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Military science

Military Science concerns itself with the study and analysis of the diverse technical, psychological, and practical phenomena that encompass the events that make up warfare, especially armed combat. It strives to be an all-encompassing scientific system that if properly employed, will greatly enhance the practitioner's ability to prevail in an armed conflict with any adversary. To this end, it is unconcerned whether that adversary is an opposing military force, guerrillas or other irregulars, or even knows of or utilizes military science in return.

Military science encompasses 6 major branches, as follows:

  • Military Organization[?] – develops optimal methods for the administration and organization of military units, as well as the military as a whole. In addition, this area studies other associated aspects as mobilization / demobilization, and military government for areas recently conquered (or liberated) from enemy control.

  • Military Training[?] – studies the methodology and practices involved in training soldiers, NCO’s (non-commissioned officers, i.e. sergeants), and officers. It also extends this to training small and large units, both individually and in concert with one another for both the regular and reserve organizations. Military training, especially for officers, also concerns itself with general education and political indoctrination of the armed forces.

  • Military History – Military activity has been a constant process over thousands of years, and the essential tactics, strategy, and goals of military operations have been unchanging throughout history. As an example one notable maneuver is the double envelopment, considered to be the consummate military maneuver, first executed by Hannibal in the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C. - over 2,200 years ago. By the study of history, the military seeks to not repeat past mistakes, and improve upon it's current performance by instilling an ability in commanders to perceive historical parallels during battle, so as to capitalize on the lessons learned. The main areas military history includes are the history of wars, battles, and combats, history if the military art, and history of each specific military service.

  • Military Geography[?] – Military geography encompasses much more than simple protestations to take the high ground. Military geography studies the obvious, the geography of theatres of war, but also the additional characteristics of politics, economics, and other natural features of locations of likely conflict (the political “landscape”, for example). As an example, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan was predicated on the ability of the Soviet Union to not only successfully invade Afghanistan, but also to militarily and politically flank the Iranian republic simultaneously.

  • Military Technology[?] – Military technology is not just the study of various technologies and applicable physical sciences used to increase military power. It may also extend to the study of production methods of military equipment, and ways to improve performance and reduce material and/or technological requirements for its production. An example is the effort expended by Nazi Germany to produce artificial rubbers and fuels to reduce or eliminate their dependence on imported POL (petroleum, oil, and lubricants) and rubber supplies. Military technology is unique only in its application, not in its use of basic scientific and technological achievements. Because of the uniqueness of use, military technological studies strive to incorporate evolutionary, as well as the rare revolutionary technologies into their proper place of military application.

  • Military Art[?] – Military art is in many ways the centerpiece of military science. It studies the specifics of combat, and attempts to reduce the many factors to a set of principles that govern all interactions of the field of battle. As such, it directs the planning and execution of battles, operations, and wars as a whole. Two major systems prevail on the planet today. Broadly speaking, these may be described as the ‘’Western’’ system, and the ‘’Russian’’ system. Each system reflects and supports strengths and weakness in the underlying society. Generally, “Western” societies have higher levels of education and technology. In contrast, third-world (based on the Russian system) societies have lower levels of education and technology, but have much more raw manpower in their military than Western societies are wiling (or able) to devote.

Modern Western military art is composed primarily of an amalgam of French, German, British, and United States systems. The Russian system borrows from these systems as well, either through study, or personal observation in the form of invasion ( Napoleon's War of 1812, and The Great Patriotic War), and form a unique product suited for the conditions practioners of this system will encounter. The system that is produced by the analysis provided by Military Art is known as doctrine.

Western military doctrine relies heavily on technology, the use of a well-trained and empowered NCO cadre, and superior information processing and dissemination to provide a level of battlefield awareness that opponents cannot match. It’s advantages are extreme flexibility, extreme lethality, and a focus on removing an opponents C3I (command, communications, control, and intelligence) to paralyze and incapacitate rather than destroying their combat power directly (hopefully saving lives in the process). Its drawbacks are high expense, a reliance on difficult to replace personnel, an enormous logistic train, and a difficulty in operating without high technology assets if depleted or destroyed.

Russian military doctrine[?] relies heavily on masses of machinery and troops, a highly educated (albeit very small) officer corps, and preplanned missions. It’s advantages are that it does not require well educated troops, does not require a large logistic train, is under tight central control, and does not rely on a sophisticated C3I system after the initiation of a course of action. Its disadvantages are inflexibility, a reliance on the shock effect of mass (with a resulting high cost in lives and material), and overall inability to exploit unexpected success or respond to unexpected loss.

Chinese military doctrine[?] is current in a state of flux as the People's Liberation Army is evaluating military trends of relevance to China. Chinese military doctrine is influenced by a number of sources including an indigienous classical military tradition characterized by strategists such as Sun Tzu, Western and Soviet influences, as well as indigienous modern strategists such as Mao Zedong. One distinctive characteristic of Chinese military science is that it places emphasis on the relationship between the military and society as well as views military force as merely one part of an overarching grand strategy[?].

