Uploaded by Husain Alzaabi

Vego Op Factors from Joint Operational Warfare

The art of warfare is to obtain and maintain freedom of action—the ability to carry out critically
important, multiple, and diverse decisions to accomplish assigned military objectives. One’s
freedom of action is achieved primarily by properly balancing the factors of space, time, and
forces.1 These factors and, increasingly, information are pivotal for making sound decisions at all
levels (see Figure 1). The higher the level of war, the larger the factors of space, time, and force,
and hence the more critical for the commanders and their staff to properly balance these factors
with the respective military objective. All successful commanders—Napoleon I is perhaps the best
example—were known for their superb ability to properly balance the factors of space, time, and
force with a given objective.
A commander’s need to fully understand the factors of space, time, and force and then
balance them against the objective is as old as warfare itself. For example, the Indian scholar
Kautiliya in his work The Arthashstra, compiled probably around 150 AD, pointed out the
importance of what he called the factors of power, time, and place.2 He wrote that the most
important factor is power. “One does not foolishly attack a stronger adversary or the economic
strength backing it. The intellectual power which enables a king to make an objective analysis and
arrive at the correct judgment is the most important. The three most important constituents of
power, in decreasing order of importance, are intellectual power, military might, enthusiasm, and
morale. The next two factors to be taken into account are place and time; the nature of terrain
where the battle will be waged; and two aspects of time: time means the season when battle is
likely and the expected duration of battle itself. The first three factors are interdependent. Only
when a king is sure that he is superior in power, space, and time shall he proceed to a
consideration of the other factors. Equally, when a king finds himself superior, he shall not waste
time. One should proceed against one’s enemy whenever, by so doing, the enemy can be
weakened or crushed.”3
In theory, the factors of space, time, and force should be balanced at each level of war.
Hence, strategic, operational, and tactical factors can be differentiated. The German military has
used the term “operational factors” since the late nineteenth century in referring to the factors of
space, time, and force as they pertain to operations. In 1865, during preparations for a general
staff ride, the Prussian chief of general staff General Helmuth von Moltke, Sr., directed that the
calculation of space (Raum), time (Zeit), and “means” (Mitteln) be the foundation of all general
staff work.4 In the modern understanding of the term, “operational factors” pertains to the
factors of space, time, and force at the operational level of war, that is, in accomplishing a specific
military or theater-strategic strategic objective or intermediate operational objectives.
One of the main responsibilities of operational commanders and their staffs is to first
determine the ultimate objective of a campaign or major operation. Afterward, the operational
commander must properly evaluate one’s own (friendly) factors of space, time, and forces
individually and then balance them in combination against the respective objectives. This is far
more an art than a science. The mutual relationships of the factors of space, time, and force
should be arranged in such a way that they collectively enhance the operational commander’s
ability to act freely within the given framework determined by policy and strategy. This process is
critical yet complicated and time-consuming. Hence, in practice, operational factors will rarely be
completely, or even approximately, in harmony with one another or with the assigned
operational or strategic objectives. Note that the enemy’s factors of space, time, and force must be
fully considered in the process of determining one’s own military objective.
In balancing operational factors against one’s objective, all considerations should start with
quantifiable factors—that is, space and time.5 In general, the factor of time is more dynamic and
changeable than the factor of space. Over the years the factor of time has been gradually
compressed, while the factor of space has steadily expanded.6 Normally, the factors of space and
time can be calculated with a high degree of precision. However, the factor of force cannot be,
because the true strength of the armed forces as a whole or individual services encompasses so
many unquantifiable elements, which are difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate with any degree
of certainty. Operational commanders should also fully observe the complexity of information
relationships and their effect on each of the traditional operational factors.7 A significant change
in any of these factors will invariably disturb the overall balance and require a reassessment of all
the factors. In the course of a campaign or major operation, the operational commander should
periodically balance the operational factors against one’s objective. The higher the intensity of
combat, the more often the situation will change, and that, in turn, will require harmonizing
one’s operational factors with one’s objective. Also, any change in one’s objective will require
quick reevaluation of the pertinent operational factors and their balancing with the newly
determined objective.
1. Erich H. Koenen, Die operativen Ideen Mansteins hinsichtlich Nuetzung des Raumes, Gewinnen der Initiative, Schaffen von
Handlungsfreiheit und Wahl zwischen offensivem and defensivem Vorgehen. Eine Untersuchung anhand der Beispiele “Rochade” und
Schlacht bei Kharkow des Winterfeldzuges 1942/43 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1988), p. 2;
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Operative Leitlinie fuer die Fuehrung von Landstreitkraeften (October 1993),
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Arbeitspapier, Operative Fuehrung (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der
Bundeswehr, August 1992), p. 19.
2. Some Indian scholars are not sure or doubt that Kautiliya existed; however, they generally agree that whoever wrote
The Arthashastra compiled the wisdom of the Indian civilization over many centuries. The Arthashastra was discovered by
Dr. R. Shamasastry of Mysore in 1904 who then published them for the first time in 1909; the English translation
appeared in 1915; Kautiliya, The Arthashastra, edited, rearranged, translated, and introduced by L. N. Rangarajan (New
Delhi: Penguin Books of India, 1987), pp. 18, 21.
3. Ibid.,p. 625.
4. Volker Wieker, Operation, Operative Fuehrung zwischen Taktik und Strategie—Bedeutung und Entwicklung des Begriffes seit
Moltke d. Ae. —Bearbeitung aus der Sicht der Landstreitkraeftefuehrung (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 12
December 1988), p. 8.
5. Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Operative Leitlinie fuer die Fuehrung von Landstreitkraeften (August 1992), p. 2.
6. Werner Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland
1812 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1964), p. 1.
7. Ajay Singh, “Time: The New Dimension of Warfare,” Joint Force Quarterly 4 (Winter 1995–96), p. 56.
Those who do not know the conditions of mountains
and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes and swamps,
cannot conduct the march of an army.
Sun Tzu
In practical terms, the factor of space encompasses land, sea, and airspace, including outer space,
with all their features, which influence the employment of land, sea, and air forces. Military history is
replete with examples of campaigns and major operations that failed because the factor of space was
either neglected or unrealistically assessed. Space in itself is both a means and an objective. It is the
means because sufficient space is needed to successfully conduct military operations. It is the
objective because to conduct military operations it is necessary to control the space.1
One’s forces assigned to accomplish operational or strategic objectives should have
sufficient physical space to deploy, concentrate, maneuver, and fight. This also implies the
existence of sufficient space for the establishment and maintenance of infrastructure necessary to
support the conduct of campaigns or major operations. The factor of space should be controlled
to the extent that the assigned military objectives can be achieved.2
Operational commanders and their staffs should consider the entire space in which a
campaign or major operation will be conducted, the advantages and disadvantages of larger
versus smaller space, the dynamic factors influencing the factor of space, geostrategic positions,
the distance from the basing or deployment area to the area where combat actions will occur, the
operational features of the physical environment, and the theater’s geometry.
The factor of space encompasses not only the physical environment and weather/climate
but also the so-called “human-space.” Among other things, the human-space includes such
elements as the political system and nature of government, population size and density,
economic activity, transportation, trade, ideologies, ethnicity, religions, social structure and
traditions, culture, and technology. All these and other elements of the human-space
increasingly influence planning, preparation, and execution of a campaign or major operation.
Obviously, the human factors play a much larger role in land warfare than in naval and air
warfare. However, no operational commander can safely ignore the human factor on either side
of a conflict. To enhance success in combat, the operational commanders and their staffs must
properly evaluate both the human and physical elements of the factor of space. Today, humanspace plays an increasingly critical role in the posthostilities phase of a campaign, insurgency
and counterinsurgency, and other operations short of high-intensity war.
Large versus Small Space: Wide or narrow space and long or short distances considerably affect
the planning and execution of campaigns or major operations. The success of any major
operation or campaign depends on the free movement of one’s forces in the theater.3 Without
the ability to conduct large-scale movements on land, at sea, and in the air, operational warfare is
essentially an empty concept.4
In the era of mass armies, it was difficult for one side to outflank or outmaneuver a
strong opponent on land.5 The reason was that the opposing forces were deployed along
hundreds of miles of terrain and provided few, if any, gaps in the defense line. For example, the
Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 was another example in which the fighting was conducted
along an almost continuous front. After the Battle of the Marne in September 1914, the Germans
hoped to resume the war of movement by winning the battle in Flanders. As that attempt failed,
they limited their offensive to destroying the French left flank and forcing the Allied troops to
withdraw from the French Channel coast.6 Ultimately, both the Germans and the Allies settled
for establishing a continuous front in order to prevent large-scale envelopments of their forces.7
This, in turn, required that a larger force be deployed throughout the length and width of the
space. After the end of 1914 and almost until the spring of 1918, huge forces were expended on
both sides to carry out frontal assaults that had little effect on the operational or strategic
situation. Whether the front line moved forward or back essentially did not matter, because
neither side could achieve a decisive advantage.8
In land warfare, a large space usually offers a greater range of offensive options. Among
other things, it facilitates greater freedom of action, and envelopment maneuvers and turning
movements are easier to carry out. In contrast, a small space compels one’s forces to conduct
frontal assaults.9 In an attack on land, a large space allows a sufficient area to conduct wideranging movements, thereby providing the commander with more options for employing forces
to achieve the greatest possible effect.10 An attack into the enemy’s depth, threatening his lines of
supply, can often have dramatic results.11 In general, the farther the attacker advances into the
enemy’s territory, the more the defender has to shift to a defensive posture—temporarily or
permanently—and by smaller or larger withdrawals preserve his freedom of action.12
The German general and one of the leading military theoretician Friedrich von
Bernhardi (1849–1930) observed in 1912 that because of the spatial extent of the Russian
Empire a complete subjection or even conquest of Russia could not be envisioned. However, he
considered it possible for an attacker to reduce Russia’s space by conquering its Baltic provinces.
Another German general, Wilhelm Groener (1867–1939), wrote in 1927 that in the gateway of
the huge plain between the Vistula River and the Ural Mountains stands the admonishing figure
of Napoleon I. In his words, Napoleon I’s “fate ought to inspire a dismal fear of the mysterious
country in any would-be attacker of Russia.” Groener enumerated the changes that had taken
place in Russia because of technological developments but concluded that the essential features
of that theater of war had remained unchanged during the hundred years since Napoleon I.
Because of the vastness of space, the German high command could not allow itself to be engaged
in a protracted war in such an area.13
On land, large space provides the defender sufficient room for maneuver, both laterally
and in the depth of one’s rear. Large space allows the defender to trade space for time, if
necessary. It facilitates the regrouping, reinforcement, and redeployment of one’s forces for an
offensive action. For example, the Russians used defense in depth to frustrate the French
invaders in 1812. Likewise, in 1941 the Soviets carried out a scorched-earth policy to slow down
the German advances. They also dismantled almost one quarter of the country’s manufacturing
capacity and moved to the east of the Ural Mountains before the Germans overran the rest of the
For both sides, having too much space usually makes it more difficult to seek a decision.
For example, in World War I maneuvering space on the eastern front was so large that neither
the Germans and their Austro-Hungarian allies nor the Russians were able to force a decision for
most of the war.15
Generally, a large space can also put certain limitations on the operational commander’s
freedom of action. The need to protect ever-lengthening flanks and lines of communications
requires increasingly larger forces to secure the rear area and to control a hostile populace, thus
reducing the attacker’s striking power. In Napoleon I’s invasion of Russia in 1812, the French
logisticians could not keep up with the advances of the French troops because of the everextending lines of communications. The space factor, with its effects on time and forces, resulted
in Napoleon I’s inability to maintain the “operational tempo” necessary to bring the Russians to
a decision.16
A large space on land offers many advantages to the defense. This is especially true of
countries that encompass enormous landmasses, such as Russia, China, the United States, and
Brazil. A vast maritime space is difficult to successfully defend against a strong opponent at sea.
This fact became painfully clear in the modern era after the advent of submarines and aircraft.
The area in which Japan conducted active operations in 1941 stretched about 4,000 miles north
to south, from the Aleutian Islands to Australia, and about 5,000 miles east to west, from the
Andamans in the Bay of Bengal to the Hawaiian Islands.17 By mid-1942, the Imperial Japanese
Navy (IJN) lacked sufficient naval and air strength to effectively control that huge area against
the attacks of the Allied fast carrier forces, land-based aircraft, and submarines.
Geostrategic Position: One of the main prerequisites for a country or group of countries is a
favorable geostrategic position for the employment of military forces as a whole. In general, in
relation to the adjacent sea and land area, a country may occupy central, semicentral, peninsular,
and insular positions. When a country or territory does not border the sea or ocean, as, for
example, Afghanistan, Switzerland, or Hungary, then it is said to occupy a central position. The
war in Afghanistan in 2001–2002 (Operation ENDURING FREEDOM) demonstrated the limitations
on the employment of one’s combat forces that a highly unfavorable geostrategic position
imposes. In the initial phase of the operation, the U.S. military lacked adequate host-nation
support (HNS) to insert its ground forces and tactical land-based aircraft into the area adjacent
to Afghanistan. Thus, the U.S. Navy’s carrier battle groups deployed in the Arabian Sea played a
critical role in the initial phase of the operation. They made subsequent success possible by
carrying out a major part of the sorties, because of the lack of access to suitable land bases in the
region for tactical strike aircraft. Without their contribution, the collapse of the Taliban regime
would have taken longer than it did.
If a country is located on the rim of a continental landmass and borders the sea or the
ocean, it is said to occupy a semicentral position. Germany occupies such a geostrategic position in
regard to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Russia occupies a central geostrategic position on
land but a semicentral position in regard to the surrounding seas and oceans. It stretches today
for about 8,000 miles and ten time zones across two continents. Russia’s seaboard encompasses
four regions, each widely separated from the others. This makes it necessary for Russia to
maintain a separate fleet in each of the four far-flung maritime theaters. Tsarist Russia and its
successor, the Soviet Union, tried repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) to overcome the natural
disadvantages of their maritime position by obtaining access to the warm waters of the
Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Today, the Russian home-based fleets’ access in wartime
to the waters of the North Atlantic from the Barents Sea is highly unfavorable, because
potentially hostile powers control the stretch of water from Greenland to Norway. In contrast,
Russia’s access to the open ocean in the Far Eastern theater is relatively more favorable, because
the Kamchatka peninsula borders the open waters of the northern Pacific. However, the
peninsula, with its naval and air bases, lacks well-developed road and railroad links with the
mainland and is for all practical purposes an island, with all the inherent advantages and
disadvantages accruing.
A territory having a longer frontier on the sea than on the land is said to occupy a semiisolated or peninsular position. For example, Denmark occupies a favorable position at sea because
it controls the only exit from the Baltic, the Danish Straits (Skagerrak and Kattegat). The Korean
peninsula dominates all sea and air routes between Japan and Manchuria, and sea routes from
the Yellow Sea to and from the Sea of Japan. Within the Mediterranean, Italy’s mainland enjoys
a commanding geostrategic position in the central Mediterranean. One leg of the Apennine
peninsula faces the Messina Strait, while the other leg borders the Strait of Otranto, the only exit
from the Adriatic Sea.
A country on a large island or several large islands occupies an insular position. England
probably provides perhaps the best example of the advantages that accrue from occupying an
insular position. The British Isles form a 600-mile-long barrier off the coast of western Europe
and border the open waters of the North Atlantic and three narrow seas—the North Sea, the
English Channel, and the Irish Sea. Japan occupies a similar position in respect to Asia’s
adjacent landmass. Japan stretches across four large islands whose shores are washed by the
waters of the Pacific and two narrow seas: the Sea of Japan and the Inland Sea. Japan occupies a
central position in respect to the adjacent Asian landmass and any hostile force approaching
from across the Pacific. In World War II, the Japanese-controlled Philippines and Netherlands
East Indies (NEI) had a central position in the western Pacific.
A country or group of countries could acquire a strategically more favorable position by
building an alliance or coalition, as the United States has in Europe because of its leading role
within the NATO alliance. Likewise, the geostrategic position of the former USSR in Europe was
considerably improved between 1945 and 1991 by its control of a string of communist-ruled
Eastern European countries. However, since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 and the
breakup of the Soviet Union, the depth of space between the German and Russian borders has
been reduced to about 800 miles.18
Nazi Germany obtained a highly favorable strategic position through its conquest of
Denmark and Norway in April–June 1940. Norway had many good natural harbors, and the
adjacent waters were deep and mostly unsuitable for mining. The nearest British base, in the
Shetlands, was 170 miles from Bergen, while Scapa Flow was 240 miles from Stavanger. German
aircraft, coastal guns, and naval forces protected the route through and along the Norwegian
Leads. At the same time, German opportunities to raid Allied shipping in the North Atlantic and
the Barents Sea were greatly enhanced. Northern Norway’s fjords provided bases for highly
successful attacks by the German Luftwaffe, U-boats, and surface ships against convoys bound for
Russia in 1941–1942. The U-boats operated freely in the North Atlantic from elaborately
constructed pens at Trondheim and Bergen.19
Shape: A country’s shape can sometimes greatly affect its geostrategic position when other
factors are taken into account. The shape of a country can be differentiated as compact,
elongated, or prorupt. A country is said to have a compact shape when all the points of its
boundary lie at the same distance from the country’s geometrical center. Germany, the People’s
Republic of China (PRC), Poland, and Belgium all seem to have nearly round or rectangular
boundaries. A country with a large but compact shape, such as Poland, offers the shortest
possible boundary in view of the area enclosed. Also, because such a country does not have
peninsulas, large islands, or other protruding parts, the communications network is generally
easier to establish.
A country or territory that is at least six times longer than it is wide, such as Chile or
Norway, is said to have an elongated (or attenuated) shape. The country’s elongated shape, in
combination with the narrowness of its land area, usually makes defense against enemy invasion
difficult. For example, Chile’s territory extends for about 2,500 miles along its north-south axis.
It is nowhere wider than 250 miles. The high Andes mountain chain guards Chile’s eastern
When a country or territory, as, for example, Croatia is compact in shape but has a
“corridor” leading away from its main body, it is said to have a prorupt shape. These countries
generally have a long seaboard and narrow coastal area and are highly vulnerable to an attack
from the sea or land.
A military salient is a less exaggerated form of elongation extending into enemy territory.
For instance, in the Battle of Kursk in July 1943 (Operation ZITADELLE), the salient controlled by
the Soviet forces protruded into the German-controlled area. It was about 95 miles wide and
almost 125 miles deep. It encompassed the territory of some 65,000 square miles, the size of
Bavaria.21 The German salient in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 extended for about
50 miles into Belgian territory.22
Whenever a country stretches across a land area, either on the rim of a continent or an
island, it is said to be physically concentrated. This position is normally favorable for defense
against external attack. A country is physically concentrated even if it extends across two or even
more islands, provided that each is separated from the other by a relatively narrow channel or
strait, as in the case of the British Isles. Denmark enjoys a high physical concentration because its
600-odd islands are near the 210-mile-long Jutland Peninsula and each other. To the east is
Bornholm, the only large island of note that lies relatively far away, some eighty miles from
Sjaelland. However, if a country or territory spreads over too many widely separated islands, as is
the case with Greece, Indonesia, and the Philippines, it lacks physical concentration; it is
physically fragmented. The Philippines extend about 1,150 miles from north to south, and about
700 miles from east to west. The archipelago encompasses about 7,100 islands, of which only 460
are larger than one square mile. Indonesia, with its 13,700 islands and islets spread over 3,200
miles of sea, is even more physically fragmented than the Philippines.
Distances: The distance between one’s bases and the potential combat employment area is an
integral part of the space factor and is closely related to the factor of time. It is also a critical
aspect of the factor of space. Long distances between various points within a given theater imply
large physical space and thereby allow the deployment and employment of large combat forces.
Short distances, in contrast, imply a small employment area. Therefore, they pose great
difficulties for the movements of large forces. Among other things, long distances between home
bases and areas of potential or actual combat complicate the timely employment of one’s combat
forces significantly. Long distances also mean long lines of communications. These, in turn,
require long-haul transportation and larger forces for protection. One’s forward deployment can
to a certain degree alleviate these problems, but it cannot eliminate them.23
In both world wars, the principal characteristic of the war on the eastern front was the
enormous size of the area in which combat was conducted. In World War I, the German border
with Russia extended over 620 miles of open terrain.24 In their invasion of Soviet Russia in June
1941, the German theater of war in the east stretched from north to south for about 2,000 miles
(from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea) and over 1,700 miles from the west to the east (from the
Elbe River to the Volga River).25 From the Germans’ initial position on the Bug River, the
distances to the Orsha Corridor (Byelorussia) and the central part of the Volga River were 310
and 1,050 miles, respectively.26 Between the fall of 1941 and the fall of 1943, the German front
was never less than 2,400 miles long, and for a time in 1942 it reached 3,045 miles. The German
armies penetrated 1,180 miles into Russia and withdrew 1,490 miles back to Berlin.27
Maritime campaigns usually encompass vast areas of the oceans and adjacent seas. For
example, in World War II, the German attack on Allied maritime trade and the Allied campaign
to defend it encompassed the entire northern and much of the central and southern Atlantic,
part of the Indian Ocean, and most of the adjacent sea areas, such as the Mediterranean, the
North Sea, and the Caribbean. In addition, part of the Arctic Ocean and its marginal seas also
became the scene of action for both sides, as did the entire Pacific Ocean except for its
southeastern part.
The size of the Pacific theater is exemplified by the vast distances between selected
points. For example, the distance from San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan, is about 3,400
nautical miles. Some 2,100 nautical miles separate San Francisco and Hawaii. The distance from
the Panama Canal to Hawaii is about 4,700 nautical miles. Guam is about 3,500 nautical miles
away from Hawaii, while Wake is 2,200 nautical miles.28 Approximately 2,700 miles separate
Batavia, Java, and Rabaul, New Britain. The distance from Truk, Central Carolines, to Rabaul is
2,340 miles.
