Napoleon and the Dawn of Operational Warfare

Martin van Creveld

in The Evolution of Operational Art

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599486
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595806 | DOI:
Napoleon and the Dawn of Operational Warfare

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This chapter demonstrates that the emergence of campaigns, made possible by a certain size of military formations, in essence opened the way for the operational level of war, operational warfare, and operational art. The complexity of campaigns, especially those that took place along broad fronts and covered large distances, accentuated the role of effective control, which, in turn, brought into play a new dimension of warfare. The historical factors that ushered the operational dimension into the world were the French Revolution and the levee en masse, and the man who presided over its birth was Napoleon Bonaparte. The revolution in military affairs owed very little to technology per se; it was a result of ‘the God of War’ combining the corps d'armée system and imperial headquarters with the principle of the ‘directed telescope’.

Keywords: Napoleon Bonaparte; French Revolution; levee en masse; operational warfare; operational art; directed telescope; corps d'armée; God of War; Grande Armée

Chapter.  14032 words. 

Subjects: International Relations ; Political Theory

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