landed in France?” What
evidence would contradict this claim?

4. How did logistics, terrain, and weather affect the ground maneuver of Allied Forces during
the final campaigns in Europe?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 26: End in the Pacific and Assessing Allied Victory

Assignment: Lyons, World War II, 279-294


Overy, Why the Allies Won, 314-325
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 75-81

Reading Notes: In the Pacific Theater, the United States continued its “twin drive” strategy with
Admiral Nimitz driving through the Central Pacific and General MacArthur moving along the coast
of New Guinea toward the Philippines. Although prewar Japanese planning had envisioned a major
naval battle in the Central Pacific, the 1944 battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf did not go
as the Japanese expected. As land-based B-29s began bombing Japan, and American submarines cut
Japan’s line of communications to the Southern Resources Area, joint Allied forces brought the
island-hopping campaign closer to the Japanese Home Islands with invasions of Iwo Jima and
Okinawa. By the summer of 1945, Japanese industry had few raw materials remaining to sustain the
war effort. As planning for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan, continued, the tremendous
capital expended in the quest to build the atomic bomb finally achieved results in July 1945. Since
the final battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa demonstrated the Japanese will to resist to the very end,
few Americans favored a bloody ground campaign when the atomic bombs suggested a cheaper
path to victory. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki appeared to facilitate Japanese surrender
on 2 September 1945, yet the reasons for Allied victory in World War II surely were more complex.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand what determined American objectives in the Pacific in 1944-1945.

2. Evaluate the American reasons for using the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

3. Assess the reasons for Allied victory in World War II.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Manhattan Project
Study Questions:
1. Compare American and Japanese strengths and weaknesses in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945.

2. What were the reasons for development and use of atomic weapons in the Pacific?

3. What strategic decisions and assumptions did the belligerents make in the Pacific Theater in
1944 and 1945? How did these decisions affect the course and outcome of the war?

4. Why did the Allies win?

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Lesson Notes:

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Subcourse III: The Cold War and Post-Cold War Era: At the conclusion of this subcourse
cadets should be able to:

(1) Explain and evaluate the conduct of “limited” warfare as illustrated by the conflicts in
Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.

(2) Summarize the major strategies, operations, and tactics planned and executed by belligerents
and their allies in the conflicts studied.

(3) Examine how the United States has searched for a practical and effective national military
strategy in the post-World War II, nuclear era.

(4) Compare and contrast interpretations of historians and contemporary actors in explaining the
course, conduct, and outcome of wars since 1945.

(5) Evaluate how non-Western cultures have adapted to the methods of Western warfare after
World War II.

(Skill Based) Evaluate in writing the value of a personal memoir for understanding the conduct
of war while developing an appreciation for the human experience in war.

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Page Intentionally Left Blank

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Lesson 27: The Advent of the Cold War and US Strategic Doctrine

Assignment: Biddle, “Shield and Sword” in Bacevich, The Long War, 137-164

Reading Notes: This chapter excerpt is from an edited collection of essays about American national
security policy since 1945. Biddle, an expert on strategic air power, explores the idea of “strategic
forces” applying coercive force over long distances. After the Second World War, American
policymakers believed this an important element of national security as the Grand Alliance had
collapsed and the US-USSR “marriage of convenience” dissolved over irreconcilable differences.
Tensions within the alliance already had developed during the war itself as both the US and the
Soviet Union sought to shape a post-war world that favored their respective systems; consequently,
the results of those efforts invariably magnified differences in power, ideology, and interests.
Fearful of an uncertain future, both nations competed over the next four decades to expand their
ideologies through spheres of influence, alliances, economic supremacy, and military strength.
Nuclear weapons and technology played a central role in nearly every aspect of that competition.
Although never directly engaging each other in war, the specter of a US-Soviet nuclear
confrontation underscored each superpower’s respective national military strategies and domestic
policies. This lesson analyzes how the US developed its strategic doctrine within this context of the
Cold War’s first two decades.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Trace the evolution and understand the development of US strategic doctrine during the first
two decades of the Cold War.

2. Compare US strategic doctrine during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy


administrations.
Terms and Concepts:
1. National Security Council Paper Number 68 (NSC-68)
2. The New Look
3. Flexible Response

Study Questions:
1. Following World War II, what assumptions did US policymakers make in formulating
America’s strategic forces and doctrine?

2. How did America’s strategic doctrine evolve during the Truman administration and what
were the key influences on that evolution?

3. In what ways did the Eisenhower administration change US strategic doctrine from the
Truman years and why did these changes occur?

