By Peter Johnson
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We know intuitively that this is not the case. An F-22 stealth air strike has a qualitative difference when it engages its target, as opposed to, say, a cavalry brigade. Both may kill or destroy the target, and the cavalry brigade is no doubt less expensive, but the manner in which one wages war always makes a political statement. In the United States’ Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, for example, the decision not to put ground troops at risk was roundly criticized by political and military commentators who claimed that it rendered the massive air campaign impotent.
2 It is no doubt presumptuous to attempt another one, more so an authoritative and encompassing definition of strategy. But without doing so, I am at an impasse. No one definition of the term is alone useful as an embarkation point for my investigation. It would be arrogant to abandon the wisdom of the past, however, and so my modest definition of strategy, a plan for continuing advantage, is drawn from insights offered by grand masters of strategy. Once again, I turn first to Clausewitz, whose magisterial On War set the standard for all works of military theory that follow.
Strategy 19 T H E E L E M E N T S O F S T R AT E G Y ‘uses the success of each battle and builds on it. The demands of strategy fall silent in the face of a tactical victory; strategy adapts to the new situation. ’10 The emphases in this statement are mine. Moltke is often admonished for his advocacy of maximum military control of armed force in war, that is, with the absolute minimum of political interference, and I must concur with the assessment—though I think it is a harsh and unsophisticated reading.
An Illustrated History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway by Peter Johnson