Each system trains its officer corps in its philosophy regarding military art. The differences in content and emphasis are illustrative.


The Western principles of military art as follows (derived from U.S. Military Field manual 100-5):

  • Objective - Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy's armed forces and will to fight

  • Offensive – Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is the most effective and decisive way to attain a clearly defined common objective. Offensive operations are the means by which a military force seizes and holds the initiative while maintaining freedom of action and achieving decisive results. This is fundamentally true across all levels of war.

  • Mass - Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. Synchronizing all the elements of combat power where they will have decisive effect on an enemy force in a short period of time is to achieve mass. Massing effects, rather than concentrating forces, can enable numerically inferior forces to achieve decisive results, while limiting exposure to enemy rife.

  • Economy of Force - Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of force is the judicious employment and distribution of forces. No part of the force should ever be left without purpose. The allocation of available combat power to such tasks as limited attacks, defense, delays, deception, or even retrograde operations is measured in order to achieve mass elsewhere at the decisive point and time on the battlefield. ...

  • Maneuver - Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Maneuver is the movement of forces in relation to the enemy to gain positional advantage. Effective maneuver keeps the enemy off balance and protects the force. It is used to exploit successes, to preserve freedom of action, and to reduce vulnerability. It continually poses new problems for the enemy by rendering his actions ineffective, eventually leading to defeat. ...

  • Unity of Command - For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort. At all levels of war, employment of military forces in a manner that masses combat power toward a common objective requires unity of command and unity of effort. Unity of command means that all the forces are under one responsible commander. It requires a single commander with the requisite authority to direct all forces in pursuit of a unified purpose. ...

  • Security - Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage. Security enhances freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Security results from the measures taken by a commander to protect his forces. Knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, doctrine, and staff planning improve the detailed planning of adequate security measures.

  • Surprise - Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise can decisively shift the balance of combat power. By seeking surprise, forces can achieve success well out of proportion to the effort expended. Surprise can be in tempo, size of force, direction or location of main effort, and timing. Deception can aid the probability of achieving surprise. ...

  • Simplicity - Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult. To the uninitiated, military operations are not difficult. Simplicity contributes to successful operations. Simple plans and clear, concise orders minimize misunderstanding and confusion. Other factors being equal, the simplest plan is preferable.


The Russian principles of military art as follows (derived from ISBN 0-89141-160-7 Soviet AirLand Battle Tactics):

  • Preparedness – The ability to fulfill missions under any conditions for starting or the conduct of war.

  • Initiative – Utilizing surprise, decisiveness, and aggressiveness to continuously strive to achieve and retain the initiative. Initiative, in this sense describes efforts to fulfill the plan in spite of difficulties. This is in contrast to the western usage of the term which implies problem-solving and improvisation in order to deal with changed circumstances.

  • Capability - Full use of the various means and capabilities of battle to achieve victory.

  • Cooperation - Coordinated application of and close cooperation between major units of the armed forces.

  • Concentration – Decisive concetration of the essential force at the needed moment and in the most important direction to achieve the main mission.

  • Depth – Destruction of the enemy throughout the entire depth of their deployment.

  • Morale – Use of political and psychological factors to demoralize opponents and break their will to resist.

  • Obedience – Strict and uninterrupted obedience. Orders are to be followed exactly and without question. Commanders are expected to directly supervise subordinates in a detailed manner in order to ensure compliance.

  • Steadfastness – Subordinate commanders are to carry out the spirit and the letter of the plan.

  • Security – Security complements surprise. All aspects of security, from deception and secrecy, to severe discipline of subordinates who through action or inaction allow information to fall into the hands of the enemy are to be vigorously carried out.

  • Logistics – Restoration of reserves and restoration of combat capability is of paramount concern of the modern, fast paced battlefield.

Thus it can be seen that in Military art, the Russian and Western systems are similar, but place their emphasis in wildly differing places. Western systems allow more control and decision-making at lower levels of command, and with this empowerment comes a consistent emphasis. Offensive, mass, and maneuver principles for the western commander all place a sense of personal responsibility and authority to ensure these principles are followed by appropriate action. In contrast the Russian system stresses preparedness, initiative, and obedience. This places more responsibility at the better prepared and informed centers of command, and provide more overall control of the battle.


Because the military doctrines of the People's Liberation Army are in a state of flux, it is difficult to give a capsule summary of a single doctrine which is expounded with the PLA. Rather the PLA is currently influenced by three doctrinal schools which both conflict and complement each other. These three schools are

  • People's War - which is derived from the Maoist notion of warfare as a war in which the entire society is mobilized

  • Regional war - which envisons future wars to be limited in scope and confined to the Chinese border

  • Revolution in military affairs - which is a school of thought which believes that technology is transforming the basis of warfare and that these technological changes present both extreme dangers and possibilities for the Chinese military.

The differences in the specifics of Military art notwithstanding, Military science strives to provide an integrated picture of the chaos of battle, and illuminate basic insights that apply to all combatants, not just those who agree with your formulation of the principles.

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