How to become military literate?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#32
Union General Henry Halleck was considered the expert on Jomini. Halleck didn't just read Jomini, he translated Jomini into English and quoted Jomini freely. And Halleck never seemed to understand.



I doubt the German is much better. Clausewitz was rude enough to drop dead before he'd finished editing his work.
I decide to take advantage of my Chinese reading speed and read the Chinese translation instead, after finishing a few webnovels with 1-5 millions characters.
Previously, a member has mentioned that even On War is woefully dated.
Do any people consider the Arts of War overrated?
 
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Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,478
#33
Do any people consider the Arts of War overrated?
It depends on what you are looking for. As a primer on warfare, in general, it is nearly useless but for what time keep in mind about morale and where to focus attention as a leader for specific battles it is quite good.
 
#34
Reading books of strategies and military history doesn't always generate decent or even great generals; we have textbook generals that failed.
Then, how to become military literate?
Understanding something is very different from reading something.
The English translation of On War is quite awful.
Let me select a random text:
We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of war used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance.

Since reading On War entirely may not render a person military literate, how should a layperson become somewhat military literate?
Experience.

Even research etc won't work unless you've tested it practically, things don't always in fact they rarely go to plan because you can control what you do but not the enemy.

A successful General will be someone who has contingencies to make his plan work and we learn to do things like that from failure.

Failure, not success is the best teacher.

Success can make you rigid, failure forces you to come up with solutions or make adjustments, a General who has experience in using these solutions and adjustments to win is a better prepared General for when things go wrong.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#35
I suspect that in the average advanced military training today, "On War" is a sidenote of a day or two. Modern armies have any number of official manuals and publications detailing every bit of strategic and tactical doctrine, as well as just how to run an army day-to-day.

Sure, logistics and regular management just need to be learned and taken care of, but to a large extent that's already taken care of since everyone who has jobs of those types in the army know what to do for their little part. The parts go together, and it works. Procedures, paperwork, signatures, accounting, etc. Inventory and readiness reports.

And of course soldiers and their officers learn tactics, and practice practice practice. THAT's how to get good at something.

BUT it should be noted that there is an absolute need for natural talent and inclination as well. You can't just train up a Napoleon or Caesar from nothing. If you read "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young" or watch "Band of Brothers", you'll see that every officer has his own style and method of command, and some are very much better and more effective than others. *Some* of that can be learned, much comes from within.

Of course, if you have no intention of actually leading troops or armies into battle and just want to learn how it's done, keep reading! But I'd stick with the more detailed historical accounts, or commanders' memoirs, to get a feel for what personalities succeeded, and how they were able to visualize forces and deployments, etc. I believe a lot of military manuals are available online. Commanders had to know their men and how they fought, they had to know their officers and what their duties were, they had to know the enemy, they had to know the battlefield.

So basically, becoming "miltary literate" takes time and lots of study.

Matthew
On War is way more detailed than the Arts of War; the Arts of War is mostly about general principles.
We usually have a few types of people:
Truly talented, trained, and experienced people, such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar.
Very solid, trained and experienced people; the list can be endless.
Woefully delusional people, such as Renya Mutaguchi.

Then, we should realize that talent in one area doesn't mean overall competency!

[B said:
MamlukWarrior[/B]]
Experience.

Even research etc won't work unless you've tested it practically, things don't always in fact they rarely go to plan because you can control what you do but not the enemy.

A successful General will be someone who has contingencies to make his plan work and we learn to do things like that from failure.

Failure, not success is the best teacher.

Success can make you rigid, failure forces you to come up with solutions or make adjustments, a General who has experience in using these solutions and adjustments to win is a better prepared General for when things go wrong.
Imagine good military leaders before they were proven; often enough, they remained fairly inept and green until they gained experiences and matured.
Then, George Bernard Shaw had pointed out the real issue:
"(Humans) are wise in proportion, not to their experiences, but to their capacity for experiences. "
Why do some people learn from their experiences more readily?
I recall some people talked about "over-experienced", it often means when experiences become obstacles for learning.
 
May 2018
539
Michigan
#36
Become an officer or NCO, coupled with copious study. Military competency is unique in that it requires both physical and mental excellence. Some here may ask, "why do I need to get in shape or do a few ruck marches? I'm just studying military history?"

