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strategy and tactics

Introduction

strategy and tactics, in warfare, related terms referring, respectively, to large-scale and small-scale planning to achieve military success. Strategy may be defined as the general scheme of the conduct of a war, tactics as the planning of means to achieve strategic objectives. Not all theorists of war make this a primary distinction. In the Chinese and Japanese traditions processes and paradoxes are emphasized more than categories (see Sun Tzu). Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military theorist, who was influenced by Niccolo Machiavelli, described strategy as the planning of a whole campaign and tactics as the planning of a single battle. In Clausewitz's theory all military strategy is part of the larger political pattern, and all the nation's resources are to be subordinated to the task of attaining the political objective of the war; to this concerted effort he gave the name "grand strategy." Antoine H. Jomini, an influential Swiss military theorist and general, regarded strategy as the art of moving forces to the field of battle and tactics as the conduct of forces in battle. Another school views strategy as a means of bringing the enemy to battle and tactics as the means of defeating him in battle. Some theorists focus on clear sets of general principles; some wrote books on principles, formations and maneuvers; and still others dwell on the importance of spirit or other intangibles.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Military Affairs (nonnaval)


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