The Theories Of Carl Von Clausewitz: The Principles Of War

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Can an antiquated lens provide an adequate examination and understanding of modern warfare? The theories of Carl von Clausewitz retain remarkable contemporary merit and relevance in explaining the critical elements affecting warfare in the modern era. Carl von Clausewitz’s theories of war endeavor to be comprehendible, comprehensive, and strategic. Clausewitz contends that the conduct of war itself is without doubt very difficult. But the difficulty is not that erudition and great genius are necessary to understand the basic principles of warfare.1 Clausewitz 's 1812 essay, the Principles of War, offers military commanders, with little campaign experience, a comprehendible, comprehensive, and strategic model for attaining victory in battle. According to Clausewitz, military commanders must first be aware of the three most important strategic objectives of war: (1) to conquer and destroy the armed power of the enemy; (2) to take possession of his material and other sources of strength, and (3) to gain public opinion.1 To attain the strategic objectives, Clausewitz requires the application of three decisive military principles: military commanders must apply unrelenting pressure and energy to defeat the enemy; military commanders must mass combat power against the enemy’s vulnerability, creating or revealing additional weaknesses that the attacking force can exploit; and commanders must capitalize on speed, surprise, and shock to destroy the enemy. Clausewitz insists that

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