Put on 100lbs of gear, walk 5-10 miles then do some track and field events. It will get you closer to the perspective of famous soldiers who had to March 10-20 miles, then fight a major battle.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#37
Become an officer or NCO, coupled with copious study. Military competency is unique in that it requires both physical and mental excellence. Some here may ask, "why do I need to get in shape or do a few ruck marches? I'm just studying military history?"

Put on 100lbs of gear, walk 5-10 miles then do some track and field events. It will get you closer to the perspective of famous soldiers who had to March 10-20 miles, then fight a major battle.
I understand why the "Average Joe/Jane" isn't exactly fit for military services today; these requirements are WAY HIGHER than any "Average Joe/Jane" can do.
A few members here recall having veterans as their best employees ever, and military experiences (even outward bound seems too strenuous for many "Average Joe/Jane" today).
 
Jun 2013
427
Connecticut
#38
More emphasis has to be taught about this to enhance American military literacy.
US military is taught war but not war and politics. First get victory then deal with sorting out the peace. They are taught war and peace are sharply different conditions.
US military does not seem to be taught about "small wars". The US milittary is beyond great when it comes to Gulf War blitzkreigs. The technology is awesome.
US military fights wars without understanding the history of the enemy. A military that is historically ignorant often finds itself surprised by the outsomes of their "victories". The US military does not have patience for wars that are not decisive and rapid. The US military style of speen, coordination, logistics, precision, etc. are better suited for military attack strikes rather than strategic war successes. The vistories beome sterile.
This is one critique of US military literacy.

a reference: Jeffrey Record, Beating Goliath, 2009
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#39
More emphasis has to be taught about this to enhance American military literacy.
US military is taught war but not war and politics. First get victory then deal with sorting out the peace. They are taught war and peace are sharply different conditions.
US military does not seem to be taught about "small wars". The US milittary is beyond great when it comes to Gulf War blitzkreigs. The technology is awesome.
US military fights wars without understanding the history of the enemy. A military that is historically ignorant often finds itself surprised by the outsomes of their "victories". The US military does not have patience for wars that are not decisive and rapid. The US military style of speen, coordination, logistics, precision, etc. are better suited for military attack strikes rather than strategic war successes. The vistories beome sterile.
This is one critique of US military literacy.

a reference: Jeffrey Record, Beating Goliath, 2009
Today’s military is highly specialized, and being highly successful in one area can be difficult.
Working from the rank and file is ideal; then, do all rank and file privates have the potential?
During these years of peace, many will not have field experiences.
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Jul 2016
8,163
USA
#40
More emphasis has to be taught about this to enhance American military literacy.
US military is taught war but not war and politics. First get victory then deal with sorting out the peace. They are taught war and peace are sharply different conditions.
US military does not seem to be taught about "small wars". The US milittary is beyond great when it comes to Gulf War blitzkreigs. The technology is awesome.
US military fights wars without understanding the history of the enemy. A military that is historically ignorant often finds itself surprised by the outsomes of their "victories". The US military does not have patience for wars that are not decisive and rapid. The US military style of speen, coordination, logistics, precision, etc. are better suited for military attack strikes rather than strategic war successes. The vistories beome sterile.
This is one critique of US military literacy.

a reference: Jeffrey Record, Beating Goliath, 2009
Just FYI, in every case when you write US military, you mean conventional US Army.

USMC literally wrote the book called Small Wars. Organizations within the US Army but working for SOCOM, like Special Forces, they're not exactly unskilled when it comes to guerrilla warfare.

Big Army generally hates small wars as a whole, many of its officer corps didn't study the lessons of Vietnam because they refocused to fight the big war, the war of national survival. But not all of them. Seems a few understood it pretty well. Petraeus, McMaster, McChrystal, McFarland, etc. Lots of big name brain power holding key jobs. Lots more not as well known.

Patience to fight small wars is dictated by politicians, election cycles, and the American public, who are very impatient altogether as a people. There is simply no way a US Army general can focus on fighting a long long war when the commander in chief is telling him results need to happen inside 1-2 years max, or won't even provide political guidance sufficient to craft a real strategy. That's America's fault, not the military.
 

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