Lessons To Be Learned From The Study Of Warfare

1457 words - 6 pages

New and innovative ideas have proven to be instrumental in lifelong learning but there is a great deal to be learned from the study of military history. Today’s military encourages and requires a new way of doing business. Commanders at all levels offer civilian employees incentives for creative ideas to solving problems and encourage service members to “think outside of the box”; business as usual is not the ‘group think’ anymore. But as spoken in the words of General Douglas MacArthur, “…But research does bring to light those fundamental principles and their combinations and applications, which in the past, have been productive of success. These principles have not limitation of time. Consequently the army extends its analytical interest to the dust buried accounts of war long past as well as to those still reeking with the scent of battle.” It is important, if not imperative to be reminded of how our society evolved; if not for the general public, then certainly for the military professional. The study of change in warfare is beneficial to a military professional’s career because of the numerous lessons to be learned in innovation, tenacity and warfare analysis.
When you think about the word ‘innovation’ in the context of history, it could be considered an oxymoron – new ideas born centuries ago that persuade the way we operate today. When reflecting on history, innovation might be defined as a survival technique; a method of self-preservation with high risks for failure looming in the background. History shares several examples of innovation that in some instances produce total shifts in paradigms. “Modern strategic organizations” employed by Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, during the French Revolution were systems that were “…fully nationally funded, that enjoyed multilevel staffing and planning, and in which many specialized agencies were coordinated to serve one shared national purpose.” These organizational concepts produced decisive victories for the French army and were mirrored by Napoleon’s adversaries. Napoleon’s ability to shift paradigms was as innovative as the concepts in which he implemented. Another example of innovation is the use of the English longbow in the fourteenth-century; “a weapon basically similar to the wood selfbows in use since the Neolithic age, but longer, with a heavier draw weight (and more power) than earlier weapons.” The long bow is an example of innovation that required extensive training but was quite effective…until the next innovative idea was born i.e. gun powder. Because warfare has become more lethal and unconventional with each reiteration of conflict, it is essential to the survival of military forces to continue to develop products that provide an advantage on the battlefield. Innovation is followed, in many cases, by some level of failure or lag in cultural acceptance. It is therefore prudent to review lessons of tenacity from a historical perspective.

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