Chapter

Operational Art and Britain, 1909–2009

Hew Strachan

in The Evolution of Operational Art

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599486
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595806 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599486.003.0005
Operational Art and Britain, 1909–2009

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This chapter examines the origins, development, and implications of operational art in the British armed forces. The Field Service Regulations of 1909 represented the first official attempt to encapsulate this approach within operational art. Nonetheless, establishment of doctrine remained an anathema, and without it operational art was driven by tactics rather than by strategy. This, according to the author, was a key reason why the British army tended to perform poorly at the operational level in the Second World War. When the operational level of war re-emerged in Great Britain during the 1980s, it was accompanied by doctrine for the first time. The linkage between doctrine and operational art was inspired less by the US army's response to Vietnam than by responses to Soviet and German practice and theory going back to lessons from the First and Second World Wars.

Keywords: British; policy; strategy; tactics; operational art; doctrine; principles of war; J. F. C. Fuller; Basil Liddell Hart; First World War; Second World War

Chapter.  21555 words. 

Subjects: International Relations ; Political Theory

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