Because of the generally smaller size of enclosed and semienclosed seas (collectively
called “narrow seas”), the proximity of the landmass, and generally shallow waters, the character
of naval warfare in such seas differs considerably from that on the open ocean. The distances
between various points in such sea areas are relatively short. In the Baltic Sea, the distance
between Kiel and Helsinki is about 625 nautical miles; the port of Tallinn lies only about 220
nautical miles from Stockholm; and about 230 nautical miles separate Copenhagen and Rostock.
In the North Sea, the British port of Hull is only about 280 nautical miles from the German port
of Emden, while the Belgian ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge lie 207 and 205 nautical miles,
respectively, from Hull. The distance from Heligoland to Hull is about 300 nautical miles. The
German base at Cuxhaven lies about 420 nautical miles from the Firth of Forth. The distance
from the Shetlands to the Norwegian port of Haugesund is only about 200 nautical miles.
For a country that must project its power far from its shore, the distances from home
bases to the forward-deployed areas greatly affect its ability to influence events overseas.
Obviously, the longer the distance, the more complicated and time-consuming the projection of
power. For example, in World War II, the Western Allies’ problems with supplying Russia were
difficult to resolve because of a combination of long distances, prevailing bad weather conditions,
and the strength of the Axis forces. The routes that offered the shortest transit time were also the
most dangerous. Shipping from the U.S. East Coast ports to the Persian Gulf port of Basra (from
which Russia could be reached by land) had to go via the Cape of Good Hope until July 1943,
when the Mediterranean route was opened. The Cape route was about 14,500 miles long and
required 76 days to traverse. In contrast, the convoy voyages from the Icelandic ports to
Murmansk and Archangels’k took 10 and 12 days, respectively.29
In the war in the Mediterranean, the Axis control of both shores of the central
Mediterranean forced the British to use a much longer sea route, around the Cape, to supply
their forces in Malta—about 12,000 miles, versus 2,400 miles via Gibraltar. However, by July
1943 the Axis position in the Mediterranean had collapsed. This, in turn, allowed the British to
save about five million tons of shipping space by shortening the distance to the Middle East.30
The Korean War (1950–1953) and the Vietnam War (1965–1975) posed considerable
problems for the employment and sustainment of U.S. forces because of the distances between
the sources of power and the employment area. In the war in Afghanistan, U.S. aircraft had to fly
long distances from their bases in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East to their assigned target
areas. For example, air distance from Kabul to Bahrain is 1,240 miles; to Oman, 620; Socotra
(Gulf of Aden), 1,710; Berbera, 2,270; Djibouti, 2,300; and Diego Garcia, 2,985 miles. The
combination of the long distances and the short effective range of the aircraft limited U.S. carrier
aircraft to an average of 100 attack sorties per day.31 In addition, they required a large number
of tanker sorties to reach their targets.32 The carrier-based aircraft flew some 500 miles each way.
Similarly, the B-1 and B-52 bombers that flew from Diego Garcia and the B-2s from CONUS
required heavy use of in-flight refueling and significant diplomatic efforts in securing basing and
overflight rights. The B-1s/B-52s had to fly a total distance of some 5,500 miles, and each of their
trips lasted 12 to 15 hours. The missions of U.S. Air Force fighters deployed in the bases on the
Arabian Peninsula averaged 8 to 9 hours.
Dynamics of Space: Space is a highly dynamic factor once hostilities start. Changes in the size of
the area controlled by both sides occur often. In general, gaining space is a prerequisite for the
successful conduct of war, especially when a campaign is not completed quickly and one’s space
is too small.33 However, gaining space offers both advantages and disadvantages. In gaining
space, the movement of one’s supplies over ever-greater distances requires steadily larger forces
and means. If a decision is not reached and the attack continues, the attacker will most likely
overshoot his culmination point. The longer the attacker continues with his attacks, the more
likely that his combat power will erode to such an extent as to allow the defender to
In war, gaining space is in most cases an advantage. The more the invader advances, the
more land he gains under his control. Thereby, the defender has a smaller possibility of
conducting a successful defense. Likewise, the loss of space is, in general, a material and moral
disadvantage. Yet there are some situations where this disadvantage can be turned into an
advantage. By giving up the space, one can sometimes obtain a better position for defense. For
example, in Russia in 1812, the material and moral losses suffered by the Russians because of
their withdrawals were equalized because of the heavy losses Napoleon I suffered during his long
advance. Given the sheer size of Russia, the loss of a poor and sparsely populated area was not
important factor for the defender, while gaining of space for the French proved in fact to be a
decisive disadvantage.35
Additional space can be gained by offensive actions against enemy-controlled territory,
or by conducting deployment and concentration in greater-than-normal depth into one’s rear
areas. It can also be acquired by establishing an alliance or coalition that effectively enlarges the
area for military actions. Any space gained should be militarily organized to facilitate the
planning, preparation, and conduct of major operations or campaigns.
In general, the farther the attacker advances into the defender’s controlled territory, the
more he deprives the defender of the means of conducting the war—which the attacker can then
use to his advantage.36 The situation is more complicated in a war between two strong opponents
at sea. Enemy aircraft, submarines, or mines can effectively dispute or even deny control of an
ocean, sea, or air area to one’s forces.
A very large country could lose or even abandon a large part of its space to the enemy
without lasting damage to the overall effort, as was the case with Soviet Russia in World War II in
its war with Nazi Germany. In contrast, for a small country like Israel, giving up space could be
fatal to its very survival.37 Israel’s waistline before the Six-Day War in 1967 was only about eight
miles wide, or a 3-hour march for Jordanian troops on foot.38 Despite its control of the West
Bank after that war, Israel still had a highly unfavorable geostrategic position in the Yom Kippur
(Ramadan) War in October 1973. In the Golan Heights depth of the Israeli defenses were only
about 10 miles, and in the south it was only about 45 miles (the distance from the Suez Canal to
the Mitla and Gidi passes). The Golan Heights front stretched over 37 miles, or one-third of the
front line on the Suez Canal.39
Loss of space is usually a great disadvantage in preparing a counteroffensive. A side that
has lost space must accept certain restrictions in the movement of its forces.40 A loss of space
usually diminishes one’s morale and enhances the opponent’s morale. However, this is not always
the case. For example, Russia’s loss of territory to Napoleon I in 1812 was not as great a problem
as it might have been because the territory was very sparsely populated. On the other hand, for
the French, the gain in space proved to be a decisive disadvantage.41 They suffered increasingly
heavy losses from severe weather as they advanced deeper into Russia’s territory.
The size of the space available for military operations can be reduced for both the
potential attacker and defender by delineating spheres of influence in peacetime. For instance,
Russia and England agreed in 1907 to have a 62- to 93-mile-wide zone to avoid direct conflict
between their financial, trade, and administrative interests in Afghanistan.42 The Yalta
Agreement of 1945, by delineating spheres of influence between the Soviet-dominated
communist bloc and Western democracies, resulted in a large gain of space for any potential
offensive action by the Soviet armed forces against western Europe.
Neutral zones can play a significant role for both offense and defense, by either restricting
or allowing the deployment of forces. They can encompass a part of the territory of both
belligerents and the entire area of a third country. An alternative to a neutral zone is to divide
the entire area through military occupation, thereby enhancing political influence and control of
the area by both sides in a conflict.43 Neutral zones are usually established in an area where the
conflict is in transition from high tension to an understanding between the parties. In effect, they
reduce the space for the potential attacker and result in a gain of space for the defender.
The stability of a neutralized area or zone depends on the balance of forces between the
potential opponents. Where the sides are approximately equal in strength, any advantage one
side tries to obtain will be neutralized through the counteraction of the other side. The greater
the symmetry, the longer the tradition of stability must be if a neutral zone is to be protected or
observed by both sides. The opposite is also true.44
In some cases, a given area or zone must be neutralized because its control by either side
would provide a decisive advantage to the one side only. The danger of instability can be
reduced by destroying or neutralizing the military value of the territory in question. Emperor
Napoleon III abandoned the French claim to Luxembourg in 1866. Subsequently, the
fortifications of the city of Luxembourg were razed and the Duchy was neutralized. 45
The most elementary factor in the stability of a neutral zone is symmetry in the
advantages both sides draw from its existence. One or both sides in a conflict will usually respect
a neutral zone as long as the advantages of its use are at least as great as its disadvantages. For
example, in World War I, Britain and Germany had an equal interest in maintaining Norwegian
neutrality. The British used the coastal waters off northern Norway to supply its Russian ally,
while the Germans used the Inner Leads for the transport of Swedish iron ore from Narvik. This
situation changed in the initial phase of World War II, when Russia was not a belligerent and
Germany had taken advantage of Norway’s neutrality by using its coastal waters for transporting
Swedish iron ore.46
A war between two or more countries can indirectly involve a third country that is not
interested in the outcome of the war but wants to remain on friendly terms with both sides.47
Then, the space for the employment of forces of both sides is reduced. However, in some cases
such a situation could limit the attacker’s options, thereby providing advantages to the side on
the defensive. All acts of hostility in neutral territory, waters, or airspace are prohibited.48 The
amount of time belligerent warships can stay in a neutral port or anchorage is usually limited.
When one side knows that the neutralized area has limited value for the other, then it can be
confident that the other side will not try to change the status quo. If a neutral zone has relatively
small military, political, or economic importance, it is more likely that its neutrality will be
preserved.49 Switzerland and Sweden were formally neutral in both world wars. Potential
aggressors did not consider their territories vital in connection with the invasion of third
countries in the area. Another reason was that both countries maintained a strong military
establishment to preserve their neutrality. In contrast, Germany violated the formal neutrality of
Belgium and Luxembourg in 1914 and 1940 because their territories were the principal gateway
for its invasion of France.
Once hostilities start, the territories of neutral countries could be violated by one or both
sides. Thus, various neutral or exclusion zones, which in effect reduce space for military actions,
may be declared by one or both belligerents, or by third parties. Generally, space becomes
progressively larger as important neutrals are drawn into a conflict. The military need for space
can become so critical that limitations on the conduct of operations cease to be persuasive or
politically important.50
Space for military actions can also be reduced by the existence of countries or territories
in a state of nonbelligerency. This was the situation in Europe in World War I when, among
others, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries all declared their neutrality
in the war between the Central Powers and the Entente. In the early stage of World War II, the
neutrality of Iceland and Portugal (with its strategically located Azores Islands) enormously
complicated Allied efforts to defend their maritime trade in the Atlantic. This led to the decision
to land British troops in Iceland in May 1940 to preempt a possible German move to seize that
strategically important island. By July 1941, Iceland had come under U.S. protection. The Allies
did not obtain access to the Azores until October 1943, when the British successfully negotiated
the use of the airfields, making Portugal a cobelligerent (although it continued to outwardly
maintain its neutrality in some other respects). This made an almost immediate and dramatic
change in the situation in the Battle for the Atlantic. In contrast, the Allies were unable to use the
Canary Islands as a base, because Spain was a de facto ally of Nazi Germany.
In a maritime context, a neutral country can insulate itself from the hostilities by
declaring a neutrality zone. Such a zone can be effective if the diplomatic situation forces each side
in a war to placate neutrals. This happened with the South American Neutrality Zone declared in
Panama in October 1939. The zone encompassed all the countries of South and North America
(except Canada) plus the 300-mile-wide sea/ocean area off their coasts.51
In the past, blockade and counterblockade were declared by one or both sides in a conflict to
deny space, at least in legal terms, to its opponent at sea.52 The aim in establishing a blockade
was to deny the enemy the space in which to use his own (or neutral) vessels or aircraft to
transport personnel and goods to or from enemy territory. The Entente Powers conducted a
distant naval blockade of the Central Powers in World War I. Great Britain declared a blockade
of Germany on 8 September 1939. Two days later Germany announced a counterblockade of
Britain. In June 1940, the British blockade was extended to Italy and its possessions.
Since 1945, the most prevalent method of preserving space for one’s forces and denying
space to the opponent at sea has been to declare various exclusion zones. The effective
enforcement of an exclusion zone requires the proper balancing of one’s forces in terms of space
and time. Otherwise, the side that declared the exclusion zone is forced to conduct random
searches or even use force in the hope of deterring the enemy’s ships or aircraft from entering
and operating within the respective zone. For example, in the Iran-Iraq War, both sides declared
exclusion zones in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in
September 1980. Iraq declared a prohibited war zone in the northern part of the gulf on 12
August 1982. This zone was extended in February 1984 to include an area 50 miles in radius
from Kharg Island.53 However, neither Iraq nor Iran had the forces to enforce their respective
exclusion zones.
On 12 April 1982, in the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict, the British declared a 200nautical-mile maritime exclusion zone (MEZ) around the geographic center of the Falklands.
Only the Argentine warships and naval auxiliaries found within the zone were liable to attack. On
30 April, this zone was expanded to a total exclusion zone (TEZ), which was applied to every ship
and aircraft, whether military or civil, operating in support of the illegal occupation of the
Falkland Islands.54 The Argentines, in turn, declared a South Atlantic War Zone on 11 May 1982.
Cyberspace: Since the early 1980s, the concept of space has been vastly expanded by dramatic
changes in the use of computer-based information systems, and in particular the Internet. The
term “cyberspace” has been introduced.55 It is a metaphor for describing nonphysical terrain
created by computer systems. Online systems create cyberspace, within which people can
communicate with one another via e-mail, do research, or simply window shop. The unique
characteristics of cyberspace is that it lacks geographic boundaries and a physical presence does
not exist. Because there is no clear-cut front line, it is extremely difficult to identify the origin of
a “cyber attack.” Also, there is no discernible line of defense. Like physical space, cyberspace
contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics, etc.) and different modes of transmission and
Cyberspace and traditional physical space have some things in common, but there are
also considerable differences. It is not physically limited, as the traditional physical environment
is. It is practically limitless and without fixed boundaries. A Web page posted anywhere in the
world is available to everyone. When an e-mail message is transmitted, it can be retransmitted to
anyone in the world with access to the Web. Thus, traditional borders and distances have little
relevance. However, there are some physical limitations in the use of cyberspace. For example,
one can establish procedures, such as passwords, aimed at preventing unauthorized entry to the
information system. Another limitation is potential legal consequences attached to activities in
cyberspace. If a particular act is prohibited, and if there are effective sanctions for violators, the
law also serves as a border.57
Physical space and cyberspace are related, because the ground elements of cyberspace
are distributed both in a physical space where combat takes place, and many hundreds and even
thousand of miles away. This has enormous consequences, because the very outcome of a
campaign or major operation might depend on offensive and defensive actions conducted far
beyond the theater’s boundaries.
Conclusion: The main characteristic of modern warfare is the continuous expansion of space in
which military movements and combat action take place. Combat actions have extended to
encompass not only a ground and sea/ocean surface, but also subsurface and air/space. However,
in terms of time, “space” has steadily shrunk because of the advent of aircraft, missiles, and new
means of surveillance. The importance of the factor of space in planning, conducting, and
sustaining campaigns and major operations cannot be overstated. Many military enterprises
ultimately failed, or the effort required too much time and too many resources to reach a
successful outcome, because either the factor of space was neglected or some of its key elements
were improperly analyzed and hence led to a flawed operational scheme. Despite all the
technological advances, physical space cannot be wished away, as some information warfare
enthusiasts believe. A large force needs a larger space to move and maneuver. Space, with its
distances and physical features, remains a critical factor in the employment of forces for both
sides in a conflict. The emerging cyberspace does not diminish but rather complements the
importance of physical space. It expands the factor of space into the fourth dimension, thereby
requiring new force capabilities. While in the past forces were essentially limited within the
boundaries of a given theater, today many elements of the enemy’s military and nonmilitary
sources of power are located farther away. The significance of the “space” should not be
overemphasized, because its ultimate effect depends considerably on the factors of time and
1. Gustav Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung (Frauenfeld: Verlag von Huber & Co.
Aktiengesellschaft, 1944), p. 13.
2. Lothar Rendulic, Grundlagen militaerischer Fuehrung (Herford/Bonn: Maximilian Verlag, 1967), p. 22.
3. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 29.
4. Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Arbeitspapier, Operative Fuehrung (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr,
August 1992), p. 14.
5. Center for Military History, U.S. Army, CMH Pub 104-5, Terrain Factors in the Russian Campaign (Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office, first printing July 1951, facsimile edition 1986), p. 1.
6. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 27.
7. Lothar Rendulic, “Operative Beherrschung des Raumes,” Wehrwissenschaftlichen Rundschau 1 (January 1964), p. 83.
8. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 20.
9. John M. Collins, Military Geography for Professionals and the Public (Washington, DC/London: Brassey’s, 1998), p. 17.
10. Harmut Behrendt, Die Handlungsfreiheit der militaerischen Fuehrung—Moeglichkeiten und Grenzen aufgrund des heutigen
Kriegsbildes (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, January 1968), p. 6.
11. Erich Koenen, Die operativen Ideen Mansteins hinsichtlich Nuetzung des Raumes, Gewinnen der Initiative, Schaffen von
Handlungsfreiheit und Wahl zwischen offensivem and defensivem Vorgehen. Eine Untersuchung anhand der Beispiele ‘Rochade’ und
Schlacht bei Kharkow des Winterfeldzuges 1942/43 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, August 1992), p. 4.
12. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 11.
13. Cited in Jehuda L. Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and Their
Impact on the German Conduct of Two World Wars (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986), p. 206.
14. Collins, Military Geography for Professionals and the Public, p. 17.
15. Martin Blumenson and James L. Stokesbury, Masters of the Art of Command (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1975), pp. 25–26.
16. Werner Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812
(Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1964), p. 16.
17. Ministry of Defence (Navy), War with Japan, Vol. 1, Background to the War (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office,
1995), p. 1.
18. Christian Millotat, “Operative Ueberlegungen fuer das deutsche Heer in der gegenwaertigen Sicherheitslage,”
Oesterreichische Militaerische Zeitschrift 1 (January–February 1996), p. 60.
19. T. K. Derry, The Campaign in Norway (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1952), p. 229.
20. Collins, Military Geography for Professionals and the Public, p. 20.
21. Cited in Norbert Hanisch, Untersuchen Sie die operativen Ideen Manstein hinsdichtlich Schwerpunkt-bildung, Ueberraschung, Initiative
und Handlungsfreiheit an den Beispielen Westfeldzug 1940 (Sichelschnitt-Plan) und Operation ZITADELLE (Hamburg:
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 15 January 1988), p. 45.
22. Collins, Military Geography for Professionals and the Public, p. 20.
23. Ibid., p. 15.
24. Rudolf Heinstein, Zur Strategie des Mehrfrontenkrieges. Das Problem der “inneren und auesseren Linie” dargestellt am Beispiel
des Ersten Weltkrieges (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 10 November 1975), p. 14.
25. David J. Bongi, Operational Logic and Identifying Soviet Operational Centers of Gravity During Operation BARBAROSSA 1941
(Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 25 May
1994), p. 22.
26. Center for Military History, U.S. Army, CMH Pub 104-5, Terrain Factors in the Russian Campaign, pp. 6–7; T-34:
Bedeutung von Fluss-und Waldgebieten, Suempfen und Steppen, ZA/1 2381, Studien der Historical Division Headquarters,
United States Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, Bundesarchiv/Militaerarchiv (BA-MA), Freiburg, i.Br., p. 11.
27. Earl F. Ziemke, “The German Defeat in the East, 1942–45,” Military Review 5 (May 1965), p. 33.
28. Th. Arps, R. Gadow, H. Hesse, and D. Ritter von Niedermayer, Kleine Wehrgeographie des Weltmeeres (Berlin: E. S.
Mittler & Sohn, 1938), p. 22.
29. Samuel E. Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. 1, The Battle of the Atlantic, September
1939—May 1943 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, reprint 1984), p. 159.
30. Anthony E. Sokol, “Seapower in the Mediterranean 1940 to 1943,” Military Review 8 (August 1960), pp. 16–17.
31. Lothar Ruehl, “Amerikas ‘langer Arm’ zwischen den Kontinenten,” Neue Zuercher Zeitung, 8 December 2001.
32. Tom Bowman, “Studying Lessons of Battle Success,” Baltimore Sun, 17 December 2001.
33. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 14.
34. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 2.
35. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom Heutigen Kriege, Vol. 2, Kampf und Kriegfuehrung (Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn,
1912), pp. 257–58.
36. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom Heutigen Kriege, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, Combat and Conduct of War, translated by
Karl Donat (London: Hugh Rees, 1913), p. 243.
37. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 12.
38. Collins, Military Geography for Professionals and the Public, p. 20.
39. Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1st
ed., 1991), p. 103.
40. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, p. 319.
41. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 244.
42. Daniel Frei, “Neutralisierte Zonen: Versuch einer strategisch-machtpolitischen Theorie,” Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 12
(December 1969), p. 666.
43. Ibid., pp. 666–67.
44. Ibid., pp. 671–73.
45. Ibid., p. 673.
46. Ibid., pp. 669–70.
47. Mark W. Janis, “Neutrality,” in Horace B. Robertson, Jr., ed., The Law of Naval Operations (Newport, RI: Naval War
College Press, 1991), p. 148.
48. Neutral internal waters encompass those waters of a neutral nation that are landward of the baseline from which the
territorial sea is measured; a neutral territorial sea is like neutral land, because it cannot be used by any belligerent either as
a sanctuary or as a base of operations; belligerents are also obliged to refrain from all hostile acts; belligerents are not
allowed to move troops, war material, or supplies across neutral territory; troops that enter neutral territory must be
disarmed and interned until the end of the conflict; neutral nations can, but are not obliged to, close their ports and
roadsteads to belligerents.
49. Frei, “Neutralisierte Zonen: Versuch einer strategisch-machtpolitischen Theorie,” pp. 671–73.
50. D. P. O’Connell, The Influence of Law on Sea Power (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1975), p. 51.
51. Ibid., pp. 162, 28.
52. A blockade is a hostile act intended to prevent ships or aircraft of any nation, enemy or neutral, from entering or
exiting specified ports, airfields, or coastal areas belonging to, occupied by, or under the control of the enemy nation.