4. Did the Kennedy years represent a continuation of or departure from the strategic doctrines
of Eisenhower and Truman?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 28: The Korean War – The Military and Political Implications of “Limited War”

Assignment: Millet and Maslowski, For the Common Defense, 508-513; 520-527
Ridgway, The Korean War, 227-241
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 82, 83

Reading Notes: The Communist invasion of South Korea in 1950 seemed to confirm the warnings
of those in the U.S. government who assumed that the Soviets sought world domination. Despite
global efforts by the Truman administration to contain the appeal and spread of communism via the
Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO, the US and Soviet Union had maintained a
tenuous co-existence. Ironically, with an immense US focus on protecting Europe from the spread
of communism, war broke out in Asia as communist North Korea invaded non-communist South
Korea. The Korean War significantly altered the course of the Cold War for the US as it magnified
the perception of monolithic communism, hardened the ideological rift between east and west, and
validated the military/political/economic/diplomatic recommendations set forth in NSC-68. It also
challenged America’s fundamental concepts of proper civil-military relations in the execution of the
war. The selection from For the Common Defense provides a historical narrative of the Korean
War, while the excerpt from General Ridgway’s memoirs provides a different first-hand account.
As you read, think about how these two sources are similar and different and what that can tell us
about the nature of war and history.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the initial reasons for going to war in Korea and how American war aims
changed during the conflict.

2. Assess the nature and effects of civil-military relations during conflict.

3. Analyze and assess the performance of US and coalition forces during the war.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Limited War
2. Collective Security
3. United Nations Command (UNC)

Study Questions:
1. Why did America go to war in Korea in 1950? Do Millet and Maslowski agree with
Ridgway on the reasons?

2. What were America’s initial war aims? Why did they change during the conflict? Are Millet
and Maslowski in agreement with Ridgway on these issues?

3. According to his memoirs, what is Ridgway’s philosophy regarding civil-military relations?


What was his opinion on Truman’s relief of MacArthur?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 29: The Strategy of Revolutionary War

Assignment: Davidson, Secrets of the Vietnam War, 17-26


Duiker in Werner, Huynh (eds) The Vietnam War, 24-35
Fall, Last Reflections on a War, 218-223

Reading Notes: In addition to longstanding historical and cultural divides between North and South
in Vietnam, the Vietnamese also have claimed a long tradition of overthrowing foreign
oppressors—including the Chinese, Japanese, French, and Americans. During their resistance
against the French, the Vietnamese developed a concept and strategy of revolutionary war: dau
tranh, meaning “struggle.” This lesson focuses on the origins of that strategy and how it evolved
over time. The first piece by LTG Phillip Davidson, the MACV G2 under William Westmoreland,
provides a theoretical framework for understanding the concept of Vietnamese “revolutionary war,”
which he claims is central to understanding the root of American failure in Vietnam. The chapter by
William Duiker traces the development of the Vietnamese revolutionary war strategy in the South
by analyzing Vietnamese documentary sources. The final selection from journalist and scholar
Bernard Fall’s book Last Reflections on a War was first published in 1967 shortly after the author’s
death that year (he was killed by a landmine in South Vietnam). In this article, Fall addresses the
subversion of South Vietnam through nonmilitary means.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the theoretical underpinnings of “revolutionary warfare” as conceived and
employed in Indochina.

2. Understand the challenges of foreign powers countering a strategy of revolutionary warfare.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Dau tranh

2. Revolutionary Warfare

Study Questions:
1. How did the North Vietnamese adapt Maoist concepts to their own conflict with France in
the late-1940s and early-1950s? How did this strategy evolve over time?

2. According to Davidson, what are the six “inevitable characteristics” of Vietnamese


Revolutionary War strategy? Are these immutable laws?

3. How did proponents of revolutionary warfare define the relationship between military and
political revolution?

4. To Fall, what were the primary indicators for success and failure in South Vietnam in the
late 1950s? What was the biggest impediment to American success in Vietnam?

