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Clausewitz and Jomini

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Gabrielle Nelson

on 13 March 2017

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Transcript of Clausewitz and Jomini

Clausewitz and Jomini
Background and Life-
Carl Phillip Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian soldier and scholar. He came from a middle-class social background, though his family claimed noble origins. He served as a practical field soldier, with extensive combat experience against the armies of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, as a staff officer with political and military responsibilities at the centre of the Prussian state, and as a prominent military educator. Clausewitz rose to the rank of Major-General at 38, and wrote a book which has become the most influential work of military philosophy in the Western world.
Military thinking and ideas-
Clausewitz was a professional combat soldier who was involved in numerous military campaigns; however he is famous primarily as a military theorist, interested in the examination of war. He paid close attention to the campaigns of Frederick the Great and Napoleon. He wrote a systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects. The result was his principal book, On War, a major work on the philosophy of war.

Clausewitz introduced orderly theoretical consideration into Western military thinking, with powerful implications not only for historical and analytical writing but also for practical policy, military instruction, and operational planning. He relied mostly on his own experiences, contemporary writings about Napoleon, and on deep historical research.
He rejects the Enlightenment's view of the war as a chaotic muddle and instead explains its drawn-out operations by the economy and technology of the age, the social characteristics of the troops, and the commanders' politics and psychology.

In On War, Clausewitz sees all wars as the sum of decisions, actions, and reactions in an uncertain and hazardous context, and also as a socio-political occurrence. He also stressed the complex nature of war, which includes both the socio-political and the operational and stresses the primacy of state policy.
Background and Life-
Antoine-Henri, Baron Jomini (6 March 1779 – 24 March 1869) was a Swiss officer who served as a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war.
He served in the Austerlitz and Prussian campaigns, then in Spain. He finally received an actual staff commission in the French army at the request of Napoleon a while after Austerlitz.
According to the historian John Shy, Jomini "deserves the dubious title of founder of modern strategy." Jomini's ideas were a staple at military academies.
Military thinking and ideas-
The early campaigns of the French Revolution had, inspired Jomini's search for scientific principles underlying successful warfare.
His continued fame rests on his now-classic 1836 Précis de l'art de guerre, which supports the use of large land forces, speed, manoeuvrability, and the capture of strategic points during battle. Jomini's work remained influential with military leaders throughout the 1800s.

Jomini's military writings are frequently investigated; he took an educational, rigid approach, reflected in a detailed vocabulary of geometric terms such as bases, strategic lines, and key points. His operational prescription was fundamentally simple: put superior combat power at the decisive point.
The most important elements in Jomini's work stressed the ideas that war should be treated as a science where the key to victory was a strategy controlled by 'invariable scientific principles'.

Jomini's ideas were not a theory of war; they were a theory of deployment. His basic ideas include interior and exterior lines, the decisive point, concentration of strength against weakness, annihilation of the enemy force, the primary importance of the offensive, and the potentially decisive role of logistics.
Influence on the development of military thinking, strategy and tactics-

His theory serves not as a model, but a guide, for strategy creation, which suggests how, to think about strategy.
The timelessness of Clausewitz's theory is his most long-lasting influence; it forms a frame of reference and a point of departure for any analysis of strategy. Clausewitz therefore applies strong intellectual influence on Prussian, French and British military thought before World War I.

Clausewitz's point about seeking out the enemy's centre of gravity resulted in these armies "idolizing" the decisive battle and developing the cult of the offense.
More recently, the rediscovery of Clausewitz in the US following its Vietnam War defeat inspired a strategic rethinking "on the highest levels of the military and political leadership".

Clausewitz saw the defence as the stronger means. He embraces the moral importance of the attack, however, he believed the first stage of war may be to wait until the enemy exhausts himself, rather than going straight to the attack.

He has left to later generations a structure for successful strategy establishment, if strategy concerns employing "military means to achieve policy ends".
Claudia and Gabrielle
'The Fascinating Trinity'
Wunderliche Dreifaltigkeit
Clausewitz believed war was "a fascinating trinity”—composed of primitive violence, hatred, and hostility, which are to be viewed as a "blind natural force; the play of chance and probability, within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and its element of subordination, as a mechanism of policy, which makes it subject to reason."
Influence on the development of military thinking, strategy and tactics-
Jomini reflected Napoleon in agreeing that the object of strategy was the destruction of the enemy army. However by his choice of the lines of operation, a general could command the theatre of war and force the enemy to leave the zone rather than give battle.

Jomini saw the line of operations as being strongly linked with the base and the marching capabilities of the army as to have direct strategic implications. The unity between line and base ensured the safety of the general's own communications while he threatened the enemy's.

Experience had shown that field defences were the preferred method of defence when protecting troops from the destructive firepower of modern weaponry. This led to increasing use of trenches, particularly in world war one and world war two.

His basic ideas have become part of the training of the U.S. Army today in the form of the 'Principles of War', which may be thought of as simplifying his theory.
Jomini as the classical theorist of deployment has had enormous influence on modern ground services as we have seen. He would also influence theorists of naval and air deployment in the use of technologies that in Jomini's day had not yet been contemplated.

"Jomini's influence on military thinking was huge and lasted long after his death; for many military men, Jomini was the translator of the secrets of Napoleon's genius. If Napoleon was the god of war, wrote Antoine Grouard, then Jomini was his prophet". - Sainte-Beuve
Fundamental Differences Between the Two Theorists
Jomini's aim was practical and his tone educational. His writing thus appealed more readily to military educators. Jomini focused far more on the art and mechanics of battle tactics.

Clausewitz was much more focused on the psychological dynamics of war.

Much of the contrast between Jomini and Clausewitz can be traced to philosophical factors and to the frequent synopsis of On War, making it appear more abstract than Jomini's work when in fact they often discussed the same practical subject matter.

Despite his insistence that theory must be descriptive rather than prescriptive in nature, Clausewitz frequently provides instructive discussions of common military problems.

Significantly, in contrast with Clausewitz, Jomini had little concern with political implications.

The primary difference between the two is that Jomini's work focused more on the operational aspects of military management, while Clausewitz's work focused on the abstract, psychological aspects of military management.
Similarities between Clausewitz and Jomini
Their individual views were strongly influenced by the Napoleonic wars and Prussian military doctrine. Like Clausewitz, Jomini observed firsthand the upheaval of the French Revolution and the dramatic events that molded history during the Napoleonic period.

Clausewitz and Jomini's military careers were similar in many respects. They were both early students of strategy and relied on similar observed experience to develop their theories.
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