53. F. E. Goldie, “Maritime War Zones & Exclusion Zones,” in Horace B. Robertson, Jr., ed., The Law of Naval Operations, p. 175.
54. Ibid., p. 173.
55. The term “cyberspace” was coined by science fiction author William Gibson to describe his vision of a global computer
network, linking all people, machines, and sources of information in the world, and through which one could move, or
“navigate,” as through a virtual space; the word “cyber” derives from the Greek verb Kubernao, which means “to steer”; it connotes
the idea of navigation through a space of electronic data. The related term “cybernetics” (Greek kybernetes—steersman) was first
introduced by the mathematician Norbert Wiener as the science of communications and control in animals and the machine. This
term defines itself as a science of information and communications.
56. http://aol.pcwebodia.com/TERMc/cyberspace.html.
57. Arthur K. Cebrowski, “Sea, Space, Cyberspace: Borderless Domains,” speech to a lawyers’ association, Honolulu,
Hawaii, 26 February 1999, p. 4.
Ask me for anything but time.
Napoleon I To His Marshals
Time is the essence in war, and while a defeat may be
balanced by a battle won, days and hours—even
minutes—frittered away, can never be regained.
S. B. Griffith II,
Brigadier General, USMC
Time is one of the most precious commodities in the conduct of warfare. Napoleon I said that “the
loss of time is irreparable in war . . . .operations only fail through delays.”1 The factor of time is
closely related to the factor of space. However, compared with the factor of space, time is far more
dynamic and changeable.2 For one thing, space lost can be regained; time lost can never be
In general, any military action or measure requires a certain amount of time to plan,
prepare, conduct, and sustain. Large forces do not just suddenly appear in a theater. They
sometimes need several days or even weeks to complete movement from one area to another.
Strategy and operational art are concerned with greater spans of space and time than tactics
are. Sometimes even a single unforeseen incident in the course of combat can disrupt the
sequencing or synchronization of one’s combat forces and thereby adversely affect the
outcome of a major operation or even a campaign. Time lost or wasted in conducting daily
routine activities can sometimes indirectly influence, to a great degree, the outcome of a
combat action.
The relative value of the factor of time has gradually changed over time. In the era of twodimensional wars, actions took place over a much smaller space and at a relatively slower pace than
today, allowing the commander much more time to prepare for combat or react to unforeseen
events. The rapid technological advances in the past century have considerably reduced the amount
of time required to acquire and transmit information. However, the sheer amount of information to
be processed and analyzed requires much more time than in the past. The solution is to focus on
the information that pertains to the key aspects of the specific situation; otherwise, the time to make
a sound decision would be unduly long.
In general, time is nonmaterial, without content, and infinite.3 Mastering the factor of time
in combat essentially means acting faster than the opponent. Then the key to success is to shorten
the time for estimating the situation, making a decision, and deploying and maneuvering one’s
combat forces. At the same time, one should try to prolong the time the enemy needs for these
The struggle for the factor of time starts in peacetime and continues during the course of
combat. One can accept losses in combat if they result in a considerable gain of time that can be
used to timely preempt the enemy’s action or the concentration of his forces, or to enable the
withdrawal of friendly forces.4 Time is significant not only for its qualitative and quantitative value
but also for what it concretely achieves. Time is required to overcome the factor of space. Any
military action requires time to plan, prepare, and conduct.
Considerable time can be gained by reducing the time required for planning and
preparing a campaign or major operation. Among other things, this can be achieved by having
an experienced and highly efficient staff. The new information technologies should be used to
increase the effectiveness of a large staff, while at the same time reducing the number of
personnel on such staffs.
A lack of time can sometimes force the operational commander to act in haste. This can
lead to incomplete or poor planning and preparation for combat. The lack of time at the higher
command echelon has, in most cases, a negative effect on subordinate commanders and staffs.
Thus, operational commanders should properly evaluate the factor of time. They should pay
continuous attention to how time is used. Above all, they should prevent losing time.
The superiority of attack over defense depends greatly on the time required for the
attacker to carry out his offensive. The attacker should try achieving his ultimate objective in as
short a time as possible. If victory is too long in coming, the attacker can overshoot his point of
culmination.5 A quick advance on land by the attacker usually prevents the defender from
conducting an orderly withdrawal. In addition, the enemy’s morale is diminished much more if the
one reaches the decision quickly.
Time is required for the attacker to consolidate his gains of space; this includes the time
required to secure control of the newly acquired areas and to militarily organize the space.6 The
defender, in contrast, should delay the decision as long as possible and then try to revert to the
counteroffensive to defeat the attacker.7 He can gain time by conducting a delaying defense until
reinforcements are brought in, thereby creating the conditions for eventual victory.8 For example,
in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the longer the Austrians fought, the more likely French
intervention on their behalf became. Likewise, in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, the
protracted popular resistance in Paris was critical for the French to realize their hopes that other
European powers would eventually intervene in the conflict on their side.
The factor of time can have tactical, operational, or strategic importance. As the terms
imply, the tactical and operational aspects of the factor of time pertain to all elements of the
planning, preparation, and execution of tactical actions and major operations/campaigns,
respectively. The strategic aspect of time is related to, among other things, the probable duration of
the future war, the time between the declaration of war and the opening of hostilities, warning and
reaction time, mobilization and demobilization time, and the time required to prepare the
country’s armed forces for war and to establish the industrial base. These matters are normally the
responsibility of the highest political-military leadership of the country or alliance/coalition. Thus,
operational commanders and their staffs can have little or no influence on these time-related
decisions or factors. In contrast, the factor of time in dealing with operational decisions and the
planning, preparation, and conduct of a campaign or major operation is directly influenced by the
actions of the operational commander’s staff and the actions, or lack of actions, of subordinate
tactical commanders.
At the national-strategic level one of the key issues to be resolved successfully is the sound
appreciation of the character and duration of the future war. This is one of the main tasks of the
military leadership in peacetime.9 Yet experience shows that in many cases, before the beginning of
hostilities, one or both sides falsely envisioned the character or duration, or both, of the future war.
This invariably had a significant negative effect on one’s ability to conduct the war successfully.
Among other things, the false reading of the character of the war and the errors in peacetime in
anticipating its duration have often had serious consequences on force planning, the development
of service and joint doctrine, and the eventual outcome of the war itself.
In general, a reasonably realistic picture of the general character and duration of a future
war would help national leaders create or expand the existing industrial base and establish the
forces necessary to accomplish the national objectives. The more time available for preparing for
war, the more thorough and therefore more successful these preparations will be. This is especially
important for organizing mobilization and the national logistics system. Correctly estimating the
duration of a war is also critical to anticipating the extent and type of the vulnerabilities of one’s
country or of the alliance or coalition as a whole. Normally, a short war draws only upon ready
stockpiles, and therefore the destruction of manufacturing facilities does not affect its outcome.10
A long war, in contrast, requires a significant increase in the country is manufacturing
capacity, the conversion of some facilities, and the construction of new ones. All this requires a
relatively long time to complete. The expansion of war-waging capacity competes with current
peacetime production for manpower, materials, and physical plants and machinery.11
In the years preceding the outbreak of World War I, the German military focused almost
exclusively on studying and deriving lessons from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. Among
the lessons learned from these wars was that any future war would be a war of movement and
therefore decisive and short. The Germans did not pay serious attention to the lessons of the
American Civil War (1861–1865) because they believed it to have little military relevance for the
conditions in Europe. This was partly the reason for the German military’s firmly held belief that a
positional war could occur only if waged by indecisive leadership and by the weaker side in a
conflict.12 Yet it turned out that the American Civil War and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905
were the real precursors of World War I—that is, positional wars of attrition, and not the Moltkean
wars of movement of 1866 and 1870–1871.
The German chief of the general staff Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen (1833–1913) was
well aware that Germany could not endure for too long a protracted two-front war because of its
inferior military, economic, and financial potential and possible internal unrest. Consequently, the
German general staff focused on the quick destruction of enemy armies. The Germans believed
that the war would end after four to six months and the planned campaign against France would
last no more than eight to 10 weeks.13 As it turned out, the war went on for more than four years,
with horrendous losses of personnel and materiel on both sides. The French military likewise failed
to correctly anticipate the character of the future war in the years preceding August 1914. The
prevalent French view then was that a future war would be short, and one in which maneuvering
would play the predominant part; it would be a war of movement.14
During the 1930s, the French and British mistakenly believed that the next war would be a
positional war, as World War I had been. Thus, in contrast to the Germans, they fail to prepare for
a war of movement. In retrospect, the French vision of the future war was deeply flawed because it
was based on three false readings of military developments at the time: the exaggerated
destructiveness of firepower, the dominant role of the defense, and the superiority of the so-called
“methodical battle.”15
In the past, too many of the highest political and military leaders committed grave errors
in predicting whether or when hostilities would start. Also, the lack of a realistic appreciation of the
strategic situation has often led political and military leaders to plan for a short war instead of a
longer one. For example, Hitler expected to defeat the Soviets in only eight to 12 weeks.16
However, the war lasted almost four years and ended with a catastrophic defeat for Nazi Germany.
The Japanese top army leadership also badly miscalculated the duration of the pending war. About
three months before the decision to start hostilities with the United States, the Japanese emperor
Hirohito asked General Hajime Sugiyama (1880–1945), chief of the army general staff, how long
the war would last. Sugiyama assured the emperor that it would end in no more than three months.
Hirohito then pointed out to Sugiyama that he had been told that the campaign in Manchuria
would last only a month and it had already lasted four years.17
Before the Yom Kippur/Ramadan War of October 1973, most of the Israeli and U.S.
decision makers believed war would not break out that year, or if it did, it would last about a week.
Yet the war not only broke out, it also lasted two and a half weeks.18 At the beginning of the Kosovo
conflict of 1999 (Operation ALLIED FORCES), NATO leaders reportedly envisioned that the Serbian
strongman Slobodan Milosevic would capitulate after a few days, or two weeks at the most.19 This
belief was not based on the realities of the situation. As it turned out, NATO carried out a major air
operation for 78 days before Milosevic accepted NATO’s demands.
The factor of time should be fully taken into account by the national-strategic or
alliance/coalition leadership during its deliberations on the length of the pending conflict or war.
For example, the British and French political leaders seriously miscalculated the factor of time in
their attack on Egypt in October 1956. The entire operation started and proceeded slowly, and
therefore enough time passed for world opinion to mobilize against Britain and France before the
operation was completed. The planners did not appreciate the need for quick action to bring about
a fait accompli before there could be any outside interference. In contrast, the Israeli attack on Egypt
and Jordan in October 1967 was executed swiftly, and all military objectives were accomplished
within six days—one day longer than the planners envisaged. Reportedly, the Israelis had factored
in “reserve” time in case their objectives were not accomplished according to the planned timetable.
If the attack had taken any more time, the Israelis would have been denied complete victory, as
happened in 1956.20
Among many other things, the U.S. intervention in Vietnam failed by not appreciating the
factor of time. The U.S. decision makers believed in 1965 that the rapid introduction of combat
troops would quickly defeat the communist insurgency. Afterward, civilian and military leaders
repeatedly misled the U.S. public with promises that victory was just around the corner. The United
States did not appreciate the difficulties of fighting well-trained and motivated insurgents. The
intervention turned out to be a strategic blunder of the greatest magnitude.21
During the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, one of the main
challenges for the top leadership of great powers was the shortening of the time between the formal
declaration of war and the actual opening of hostilities. This depended on the speed of mobilization and
movement of troops from their mobilization posts to the area of concentration. Sixteen days passed
between the French declaration of war against Prussia and the first combat in 1870.22 By August 1914,
the time to react to the enemy’s mobilization in case of war between major European powers had been
reduced to only a few days. In a more recent example, the United States did not have sufficient time
to build up a coalition of the Afghani tribes prior to the start of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in
October 2001. There was significant pressure to act in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack and to
complete the operation before the onset of the severe winter weather.
Since World War II, most regional wars have started without a formal declaration of war.
Hence, either the victims of aggression did not have sufficient time to prepare their defenses, or the
signals of war were lost in a maze of conflicting information, or the attacker achieved a strategic
surprise. All the major regional conflicts fought after 1945—for example, the Korean War of 1950–
1953; the four Arab-Israeli Wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973; the Iran-Iraq Conflict of 1980–
1988; the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict of 1982; the Gulf War of 1990–1991; the war in Afghanistan in
2001-2002; and the war against Iraq in 2003 (Operation IRAQI FREEDOM)—all started without a
formal declaration of war.
Obviously, the greater the time for preparation, the higher the probability of success.
Adequate preparation time is critical for the alerting, mobilization, predeployment, deployment,
and combat employment of one’s forces. The aim should be to prevent the potential enemy from
having sufficient time to complete his preparations. Otherwise, the duration of the hostilities will
invariably be longer than planned or necessary. In general, there is a great advantage in
completing one’s mobilization and deployment before the enemy does. Then one’s forces can go on
the offensive before the enemy is fully ready. They can also possibly disrupt the enemy’s plans for
mobilization, deployment, and concentration. An early attack can also force the enemy to withdraw
without a fight and thereby at least gain space for the morale of one’s forces. Another advantage of
an early start of the operation is that the deployment and concentration area for the enemy’s forces
will be reduced because of the resultant loss of space. For example, in the Austro-Prussian War of
1866, the early predeployment of the Prussian army reduced the area of operations for the
Austrians so that they were unable to carry out their strategic intent. Consequently, the Austrians
had to accept battle at a place and time they did not plan for. For the Prussians, the early
predeployment resulted in a significant gain of space. The Prussian First Army and the Elbe Army
moved into Bohemia unhindered by the Austrians. At the same time, the Prussians neutralized any
Austrian move threatening the flank of the Prussian Second Army. The Austrians were also forced
to operate from interior lines without having a sufficient operational area (Operationsraum). The
Prussians’ gain of space was sufficient to effect concentration of their armies for the major battle at
Koeniggraetz (Sadowa) on 3 July 1866.23
The defender can also gain a significant advantage by completing his preparation early
and then go onto a limited offensive to create a more favorable operational situation. One option
for the defender is, by timely completing predeployment, to gain some sectors of terrain that are
highly favorable for defense, as the Boers did in their war with Britain in 1899–1902. The Boers
were determined by their entry into Natal in October 1899 to remain tactically on the defensive.
However, their defensive positions along the Orange River separating the Orange Free State and
the Cape Colony were generally poor. Hence, the Boers entered the Cape Colony, captured several
good positions, and waited on the British to attack.24
The German army’s general staff (OKH), in its planning for the invasion of Yugoslavia,
decided to initiate hostilities on 6 April 1941 and stagger the entire attack over seven days without
waiting for all German divisions to concentrate in their staging areas. The aim was to prevent the
Yugoslavs from completing mobilization of an additional 500,000 troops and to act before the
arrival of more British troops in Greece.25
Preparation time depends not only on purely military measures but also on the work of
diplomacy. The United States and the NATO alliance made a serious mistake in not reacting
forcefully to the Serbian massacre of 45 ethnic Albanians near the village of Racak in mid-January
1999. A decision was made to give more time for diplomacy, so that by the time military action was
taken on 24 March, the Serbs had significantly reinforced their troops inside Kosovo, prepared
defenses against an eventual bombing, and dispersed their aircraft.26 This was one of the factors
that unduly prolonged the air offensive against Serbia.
Normally, intensive planning and sufficient time for preparation should precede deliberate
attacks.27 Attacks with little preparation or unplanned attacks are usually not profitable. Hitler
showed great imprudence in planning to open a new campaign in the West in October 1939
although the Polish campaign had just ended. Fortunately, for the Germans, a series of events
forced Hitler to wait until May 1940. These delays not only allowed more time for preparation but
also accidentally led to a revised—and what proved to be a much better—operations plan. 28
Normally, a major operation in peacetime is conducted without the need to resort to
mobilization. In contrast, a campaign almost invariably requires the large-scale mobilization of
forces of all services, and often the forces of allies or coalition partners as well. Obviously, the time
for mobilization should be as short as possible to enhance one’s chances of acting before the
opponent is ready. The amount of warning time is closely related to the timely mobilization of one’s
forces. Among other things, the mobilization time depends on the size of the objective to be
accomplished, the size and type of forces to be mobilized, and the diversity, mode, and overall
efficiency of the transportation system. In the late industrial era, the speed of mobilization was one
of the key factors in achieving initial victories on the battlefield. In the Franco-Prussian War of
1870–1871, Prussia ordered mobilization on 16 July 1870, and by 4 August the Prussian troops
crossed the Franco-German border and achieved their first victory.29
In August 1914, Germany and France were able to complete the first stage of their
mobilization (all units at their regimental concentration points and ready to move) in 48 hours.
Because of their much less developed railroad system, Russia and Austria-Hungary required four or
five days. Russia required about 15 days to concentrate one-third of its first-line units on its western
frontier. As it turned out, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914 after ordering
partial mobilization of its armed forces. To Germany’s dismay, the Austro-Hungarians were unable
to open hostilities until 12 August. Russia ordered partial mobilization on 29 July, and two days
later, general mobilization.
One’s favorable geostrategic position can considerably extend the warning time of an
impending enemy attack. In the modern era, time for the defender can be gained through an
effective and long-range early warning system.30 An attacker always needs a certain amount of time
to start deployment and build up his forces in an area of concentration, and then for the forces to
move to attacking positions. For example, before the beginning of the hostilities in the Yom
Kippur/Ramadan War in October 1973, the Israeli planners erroneously believed that they would
have about two days’ warning time—that is, sufficient time to mobilize Israel’s reserve forces and
strike a preemptive blow.31
The smallness of physical space might preclude or completely eliminate adequate warning
time. For example, in 1973, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) required, at minimum, two days’
warning for mobilization, but it faced a situation in which no warning time was available.32 In other
situations, the warning time can be reduced to hours or even minutes, as will probably be the case
with any massive surprise attacks by the North Korean forces against the U.S./ROK’s forces south of
the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Closely related to warning time is the reaction time to the enemy’s attack or unforeseen
action. Obviously, the reaction time is shorter if one’s forces are on full alert or at a higher state of
combat readiness. Once the hostilities begin, the reaction time, among other things, is a function of
the decision-making cycle, command and control (C2) process, and theaterwide communications.
The side that reacts faster than its opponent would generally improve its chances of accomplishing
its assigned military objectives. For instance, one of the most serious Allied weaknesses in the
defense of France in 1940 was the inability to react to the fast-changing situation on the ground and
in the air. The theater command proved unable either to generate quick and effective orders or to
rapidly commit reinforcements. The operational commanders lost touch with both superiors and
Reaction time can be shortened, especially in a crisis or a sudden outbreak of hostilities, by
deploying one’s forces in forward areas or in the areas of potential conflict. This is one of the
reasons why the U.S. Navy has permanently deployed the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, the
Seventh Fleet in the western Pacific, and the Fifth Fleet in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf/Gulf of Oman
and part of the Indian Ocean. On several occasions in recent years, the fighter and heavy bomber
squadrons of the U.S. Air Force were also deployed to an area of potential crisis or conflict.
Prepositioning weapons and equipment at various strategic locations worldwide also significantly
reduces the time needed to react to any major or minor contingency requiring the employment of
military forces.
Operational aspects of the factor of time deal with making operational decisions and the
planning, preparation, and execution of campaigns and major operations. Specifically, they include
such elements as the length of the decision-making cycle, planning and preparation time, the time
between two consecutive campaigns or major operations, deployment time, reserve time, and time
required to commit operational reserve.
In general, the decision-making cycle at the operational and strategic levels should be as short
as possible. This is accomplished by having a simple command structure with a fast and reliable
command and control supporting system; timely, accurate, and, perhaps above all, relevant
intelligence; and fast and reliable communications. Human factors, especially the character traits of
the operational commander, also play a critical role in making sound decisions quickly. The
decision cycle is highly dependent on the number and efficiency of the segments in a decision loop.
The speed of making a decision depends on the speed of the slowest element in the cycle.
Generally, the more elements the decision cycle has, the slower and less effective the entire
decision-making process will be. The aim of an attacker today is to render the defender unable to
respond to his actions in a timely fashion. For example, the U.S.-led coalition forces reportedly
neutralized Iraqi decision making in the first hours after the start of the air offensive on 17 January
1991. The top Iraqi leadership could not respond in any meaningful way to these massive air
attacks, although other components of Iraqi military power had not yet been destroyed or
To be useful, intelligence should be not only accurate and relevant, but also timely. In
recent years, the greatest impact on intelligence has been from the huge increase in the volume and
diversity of information acquired. Although the processing and evaluation time has been
considerably reduced, the sheer amount of information far exceeds the ability to process, evaluate,
and distribute it. This, in turn, makes it hard, if not impossible, to distinguish accurate and relevant
information from inaccurate and nonessential information. The heavy reliance on computerized
processing today creates potentially serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by an agile and
resourceful enemy. The expansion of the battlefield/battlespace in the future will put a premium on
obtaining and distributing highly accurate and timely information. However, information is
worthless if it is irrelevant to the task at hand. It is too often forgotten that information is merely a
means to an end, not an end in itself.
