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Archive for September, 2018

Surprise and deception in war (Carl von Clausewitz expanded)

Posted by Picard578 on September 17, 2018

This is an expansion of Chapters 9 (Surprise) and 10 (Deception) of Clausewitz’s Book 3 of “On War”.


3.9. Surprise

Surprise is a key factor in war, for without it there is little possibility of achieving superiority at the key point. Other than being a tool for superiority, it is also useful by itself due to its psychological impact. Successful surprise causes confusion and breakdown of the opponent’s command and psychological structures. Surprise itself can be tactical, operational, strategic, political or even grand strategic, but regardless of the level it is based on two key factors: speed and secrecy. Both require great energy and serious character. While in theory surprise makes it easy to achieve decisive successes, in practice there are always factors such as friction and chance which may reduce its impact. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Friction In War – Carl von Clausewitz Expanded

Posted by Picard578 on September 9, 2018

Here I took observations of Carl von Clausewitz on friction (just reading through his book “On War”), and expanded on them.


War is simple, but the simplest thing is hardest. Various acters and factors in war produce other acters and factors, and also with their interaction produce friction. There are many things that cannot be predicted; things that should not happen but do; things that should have happened but did not. While each circumstance by itself may be too small to even consider, together they add up. Each level of authority adds another layer of friction, and confusion and dangers of war only increase probability of it happening. Most effects of friction cannot be predicted; effects of weather, disease, confusion, mechanical failures; they all cause friction of some kind. Organization itself causes friction: differing doctrines and culture can cause friction when operating with allies. Because of these various types of friction, any undertaking in war is like moving in a fog or a deep mud. Further, each war is full of individual characteristics and events which change its nature; one of primary qualities of a general is recognizing that friction. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in doctrine, history | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Spanish Army of the Thirty Years’ War

Posted by Picard578 on September 3, 2018

Art of Warre

Modern impression of a tercio by artist Cabrera Peña. Source: magazine Desperta Ferro!

During the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries Spain was the dominant continental power of Europe. Its main strategic assets were (1) its American, Italian and Flandrian possessions, (2) the family ties and alliances of its Habsburg rulers, and (3) its military establishment. As a wargamer I will concern myself only with the infantry, cavalry, dragoons and ordnance.

1. The infantry

Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, engraving 1513

The core of the Spanish army was the infantry, and the core of the infantry were the shock troops called tercios. The tercio developed around 1530 out of an earlier batlefield formation, the coronelía, a 6000-strong unit of pikemen and harquebusiers with some halberdiers and sword-and-buckler men thrown in. The coronelía had been the answer to the double threat which Spain had encountered in the Italian wars: the Swiss Gewalthaufen (pike blocs) and the French heavy cavalry…

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