5. How does each author’s experience (officer, scholar, and journalist) affect his argument and
conclusions?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 30: Vietnam War Overview

Assignment: Millet and Maslowski, For the Common Defense, 570-601


West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 84-88

Reading Notes: This lesson is structured somewhat differently from other HI302 lessons, which
tend to treat discrete chronological time periods. Instead, this lesson aims at giving you a broad
overview of American involvement from Vietnam, from 1961-1975. Additionally, you should recall
the last lesson, which gave you an overview of Vietnamese revolutionary war strategy (and hinted
at American responses) between 1945-1965. Together, these lessons provide a foundation for
further study of the Vietnam War; they should give you a common set of facts, events, terms, and
people from which to build argumentative and interpretive claims. Then, the next three lessons will
focus on specific aspects of the war, namely the ground war, pacification, and explaining American
defeat in Vietnam. Each of the topical lessons covers this same basic chronological period and is
focused on reading, analyzing, and evaluating different interpretations of the Vietnam narrative.
Ultimately, the question that remains for many historians is “Why did the United States lose in
Vietnam?”

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand a traditional narrative of American involvement in Vietnam.

2. Establish a foundation for evaluating interpretations of the American experience in Vietnam.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Rolling Thunder
2. Tet Offensive
3. Vietnamization

Study Questions:
1. What were the primary reasons for American involvement in Vietnam? What were the
primary forms of indirect involvement (e.g., monetary aid, support for the Diem regime)
and direct involvement (e.g., advisors, ground forces) in Vietnam?

2. What were the most important turning points of the Vietnam War according to this
narrative? Why was each of these events significant in determining the course or outcome
of the war?

3. After reading the Millet and Maslowski chapter, and using information from Lesson 29,
what answer would you propose to the question “Why did the U.S. lose in Vietnam?”

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 31: Interpretations of the Ground War in Vietnam

Assignment: Krepinevich, The Army and Vietnam, 164-177


Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, 174-187, 200-202

Reading Notes: The selections for this lesson contain two conflicting arguments about the proper
course of American strategy in Vietnam. Andrew Krepinevich, a graduate of West Point and
former USMA instructor, argues that General William Westmoreland, commander of Military
Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) wrongly decided on a strategy of attrition, choosing to
fight the enemy’s “big units” rather than focus on the South Vietnamese population, which
Krepinevich saw as the true center of gravity in the conflict. General Westmoreland counters
Krepinevich’s argument by stating that pacification and population-centric operations were not
feasible or prudent until the enemy’s main forces—which he terms “bully boys”—were no longer a
threat. This lesson touches on a number of subcourse objectives, chief among them the differing
interpretations of historians and contemporary actors in explaining wars since 1945.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the arguments of both Andrew Krepinevich and General William Westmoreland
with regard to American strategy in Vietnam.

2. Compare and evaluate the credibility of each argument.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Strategy of Attrition
2. Combined Action Platoons (CAPs)

Study Questions:
1. Did the United States adopt a strategy of attrition in Vietnam or was Westmoreland’s
approach more comprehensive than merely killing enemy forces?

2. What was General Westmoreland’s strategic plan for winning the war in Vietnam? Why
does Krepinevich disagree with this approach? Whose argument is more convincing?

3. How did the 1st Cavalry Division’s actions in the Ia Drang Valley “validate” General
Westmoreland’s concept of operations?

4. To what extent did the Marines achieve success with Combined Action Platoons (CAPs)?

5. What do these conflicting arguments tell you about the historical process, memoirs, and
press accounts of war in general?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 32: Interpretations of Pacification and the Enemy

Assignment: Birtle, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency, 387-407


Sorley, A Better War, 217-219, 224-226
Summers, On Strategy, 83-91

Reading Notes: The three authors collected for this lesson have different relationships with the U.S.
Army and the Vietnam War. Their perspectives on pacification and on counterinsurgency methods
used during the Vietnam War contrast in a variety of ways. Andrew J. Birtle, a historian at the U.S.
Army Center for Military History, provides an overview of MACV’s pacification policy from 1965-
1973. Lewis S. Sorley, a 1956 graduate of West Point who served in Vietnam at the company level
in 1966-1967, is an ardent supporter of Creighton Abrams. While Birtle covers pacification under
both Westmoreland and Abrams, Sorley concentrates on the pacification policies in the war’s later
years and even argues the war had been won by 1970. Finally, Harry G. Summers, Jr. served in
Vietnam as a battalion, and later a corps, operations officer. In this chapter from his influential book
On Strategy, Summers presents a counterpoint to Sorley’s appraisal of American counterinsurgency
operations and pacification efforts. Pacification played a vital role in American strategy, for most
commanders serving in Vietnam appreciated the political-military context of the war. As you read
through these interpretations of the pacification effort consider the difficulties of implementing a
policy aimed at securing the population and linking the people to a central government while
simultaneously combating both regular and irregular forces.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the U.S. Army’s attempts at pacification in Vietnam under both William
Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams.