Poor intelligence or miscalculation on the part of operational commanders and their staffs
is potentially fatal in regard to the probable rate of advance of enemy forces or the time needed to
mount an attack. For example, in 1940, the French Supreme Command calculated that a German
attack through the Ardennes would require at least five and most likely nine days. Yet the German
panzers reached the Meuse River within two and a half days of crossing the border from Belgium
and Luxembourg. Still thinking in terms of World War I, the French mistakenly believed that the
Germans, after reaching the Meuse, would need about seven days to mount an attack across the
river (because of the need to bring up guns, ammunition, etc.). To the great surprise of the French,
the Germans attacked only a day later.35
The larger the objectives to be accomplished, the larger the scale of combat actions that
must be envisaged, and, consequently, the more time will be required for planning, preparation,
and execution. Planning time is another critical element that affects the success of a major operation
or campaign. For example, the German campaign to seize Greece (Plan Marita) was discussed first
in November 1940; preparations started on 13 December, and the campaign was executed on 6
April 1941. In contrast, the campaign to invade Yugoslavia was first discussed on 27 March 1941
and the invasion took place on 6 April. The planners had only about 10 days between the start of the
deployment of forces to Austria, Hungary, and Romania and redeployment of the German forces
already in Bulgaria, and the start of the invasion.36
Planning time can be greatly reduced if the planning is conducted concurrently rather than
sequentially. Also, the simpler the planning process, the more speed is enhanced. In addition, the
more experienced the operational commanders and planners, the faster they will be at improvising
and preparing operation plans. However, today’s trend of increasing reliance on computers as aids to
planning is fraught with potential dangers. While the network of computers can considerably reduce
the time needed to carry out routine planning tasks, it cannot replace the human mind and the skills
and experience of operational commanders and their staffs. Moreover, computers are prone to
breakdowns and are not immune to penetration by computer “hackers” or other hostile actions.
In a campaign, the time between consecutive major operations or campaigns should be short so
that a high operational tempo is maintained. The time to mount a consecutive major operation or
campaign depends on, among other things, the forces available, the attrition rate of one’s forces,
the quality and sufficiency of logistical sustainment, and the effectiveness of operational command
and control. For example, the Germans in planning their invasion of Denmark and Norway made a
decision to start the campaign on 9 April so that it would not interfere with the timing of the much
larger campaign against the Benelux countries and France, planned to start on 10 May. The start of
the Allied Solomons campaign in August 1942 was dictated primarily by the need to consolidate and
exploit the Allied operational success in the Battle of Midway on 4–6 June. By 2 July, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George C. Marshall (1880-1959) and Admiral Ernest J. King
(1878–1956), after resolving numerous disagreements, ordered that an offensive in the southern
Pacific be mounted at once.37 The first major operation in what became known as the Solomons
campaign was an amphibious landing on Guadalcanal (Operation WATCHTOWER) on 7 August.
Normally, in the case of two or more regional wars, one should not start a new campaign of
choice until strategic success in the previous campaign is solidly secured; otherwise, one might find
itself in a situation of failing to achieve the desired (strategic) end state in both campaigns. The
exception is, of course, if the new campaign has to be conducted because of some gross aggressive
action, such as an attack on one’s vital national interests in the area or the need to come to the aid
of an ally or a friendly country in the area. For example, one can argue that the United States made
a major mistake by starting a war of choice against Iraq in March 2003 without fully consolidating
strategic success in Afghanistan. Currently, there are still ongoing insurgencies in both Afghanistan
and Iraq, and the outcome of the post-hostilities phase in both theaters is highly uncertain at best.
In some cases, a major invasion launched with little or no preparation proved to be quite
successful. For example, in the early spring of 1941, the Germans were faced with a steadily
deteriorating political and military situation in the Balkans because of the Italian reverses in their
war with Greece. In the midst of their preparations to intervene in Greece, there was a military
coup d’état in Belgrade. The pro-German government that had adhered to the Tripartite Pact just
two days earlier was overthrown. The Germans had to deal suddenly with the possibility that the
new Yugoslav government would become allied with Britain and Greece. Hence, the decision was
made to invade Yugoslavia as well. The Germans attacked while many of their ground troops were
being deployed to their staging areas in southern Austria and the southwestern part of Hungary.38
Although the entire campaign in Yugoslavia was short (6–17 April), it had a significant impact on
the Germans’ ability to redeploy and concentrate their forces in the proximity of the eastern
borders of Poland and Czechoslovakia in preparation for the invasion of Soviet Russia (originally
planned for 15 May 1941).
In the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict of 1982, the Argentines had at least four weeks to build
up their logistical support before the British task force reached the islands.39 In the Gulf War of
1990–1991, the U.S. and coalition forces had about five and a half months for the deployment of
their ground forces, a situation not likely to be repeated in the future.
Amphibious landings are inherently complex, and their success depends as much on
meticulous planning as on their preparation and execution. A lack of time for preparing an
amphibious landing operation would make it difficult or impossible to undertake more than a
token unloading of vehicles and cargo or integrating of naval gunfire support. The time between
rehearsals and the assault should be sufficient for extended critiques and remedial actions. In
general, one’s forces’ previous amphibious experience should not be considered a substitute for
more extended training.
The time for deployment of one’s forces is much longer at the operational or strategic level
than at the tactical level of war. Obviously, the longer the distance to the employment area, the
longer the time for completing the transit to the assigned areas of concentration or combat. The
time needed to deploy forces to conduct a major operation or campaign will depend on many
factors, but primarily on the distance from the home base or current operating area to the
deployment area, the size and mobility of one’s forces, and the mode of transportation used.
The duration of a military action depends directly on, among other things, the scope of the
objective, the size and mix of one’s forces, the methods of applying combat potential, and the
physical characteristics of the area of employment. Obviously, the larger the objective, the more
time is required to accomplish it. Also, the larger an enemy force is, the more likely it is to offer a
stronger defense, which will, in turn, result in a longer duration for the major operation or
campaign. In World War II, land and maritime campaigns varied in their duration. For example,
the German campaign in Poland (FALL WHITE) lasted 35 days; Yugoslavia capitulated in only 13
days. The Germans defeated France in only 50 days of fighting. The Japanese campaign in the
Philippines lasted about five months, while Malaya was conquered in about 80 days. The Allied
Solomons campaign lasted 18 months; the Central Pacific campaign, 11 months. It took the Allies
about seven months after landing to defeat the Axis forces in North Africa. The U.S./coalition
campaign in the Gulf War of 1990–1991 (Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM) formally lasted
about seven months (this included about a 5½-month-long defensive phase with little combat). The
major combat phase of the campaign to overthrow the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (Operation
ENDURING FREEDOM) in 2001–2002 lasted five months (7 October 2001–mid-March 2002).
However, the post-hostilities phase of that campaign was gradually evolved
into a
counterinsurgency campaign, which is still in progress. Similarly, the major combat phase of the
war in Iraq in 2003 (Operation IRAQI FREEDOM) lasted only 40 days (20 March–1 May), but since
late 2003 the post-hostilities phase has gradually changed into a full-scale and still continuing
counterinsurgency campaign.
A plan for a campaign or major operation that is focused on a wrong center of gravity will
most likely result in the entire effort lasting much longer than anticipated (with concurrently
higher-than-expected losses in personnel and materiel), or even in the failure of the entire
expedition. Also, if one confuses the objectives with the enemy’s center of gravity, the time to
accomplish the ultimate operational or strategic objectives will be unduly long.
In the course of the execution of a campaign or major operation, secondary, or even worse,
nonessential tasks should not be added. What might look like a simple task that can be quickly
carried out could turn out to require much more time, and this could seriously undermine or even
preclude the successful accomplishment of the mission as a whole. In the execution of Operation
MO (which led to the Battle of the Coral Sea) in May 1942, the Japanese made what appeared to be
a logical decision that turned out to have operational consequences. The order to the Japanese fast
carrier force to embark a small number of Zero fighters to be ferried to the naval base in Rabaul,
New Britain, derailed the entire timetable. Because of bad weather, these aircraft were launched
after two unsuccessful attempts. The result was that two Japanese fast carriers with their escorts were
delayed for two days, so that on 4 May they were too far away to counterattack the U.S. carrier
An operation plan should be flexible enough to provide sufficient reserve time if something
goes wrong or the action takes more time than anticipated. The more objectives or tasks assigned,
the more time is required to accomplish them. Therefore, it is critical to focus on the most essential
objectives, or tasks that will collectively ensure the accomplishment of the ultimate operational or
strategic objective.
The duration of a campaign or major operation depends on the number and length of
“operational pauses.” These, in turn, depend primarily on the number of intermediate (operational
or tactical) objectives to be accomplished. The larger the number of intermediate objectives, the
more likely the need to slow the actions of the force elements to regenerate one’s combat
potential/power. The longer each operational pause, the more opportunity there is for the enemy
to recover from his losses and regenerate his own combat potential/power. For example, in May
1940, after the first great battles on the Franco-German border, the Germans were forced to halt
their advance for about ten days on the Somme River.41 This could have been sufficient time for a
more agile opponent than the British or French of 1940 to mount a counterattack and achieve
more than a local success.
The time to commit operational reserves is often a critical factor in the conduct of a major
operation or campaign. In general, the more mobile and smaller, but combat-ready, the
operational reserve, the shorter the time needed to commit it at the point of main attack (or
defense). Also, the distance to the employment area, the transportation network, and the terrain
features considerably affect the time required for the commitment of an operational reserve in a
major operation or campaign.
Often political leaders and sometimes even operational planners do not appreciate the
need to have sufficient time to master new weapons and equipment acquired during hostilities. The more
complex the weapons system, usually the more time is needed for training in its proper use. For
example, British prime minister Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) constantly urged the British
CINCs in North Africa in 1942–1943 to go on the attack because a large shipment of weapons had
become available. However, he overlooked the simple fact that time was needed to unload the
equipment, carry out local modifications, distribute it to units in the field, and then train personnel
in its technical and tactical use. Today, the time needed for training in the handling and tactical use
of new, advanced weapons and equipment is much longer than it was before World War II, or, for
that matter, as recently as twenty or thirty years ago.
Timing is closely related to the factor of time. However, in contrast to the time, the timing
of one’s action or measure can be usually controlled. Timing essentially consists of selecting the
right moment to do something or issue some pronouncement. It is associated with a specific
decision and not a lengthy procedure. It is less a matter of routine and more one of skilled
judgment. The proper timing of a campaign or major operation requires a great deal of foresight.
At the national-strategic level, the timing of when a campaign is to start can sometimes have a
decisive influence on the outcome of the entire military enterprise. For example, Napoleon I
postponed his invasion of Russia until summer, apparently overlooking the fact that the Russian
summer is short.42
The Germans’ timing of their invasion of Soviet Russia (Fall BARBAROSSA) was heavily
influenced by the length of the season favorable for military operations in the western part of
Russia. The operationally favorable time in Russia was from May until approximately October. The
muddy seasons in the spring and the fall, with their effect on the ground surface and unpaved
roads, would make the German operations more difficult. The more time that was available for the
opening battle on the frontiers, the higher the chances for the Germans to crush the Soviet Army. If
the invader failed to break the back of the Soviet army by the onset of the fall, the factor of weather
would come to the forefront. Initially the invasion was set for the second half of May 1941. This
change in the timing of the campaign incurred considerable costs for the Germans, because it
shortened by more than four weeks the time when the weather conditions allow the most effective
employment of their troops in Russia. 43
The Argentines made a very bad decision in selecting the time for their invasion of the
Falklands/Malvinas by not properly factoring weather in their calculations. Instead of invading on 2
April 1982 as they did, they should have seized the islands in mid-June, after the onset of winter
and its accompanying severe weather. This factor alone would have made it much more difficult, if
not impossible, for the British to retake the islands. If the Argentines had waited even longer, their
chances of seizing and retaining the Malvinas would have been most likely greatly enhanced,
because the British had been planning to sell both of their carriers to Indonesia. There were
additional factors in the strategic and operational situation that should have forced the Argentine
junta to reconsider its decision to invade the Falklands/Malvinas. The Argentine army conscripts
had finished their term of service in March 1982, and it would take some time to recall them to
active duty. Units that would be key for success had not completed their training. The Argentine
navy had not yet received all the weapons and equipment it had purchased abroad. Orders for
Super-Etandard attack aircraft from France had not been completed. Those aircraft already
delivered had not yet been modified to enable them to be launched from a carrier. The full
complement of German submarines and frigates was not to be delivered until 1983. The Argentine
Air Force had some very obsolete material that it was on the verge of replacing. Also, the Royal
Navy had not reduced its strength in line with the 1981 Defence White Paper.44
The timing of a campaign or major operation can be drastically changed because of
unforeseen political or military changes in a situation that, in some cases, require heavy
commitment of one’s forces. This, in turn, can lead to a long delay in the start of the originally
planned campaign or major operation. For example, the Germans’ timing of their invasion of
Soviet Russia had to be changed in the aftermath of the military coup in Yugoslavia on 27 March
1941. The German army general staff (OKH) calculated that the invasion had to be postponed by at
least four weeks. The deployment of the German forces was disrupted because of the need to use
two higher headquarters (Generalkommando), six infantry divisions, and an additional three
divisions from the army general staff’s reserve, originally intended for the BARBAROSSA campaign,
in the planned invasion against Yugoslavia. These forces could not be replaced by other forces. All
forces, especially panzer and motorized divisions, required at least three weeks for rest and
reequipment in their home areas and close to facilities from which spare parts could be supplied.
The total time required for all these measures was estimated at five to six weeks. Eventually, because
of poor weather conditions in Russia, the campaign against Russia was delayed from 15 May to 22
June. Yet despite some contrasting views, the campaign in Yugoslavia caused no more than one to
two weeks of the delay of the German invasion.45
Success in employing one’s operational reserves essentially depends on the timing of their
commitment; otherwise, the operational commander can miss the opportunity to obtain the
initiative and also enhance freedom of action for the enemy commander. Equally dangerous is to
employ one’s operational reserve prematurely. One’s premature actions are usually the result of
haste and lack of organization. They also might be caused by one’s unrealistic assessment of the
enemy. In contrast, one’s preemptive actions are planned and organized with the aim to achieve
surprise. In short, both premature actions and actions taken too late are a good indicator of a
commander’s failure to use the factor of time properly.46
The timing of an amphibious landing operation is normally based on the calculation of the
weather at the particular time of the year or month, the time of day, high tides, and the phase of
the moon. For example, in planning the invasion of Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE) in 1944, the
Allies had great difficulties in timing the landing. In general, the earlier the landing that took
place, the longer the period of good weather that would be available for the subsequent operations
on the continent. An early attack would also provide an advantage in that the Germans would not
have finished strengthening the coastal defenses. May was the earliest month in which a landing
could be successfully carried out when the first favorable combination of tides and sunrise occurred
early in the month. Hence, May was initially selected by Supreme Allied Commander General
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) as the tentative target month for the landing. That date was
later shifted to June because it was decided that the landing should be on a much larger scale than
initially planned. This, in turn, required a much larger number of landing craft than originally
planned. Another factor was the need to give more time to Allied airpower to shape the battlefield
in Normandy and the adjacent area in France. The improved weather conditions anticipated for
the month of May would also allow more effective employment of land-based bombers in hindering
the movement of German reserves and destroying German defenses on the coast. The next best
combination of moon, tides, and time of sunrise was on 5, 6, and 7 June. The Allied planners
wanted the convoys to transit the Channel during the night. A favorable phase of the moon was
critical for the success of the planned airborne landings. The sea landing had to take place at low
tide so that the German beach defenses could be uncovered and then destroyed. However, the most
decisive element in timing turned out to be the weather. If these three favorable days were lost
because of bad weather, the potential consequences for the entire operation could be catastrophic.
Secrecy would be lost, and the morale of some two million Allied troops assembled in England
would suffer greatly. A delay in the landing date of 14 and possibly 28 days would further reduce
the favorable time left for campaigning. Additionally, the German defenses in Normandy would be
even stronger than they were in early June. At a conference on 4 June, the tentative date for the
landing was set for 5 June at 4:00 a.m. However, by then the weather conditions had worsened
considerably, so the landing had to be delayed, although some elements of the landing force were
already at sea. Although the prospects for improved weather were not good, at 4:15 a.m. on 5 June
General Eisenhower made a bold decision to go ahead with the attack on 6 June.47
Conclusion: The factor of time is the most critical and precious factor in the conduct of warfare. It
is one of those rare commodities that, once lost, cannot be recovered. The higher the level of war,
the more critical the time factor becomes. At the national-strategic level, time is a vital factor for
establishing and developing armed forces, a defense industrial base, and mobilization. Military
theoreticians and their civilian counterparts should develop as accurate a vision of the character
and duration of a future war as possible. The operational commander and his staff can most directly
influence the time required for the planning, preparation, and conduct of a major operation or
campaign. In general, there is a great—and sometimes decisive—advantage to acting and reacting
faster than the opponent. Disadvantages of space and inferiority in forces can sometimes be
remedied by acting faster and accomplishing the assigned objectives within a given period. In the
past, the pace of warfare changed slowly; hence, there was no drastic compression of the time
factor. Today, new technologies will enlarge the area of combat even more and shrink the factor of
time even further.
1. J. F. C. Fuller, The Conduct of War 1789–1961 (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, reprint of the 1961 edition), p. 50.
2. Werner Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland
1812 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1964), p. 1.
3. Bozidar Lukic, “Sustina Faktora Vremena i Prostora kao Vojnih Kategorija,” Vojno Delo 6 (November–December 1974), p. 35.
4. Milorad Samardjic, “Vreme kao faktor oruzane borbe,” Vojno Delo 5 (September–October 1980), p. 28.
5. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 2.
6. Harry Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812
(Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 1964), p. 11.
7. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Conduct of War To-Day, Vol. 2, Combat and Conduct of War (London: Hugh Rees, 1913), pp. 242, 232.
8. Ibid., pp. 224, 229.
9. Juergen Fehling, Das Problem der Uebertraegbarkeit taktisch/operativer Erfahrungen aus der Kriegsgeschichte (Hamburg:
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, January 1988), p. 14.
10. Charles T. Stewart, Jr. “Time as a Concept in Military Strategy,” Military Review 4 (April 1959), p. 3; Bernard Brodie,
“Implications for Military Policy,” in ibid., editor, The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order (New Haven: Yale
Institute of International Studies, 1946), p. 79; T. F. Walkowicz, “Strategic Concepts for the Nuclear Age,” Annals, American
Academy for Political and Social Science (May 1955), p. 121.
11. Stewart, “Time as a Concept in Military Strategy,” p. 6.
12. Fehling, Das Problem der Uebertraegbarkeit taktisch/operativer Erfahrungen aus der Kriegsgeschichte, p. 14.
13. Christian Mueller, “Anmerkungen zur Entwicklung von Kriegsbild und operativ-strategischem Szenario im preussischdeutschen Heer vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg,” Militaergeschichtliche Mitteilungen 57 (1998), p. 412.
14. J. F. C. Fuller, The Foundations of the Science of War (London: Hutchinson, 1925), p. 29.
15. Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (New York: Vintage Books, 1st ed.,
1991), p. 215.
16. Charles T. Crenshaw, Distinctions Between Tactical and Operational Level of War—Are Some More Important Than Others? (Fort
Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 27 May 1986), p. 19.
17. Mario A. Garza, Conflict Termination: Every Conflict Must End (Newport, RI: Naval War College, 13 June 1997), p. 3.
18. Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, p. 95.
19. Ivo H. Daalder and Michael E. O’Hanlon, Winning Ugly: NATO’s War to Save Kosovo (Washington, DC: Brookings
Institution, 2000), pp. 92–93.
20. Wittigo von Dobschuetz, “Der Faktor Zeit in der Lagebeurteilung,” Wehrkunde 11 (November 1970), p. 582.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid., p. 581.
23. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom Heutigen Kriege, Vol. 2, Kampf und Kriegfuehrung (Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn, 1912),
pp. 236–38.
24. Ibid., p. 238.
25. Martin Seifert, Der Balkanfeldzug 1941. Beispiel einer Offensive aus der Bewegung ohne vorbereitenden Aufmarsch (Hamburg:
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, March 1963), p. 14; Herbert Dehen, Der Balkanfeldzug 1941. Beispiel einer Offensive aus
der Bewegung ohne vorbereitenden Aufmarsch (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 15 January 1963), p. 14.
26. William Drozdiak, “War Effort Restrained by Politics, Clark,” Washington Post (July 20, 1999), p. A14.
27. Philip Massel, “Speed vs. Haste,” The Fighting Forces, August 1947, reprinted in Military Review 9 (September 1948), p. 93.
28. Seifert, Der Balkanfeldzug 1941. Beispiel einer Offensive aus der Bewegung ohne vorbereitenden Aufmarsch, p. 1.
29. Colmar von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms: A Treatise on Modern Military Systems and the Conduct of War (London: Hugh
Rees, 1906), p. 177.
30. Hans-Joachim Schubert, “Mehr Raum, weniger Zeit und Kraefte,” Truppenpraxis 5 (May 1995), p. 328.
31. Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, p. 102.
32. David Jablonsky, “Strategy and the Operational Level of War: Part I,” Parameters (Spring 1987), p. 69.
33. Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, p. 209.
34. Singh, “Time: The New Dimension of Warfare,” Joint Force Quarterly (Winter 1995–96), p. 59.
35. Karl-Heinz Frieser, Blitzkrieg-Legende. Der Westfeldzug 1940 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 1995), pp. 166–67.
36. Seifert, Der Balkanfeldzug 1941. Beispiel einer Offensive aus der Bewegung ohne vorbereitenden Aufmarsch, p. 9.
37. John Miller, Jr., Guadalcanal: The First Offensive, United State Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific (Washington, DC:
Center of Military History, United States Army, 1st printed 1949, reprinted 1989), pp. 16–17.
38. Seifert, Der Balkanfeldzug 1941. Beispiel einer Offensive aus der Bewegung ohne vorbereitenden Aufmarsch, p. 1.
39. Robert W. Duffner, “Conflict in the South Atlantic: The Impact of Air Power,” Air University Review, March–April 1984, p. 84.
40. Samuel E. Morison, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Boston, MA:
Little, Brown and Company, 1963), p. 143.
41. Center for Military History, CMH Pub 104-5, Terrain Factors in the Russian Campaign (Washington, DC: Center for
Military History, United States Army, 1st edition July 1951, facsimile edition 1986), p. 7.
42. Ibid., p. 58.
43. Kampferfahrungen aus dem Osten, MS # B-266, 5, April 1946, ZA/1 617, Studien der Historical Division Headquarters,
United States Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, BA-MA, p. 9; Alfred Philippi and Ferdinand Heim, Der Feldzug Gegen
Sowjetrussland 1941 bis 1945. Ein operativer Ueberblick (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1962), p. 35.
