Strategic Leadership and War

Julian Lindley-French

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Strategic Leadership and War

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Strategic leadership in war concerns the achievement of national political aims and organization of all national means to that end. In the wake of France's disastrous defeat in the Seven Years War the Comte de Guibert posed two questions: How to do better next time? Could war be fought in a different way? He offered four prescriptions. First, to succeed in war required a truly national effort beyond the purely military because the armed forces of France's coalition enemies would always be more numerous. Second, although somewhat quaint to contemporary Western thinkers, general conscription was essential. Third, sound logistics was a prerequisite for success and must be designed for the war at hand. Fourth, military flexibility was critical, with armies moving as independent formations. Above all, Guibert believed morale was vital—not just military morale but that of the wider nation. In effect, Guibert was addressing a very modern problem—how to organize large means in pursuit of even larger ends and sustain the effort through inevitable setbacks.

Keywords: strategic leadership; war; national means; political organization; logistics; military flexibility

Article.  6456 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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