2. Evaluate the competing interpretations of the nonmilitary aspects of the Vietnam War.
Terms and Concepts:
1. Nation building
2. Vietnamization
3. Pacification

Study Questions:
1. How did the U.S. Army’s doctrine of pacification aim to reestablish responsive government
in the South Vietnamese countryside? What factors impeded this goal?

2. How do you assess Sorley’s claim that the war was won in late 1970? What evidence does
he draw upon to support this declaration?

3. Summers contends that the war was caused by aggression from North Vietnam rather than
an insurgency in the South. Is it an accurate portrayal of the enemy threat that Americans
and their South Vietnamese allies faced during the war? If true, what does Summers’s
interpretation mean for the American pacification effort?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 33: Interpretations – Politics, the Home Front, and Explaining Defeat

Assignment: Hess, Vietnam: Explaining America’s Lost War, 179-204

Reading Notes: This final lesson comparing interpretations of the Vietnam War concentrates on the
two conflicting explanations for the war’s outcome: the “lost victory” of revisionists and the
“neither peace nor honor” of orthodox historians. Those subscribing to a revisionist understanding
of the war assume that there was a military means to achieve an independent, non-communist South
Vietnam. Orthodox historians believe otherwise, assuming that the political-military balance of
forces rendered that objective virtually unattainable. In this chapter, Hess focuses on the efforts and
strategy of President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger from 1969-1973.
American policymakers, along with military leaders in Vietnam, struggled to disengage from the
war while maintaining US credibility abroad. Lacking a tangible victory as in World War II, Nixon
and Kissinger promised to bring “peace with honor” in Vietnam as they focused their foreign policy
efforts on détente with China and the Soviet Union. As the war in Southeast Asia came to an
unsatisfying end for the Americans in 1973, many questioned whether the effort and resources
expended had been worth the sacrifice.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand revisionist and orthodox interpretations of the Vietnam War.

2. Understand how the politics of the home front affected the military and diplomatic
conclusion to the war.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Détente
2. Revisionism
3. Orthodoxy

Study Questions:
1. What is the strongest argument for each of the following interpretations of the war’s final
years—“lost victory” or “neither peace nor honor?”

2. What are the flaws that each school of thought—revisionism and orthodoxy—finds in the
analysis of the other?

3. How can a single event—for example, the incursion into Laos in 1971—feature so
differently in opposing interpretations of the war? What does this say about using historical
evidence to support an argument?

4. Looking back over the past lessons on Vietnam, how do policymakers and military officers
determine what comprises “victory?” Do such definitions change over time? If so, why?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 34: Research and Writing Period

Assignment: Following the guidance provided by your instructor, use this time to work on your
paper and your role in your section’s discussion on Herrington’s memoir during Lesson 35. As you
read and work on your paper, refer to the lesson objectives and study questions for Lesson 35.

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 35: History and the Role of Memoirs

Assignment: Herrington, Stalking the Vietcong, all

Reading Notes: Lieutenant Stuart Herrington served as a military intelligence officer in Vietnam in
1970 doubting that the United States could achieve its objectives. His mission, as part of the
Phoenix program, was to neutralize the National Liberation Front (NLF) cadre by capturing or
killing communist political organizers within the villages of Hau Nghia province, northwest of
Saigon on the border with Cambodia. As you read, consider that Herrington was an adviser—he did
not command American troops. Also keep in mind the period and the military and political context
in which he was operating—two years after Tet as American forces had already begun to redeploy
from South Vietnam. American withdrawals were well underway, and probably irreversible, despite
the invasion of Cambodia in May 1970. Some historians, such as Lewis Sorley, have argued that
pacification was going well—that the government of South Vietnam controlled most of the villages
and the countryside—but Vietnamization had not yet faced a severe test. This memoir provides a
first-hand account of the challenges American advisors faced in prosecuting a counterinsurgency
campaign against a battered yet determined enemy.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Reflect on the value a personal memoir offers for understanding the conduct of and human
experience within war.

2. Appreciate the challenges and demands of counterinsurgency at the village or tactical level.

3. Appreciate challenges of coalition warfare and cultural interaction.

4. Comprehend the relationships between strategy and tactics, between ends and means, in
counterinsurgency and in the American war in Vietnam.

Study Questions:
1. How effectively did Herrington confront the challenges of operating within another culture?

2. How did Herrington assess his own effectiveness, that of his unit, and of his allies? What
did he consider most difficult in his duties? What did he consider the greatest obstacle to
success?