44. Lawrence Freedman and Virginia Gamba-Stonehouse, Signals of War: The Anglo-Argentine Conflict of 1982 (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 82–83.
45. Burkhart Mueller-Hillebrand et al., Die Improvisierung einer Operation (Dargestellt an der Vorbereitung der deutschen Operation
gegen Jugoslawien 1941), Project no. 21a, MS # P-030, ZA/1 1848, Studien der Historical Division Headquarters, United States
Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, BA-MA, pp. 70–72, 78.
46. Samardjic, “Vreme kao faktor oruzane borbe,” p. 31.
47. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (New York, NY: DaCapo; 3rd printing, July 1986), pp. 229–31, 239, 249–50
In war, the morale is to the physical as three to one.
Napoleon I
Spirit without will is useless, and will without spirit is
General Hans von Seeckt
Wars are fought with men, not weapons. It is the spirit
of the men who fight, and of the man who leads, which
gains the victory.
General George S. Patton
The terms “force” and “means” are often used alternatively, although they do not mean the same
thing. The term “force” in its narrowest meaning pertains to military sources of power. Properly
understood, however, the factor of force includes not only troops, naval forces, and air forces, but
also the forces of all services with their required logistical support. The main source of a national
military power is its “armed forces”—a force the state creates and maintains for the protection of
its way of life, its existence, and its territory.1 The term “means,” in the military sense,
encompasses all the physical and human resources required for the accomplishment of a certain
military objective. This term is sometimes used in national-strategic terms to refer not only to
armed forces, but also to the political and economic resources of the entire state or group of
states.2 In general, the factor of force at the operational and strategic levels of war pertains to
both the military and nonmilitary sources of power employed in support of a particular campaign
or major operation.
At the national-strategic level, the greater the superiority of the factor of force relative to
the opponent’s, the more freedom of action the country’s top politico-military leadership has in
conducting strategy and policy and in determining national-strategic objectives.3 Likewise, the
greater the factor of force at the operational level, the greater the operational commander’s
freedom to act.
Combat Potential versus Combat Power: Several terms are often used loosely and
interchangeably in referring to the military aspects of the factor of force. For example, the
term “combat power” is used regardless of whether forces are in combat or not. However, in
military theory, two distinct yet related terms are used to evaluate the factor of force: combat
potential and combat power. Combat potential pertains to the assumed potential of a military
force to accomplish the assigned mission. Theory differentiates between designed and available
combat potential. Designed combat potential is the theoretical capability of a force to accomplish
assigned missions against a specific designed threat.4 It is based on the standardized table of
organization and equipment (TO&E) and doctrine. In contrast, the available combat potential is
that part of designed combat potential that is actually available to the commander in combat.
Because of the differences between prescribed and actual TO&E, available combat potential is
usually less than the designed combat potential. It includes all the elements that could enhance
or reduce combat potential, such as leadership, manning, training, morale and discipline,
weapons and equipment, tactics, and doctrine. In general, the higher the quality of forces in
these and similar categories, the higher the available combat potential. Because many elements
are intangible, it is extremely difficult to evaluate available combat potential with any degree of
confidence. Available combat potential is also affected by the characteristics of the physical
environment in which a given force will be employed, such as the size and shape of the theater,
relevant distances, military positions, terrain, weather and climate, and oceanography, to name
just a few.
Combat power is a force’s real combat capability generated in the course of accomplishing a
mission against a given enemy force and in a specific combat environment.5 Once hostilities start,
one’s (and the enemy’s) available combat potential is gradually converted into combat power (see
Figure 2). Whether that process is finalized depends mainly on the duration of combat, attrition,
and friction caused by an unfavorable physical environment. In practice, however, the entire
available combat potential of a given force is rarely transformed into combat power.6
Many factors influence the conversion of available combat potential into combat power.
For instance, rough terrain, bad visibility, or seasonal characteristics can significantly reduce the
effectiveness of weapons and troops. Combat power encompasses many unquantifiable elements
that can considerably, if not decisively, affect the overall performance of the force, service, and
armed forces as a whole. The characteristics of natural elements, specifically terrain, weather, and
climate, can be foreseen to some extent, but their effect cannot be measured with any degree of
precision. All these factors can greatly reduce the effective combat power activated from available
combat potential.
Friction and Fog War: The Clausewitzian friction and the “fog of war” is an inherent feature of
warfare at any level. These factors also play a considerable role in the conversion of one’s
available combat potential into combat power. Friction consists of the infinite number of
unforeseen things, large and small, that interfere with all activities in war.7 It encompasses
uncertainties, errors, accidents, technical difficulties, and the unforeseen, and their effects on
one’s decisions, morale, and actions.8 It is one of the most important elements that distinguish
real war from war on paper. In the Clausewitzian view, the military machine is basically very
simple and therefore easy to manage. Yet it is composed of many parts, and each part is
composed of individuals. Each of these has the potential to generate friction. The ever-present
factor of danger, combined with the physical exertions that war demands, compounds the
problem. Clausewitz insisted that this tremendous friction cannot be reduced, as in mechanics, to
a few points. It is everywhere in contact with chance, and it brings about effects that cannot be
measured. Friction is the factor that makes the apparently easy things in warfare so difficult.9
Friction is the main reason a military action differs in its execution from the one
planned. Generally, the more complex one’s plan, the more friction during its execution. The
principal causes of friction are the enemy’s actions, human errors, fatigue, terrain, weather,
inadequate or inaccurate information, and pure luck and chance. Unclear and ambiguous orders,
or clear orders misinterpreted by subordinates or superiors, are also important sources of
friction. Other factors that contribute to friction in combat are mistakenly selected or multiple
objectives, wrongly identified centers of gravity or decisive points, inadequate logistical support
and sustainment, poorly protected lines of supplies, and personal animosity between one’s
commanders, causing them to cooperate poorly or not at all. Modern information technologies
can reduce but never eliminate friction. At the same time, commanders should try to master and
overcome its effects.
Because combat is a clash of opposing wills, uncertainties and unknowns abound. When
combined with friction, they create ambiguity, or what is often called the fog of war, in which a
commander must make his decisions. The fog of war presents both opportunities and dangers. In
general, the chances of achieving surprise and deception increase as the fog of war increases.
The higher the level of war, the more uncertainties the military situation entails. A force’s overall
effectiveness is reduced when decisions are made—as they often are—on the basis of imperfect,
incomplete, or even false information. The fog of war is the main factor that makes some
commanders willing to take high risks and others extremely cautious in making their decisions.
Tangibles vs. Intangibles: Any factor of force is composed of a number of “physical” or tangible
and so-called “abstract” or intangible (imponderable) elements. The physical elements—such as
the number of personnel, weapons, and equipment; physical mobility; firepower; command
organization; logistics; and quality of weapons and equipment—are for the most part measurable
in some way. Nevertheless, tangible elements of combat potential or power can be either partly
known or completely unknown to one.
In contrast, intangibles are generally hard or even impossible to quantify with any degree
of precision. Intangibles pertain for the most part to human elements, such as cohesion of an
alliance/coalition, strength of public support for war, quality of national or military leadership,
morale and discipline, training, and command and control. Some of these elements, such as
training and combat readiness, can be evaluated in very broad terms: low, medium, high, or
excellent. Other intangible elements—such as leadership, will to fight, morale and discipline,
small-unit cohesion, combat motivation, and soundness of doctrine—are, in contrast, extremely
difficult to quantify with any degree of precision or confidence.
Also difficult to evaluate are the degree and effectiveness of cooperation among services,
or “jointness” (“combinedness,” in a multinational employment of forces). In a campaign, a high
degree of jointness is often critical for success. Another hard-to-quantify element is the degree of
cooperation among combat arms, which is a factor critical to the success of a campaign or major
operation conducted by a single service or by single-type forces of several services. The
effectiveness of military force is also influenced by the overall posture—offensive or defensive—
and the effects of the physical environment, weather, and seasonal factors. Because the factor of
force has so many unquantifiable elements at any level, often too much emphasis is given to a
simple tabulation of forces, weapons, and equipment. However, operational commanders and
their staffs should do everything necessary to properly and realistically evaluate the factors of
force in planning for and executing a campaign or major operation.
Despite the widely held belief that tangible elements can be quantified, this is actually not
always the case. The tangible and intangible elements of the factor of force are usually mixed and
cannot be neatly separated from each other. This is especially true in the case of forces employed
at the operational and strategic levels of war. Additionally, friction and the fog of war are everpresent. Tangible factors can be properly or improperly evaluated; they can be changed over time;
and they can be intentionally or unconsciously erroneously reported. They can be wrongly understood
because of emotions of fear, hate, lack of confidence, fatigue, and nervous stress. Tangible elements
can also be falsely evaluated. For example, the number or size of enemy forces or
weapons/equipment might be accurately observed or obtained but falsely reported or evaluated
without a proper context. Information received might be accurate but is wrongly interpreted by
commanders and their staffs. This can occur intentionally or unintentionally. It can be caused by
incompetence, lack of operations security, or treason. The commander can falsely evaluate the
enemy’s capabilities or intentions. Misunderstandings between commanders and subordinates are
frequent occurrences in combat; they cannot be predicted or quantified. The breakdown of
weapons or technical equipment can occur at any time. The effects of atmospheric influences
cannot usually be measured precisely. Except in some rare cases, natural events cannot be timely
predicted. Hence, the unreliability of humans and technology considerably affects the
performance of the factor of force on both sides in a conflict. The boundaries between tangible
and intangible factors are in the area of chance and are fluid.10
Physical Factors: The forces’ numerical strength is probably most often used to evaluate the
probable performance of forces on both sides. The size of the armies, navies, or air forces
employed is certainly one of the most decisive elements in war; it is usually a great advantage to
be numerically stronger than your opponent. And nowhere is this more true than at the
operational and strategic levels of war. The larger the numbers, the higher the probability of a
successful outcome of a campaign or major operation. At some point, sheer numbers are simply
overwhelming, no matter what the level of skills, morale and discipline, or training and soundness
of doctrine of the opposing force. In many examples a numerically superior force has been a
decisive factor in achieving a victory over a better armed, trained, and led but numerically smaller
force. Because of the great numerical inferiority of his forces, Napoleon I was unable to achieve a
decisive victory at Leipzig (Battle of the Nations) in October 1813; he had 190,000 men while his
opponents had 280,000.11 In their war with Russia in 1904–1905, the Japanese failed to achieve
decisive victories on the ground quickly because of their inferiority in numbers of troops. They
were too weak in proportion to the difficulties they had to overcome and lacked sufficient forces
to achieve quick victories.12
In the last two years of World War II, on the eastern front, Soviet superiority in numbers
of divisions, tanks, and guns simply overwhelmed the Germans. For example, in the great Soviet
offensive of 22 June–18 July 1944 (Operation BAGRATION), the Soviets massed some 166 divisions
(of which 124 took part in the fighting), with about 1.2 million men (not including the
administrative troops of the rear services), 4,000 tanks, 24,400 guns and mortars, 5,200 tanks and
assault guns, and 5,300 aircraft. In addition, the Soviet High Command (Stavka) held back about
1.3 million men before the start of the operation. The Soviet superiority in tanks was estimated at
10 to 1, and in aircraft 7 to 1. In contrast, the German Army Group Center had only about
700,000 men, a 1-to-3 ratio in favor of the Soviets.13
For all its value, the importance of numerical superiority should not be overstated.
History shows that in many cases, superior numbers were of no avail.14 The French marshal
Maurice de Saxe (1696–1750) wrote, “I am persuaded that the advantages which large armies
have in point of numbers are more than lost in extraordinary encumbrance, the diversity of
operations under the jarring conduct of different commanders, the deficiency of provisions, and
many other inconveniences which are inseparable from them.” He pointed out that Marshal
Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne de Turenne (1611–1675) (one of the greatest French commanders
during the Thirty Years’ War) was “always victorious with armies infinitely inferior in numbers to
those of his enemies because he could move with more ease and expedition.” De Saxe believed
that the ideal size of an army was about 46,000 men.15
A well-known German theoretician, General Friedrich von Bernhardi (1849–1930),
criticized the belief in the importance of numerical superiority that was so prevalent in the
European armies in his time. The European military believed that armies armed and equipped
with equal numbers of weapons and equipment would have similar capabilities.16 He emphasized
the need to pay attention to the intangible elements of factors of force. Bernhardi contended that
it should never be forgotten that moral and spiritual factors are very different in each situation.
They are also often more important than numerical factors. Sometimes the spiritual strength of
an army can balance other deficiencies. The influence of a single personality can considerably
increase the capabilities of the entire army and even the entire state.17
Inferior forces have often defeated a much larger force because of the better quality of
their leaders and the better training, morale, and discipline of their troops. In the battle at Issus
in 334 BC, Alexander the Great had some 30,000 men against some 100,000 Persians. In the
battle at Cannae in 216 BC, about 50,000 Carthaginians under Hannibal defeated about 80,000
Romans. In 1716, at the battle of Petrowardein (Petrovaradin today), Prince Eugene of Savoy,
with a force of 40,000 Austrians, defeated 150,000 Turks under Darnad Ali Pasha. Some 30,000
Turks were killed in the battle. In 1739, some 40,000 Austrians defeated a Turkish army of
180,000 and lifted the siege of Belgrade.18 During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), Frederick
the Great, with 41,000 men, defeated 64,000 Austro-French troops (20,000 were not engaged) in
the Battle at Rossbach in November; and at Leuthen in December 1757, with an army of 35,000
men, he defeated some 65,000 Austrians.19
In the American Civil War, General Robert E. Lee, with fewer than 50,000 men,
successfully repulsed an attack by some 90,000 men of the Union Army in the Antietam
(Sharpsburg) campaign (in fact a major operation) in September 1862.20 In the Germans’ invasion
of the Benelux countries and France in May 1940, better leadership and training—not better
weapons—were the principal reason for their phenomenal successes despite numerical inferiority.21
A much weaker U.S. carrier force won an operational victory against a much stronger
Japanese force in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7–8 May 1942. On 4–6 June 1942, the U.S. Navy
achieved an even greater victory against the much more powerful Japanese Combined Fleet in
the critical Battle of Midway, which turned the tide of war in the Pacific.
The size of the country’s armed forces or individual services directly affects the
availability of one’s forces for providing sufficient troops for campaigns and major operations.
Among other things, the numerical strength of the armed forces as a whole in peacetime is highly
dependent on the country’s demographic base, the size and characteristics of the physical
environment and on the potential or real threat posed by the country’s enemies. In general, the
higher the physical mobility of a force, the less need it has to maintain numerical strength in
peacetime. The longer the warning time, the more time for mobilization and therefore the
smaller the standing force that might be needed in peacetime. Armies are usually larger than
other services in terms of personnel. However, their peacetime strength may be only a small
fraction of their strength during full-scale hostilities.
A large peacetime army provides a larger pool of experienced officers and
noncommissioned officers, thereby facilitating its rapid expansion in time of war. In addition,
training and exercises involving large formations are possible only if adequate forces exist in
peacetime. In contrast to armies, navies and air forces normally maintain their full strength in
peacetime, with a relatively small fraction of the total number of ships and aircraft maintained in
reserve. Highly industrialized countries with an excellent transportation networks generally
require less time to mobilize and therefore might not need to maintain a large force in times of
peace. The forward deployment of forces and prepositioning of weapons and equipment reduce
the need for the initial movement of large quantities of weapons and equipment into a theater.
In a high-intensity, prolonged conflict, the strength of the country’s armed forces is
determined not only by its peacetime military strength but by the country’s overall manpower
potential to be mobilized for war. During World War I, the Central Powers (Germany, AustriaHungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey) mobilized 22.8 million men, while the Entente and Associated
Powers mobilized about 42.2 million men.22
The problem for the Germans on the eastern front in World War II was the growing
disparity between the number of their troops and the Soviet army’s. for example, by the end of
1943, the Germans had only 2.8 million men, while the Soviet army and air force combined had
about 6.5 million men. The Germans fielded only 198 divisions (many of them understrength)
while the Soviet had some 530 rifle division equivalents. The Soviets were able to maintain such
large forces even though by then they had some 5 million prisoners of war in Germany and huge
numbers of killed and missing in action.23
Mobilizing the armed forces in times of national emergency and war is more effective if
there is a large pool of reserve officers. Also, a larger-than-needed number of officers in active
service who can take over officers’ duties greatly facilitate the expansion of a peacetime army.
During the war, Germany mobilized about 10 million men, while Soviet Russia raised an army
twice that size.24
The numerical strength of the armed forces as a whole and in the individual services
changes once hostilities start. In general, the longer the war lasts, the greater the effect of these
changes. For the attacker, the available numerical strength of an army or navy in the theater of
main effort is usually reduced—sometimes significantly—because of the need to defend the
homeland from attacks by the enemy coalition in other theaters.
In a war, a force might suffer more losses than expected and in a shorter span of time
than anticipated, thus suffering a large reduction in force quality. The quality of the factor of
force is often significantly reduced in the offensive, because usually the best and most daring men
are among the first casualties. Nominally increasing the numbers to replace combat losses, but
sacrificing quality, rarely represents an actual increase in combat strength. On the other hand,
the longer the war, the more experienced one’s force is. This can sometimes make up for
deficiencies in peacetime training.25
In a campaign, higher-than-expected losses can be remedied by a sufficient pool of
military-age manpower at home. Yet sometimes this is not possible, as the German example on
the eastern front in World War II shows. In their invasion of Soviet Russia in 1941, the Germans
had only about 400,000 men available as replacements.26 This problem was compounded by the
Germans’ high losses in personnel in the first few weeks of the campaign. By the end of August,
the Wehrmacht had suffered about 440,000 casualties, including 94,000 men killed. By then, only
217,000 men had been sent as replacements. In the 12 months between November 1942 and
October 1943, the Germans lost some 1,690,000 men on the eastern front, but only 1,260,000
men were replaced. Although in 1943 the Wehrmacht had about 9.0 million men in uniform,
replacements were hard to find because of the requirements to keep relatively large forces in
other parts of occupied Europe.27
Military theoreticians often cite a force ratio of 3 to 1 between the attacker and the
defender as an indicator of success in an offensive. Too often these and similar force ratios have
been applied to the overall strength of forces on both sides. In fact, many times an attacker has
been successful despite only a slight margin of overall numerical superiority, or even numerical
inferiority, with regard to the defender. For instance, in the West in May 1940, the ratio of
attacker to defender was 0.7 to 1.0, or 3,740,000 Allied soldiers (including 2,240,000 French
troops) facing 2,760,000 Germans. The Allies had a 3-to-2 superiority in artillery pieces.
However, France had only three armored divisions (plus one more created during the campaign)
against Germany’s 10 panzer divisions.28 In many major operations on the eastern front in World
War II, the Wehrmacht was successful although the Soviets possessed a 10-to-1 superiority.29
In another example, the Germans were successful in their major airborne operation
against Crete in May 1941 (Operation MERKUR), although they had only slightly over half the
troops the Allies had on the island.30 In the operation, the Germans used about 19,000 troops,
while the British and Commonwealth contingents totaled 32,000 troops. The Germans had a
decisive superiority in the air, while the Royal Navy was dominant at sea. Both sides suffered high
casualties. Yet, despite their spectacular victory, the Germans came very close to being defeated.31
The lessons of history clearly show that what matters most is superiority in numbers at
the sector of main effort or the main point of attack (or defense), not overall superiority.
Clausewitz observed that massing one’s strength at the decisive point depends on the strength of
the army and the skill with which this strength is employed. The aim, then, is to take the field in
the greatest possible strength, either to get the upper hand or at least to make sure the enemy
does not.32
The number of weapons—especially heavy weapons such as tanks and large-caliber guns,
combat aircraft, and large surface combatants—is another measurable element of combat
potential and combat power. Generally, the larger the numbers in the main categories of
weapons and equipment, the higher the chances of success—provided, of course, those other
elements of power are approximately equal. However, often a major operation or campaign can
be successful despite a numerical inferiority in weapons, if one’s forces possess superior
leadership, weapons, and training. In addition, sometimes it is more important to possess
superiority in a selected category of weapons and inferiority in others, as was true of the Germans
in their offensive in the West in May 1940. The Germans had fewer battle tanks compared to the
Allies—2,754 versus 3,254 Allied tanks. However, they enjoyed marked superiority in the number
of modern aircraft—3,500 versus 1,090 French aircraft—and in the strength of the air defenses of
their fielded forces.33
The physical mobility of a force is one of the main prerequisites for rapid action. In
general, physical mobility is the capability of a force to move effectively (by foot, vehicle, ship,
aircraft, or any other means) before, during, and after combat, in relation to or in comparison
with a hostile force. Thus, mobility is always relative.34 For example, Hannibal, Genghis Khan,
Timur, and Belisarius were successful in their wide-ranging conquests because their horsemounted armies had a higher degree of mobility against the comparatively immobile forces of
their enemies. They achieved victories in many battles in which their enemies had numerical
Speed is often confused with mobility, and mobility with maneuver. An ingredient of
mobility is speed, but speed of movement alone is rarely sufficient to achieve the full advantages
of mobility. To constitute mobility, speed should be combined with the direction of advance or
speed of advance relative to the enemy, surprise, timing, and deception. In a maneuver, it is not
as important that movement be executed at a given maximum speed as that it be faster than the
movements of the enemy and result in bringing a preponderance of force to bear relative to the
enemy’s resistance. Momentum is a product of mass and velocity. As long as both mass and velocity
are preserved, momentum is maintained; mobility usually preserves both.
