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Paper No.4

The Dynamics of Doctrine:
The Change in German
Tactical Doctrine During the
First World War

by Timothy T. Lupfer

Combat Studies Institute
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

JULY 1981

Leavenworth Papers are published by the Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-6900. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Department of Defense or any element thereof. Leavenworth Papers are available from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

Leavenworth Papers US ISSN 0195 3451


This latest Leavenworth Paper is a case study in the wartimes evolution of tactical doctrine. Previous publications of the Combat Studies Institute have examined the peacetime development of doctrine and have increased our knowledge of how doctrine has been applied. Wit the publication of Captain Lupfer's study, "The Dynamics of Doctrine," the Combat Studies Institute adds another dimension to the history of the processes of doctrinal change.

Besides providing a summary of German Infantry tactics of the First World War, this study offers insight into the crucial role of leadership in facilitating doctrinal change during battle. It once again reminds us that success in war demands extensive and vigorous training calculated to insure that field commanders understand and apply sound tactical principles as guidelines for action and not as a substitute for good judgement. It points out the need for a timely effort in collecting and evaluating doctrinal lessons from battlefield experience.

Finally, this study reminds us of yet another fundamental lesson from the past-that tendencies toward accepting the battlefield as a routine can be a deadly error. Altering previously accepted tactics in the middle of a struggle, as the author points out, is a very urgent and serious matter. As members of the Profession of Arms, we must be sensitive to the demands of change, visionary in our examination of their implications, and creative in our adaptation of combat organizations, tactics, and techniques.

Lieutenant General, USA

Colonel William A. Stofft
John F. Morrison Professor of military history
Dr. David Syrett
Combined Arms Center Historian
Dr. Roger J. Spiller
Chief, Research Committee
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth A. Steadman
Research Fellows
Major Charles E, Heller
Dr. Edward J. Drea
Dr. William G. Robertson
Chief, Teaching Committee
Lieutenant Colonel David M. Glantz
Teaching Fellows
Major Thomas W, Sweeney
Major Philip W. Childress
Captain Patrica B. Genung
Captain Jonathan M. House
Sergeant First Class Robert R. Cordell
Chief, Historical Services Committee
Dr. Lawrence A. Yates
Research Librarian
Elizabeth R. Snoke Editor Alice M. McCart Staff Major Richard H. Barnes Sergeant First Class Nelson C. Rogers Mrs. Peggy K. Barrett Mrs. Debra M. Henderson Miss Tracy Searles