3. How, and how effectively, did Herrington deal with the moral challenges and dilemmas of
his duties? How did Herrington develop as an officer during his tour in Vietnam?

4. How does Herrington’s experience inform your understanding of American operations in the
final years of the Vietnam War? Based on reading Herrington’s’ account, how do you assess
the US goals of sustaining an independent, noncommunist South Vietnam?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 36: The Legacy of Vietnam – Rebuilding an Army

Assignment: Birtle, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency, 477-484


Willbanks in Wiest, Barbier, and Robins (eds), America and Vietnam, 271-286

Reading Notes: After expending over a decade of effort—and more than 55,000 American lives—
the United States left Vietnam in early 1973. Within two years, the Government of South Vietnam
fell to the People’s Army of Vietnam and the People’s Liberation Armed Forces. Although it has
been over thirty years since the end of the conflict, significant historical and professional debates
about the war, its conduct, and its outcomes remain. The Birtle reading is the final chapter in his
examination of the US Army and counterinsurgency in the twentieth century. The chapter subtitle,
“The Great Retreat: Counterinsurgency in the 1970s,” captures well the army’s attitude in the post-
Vietnam era toward the study and practice of unconventional warfare. James Willbanks’s piece
explores why the army turned away from counterinsurgency in its quest to reorient itself towards
the Soviet threat in Europe. Tracing technological, educational, doctrinal, and organizational
change, Willbanks provides a succinct review of the US Army’s response to the long shadow of the
Vietnam War and, according to many officers, its vindication in the Persian Gulf War.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand the effects of the American defeat in Vietnam on American military institutions
and practices during the 1970s and 1980s.

2. Appreciate how armies distill “lessons” from their recent combat experiences and how they
use those experiences to prepare for future war.

Terms and Concepts:


1. 1973 Arab-Israeli War
2. “Active Defense” versus “Deep Battle”

Study Questions:
1. What reasons does Birtle give for the “gradual disappearance of counterinsurgency” from
US Army training and education schedules in the wake of the Vietnam War?

2. Which events and people most influenced the US Army in the 1970s and beyond as it
reformed after the Vietnam War?

3. What were the collective psychological and social effects of the American defeat in
Vietnam? How did these consequences affect American military institutions and practices
and the relationship between the American population and its armed forces?

4. What effects did the US Army’s interpretation of the Vietnam War have on its
understanding of the role of military force in foreign policy?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 37: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan

Assignment: Baumann, “The Soviet-Afghan War,” 1-27

Reading Notes: This reading is an excerpt from Robert Baumann’s 1993 monograph Russian-Soviet
Unconventional Wars in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan. As Baumann demonstrates,
the United States was not the only superpower to enter into a bloody and complicated insurgency
during the Cold War. In 1979, the Red Army invaded Afghanistan to “offer support” to the
Democratic People’s Republic of Afghanistan. Ten years later, a bloodied Red Army left
Afghanistan after fighting a conflict against a hardy band of guerillas that forced the Soviets to fight
a very different war than what they had expected. Although the Red Army initially sought to fight a
conflict similar to those they had prepared for—high-tempo, high-speed, mechanized warfare on the
Northern European plain or the Manchurian plateau—the Soviets had to expend extraordinary
efforts to protect their fragile lines of communication and reorient their focus. The Red Army had to
re-structure, re-organize, and re-train its formations all the while fighting a brutal counterinsurgency
campaign.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Evaluate the various political, diplomatic, economic, and military objectives for Soviet
involvement in Afghanistan.

2. Understand the phases of conflict in Afghanistan and how both the Soviets and the
Mujahedeen adapted to their enemies during the course of the war.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Mujahedeen
Study Questions:
1. What were the USSR’s objectives for involvement in Afghanistan?

2. What was the Soviet Union’s strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan? How did this
strategy change over the course of the war? Did the USSR achieve any of its strategic aims?

3. How did the Mujahedeen prosecute the war against the Soviet and Afghan armies? What
were the key difficulties encountered by Soviet and Afghan forces in combating the
Mujahedeen?