A lack of tactical mobility can prevent a numerically larger force from prevailing over a
smaller hostile force that is more mobile and tactically better organized.36 For example, in the
invasion of France in May 1940, the German panzers possessed higher mobility than the French
tanks. At speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour with an effective range from 75 to 125 miles, they
were about twice as fast and had twice the range of their French counterparts. A false vision of the
future war had made the French emphasize firepower and protection over the speed and range
of their tanks.37
Mobility is also a function of logistics. The logistical requirements of mechanized forces
are enormous, and without adequate logistical support and sustainment, physical mobility means
little. The Germans greatly increased the mobility of their fast-moving panzer and motorized
infantry divisions by excellent logistical support and sustainment. Before their offensive in the
West in May 1940, they made these divisions much more mobile by loading all their panzers and
armored vehicles to full capacity with fuel and ammunition. For support, the Panzer Group von
Kleist was assigned three motorized transport detachments with a loading capacity of 4,800 tons.
Along the route of advance were prepared a number of fuel depots (Marschtanklager). In addition,
the Germans had a number of large-capacity supply depots near the border with Luxembourg
and Belgium. The Germans also prepared a large supply base with all necessary fuel, foodstuffs,
and ammunition to be shifted to Luxembourg as soon as the offensive began.38 The Germans
made maximum use of captured and civilian petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL). Motorized
unit trains and resupply columns were used extensively and effectively.39
Physical mobility directly affects a force’s deployment capability. This is especially critical
when the distances from the basing or staging area are large and the force must be deployed at
short notice. Mobility and firepower are interrelated and significantly affect each other. The
availability of highly mobile and effective means of firepower enhances the movement capabilities
of one’s forces, while at the same time it can inhibit the movement capabilities of the hostile
forces.40 The number of firing platforms and fire volume alone are insufficient to evaluate the
firepower of one’s forces; the circumstances and the ways it is used are also factors.41
Mobility without reliable and continuous communications throughout the chain of
command, firepower and speed of movement mean little. For instance, in 1940, the German
panzer commanders usually controlled their units from forward deployed command vehicles
(panzers or half-tracked vehicles) specially equipped with radio. From the top down, German
command and control was flexible and positive. Wide latitude to exercise initiative was allowed
and encouraged through the issuance of mission-type orders. In contrast, the French tank units
could not communicate with each other by radio because their intended role was to support
infantry attack. They also lacked the speed of reaction and flexibility necessary for mobile
operations. The French commanders were allowed little or no leeway for flexibility and
exercising initiative.42
Other tangible factors that considerably affect combat potential and its conversion into
combat power are command organization, one’s ability to regenerate combat potential/power,
and reconstitution. One of the factors that contributed to the defeat of the French army in 1940
was the failure to properly integrate tanks into the command structure. Except in speed and
range, the French tanks were substantially superior in armor and armament to the German
panzers. In contrast to the Germans, who organized their tanks into panzer divisions, the French
split about 2,400 of their tanks among fifty-four battalions. Half of these were organized in
separate battalions and assigned to infantry divisions for close support of assaulting infantry. The
remaining 1,000 tanks were assigned to three belatedly organized armored divisions in early
1940. However, the newly organized forces lacked sound doctrine, and they had little time to
train together before the Germans attacked.43 The Germans created the panzer corps, and before
the invasion they created the Panzer Group von Kleist (an army in all but name), composed of
two panzer corps and one motorized infantry corps supported by one air defense corps. This
formation was larger than a corps and smaller than an army, but it was capable of conducting a
major airland operation independently.
The early successes of the German Luftwaffe in World War II were due to an organization
superior to that of its Allied counterparts. In February 1939, the then-existing Luftwaffe’s group
commands and air command for the former Austria were dissolved and transformed into four air
fleets (Luftflotte), each intended to support an army group.44 Each air fleet represented a small air
force, containing bomber, fighter, reconnaissance, and transport squadrons plus all groundbased defenses. Fast carrier groups created in both the Japanese and U.S. navies in the interwar
years are another example of how mobility and firepower can lead to qualitatively new
capabilities through innovative command organization. Carrier groups were capable of
theaterwide or operational employment.
Not only the number of weapons and equipment but, more important, their quality
considerably affect the overall combat potential/combat power of a force.45 In some major
operations or campaigns, better weapons were one of the major contributing factors to ultimate
success, while in others, success was ephemeral and ultimately the entire effort failed. For
example, in the Battle of Britain, the RAF’s Spitfire fighter and the Luftwaffe’s Me-109 had
similar performance at flying altitudes of 12,000 to 17,000 feet. However, the Me-109 was
considerably superior at altitudes above 20,000 feet. The early successes of the Japanese in the
Pacific War had much to do with the superior quality of their Mitsubishi A6M (Zero) fighters and
the Nakajima B5N (Kate) torpedo bombers. Eventually, the United States produced not only
more but also higher-performance carrier aircraft than the Japanese did. Initially, the Japanese
battleships were generally faster than their U.S. counterparts. The greatest technical advantage of
the Japanese Navy was in torpedoes. Their oxygen-powered 24-inch Type 95 Mod 2 and Type 93
Mod 1 torpedoes were superb in terms of effective range, speed, and warhead size. In contrast,
the U.S. Navy not only had low-performance torpedoes but also, because of a false economy in
peacetime, did not resolve problems with its warheads and exploders until many months into the
war. Initially, the Japanese were also superior to the United States in optics and pyrotechnics.46
A high quality of weapons and equipment is often not enough in itself to achieve victory
if other elements of combat potential are inadequate. In the initial phase of the Russo-German
war in 1941, the German army’s panzer and motorized infantry divisions had better tanks and
assault guns than their Soviet counterparts. The German antitank guns were simple in design but
of high quality.47 The 88-mm Flak 18 gun was used in both an antiaircraft (AA) and antitank role
and proved to be one of the best guns of World War II. The Soviets overproduced tanks before
the war, and by the beginning of the war most of their tanks were obsolete. By mid-June 1941,
their best tanks, the famous T-34 and KV1, numbered fewer than 1,000 and 500, respectively.
The Soviet guns and mortars were superior, and their small arms were comparable to the
German counterparts. The German combat aircraft were of excellent design. The Germans
produced fewer models of aircraft, and these models were easily modified to perform different
roles. The Soviet air force, in contrast, was large, but some 80 percent of its front-line aircraft
were obsolete. The Soviets lacked radar and radio direction aids.48 The design and combat
performance of the German U-boats, torpedoes, and mines were far more advanced than those of
their Allied counterparts, but ultimately they were insufficient to win the victory in the Battle for the
Atlantic in World War II.
Intangible Elements: The problem in estimating the actual combat performance of a force is the
pervasive presence of many unquantifiable elements that fall within the scope of combat
potential/combat power. The human element and its associated manifestations are often a much
more important factor in evaluating the factor of force. For example, the German army
performed superbly in both world wars because its leadership made a conscious decision to focus
on the critical and decisive importance of war fighting and leadership. Moreover, the Germans
realized that the human factor is most critical for success in combat. Therefore, they built an
organization around the social and psychological needs of the individual fighting men. They
emphasized mutual trust, willingness to assume responsibility, and the right and duty of
subordinate commanders at all levels to make independent decisions and carry them out. This
was the true secret of the German army’s fighting power.49
In the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict of 1982, almost every element was weighed in the
equation except for the human element. Conclusions were made based on the probable outcomes
of numbers and technical capabilities: the opposing numbers of troops; the advantages of coastal
defense versus amphibious landing; the quality of aircraft on both sides; the weather; and the
apparently isolated nature of key terrain. However, the decisive factor in that war was the highly
competent British leadership, qualities of the individual British soldiers, and their organization
and unit cohesion. The Argentines lacked the will to prevail that is characteristic of cohesive, wellled units.50 The British soldiers were well trained and highly disciplined. They were more than a
match for the 18- and 19-year-old Argentine draftees. Despite being outnumbered by as much as
three to one, the British won the encounters. They also inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy
while suffering low casualties.51
Moral elements of the factor of force include such personality traits as courage, loyalty,
simplicity, and the maintenance of high ethical standards. They also encompass the mental
qualities of leadership in the effective employment of fighting power. It includes one’s ability to
think soundly, to act at the right time, and to accept responsibility for one’s actions. While the
superiority of physical elements may actually be the most decisive factor in eventual victory, its
mere possession may not of itself ensure final success. Among other things, victory requires a
skillful and judicious mix in one’s factor of force of moral, mental, and physical elements that are
superior to those of the enemy.52 The psychological element of power is perhaps the most
important in combat but also the most difficult to evaluate properly.
Any fighting is essentially a test of one’s physical and psychological endurance. Clausewitz
observed that psychological forces exert a decisive influence on the elements involved in war.
Superior numbers can be neutralized by the superior military and moral qualities of the
numerically weaker side. Moral factors permeate war as a whole.53 The most difficult to quantify is
the moral strength of an army or a nation.54 The morale of a force depends on many imponderable
factors, which makes it extremely difficult to assess the quality of a force. These factors include
small-unit cohesion, discipline, training, leadership, ideology, and combat motivation.
Morale and discipline are opposite sides of the same coin. Instilling them in a military
force depends upon the leadership’s understanding of the nature of human relationships.55 In
addition to issuing training schedules, the general aim of regulations is to set an overall standard
of conduct and work for all concerned. The level of discipline should at all times be gauged by
what elicits the best results from the majority of dutiful individuals. Setting an example is far
more effective than the written or spoken word. As the soldier sees his superiors obey, so does he
usually follow their lead.56
Sometimes when morale is high and discipline poor, a force may still perform efficiently
in combat. For example, in World War II, the Soviet army was an efficient force despite its
primitiveness and frequent lack of discipline. The lowest soldier could criticize his superior at the
communist party meetings. Standards of discipline varied greatly from unit to unit. The most
common problems were drunkenness, apathy, and absenteeism. Soviet officers had a difficult
time controlling their drunken men. At the same time they themselves were liable to quick
punishment for drunken behavior. Political unreliability was punished severely, as was misuse or
loss of government property. Discipline was enforced by draconian measures. There was the
physical threat to officers’ families at home and the threat of being shot by the political
commissars. Yet these and similar disciplinary measures largely dispelled apathy and infused
perhaps a surprising amount of energy and efficiency.57
At the tactical level, success in combat is highly dependent on the degree of morale,
discipline, and cohesion of one’s units. Small-unit cohesion is probably the most important factor.
The higher the cohesion of the tactical units, the higher the cohesion of large forces and
formations taking part in a campaign or major operation. Military cohesion in general is defined
as the bonding together of members of an organization or unit to sustain their will and
commitment to each other, their units, and their mission.58 Unit cohesion is one morale factor
the commander can influence. Commanders influence unit cohesion in their everyday activities
through work assignments, training, and all aspects of their presence. In combat, unit cohesion is
also influenced by the flow of information and interpersonal communications. The physical
environment can adversely affect unit morale. By maintaining unit cohesion, commanders can
mitigate the effects of the battlefield environment. It is the bonds of trust among individual
service members that make a military unit’s combat effectiveness greater than the sum of the
combat effectiveness of the individual unit members. Therefore, the armed forces and individual
services try to maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed
forces would create an unacceptable risk to their high standards of morale, good order and
discipline, and unit cohesion, which are the essence of military capability.
In general, cohesion consists of two components—social cohesion and task cohesion.
Social or group cohesion refers to the nature and quality of the emotional bonds of friendship,
liking, caring, and closeness among group members. A group displays social cohesion to the
extent that its members like each other’s company, prefer to spend their social time together,
and feel emotionally close to one another. Task cohesion refers to the shared commitment among
members to accomplish a task that requires the collective efforts of the group. A group with a
high level of task cohesion is composed of members who share a common view and who are
motivated to coordinate their efforts as a team to achieve that task. Social cohesion and task
cohesion are part of the same whole. The weakening of one component invariably leads to the
weakening of the other. Optimally, both the social and task cohesion of a force as a whole should
be at a high level for success in combat.
Some adverse influences on unit cohesion include inequitable leadership and discipline;
favoritism; fraternization; harassment of certain groups because of their nationality, class, origin,
or gender; and isolation or segregation of distinct groups. For example, during the Vietnam War,
the U.S. Army’s practice of frequently rotating officers, rather than entire units, adversely
affected unit cohesion—in tactical units, it was virtually every man for himself.59 The unit
rotational system is much better than individual replacements, because it enhances personnel
stability within a unit and, in turn, in a large force or formation as a whole.
In multiethnic countries, such as was the former Soviet Union and as is Russia today or
the former Yugoslavia, unit cohesion has suffered because of the different cultures and social
values among the rank and file. Despite all the efforts of the communist regime to reduce these
differences by encouraging ideological fervor, imposing atheism, and appealing to “brotherhood
and unity” (as in the former Yugoslav People’s Army), the underlying animosity—and, all too
often, open hostility—among various ethnic groups remained unresolved. Austria-Hungary tried
to defuse ethnic tensions in the army by creating units based exclusively on a single nationality.
However, this attempt did not withstand the stresses of war: many non-German army units
collapsed or mutinied, especially in the turbulent days of November 1918.
Combat motivation is a combination of morale and discipline, small-unit cohesion, and
training, tempered by the combat environment. At any level of command, one of the principal
tasks of the commanders is to strengthen morale factors while mitigating the adverse effects of
the environment. The commander should identify those elements of morale that he can influence
and develop.60 The environmental effects can be reduced by small-unit cohesion and strict and
realistic training, and by informing subordinates of actions planned or taken in a timely manner.
Soldiers’ motivation to fight is a product of many elements. The soldiers must perceive the
higher authority as legitimate; otherwise it is highly unlikely that their motivation for combat will
be very high. The soldiers are subjected to numerous rules and regulations. They also carry out
numerous routine tasks that they learned in the course of combat training.61
Another factor in the will to fight is fear. Although some soldiers can be paralyzed by fear
or even try to flee, for many others this factor sustains their will to fight.62 However, soldiers are
principally motivated to fight through their sense of loyalty to the unit, the country, and the
cause.63 They also fight well if trained well and if they have pride in their military skills. Their
motivation for combat is also higher if they believe that their performance contributes to the
overall success of the unit’s mission and to the personal safety of their colleagues.64
For the armed forces as a whole and for the individual services, combat motivation is
greatly affected by several other factors, notably the character of the war, the justness of the
cause, the war’s legitimacy, ideology, patriotism, and a sense of national honor. The combat
motivation of a force as a whole is also heavily influenced by the nature and legal aspects of the
conflict. An army defending home territory is usually more highly motivated than the invading
force. However, if the regime is oppressive either to its own population or to national minorities,
then combat motivation may be low or even nonexistent. For instance, the German troops found
little resistance during their brief campaign in Yugoslavia in April 1941. Most non-Serbs did not
respond to mobilization, and those who did either left their posts, surrendered without a fight, or
even mutinied against their Serbian commanders. The Yugoslav 4th Army in Zagreb, Croatia,
stopped fighting on 10 April, four days after the German invasion began. Many non-Serbian
soldiers, non-commisssioned officers (NCOs), and officers in the 1st and 7th armies and divisions
deployed in the littoral area defected or mutinied.65 The Soviet troops performed very poorly in
the war against Finland in 1940, but they fought stubbornly and courageously against the
invading German armies in 1941 and until the end of war.
In general, if the majority of the population perceives the war to be just and legitimate,
then combat motivation is usually higher than if the war is considered unjust and illegitimate. For
example, the combat motivation of the British, U.S., and other Allied armies in World War II was
generally high, both because of the sustained support from home and because of the strong and
widespread belief in the justness of the Allied cause. However, sometimes the degree of
demoralization and defeatism before a war is so high, as in France in 1940, that although the
cause is undoubtedly just and the war legitimate, the will to fight is sorely lacking. The side that
initiates a war of aggression can still motivate the armed forces to fight well through highly
successful propaganda, ideology, and the survival instincts of the majority of the population. The
combat motivation of the German Wehrmacht as a whole was uniformly high during World War
II, both in victories and in defeats. The German troops were well led and highly disciplined. It is
generally accepted that human relations were better in the Wehrmacht than in the German
armies of 1870 or 1914. Despite great losses, the German U-boat crews and Luftwaffe fighter
pilots retained remarkable combat motivation until the very end of World War II.66
When survival is at stake, coercion is usually not required, as most of the soldiers feel that
they have to join the struggle because it is a matter of life or death. In World War II, one of the
strong motivations for the Soviets to fight was the struggle for their very survival. Ideological
motivation, as in the Viet Minh and Viet Cong forces in the Indochina wars, can sometimes be the
predominant factor in combat motivation. In other situations, such as the Soviet resistance to the
German invaders in 1941–1945, nationalism and survival can be more important than ideology
in generating a will to fight. Atrocities committed by one side in a conflict invariably strengthen
the other side’s will to fight. Combat motivation is higher when the military is convinced that it
has strong and continuous support on the home front, as the British forces deployed to the
Falklands in 1982 firmly believed. In contrast, the combat motivation of U.S. troops in Vietnam
was low because of the increasing lack of public support for the war after 1967.
Operational leadership is an almost entirely intangible element of combat potential or
combat power. It is often a decisive factor in combat and can make up for greatly superior
numbers of the enemy.67 For example, in World War II, the Soviet leadership at the highest level
made many costly mistakes. However, on balance it proved to be much better than the German
High Command in making sound strategic decisions and preparing detailed plans. The
Germans’ greatest strength was in their tactical and operational leadership, especially from the
corps level downward. In contrast, the Soviet leadership at the tactical and operational levels was
rather poor. The Soviet commanders lacked initiative, training, and experience.68
The combat power of a force in a campaign or major operation depends not only on
combined arms tactics, but also on the degree of multiservice cooperation, or jointness. Warfare is
best conducted when two or more services cooperate closely with each other. Jointness pertains to
the employment of two or more services across the full range of the operational continuum—
from routine peacetime tasks to the accomplishment of the assigned military objective in
combat.69 Jointness is rarely planned or applied at the tactical level, because most tactical actions,
with the probable exception of those of special operations forces, can be conducted with the use
of single-service forces. The lowest level of command in which jointness is applied is a joint task
force (JTF) or combined joint task force (CJTF).
Clausewitz pointed out correctly that war is an organic whole. Hence, no individual parts
of the war can be separated from the others. Any individual action must contribute to the success
of the mission as a whole.70 In the modern era, rarely a single weapon or force can attain its full
potential unless employed with complementary capabilities provided by the combat arms of other
services.71 War on land, at sea, and in the air is complementary; each aspect depends on the
other. All the problems of strategy on land, at sea, and in the air can be resolved when viewed as
part of the overall strategy.72
In general, jointness enhances unity of effort by focusing all the energy of individual
services and the armed forces as whole across the full range of military operations, throughout all
levels of war and in every environment—peace, crisis, and war—toward enhancing the
effectiveness of military operations.73 In peacetime, jointness can be achieved through a
multiservice command organization that ensures joint planning and training and joint education.
In times of regional conflict or war, jointness is ensured by applying the tenets of operational art
in planning, preparing, and executing campaigns and major operations.
Jointness offers the operational commander multidimensional capabilities—land, sea,
air, space, and special forces—that are inherently more effective than single-service forces. True
jointness also generally greatly enhances unity of effort. An operational commander should have
a menu of capabilities from which to choose. Then he can build an organization through which to
direct the operation as a whole. He must be able to assign missions to individual commanders
and provide the requisite support to those commanders. The key to this requirement is a
command organization that recognizes and accounts for the fact that no single commander owns
all that he must employ to accomplish his mission, that each relies on capabilities that others
direct on his behalf, and that each commander uses his own and his supporting assets to assist his
Jointness fosters economy of force and concentration of effort. However, there are also
costs to pay. These costs must be recognized and compensated for if the long-term health of
military preparedness and capabilities is not to suffer.75
Multiservice forces provide the operational commander with multiple operational and
tactical options in carrying out his responsibilities. An innovative operational commander uses the
capabilities of land, sea, air, and special operations forces creatively. They can be used both
symmetrically and asymmetrically and in synchronized ways. Employing the combat arms of several
forces generates a greater impact than using those of a single service.76 An operational commander
should synchronize the multiservice capabilities to achieve the highest synergistic effect.77
An inadequate degree of cooperation between and among services has invariably been
detrimental to an overall effort. In World War I, there was a distinct lack of cooperation between
the German army and navy. Likewise, the lack of jointness on the Entente’s side was exemplified
by the army commands’ lack of consultation with the politicians and naval commanders in
preparing operational plans for a pending year. They conferred with the politicians and naval
commanders only on specific operations, such as the Gallipoli landings (in April 1915) and
operations on the Flanders coast.78 In World War II, the Japanese army and navy were notorious
for their parochialism and the consequent lack of jointness in most of their campaigns and major
operations. In the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, there was reportedly a total lack of coordination
among the three Pakistan’s services .79
Doctrine is a critical element of the factor of military force. Without soundly written and
skillfully applied doctrine, campaigns and major operations are likely to fail. Doctrine is
understood as the set of officially approved views and fundamental principles on the missions, roles,
methods, and procedures of employing forces and assets in both wartime and peacetime. A soundly
written doctrine should allow a great deal of flexibility in its application. It should be revised as
circumstances change, as new weapons are introduced, or as accumulated experiences and lessons
learned—in peacetime and in combat—require new solutions. Doctrine should provide a common
baseline for the employment of one’s forces. Its greatest value is in providing common techniques
and procedures to solve military problems. In this way, it greatly improves the training of the entire
force. A sound doctrine should encourage and develop the mental agility of commanders at all
levels. The commanders should display drive, energy, flexibility, and willingness to seize the
initiative and make quick decisions. Mental agility is determined by the intellectual flexibility of
the leadership, and by the speed of the individual commander’s decisions and the staff’s
responsiveness to those decisions.80
Tactical doctrine is the basis for service and joint doctrine. Poorly written or applied
tactical doctrine results in battles or other tactical actions lost and thus leads to failed major
operations. For example, Japan’s superior tactics, combined with better torpedoes, were the main
reason behind the series of defeats and heavy losses the U.S. Navy suffered in the struggle for
Guadalcanal, August 1942-February 1943. The German army’s successes in the initial phase of
World War II were due, not to larger numbers and better tanks and aircraft, but to superior
concepts for their employment and the creative application of operational art. The German
Wehrmacht integrated tanks, infantry, and artillery into the panzer divisions and provided them
with highly effective close air support. The result of integrating existing technologies with a new
approach to organization was the birth of what was euphemistically called the “Blitzkrieg.”81
France’s defeat in 1940 was due to, among other things, an unsound military doctrine that failed
to keep pace with changing conditions, but, above all, to obsolete habits of thought and the
perpetuation of the slow-motion methods of World War I. The French were blind to the realities
and potentialities of modern weapons and materiel because of their victories in 1914–1918.
