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Final Exam



Course Objectives and Content

Course Themes

Course Process and Standards

Strategy & Policy Department Faculty

Faculty Seminar Assignments

Typical Weekly Schedule


Case Aids

Case Studies


The Process of Strategy Making

The Process of Strategy Making 

1. The Policy/Strategy Match.  What were the political objectives of the belligerents? Was military force the best means to achieve these objectives or were other means at least as promising?  If the option of force was selected, were policy limitations placed on its use? If so, were these limitations so stringent as to reduce the chances of success?  Were the political goals clearly articulated and understood?  Did the political aim call for the removal from power of the enemy’s regime or for a more limited objective?

 How valuable were the political objectives to the belligerents? Were the costs and the risks of the war anticipated and were they commensurate with the benefits and rewards to be achieved?  How carefully were alternative strategies considered?  What assumptions did statesmen and military leaders make about the linkage between the achievement of military objectives and the achievement of political objectives?

2.  Intelligence, Assessment, and Plans.  How reliable and complete was the intelligence collected prior to the war?  How accurately was it interpreted, and how well were its limits understood?  Was a serious effort made to analyze the ‘lessons’ of previous wars and if so how did this influence the making of strategy?

 Was strategy based upon an objective net assessment of friendly and enemy strengths and weaknesses?  Was account taken of the possibility of non-rational behavior by the enemy or of the existence of differences in culture, political systems, and strategic traditions?  Did military leaders and statesmen correctly predict the nature of the war on which they were embarking? 

  What did planners identify as the center or centers of gravity of the enemy?  Or did other concepts guide planners in their choice of what to attack?  To what extent did plans rely upon strategic deception and surprise?  Did planning make adequate allowances for the fog, friction, uncertainty, and chance of war?

3.  The Instruments of War.  Did political and military leaders understand the capabilities of the different forms of military power at their disposal in terms of their strategic effects as well as operational effectiveness?  Did strategists properly take into account operational, logistical or other physical constraints on the deployment and employment of the available instruments of war?

 Did strategists understand how to integrate the different forms of military power in the most strategically effective way?  Did those in command of the different instruments of war share a common set of assumptions about how the use of force would translate into the achievement of the political objective?  What limitations prevented one side or the other from attaining an optimal integration of the different forms of military power?

 Did a strategy exploit opportunities created by technological innovation? Did a country’s strategy effectively translate asymmetries in technology into a strategic advantage?   Was there a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) prior to or during the war, and if it occurred, did its tactical and operational consequences produce lasting strategic results?

4.  Interaction and Adaptation.  Was the initial strategy implemented as anticipated, or were the prewar plans disrupted by unexpected enemy action? What effects did interaction with the enemy have on the nature (and the perception of the nature) of the war?  Was one side able to make its adversary fight on its preferred terms? If not, how well did strategists adapt to what the enemy did?  If the initial strategy proved to be successful, did that strategic success drive changes, whether wise or ill considered, in political objectives?   Alternatively, if the initial strategy proved to be unsuccessful or too costly, was there a timely reassessment of either or both political objectives and strategy?  How, and how well, were policy and/or strategy adapted as a result?

5.  War Termination.  In taking the first steps into war, and during its progress, did strategists consider what the last steps could, or might, be?  Were there realistic opportunities for a successful end to the war that were not grasped?  Did the commitment of one side to removing the enemy’s leadership from power result in a longer war and heavier casualties? 

 Did the winning side carefully consider how far to go militarily at the end of the war? In an attempt to maintain military pressure on its adversary, did it go beyond the culminating point of victory?  Or did the winning side not go far enough militarily to give the political result of the war a good chance to endure?  Did the winning side carefully consider what specific political demands to make on the enemy in fulfillment of its general political objectives?  Did the postwar settlement meet the political objectives of the winning state, or states?  Were the long-range consequences of the peace terms recognized?  To what extent did the stability or instability of the settlement stem from the nature of the settlement itself?  Did the winning side maintain the strength and will to enforce the peace?