4. How did Soviet tactics evolve throughout the war? What does this reading suggest about
non-western cultures and how they adapted to warfare during the Cold War era?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 38: Waging War in the Post-Cold War Era


Assignment: Black, War Since 1945, 143-160
Clark, Waging Modern War, 3-13
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 89-91

Reading Notes: The Cold War came to an end between the collapse of the Berlin Wall and
unification of East and West Germany in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Though complicated—especially when nuclear weapons were considered—the superpower
confrontation of the Cold War provided a sense of predictability and stability in the world. When
the Cold War ended in 1991, American policymakers and military officials searched for a coherent
strategy during the next decade. The reading from historian Jeremy Black exemplifies the disjointed
nature of conflict in the post-Cold War era. The US Army fought a conventional war in Iraq,
conducted humanitarian relief in Somalia and Haiti, and performed peacekeeping operations in the
Balkans. General (Retired) Wesley Clark, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe at the time, led
the 1999 Western intervention in Kosovo. His commentary on “modern warfare” is worth
contemplating, as it offers a glimpse into changing conceptions of war at the end of the twentieth
century.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand how both policymakers and military officers understood modern war and
strategy in the post-Cold War era.

2. Analyze the utility of force by evaluating selected campaigns of the 1990s.

Terms and Concepts


1. “Ethnic Cleansing”
2. “Deterrence” versus “Compellence”

Study Questions
1. Under what conditions did the US decide to deploy military force in the post-Cold War era?
What were the political, strategic, and operational limits once the US decided to use force?

2. According to Black, what were the chief difficulties for American policy-makers in the
1990s in developing a coherent military strategy that could replace the paradigm of Cold
War containment?

3. For Clark, what defines “modern war” and how is it different from wars waged during the
Cold War? How do you assess Clark’s views on the idea of “decisive force,” especially in
the context of the post-Cold War era?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 39: The Global War on Terror and Beyond

Assignment: Black, War Since 1945, 160-175


Kagan, Finding the Target, 360-373
West Point Atlas for Modern Warfare, Maps 92-95

Reading Notes: The United States’ self-proclaimed “Global War on Terror” in the wake of al
Qaeda’s attacks on 11 September 2001 provided a certain focus to the US armed forces. Still, the
search for a new world order proved just as frustrating as in the 1990s. While technological
advances offered immediate advantages to American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the
character of the wars in which those forces fought demonstrated undeniable limits to the utility of
conventional military might. Black’s reading provides a summary of initial combat operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq, discusses recent ideas in Western military thought, and briefly recounts recent
and ongoing conflicts in Africa and Asia. In the excerpt from Finding the Target, Frederick Kagan,
a former faculty member from the West Point History Department and current resident scholar at
the American Enterprise Institute, analyzes the U.S. Army’s attempts to transform itself in the
opening decade of the twenty-first century.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Understand how the “War on Terrorism” reflects both continuity and change in the
American conception of war.

2. Understand the concept and implications of “regime change war.”

3. Identify the challenges inherent in “transforming” the U.S. Army for future conflict.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)
2. Transformation
3. Stability and Support Operations (SASO)

Study questions:
1. Summarize the initial objectives and campaigns during US operations in Afghanistan (2001-
2002) and Iraq (2003). How did these objectives and campaigns spark debate about the US
Army’s force structure and mission?

2. What are the potential implications of the United States conducting regime change wars in
the twenty-first century? How do such wars fit with your understanding of jus ad bellum?

3. How is Black’s use of the term “Revolution in Military Affairs” related to Kagan’s
argument on military transformation?

4. What are some of the prevalent trends in recent conflicts in the “Third World” of Africa and
Asia?

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Lesson Notes:

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Lesson 40: The Era of “Enduring Conflict”

Assignment: Clausewitz, On War, 170-174


2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 9-18

Reading Notes: The first reading re-introduces you to an excerpt from Carl von Clausewitz’s On
War that you read on your first lesson of the History of the Military Art last semester. Keep
Clausewitz in mind as you read the selection from the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, in which
the Department of Defense suggests that the armed forces of the United States are facing a new kind
of war. As you complete your eighty-lesson course in the history of your profession, reflect back on
Clausewitz’s thoughts about war and the use of history in studying war. After spending the past
academic year studying military history, how has your understanding of war changed?

Lesson Objectives:
1. Reflect on the role of military history in your preparation as an officer in the United States
Army.

2. Evaluate the concept of “enduring conflict” as it pertains to an understanding of military


history and of your future role in the U.S. Army.

Terms and Concepts:


1. Long War

Study Questions:
1. How has a reading of history shaped the Department of Defense’s understanding of present
and future conflict?

2. How can you use the frameworks offered by Clausewitz in On War to think about the
changes and continuities in warfare over the past 350 years? Can you use these frameworks
to think about modern or future warfare, as well?

3. What have you learned from this course that could increase your understanding of the on-
going conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and your role as a professional army officer?

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Lesson Notes:

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