Hence, at the beginning of World War II, they focused on what had brought them success in the
previous war and refined that doctrine, organization, and materiel. This called for strong
defensive positions in depth, supported by quantities of artillery, which meant ponderous
movement of guns and huge stocks of ammunition.82
Training is another critical element of the factor of force. Doctrine and training are
interrelated and affect each other in many ways. A force can be numerically larger and excellently
armed and equipped but still be ineffective because of severe training deficiencies. Whether
training is high, moderate, or low can be easily assessed. However, the impact of training on the
anticipated performance of a force in combat is difficult to measure in any meaningful way.
Training also affects motivation for combat.83 There should be no lowering of standards in time
of peace, regardless of the cost. Clearly, it is better to have smaller but excellently trained forces
than much larger but poorly trained forces. Normally, the more highly trained the forces, the
higher their motivation for combat. Uniformly high standards of training are the chief distinction
between regular forces and elite forces such as marines (or naval infantry), airborne units, and
special forces. Submarine forces are normally a highly trained component of any navy. The
extremely high performance of the German U-boats in both world wars was due to their high
standards of training.
In the interwar years, the Japanese Combined Fleet was highly trained. The most
rigorous phase of the preparation for war started in 1934, when Admiral Nobumasa Suetsugu
took over the command of the Combined Fleet. He emphasized training in severe weather
conditions. Japanese waters have eight times as many stormy days as U.S. waters. Even on
ordinary days, the waters off Japan are seldom calm. The Japanese believed that the U.S. Navy
was trained under easy natural conditions, in the cool climate off Seattle and Halifax in the
summer and in the warm breezes of California and Cuba in winter. Although training in severe
weather lowers fighting efficiency, the Japanese were convinced that by being trained under
severe weather conditions their officers and sailors would retain higher fighting effectiveness than
their U.S. counterparts. This factor also led the Japanese navy to decide to build much bigger
surface ships than any other navy of the day.84
In their war with Finland in 1939–1940, some Soviet units were highly trained and some were
composed of raw and ignorant draftees.85 One of the perennial problems for the Soviets during the
subsequent war with Nazi Germany was the poor-to-mediocre training of most of the army units. They
could remedy this problem only by mobilizing ever larger numbers of available manpower to replace
the huge losses inflicted by the smaller but much more effective German army.
Training is largely conducted during peacetime, which makes it difficult to ascertain
shortcomings and take timely corrective action before the opening of hostilities. Ironically, a long
spell of peace compounds these problems. The U.S. Navy entered the Pacific War in December
1941 with poor torpedo tactics and inadequate proficiency in night fighting. These deficiencies
were not corrected until well into the war. Also, the U.S. Navy’s training was not uniformly high;
for example, surface forces were not as well trained as naval aviation. The performance of U.S.
carrier pilots steadily improved during the war because of consistently high training standards.
By late 1944, every U.S. naval aviator had about two years of training and some 300 hours of
flying time before being considered fit to fly from a carrier. In contrast, the quality of Japanese
naval pilots steadily deteriorated after the Battle of Midway in June 1942. In the Battle for Leyte
in October 1944, Japanese carrier pilots had only two to six months of training.86 These problems
were caused by the perennial shortage of fuel and the horrendous losses that forced the Japanese
to retain and not rotate their front-line squadrons until they were severely attrited.
Conclusion: The importance of properly evaluating the factor of force in planning for and
conducting a campaign or major operation cannot be adequately emphasized. Yet no task is
more difficult than correctly evaluating the capabilities of one’s forces, both before and during
combat. Gross numbers of personnel or weapons and equipment and their quality are inadequate
indicators for realistically evaluating the factor of force. Things are more complex than they often
appear. The difficulties are due to the many hard-to-measure or impossible-to-measure elements
of combat potential or combat power. Human elements of power—specifically morale and
discipline, small-unit cohesion, combat motivation, leadership, doctrine, and training—cannot be
precisely evaluated. Thus, operational commanders and their staffs must make approximate
judgments about the true capabilities of their forces, which means they must use very good
judgment and experience in assessing their own and friendly forces. In doing so there is no place
for falsified data, political judgments, or unfounded optimism. Operational commanders and
their staffs should always face realities, no matter how unpleasant; otherwise, the planned
campaign or major operation is bound to fail.
1. Joerg Beck, Schlagkraft—ein Schlagwort? Zur Problematik der Erfassung und Bewertung militaerischer Leistungsfaeihigkeit
(Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 30 October 1978), p. 1.
2. Werner Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland
1812 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1964), p. 1.
3. Harry Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleons Feldzug in Russland 1812
(Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 1964), p. 9.
4. Edmund L. DuBois, Wayne P. Hughes, Jr., and Lawrence J. Low, A Concise Theory of Combat (Monterey, CA: Institute
for Joint Warfare Analysis, 2nd printing, October 1998), p. 74.
5. Ibid., p. 71.
6. Ibid., p. 74.
7. Charles D. Franklin, Time, Space, and Mass at the Operational Level of War: The Dynamics of the Culminating Point (Fort
Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 28 April 1988), p. 9.
8. Peter Paret, “Clausewitz,” in ibid., Gordon Craig, and Felix Gilbert, eds., Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to
the Nuclear Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), p. 202.
9. Ibid., pp. 202–03.
10. August Winter, “Waegbares und Unwaegbares bei der Entstehung von Fuehrungsentschluessen” (I) Wehrkunde 3 (March
1965), p. 117.
11. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1976), p. 195; Wilhelm von Blume, Strategie. Ihre Aufgaben und Mittel (Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn, 1912), p. 189.
12. Friedrich von Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, Combat and Conduct of War, translated by Karl Donat (London:
Hugh Rees, 1913), p. 234.
13. Albert Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45 (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1971), p. 436; Earl F. Ziemke, Stalingrad
to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1st printed 1968,
reprinted 1987), p. 315.
14. Friedrich von Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 1, Principles and Elements of Modern War, Translated by Karl von
Donat, 2 vols. (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1914), pp. 80, 82–83.
15. B. H. Liddell Hart, Great Captains Unveiled (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1927), pp. 42–43.
16. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom Heutigen Kriege, Vol. 1. Grundlagen und Elemente des modernen Krieges (Berlin: E. S.
Mittler & Sohn, 1912), pp. 84–85.
17. Ibid., p. 94.
18. Georg von Sodenstern, “Fuehrungskunst und Fuehrungstechnik,” Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 1 (January 1954), pp. 2–3.
19. R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present (New York, NY:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 2nd rev. ed., 1986), pp. 669–71.
20. Ibid., p. 879.
21. The Allies then had 3,740,000 soldiers, versus 2,760,000 Germans; the French had 3,254 tanks but only three
armored divisions, while the Germans had organized their 2,574 tanks in 10 panzer divisions. In contrast, the balance in
the air did not favor the Allies. The French had only 1,090 modern aircraft (including 610 fighters, 130 bombers, and 350
reconnaissance aircraft); the British provided, in addition, a total of 160 fighters and 272 bombers. The Germans had
some 3,500 aircraft available; Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (New
York: Vintage Books, 1st ed., 1991), pp. 201, 206.
22. Karl-Volker Neugebauer, ed., Grundzuege der deutschen Militaergeschichte, Vol. 1, Historischer Ueberblick (Freiburg, i.Br.:
Rombach Verlag, 1993), p. 264.
23. Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45, p. 400.
24. Center for Military History, U.S. Army, CMH Pub 104-5, Terrain Factors in the Russian Campaign (Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office, 1st printed July 1951, facsimile printing 1982, 1986), p. 7.
25. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 1, pp. 89, 82.
26. Alfred Philippi and Ferdinand Heim, Der Feldzug Gegen Sowjetrussland 1941 bis 1945. Ein operativer Ueberblick
(Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1962), p. 37.
27. Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45, pp. 171, 397.
28. Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, p. 201.
29. M. Fretter-Pico, Verlassen von den Sieges Goettern (Wiesbaden: Kyffhäuser-Verlag, 1969), p. 75; Dankmut Schinzer,
“Verteidigung gegen sowjetische Angriffe,” Truppenpraxis 1 (January 1980), p. 23.
30. Herbert Ritter, Bei allen Ueberlegungen zur Gefechtsfuehrung gilt das Dogma, dass der Angreifer dem Verteidiger 3:1 an
Kraeften ueberlegen sein muss, um mit hoeher Wahrscheinlichkeit Erfolg zu haben. Beurteilen Sie diese Behauptung vor dem
Hintergrund kriegsgeschichtliche Beispiele fuer die Divisionebene (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, October
1983), p. 2.
31. I. S. O. Playfair et al., The Mediterranean and Middle East, Vol. 1, The Germans Come to the Help of Their Ally (1941)
(London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1956), pp. 129, 147–48.
32. Clausewitz, On War (1976), pp. 195–96.
33. Ibid., pp. 201, 206.
34. Reginald Bretnor, Decisive Warfare (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1969), p. 85.
35. Rajindar Singh, “Mobility as a Factor of War,” Armor 1 (January–February 1962), p. 37.
36. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 1, p. 83.
37. Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO), Developing a Methodology to Describe the Relationship of
Mobility to Combat Effectiveness (Fairfax, VA: HERO, Report prepared for Research Analysis Organization under
Subcontract FY 67-ARD1-1-2, 27 December 1966), pp. 30–31, 57.
38. Karl-Heinz Frieser, Blitzkrieg-Legende. Der Westfeldzug 1940 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1995), p. 123.
39. HERO, Developing a Methodology to Describe the Relationship of Mobility to Combat Effectiveness, p. 56.
40. Ibid., p. 45.
41. Trevor N. Dupuy, Numbers, Predictions and War: Using History to Evaluate Combat Factors and Predict the Outcome of Battles
(Fairfax, VA: Hero Books, rev. ed., 1985), p. 13.
42. HERO, Developing a Methodology to Describe the Relationship of Mobility to Combat Effectiveness, p. 60.
43. Ibid., p. 59.
44. Neugebauer, ed., et al., Grundzuege der deutschen Militaergeschichte, Vol. 1, p. 370.
45. Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, p. 8.
46. Samuel E. Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. 3, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931–April
1942 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1959), p. 23.
47. Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45, pp. 70–76.
48. Ibid., pp. 93, 90, 86–87.
49. Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939–1945 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,
1982), pp. 164–65.
50. William D. Headerson, Cohesion: The Human Element in Combat. Leadership and Societal Influence in the Armies of the Soviet
Union, the United States, North Vietnam, and Israel (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1985), p. 3.
51. Robert W. Duffner, “Conflict in the South Atlantic: The Impact of Air Power,” Air University Review, March–April 1984, p. 80.
52. Department of Operations, Sound Military Decision (including the Estimate of the Situation and the Formulation of Directives)
(Newport, RI: U.S. Naval War College, 1938), p. 15.
53. Clausewitz, On War (1976), pp. 127, 184.
54. Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung, p. 16.
55. S. L. A. Marshall, The Officer as a Leader (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1st ed., April 1966), p. 139.
56. Colmar von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms: A Treatise on Modern Military Systems and the Conduct of War, translated by
Philip A. Ashworth (London: Hugh Rees, 5th German ed., 1906), pp. 162–63.
57. Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45, pp. 89, 97.
58. John J. Johns et al., Cohesion in the US Military: Defense Management Study Group on Military Cohesion (Fort Lesley J.
McNair, Washington, DC: National University Press, 1984), p. 4.
59. Anthony Kellett, Combat Motivation (Ottawa, Canada: Department of Defence, November 1980), p. 129.
60. John M. Spiszer, “Leadership and Combat Motivation: The Critical Task,” Military Review 3 (May–June 1999), p. 66.
61. William L. Hauser, “The Will to Fight,” in Sam Sarkesian, ed., Combat Effectiveness: Cohesion, Stress, and the Volunteer
Military (Beverly Hills, CA/London: SAGE, 1980), pp. 188–89.
62. Ibid., p. 190.
63. Ibid., p. 192.
64. Ibid., p. 194.
65. Detlef Vogel, “Das Eingreifen Deutschlands auf dem Balkan,” in Gerhard Schreiber et al., Das Deutsche Reich Und Der
Zweite Weltkrieg, Vol. 3, Der Mittelmeerraum Und Suedosteuropa. Von der “non belligerenza” Italiens bis zum Kriegseintritt der
Vereinigten Staaten (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1984), p. 480.
66. Dirk W. Oetting, Motivation und Gefechtswert. Vom Verhalten des Soldaten im Kriege (Frankfurt, a. M/Bonn: Report Verlag,
1988), pp. 55, 42.
67. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 1, p. 90.
68. Seaton, The Russo-German War 1941–45, p. 85.
69. Michael C. Vitale, “Jointness by Design, Not Accident,” Joint Force Quarterly 3 (Autumn 1995), p. 27.
70. Wilhelm Meendsen-Bohlken, “Ueber Zusammenwirken von Land- und Seestreitkraefte,” Vortrag March 1935,
RW/13, v. 11, Bundesarchiv/Militaerarchiv (BA-MA), Freiburg, i.Br., pp. 1–2.
71. Frederick R. Strain, “The New Joint Warfare,” Joint Force Quarterly (Autumn 1993), p. 23.
72. Meendsen-Bohlken, “Ueber Zusammenwirken von Land- und Seestreitkraefte,” p. 5.
73. Vitale, “Jointness by Design, Not Accident,” p. 27.
74. Leonard P. Picotte, “Fighting Joint,” Proceedings (January 1994), p. 42.
75. William J. Holland, “Jointness Has Its Limits,” Proceedings (May 1993), p. 39.
76. Vitale, “Jointness by Design, Not Accident,” p. 27.
77. Ibid., p. 28.
78. Meendsen-Bohlken, “Ueber Zusammenwirken von Land- und Seestreitkraefte,” p. 4.
79. Ranjit Rai, A Nation and Its Navy at War (New Delhi: Lancer International, 1987), p. 163.
80. HERO, Developing a Methodology to Describe the Relationship of Mobility to Combat Effectiveness, pp. 58, 44.
81. W. Semiamow, The Revolution in Military Affairs: All That Glitters Is Not Gold (Advanced Military Studies Course,
Canadian Forces College, 1998), p. 3.
82. HERO, Developing a Methodology to Describe the Relationship of Mobility to Combat Effectiveness, pp. 54, 59.
83. Oetting, Motivation und Gefechtswert. Vom Verhalten des Soldaten im Kriege, p. 185.
84. Shigeru Fukudome, “The Air Battle off Taiwan,” in David C. Evans, ed., The Japanese Navy in World War II: In the
Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2nd ed., 1986), pp. 340–41.
85. William R. Trotter, Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939–40 (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2000),
pp. 36–37.
86. Samuel E. Morison, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Boston, MA:
Little, Brown, and Company, 1963), p. 334.
Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I
am more in charge of the latter than the former. Space
we can recover, lost time never.
Napoleon I
The most complicated process for operational commanders and their staffs is to properly evaluate
the factors of space, time, and force in their various combinations and then harmonize them with
the assigned operational or strategic objective to be accomplished. In planning and executing a
conventional campaign or major operation the operational commander must often take some high
risks, because the factors of space, time, and force can rarely be optimally balanced. A particular
problem is posed by the need to harmonize military and nonmilitary elements of the factor of force
in the post-hostilities phase of a campaign, insurgency/counterinsurgency, and operations short of
war. In practice, some operational factors have to be given precedence over the others. The factor
of time should perhaps play the central role in reconciling the advantages and disadvantages of
the factors of space and force.
Space-Force: The factors of space and force have become increasingly intertwined in the
evolution of warfare.1 Experience shows how important the relationship is between the size of the
employment area and the strength of one’s forces operating there—and here “strength” is less a
matter of numbers than of available combat potential or combat power.
The factors of space and force can be, among other things, balanced by reducing the size
of an area to be held or controlled, employing forces with higher mobility, dividing enemy space
into a number of segments, reducing the size of the operating area, increasing the numerical size
of one’s forces, abandoning currently held positions and occupying smaller area, achieving
operational surprise, conducting operational and/or strategic deception, and operating from an
exterior position. These two factors can also be balanced by employing naval or air forces with
higher mobility and/or endurance; deploying naval or air forces in forward areas; predeploying
weapons, equipment, and logistical supplies in forward bases; and reducing naval or air presence
in the sector of secondary effort, reducing the forces assigned for operational protection.
Overcoming the factor of space involves the movement of forces, the effect of fires, and
the transmittal of messages and orders.2 Since the advent of the industrial era, the new
technological advances have provided better and more effective means of overcoming the factor
of space. By the late nineteenth century, the invention of the internal combustion engine in
combination with road and rail networks opened new possibilities for overcoming the factor of
space in land warfare. The aircraft considerably increased both reach and lethality over the large
areas of the theater. Yet despite all the technological advances, the factors of distance and
weather/climate still pose significant problems for the movements of one’s large forces. The
means of transportation are not infinite, and moving personnel and materiel over long distances
is very time consuming.3
The speed of advance on land is heavily affected by the degree of resistance on the part of
the defender. For example, Napoleon I’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and the Nazi invasions of
Soviet Russia in 1941 proved that neither old-fashioned means of transportation or motorized
vehicles was it possible to conquer such a large area within the time available due in large part to
unfavorable weather and terrain conditions. The pace of the German advance in Soviet Russia
slowed down considerably because it was dictated by the foot-marching infantry. Also, neither
Napoleon I’s cavalry nor Hitler’s motorized formations were numerically large enough to seize and
control Russia’s vast countryside. According to the view of a German general , the Wehrmacht
should have had at least 60 mobile divisions before launching their invasion of Russia.4
The Germans encountered great difficulties almost from the very beginning in mastering
the factor of space in their invasion of Soviet Russia in 1941. Heat, dust, poor roads, marshy
terrain, and too few stops for repairs wreaked much havoc on German armor and motorized
equipment. The German army equipment was much too heavy for warfare in the Russian terrain.
The Germans required 167 days to reach the outskirts of Moscow, a rate of advance of 4.6 miles
per day. In contrast, the Germans fought their way from the Ardennes to the English Channel—
over 230 miles—in just 12 days, a rate of advance of 19 miles per day.5
The deeper the Germans advanced into Russia, the more eccentrically their front extended,
both northward and southward. The ever-widening front required ever-larger forces. Moreover, due
to insufficient forces, the Germans were unable to have adequate reserves. The distance to the heart of
the Soviet war potential was just too great for the Germans to overcome. Although the loss of the
industrial Dnieper and Donets areas in southern Russia made some impact on the Soviets’ ability to
continue the war, most of the Soviet war potential was located behind the Urals and in the Caspian
Sea area.6 Russia’s central position makes successful attack nearly impossible, because its strategic
depth and climatic conditions offer adversaries a logistical nightmare.7
In land warfare, the front line’s length should be progressively reduced as one’s forces
approach their designated physical objectives. One’s operational objectives should be so
determined that they ensure the mutual support of the forces assigned to accomplish them.
Normally, several operational objectives should be accomplished sequentially unless one
possesses overwhelming strength to achieve them simultaneously or nearly simultaneously. For
example, the German intent to seize the European part of Soviet Russia up to the BakuAstrakhan-Stalingrad line was overly ambitious. Among other things, Hitler overestimated the
German capabilities and directed both army groups in an eccentric operation, with its
culmination at Voronezh in the north via Stalingrad, Elista (Kalmykia), Mozdok, and Elbrus to
Tuapse in the south—a front line extending about 1,240 miles. The front line at the beginning of
the operation on 28 June 1942 was about 500 miles. 8
One of the main reasons for the German defeat at Stalingrad was the mismatch between
the factors of space and force. In deciding to seize Stalingrad, Hitler’s aim was protect flanks on
the Volga River in order to use oil fields in the Caucasus. However, he initiated two major
eccentric operations in willful disregard of the factor of space. When the summer offensive
started in June 1942, Stalingrad was about 280 miles away and the Caucasus some 375 miles
distant. To complicate the matter, the two operational objectives, Stalingrad and the Caucasus,
were separated by about 375 miles of Soviet-controlled territory. Not only the forces assigned to
capture these two objectives were insufficient, but also they had to operate beyond mutual
supporting distances.9
The factor of space must be controlled with the available forces to such a degree that the
ultimate objectives of a campaign or major operation are accomplished.10 In general, the more
distant the physical strategic objective in space, the larger the military and nonmilitary sources of
power needed to accomplish it. While a gain or loss of space is not inherently a disadvantage or
advantage, often the relationship between space and force proves the most decisive in
determining the success of a military effort.11
A sound force-to-space ratio is one of the most critical factors in planning a major
operation or campaign. This relationship becomes increasingly important the longer the
hostilities last. In general, the greater the expanse of space that is involved, and the more
stringent the limitations on resources are.12
The force-to-space ratio is changeable. It is highly dependent on, among other things,
the quality of the leaders, weapons, equipment, and doctrine; the training of one’s forces; air
superiority; the characteristics of the terrain; and the security in the rear operating area.13 In
general, the required forces on the ground for the major combat phase of a campaign differ
significantly from those required in the post-hostilities phase. Normally, the initial size and type
of forces in the post-hostilities phase might be much larger than those in the major combat
phase. The reason is the need to have overwhelming presence in the country and restore and
then maintain law and order quickly so that other aspects of stabilization can proceed.
The most recent example of the mismatch between the space to be effectively controlled
and the forces available was the coalition experience in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). By midJune 2003, the U.S.-led coalition had only about 140,000 troops on the ground. Only then, or
some two months after the end of the combat phase of the campaign, did U.S. forces start to
move in substantial numbers out west and north of Baghdad.14 This allowed the coalition’s
opponents—a motley collection of Ba’athist party members, former Iraqi army soldiers, and
some foreign Arab militants—to organize and initiate an increasingly deadly insurgency. There is
little doubt that a lack of overwhelming force on the ground in Iraq was one of the major factors
in the problems in establishing and maintaining security in the so-called “Sunni Triangle” and
the western part of Iraq.
For the attacker, a large gain of space poses numerous problems regarding how best to
distribute his forces and still accomplish military objectives. For example, in World War II, the
Wehrmacht faced considerable problems in distributing its forces among multiple theaters. At the
beginning of the invasion of Soviet Russia, from 3.8 million men in the German field army, about
3.2 million, or 84 percent, were deployed on the eastern front. Specifically, the German army
had 145 divisions available along the entire front. Of the remaining 60 divisions, 38 were
deployed in the occupied part of western Europe, eight in Norway, seven in the Balkans, four in
North Africa, and three in Finland.15
In many cases the physical space separating the attacker’s base of operations and the
assigned objectives could be either too wide or too deep in the initial phase of a campaign or major
operation. Hence, one of the tasks of the operational planners is to divide the enemy’s controlled
space into smaller segments that require the least time to control with the forces available. In the
German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the initial exterior geostrategic position was highly
advantageous for the Germans. The theater of operations was in the form of an irregular triangle
extending some 310 miles along the north-south axis, potentially allowing the Germans to conduct
a series of enveloping concentric operations. At the same time, the entire space was too wide for the
German forces employed in the campaign. Because of the relatively large distances, the tactical
actions in a given location would not necessarily have the desired effect on events in other areas of
the theater. Hence, the Germans divided the available space between the two army groups, totaling
five armies. The rapid advance of the Tenth Army from Silesia toward Warsaw in only eight days
split the theater into two parts. The panzer and motorized infantry divisions of the Fourth Army,
moving from Pomerania, reached the Vistula River at Graudenz (Grudziadz) in about five days. The
purpose of this thrust was to cut off the corridor areas from “Congress Poland” (the former
Kingdom of Poland, established in 1815) and to further divide the theater into several areas of
operations. The swift division of the theater of operations prevented the Polish forces—some 15
divisions in Posen (Poznan)—from avoiding encirclement and withdrawing to the east. The shallow
depth of the Polish territory prevented the remaining Polish forces from withdrawing too far,
because by the secret clauses of the Soviet-Nazi Pact of August 1939 Soviet troops had been
deployed on Poland’s eastern borders to anticipate such a withdrawal and advance in response to it.
The Germans also executed a second envelopment, in which one panzer group of the Third Army
in eastern Prussia advanced southeast to meet the Fourteenth Army on the Vistula River near
Cracow (Krakow). Thus, the German forces advancing from south to north isolated the Polish
capital of Warsaw from the east and sealed its fate.16
Terrain, climate, and weather all considerably affect the movement, combat employment,
support, and protection of large forces involved in a campaign or major operations.17 A
movement of one’s forces cannot be based on a simple computation of space and distance to be
traversed. The effect of the peculiar characteristics of the terrain or water surface over which the
forces move must be evaluated as well. Characteristics must be considered individually and in
combination. Terrain also considerably affects the size of force required to accomplish a given
military objective. In general, the more difficult the terrain, the larger the attacking force that is
required. Conversely, difficult terrain facilitates the defender’s task. For example, in the Winter
War of 1939–1940, the Russo-Finnish border stretched for about 1,000 miles. The biggest stretch,
from Lake Ladoga’s northern shore to the Arctic Ocean, was essentially impassable for
mechanized forces because of very few roads available for their movement. This allowed the Finns
to concentrate their strongest forces on the Karelian Isthmus and in the area immediately north
of Ladoga, to prevent the outflanking of their Mannerheim Line.18
In land warfare, the space-to-force ratio in a given theater can be determined by the
number of one’s forces in a particular theater, the number of combat troops deployed along the
front line, the troop density or the number of tanks or guns per mile or kilometer of front, and
the ratio of combat to noncombat troops. The proper assessment of the required size and force
mix of naval or air forces is inherently complicated because of the considerably different physical
environment in which they operate compared to that of ground forces.
Mechanically applying the ratio of forces to space and comparing it against the enemy’s
can result in serious misjudgments. The factor of force is inherently difficult to calculate
precisely, because many immeasurable factors—such as morale, training, and leadership—fall
within its scope. However, large numbers of troops or other forces always have their own qualities
and should not be dismissed outright.
A successful campaign or major operation invariably results in enlarging the existing space
for subsequent operations. Most often, the greater the force-to-space ratio, the smaller the space
available to an enemy for recovery after combat action. However, sometimes a small but highly
mobile force with high combat potential can operate in a large space and defeat a numerically
superior force. In the ancient era, small mobile armies operated successfully over large spaces and
eventually controlled larger territories. For example, Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) had fewer
than 40,000 men in his campaign against Persia in 334 BC. In 216 BC, Hannibal (247-182 BC) had
approximately 50,000 men in the field at Cannae. In the Seven Years’ War (1757–1763) Frederick
the Great (1712-1786) deployed an army of about 100,000 men. It was not until the nineteenth
century that 500,000-man armies operated in a theater.19 In the past few decades, the trend has
been steadily toward smaller armies. Likewise, navies and air forces are much smaller today than
they were in World War II and in the first two decades after 1945.
Napoleon I’s campaign in Russia in 1812 is a classic example of a mismatch between the
size of the space and forces available.20 At the beginning of the campaign in June, some 443,000
French troops, 182,000 horses, and 1,370 guns crossed the Niemen River and began to advance
into Russian territory. The Russian forces, some 420,000 men, were dispersed over such a large
territory that only 180,000 men were in contact with the Grande Armée .21 As Napoleon I advanced
deeper into Russia, the disparity grew between the number of French forces available for combat
and that required for protecting supplies and territorial gains. In six weeks he advanced about
235 miles and extended his frontline about 620 miles, from Riga via Vitebsk to the Pripyat
(Rokitno) marshes in Byelorussia. Napoleon I’s losses from combat and lack of food amounted to
about one-third of the Grande Armée’s initial strength. After three and a half months of fighting,
his main force were reduced to only 115,000 men. At the same time, an additional 118,000 men
were assigned to protect the single line of communications.22
Napoleon I controlled about 100,400 square miles of Russia’s territory, an area too small
to endanger the Russian Empire but too large to be controlled by his own forces. By September
1812, the French had to defend a 560-mile supply line from Russian attack on all sides. Only
30,000 French troops were available in Riga and on the upper Dvina to protect the 550- to 620mile-long flanks. These troops faced 98,000 men under General Count Ludwig Adolf
Wittgenstein in the north and the 48,000 men of General Karl Philip Schwarzenberg in the
south.23 After the bloody battle of Borodino on 7 September, Napoleon I had only 95,000 men
left in his army. Despite his victory, the state of his troops did not allow him to resume fighting,
and he ordered a general withdrawal from Russia on 18 October. By 26–28 November, when
Napoleon crossed the Berezina River (in Belarus), he had only 37,000 exhausted men facing
144,000 Russians.24 By early December, when he reached Vilnius, he had only 4,300 men left in
his Grande Armée.25
In their war with Finland in 1939–1940, the Soviets falsely believed that they had a
favorable force-to-space ratio. The 920-mile-long Russo-Finnish border was defended by only
nine Finnish divisions, with 175,000 men and 60 obsolescent tanks. The Soviets massed four
armies, with 26 to 28 divisions of one million men (of the fully mobilized Leningrad Military
District) and about 1,000 tanks. They also had 800 aircraft versus only 150 Finnish aircraft.26
Nevertheless, the first phase of the war, in the winter of 1939, was a colossal failure for the
Soviets, due to, among other things, the extremely difficult Finnish terrain, bad leadership,
insufficient mobility of their forces, and tactics and equipment unsuitable for combat in woods
and winter conditions.27
The Japanese apparently did not fully consider the factor of space in planning their
invasion of China in 1937. They erroneously viewed China as encompassing only the area from
Peking (Beijing) to the Yellow River and from Shanghai to Nanking, instead the entire Chinese
territory. The Japanese objective was to seize control of the five provinces in northern China
through the employment of only 15 divisions with some 300,000 men. Having initially committed
too few forces for the task at hand, they could not achieve a quick and decisive victory despite
eventually deploying twice that number of troops into China.28 The result was that Japan was
drawn into a war of attrition with no end in sight. If the Japanese had properly calculated the
factor of space and planned their forces correspondingly, the war in China would probably have
taken a more favorable turn for them, at least initially.
Historically, the force-to-space ratio in land warfare has undergone many changes. For
example, in the first three years of the American Civil War (1861–1865), a nominal number of
12,000 fighting men was used to hold a Confederate defensive position around Richmond,
Virginia. As methods of defense improved, this figure dropped to about 5,000 men holding a
mile of front against an enemy with twice the strength. In World War I, because of greatly
improved methods of defense, the force-to-space ratio was still lower. In 1915 the Germans had a
nominal ratio of one division for every 5 miles of front (or 3,500 men to a mile), while along the
main part of the front, the ratio was about 6,000 men to a mile. By 1916, the Allies had deployed
160 divisions along the western front, while the Germans had 120; a year later, the ratio was 180
to 140 divisions, respectively. Nevertheless, all Allied attempts to penetrate the German lines
failed and resulted in great Allied losses.29
In World War II, the force-to-space ratio varied from theater to theater. For example, in
May 1940, the Allies defended some 400 miles of front in France with 111 divisions, or
approximately one division to 3.5 miles of front. The Germans had an extremely favorable forceto-space ratio where it counted most, in the sector of main effort and the selected point of main
attack—the area between Sedan and Dinant. In the German sector of main effort, the French
deployed 29 divisions to hold nearly 100 miles of front, while the Germans deployed 42 divisions
of their crack Army Group A.30
In the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
defended some 40 miles of front with 27,000 German and 50,000 Italian soldiers, a ratio of 2,000
men to a mile. The Allied commander, General Bernard L. Montgomery, attacked this force with
a superiority of 8 to 1. Despite this enormous advantage, it took Allied troops about 13 days of
heavy fighting to break through the Axis lines. In the process, the Allies lost three times as many
tanks as the defending Germans.31
In Normandy in the summer of 1944, the Germans stopped the Allied advance despite
their huge inferiority in numbers. On the 10-mile front of the U.S. breakout at Avranches in late
July (Operation COBRA), the Germans had deployed only one depleted division. For most of the
time during the fighting, the Germans held the 80-mile stretch of Normandy with the equivalent
of only one division to each 8 miles of front. The U.S. forces made a breakout in late July after
eight weeks of heavy fighting.32
A highly unfavorable force-to-space ratio probably doomed the German campaign in
Russia from its very beginning. Reportedly, the German High Command never did an estimate
of the situation for the entire German armed forces, nor did it seriously consider the factors of
space, time, and force in its long-range planning.33 In June 1941, the Germans deployed 130
divisions with about 1,300,000 men, 600,000 vehicles of all kinds, and a similar number of horses,
along 435 miles of front. By the end of 1941, the German forces had advanced more than 620
miles into the depth of the Soviet territory, increasing the frontage to about 1,120 miles. By then,
the Germans had suffered numerous combat casualties, with no significant replacements
forthcoming. Their average infantry division was down to 65 percent of its original strength; the
infantry strength of a panzer division was down to 50 percent, with losses in materiel between 65
and 75 percent. The overall German strength was about 83 division equivalents—a reduction of
47 divisions from the beginning of the campaign. This huge difference between space and forces
was one of the main reasons behind Germany’s failure to regain the initiative in the summer of
1942. The problem was compounded by Hitler’s tendency to waste German advantages in forces
by trying to accomplish two or more operational objectives almost simultaneously hold too large
an area. For example, Hitler’s directive in the summer of 1942—aimed to seize the Caucasian oil
fields and Stalingrad—resulted in changing the shape of the front line in the south from a 375to 435-mile-long line to a 1,245-mile forward-protruding salient. The Germans’ problem of
force-space was further complicated because their Italian, Romanian, and Hungarian allies were
poorly equipped and trained for combat on the eastern front.34
After 1943, the Germans tried to resolve the problem of space-force in Soviet Russia by
improving their defensive methods and techniques. However, this proved insufficient to
counterbalance the growing force-to-space disparity. For example, by 1944, the frontage of a German
infantry division had increased to 30 miles. The terrain features and a succession of river obstacles
favored the Germans during their withdrawal from Russia in 1943–1944. However, the Germans were
unable to use these advantages because the ratio of troops to space became too unfavorable.35
In World War II, the mismatch between the factors of space and force was exacerbated
for the Germans because they had to deploy forces along almost the entire rim of the European
continent, from northern Norway to Greece, against possible Allied invasion or large-scale raids.
Before the Allied Normandy invasion in June 1944, the Germans had only 60 divisions in the
West. Their combat readiness varied greatly.36 The so-called “Atlantic Wall” defenses extended
from the eastern tip of the Netherlands about 1,245 miles to the Pyrenees. In addition, the
Germans had to defend 1,245 miles of Norwegian coastline and 250 miles of Danish coast.37
The Allies had an overall unfavorable force-to-space ratio during their campaign in Italy
in 1943–1945. The Italian theater of operations extended for about 745 miles along its northsouth axis, and the Allies employed, 15 to 20 divisions, while the Germans had only 16 divisions.
The Germans offered stubborn resistance until the very end of the war. The combination of the
high quality of the German troops and the unfavorable terrain for offensive operations denied
the Allies a quick and decisive victory in Italy. Because of commitments elsewhere, the Allies
never assigned enough forces to the Italian theater to ensure a speedy victory.38
Another element in calculating the force-to-space ratio is the ratio between combat and
noncombat troops. The smaller this is, the more unfavorable the situation in a given space. For
example, at the beginning of the German campaign against Russia in June 1941, there were
three noncombatants to 10 fighting men. By October 1942, this ratio had changed to 1 to 1
within each armored or infantry division. As the war continued, the ratio of fighters to
noncombatants became progressively more unfavorable for the Germans.39
Even if the attacker succeeds in seizing an entire space and neutralizing the defending
army, it is questionable whether the additional space can be fully controlled. The subjugated
population might resort to widespread acts of civil disobedience, or even worse to a full-scale
insurgency. This, in turn, is bound to greatly complicate the occupier’s task in controlling the
newly acquired space. On the other hand, the defender must assess how much space he can safely
give up without endangering the country’s internal stability. Also, the enemy populace might rise
up against the occupier and conduct a protracted guerrilla war.40 This has happened to many
occupying armies—for example, the French in Spain in 1808–1814, and the Austro-Hungarian
army after its occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. The German Wehrmacht found
itself involved in extensive actions against the communist-led “partisans” (guerrillas) in the
Balkans, in Poland, and in Soviet Russia. Likewise, the Japanese forces, having occupied a large
part of China after 1937, had continual difficulty in controlling the space because of widespread
guerrilla activities.
In World War II, control of one’s rear became even more critical because of the need to
protect airfields, air facilities, and installations. Additionally, the greatly increased consumption
of ammunition, fuel, and other means of support required high degree of control of rear areas.
The Germans’ problems in Soviet Russia in 1941–1944 were more severe because of the much more
serious disconnect between the factors of force and space. The large occupied area of European
Russia required additional German forces to secure the link between the front and the homeland
against the attacks of the Soviet partisans. The occupied area required administration and
monitoring. In addition, agricultural and industrial sources had to be secured.41 Initially, the
Germans assigned only a few poor-quality forces for rear-area security in Soviet Russia. A single
security division (Sicherung Division) covered 250 miles of the main railroad in Byelorussia
(Belarus). Most of the rear security duties were assigned to security divisions and SS and police
units. Although the Germans faced the threat of perhaps 30,000 Soviet partisans in their rear
zone, initially they were generally successful in maintaining rear-area security in Soviet Russia.
However, the size of the Soviet insurgency steadily grew. By 1943 there were an estimated
400,000 to 500,000 “partisans,” or 2 to 4 percent of total Soviet manpower. Compare this to the
200,000 to 250,000 troops the Germans employed on security duties (and of that total, only half
were German troops).42
In defense on land, one can overcome an unfavorable space-force ratio by trading space
for time. German field marshal Erich von Manstein, CINC of Army Group South, faced a severe
crisis in southern Russia in February 1943 because of a massive Soviet offensive in the aftermath
of the German defeat at Stalingrad. The Soviet advance toward the Sea of Azov threatened all
German forces deployed in southern Russia and the Caucasus. Manstein realized the mismatch
between his objectives and his available forces, and he decided to trade space for force. First, he
shortened the front of his army group by some 125 miles by ordering a gradual withdrawal of
German forces to the sector on the Mius–Lower Donets rivers. He also created a new, mobile, and
powerful 4th Panzer Army to be used as an operational reserve in what became a highly
successful counteroffensive against the Soviet forces threatening to cut off his lines of retreat. The
4th Panzer Army was redeployed in a “castling” movement (Rochade) from Rostov to the Lower
Donets River.43 In another example, the Germans, in preparing the offensive against the Kursk
salient, intended to trade space for force by shortening by some 205 miles the 775-mile-long
front line held by 82 divisions of the Army Group Center, thereby releasing some 15 divisions
from the front. This would then allow the Germans to use these forces at some other part of the
front and eventually regain the initiative on the eastern front.44 As it turned out, the German
attempt to regain the initiative on the eastern front failed in the battle of Kursk in July 1943
(Operation ZITADELLE).
Space-Time: Commanders should evaluate a theater in terms of space and the time necessary to
defeat the enemy force and accomplish the assigned objective. The factors of space and time form
another framework within which the commander directs the movement of his forces.45 Field Marshal
Helmuth von Moltke, Sr., repeatedly demonstrated his superior appreciation of space-to-time
factors. For example, the timely concentration of the Prussian armies in the attack directed from
Upper Silesia was the most decisive element in the Prussian success against the Austrians in July
1866. Moltke, Sr., believed that the Prussian deployment into Upper Silesia would take so long that
the Austrians would complete their movements in Bohemia, removing any chance of Prussian
success. His solution was to mobilize the entire Prussian army at the beginning of the war. He
divided his forces into three field armies that moved separately but were concentrated on the
Among other things, the operational commander can harmonize the factors of space by
selecting the objectives that lie at short distances from his base of operations; shortening his lines
of operations by operating from a central position; applying an innovative operational idea that
enhances speed in execution and deception; changing routes of movement; conducting a
delaying defense; reducing the number of intermediate objectives or reducing the distance
between successive objectives; and significantly increasing the attrition of the enemy’s forces.
Any military action takes place in a certain space, and its execution requires a certain
time to be calculated. The attacker’s aim is to gain space, while the defender must retain the
space he controls. The defender will often attempt to attrite the attacker’s forces. Any gain of
time is an advantage for a defender. The attacker then not only needs more time to gain more
space but also must increase his efforts because his forces are attrited. This, in turn, might create
some opportunities and change the political situation for his benefit. For example, in the AustroPrussian War of 1866, the longer the Austrians remained in the field, the more they were able to
count on France’s intervention on their behalf. For the French in 1870–1871, time gained by
defending their capital of Paris would be time gained for preparing defenses in the provinces. At
the same time, the defense of Paris might lead to the intervention of neutrals in the war.47
A military action consists of deploying and then maneuvering one’s forces into a space.
Combat itself ends when the enemy is destroyed or neutralized in a given area. The movement of
forces in space is either free or forced by the opponent and takes place within a longer or shorter
time.48 While space and time must be in harmony with the objectives, these factors are not always
subject to the commander’s will.49
Despite advances in technology, the factors of space and time remain as valid today as
they were in the past. For the attacker, the objective is to gain space as quickly as possible, while
the defender tries to keep control over space and delay or deny the attacker’s objective.
Therefore, any gain of time is to the advantage of the defender, because the attacker’s combat
power will likely diminish over time. For a small country, giving up space does not bring any
advantage, but any gain in space would be equal to a gain in time.50
Napoleon I’s difficulties in his invasion of Russia in 1812 were largely due to an
extremely unfavorable space-time ratio. In Russia, the influence of the factor of time was felt
through the influence of climate and terrain on the time required to complete a campaign.
Shortly after the start of the invasion, the rainy period transformed the land into a morass,
portending slow advances.51 The problems of the timely coordination of troops over long
distances were felt shortly after the start of the campaign. Napoleon I’s orders took several days
to arrive. He never really knew where his subordinates were, and hence, he was unable to
influence them directly. After Russian generals Pyotr I. Bagration and Barclay de Tolly combined
their efforts, a large part of the French operation plan was doomed to failure.52
If the defender is not decisively beaten, he may retain sufficient space to withstand the
enemy’s attack until the attacking force reaches its culmination point. That is what the Russians
did in their defense against Napoleon I’s invasion in 1812, and again against the German
invasion in 1941. The defender also needs to calculate how much space he can safely give up
without jeopardizing internal stability and thereby undermining his will to fight. In general,
trading space for time does not offer a significant advantage for a small country on the defensive,
such as Denmark confronting the German invasion in 1940.53
The space-time factor played a principal role in the Germans’ planning of their invasion
of Soviet Russia in 1941. The period from May through October was normally the most favorable
time for the conduct of operations in the European part of Russia. It was critical that the
principal objectives be accomplished by the end of October, because that marked the onset of the
rain and mud season. The distances to be mastered in that period were 500 to 620 miles.54
Physical and climatological characteristics of space, combined with time, significantly
affect the employment of forces on both sides. In general, a winter environment considerably
increases the time required for all tasks, including the construction of defensive positions and
obstacles, the movement of forces, and maintenance and repair. The movement of units on foot
in severe cold can take five times as long as the normal rate of advance.55
Normally, a large armored or mechanized force requires less time to transit a given space
in dry, open terrain than in mountainous terrain. Several days of heavy rain or snowfall also
reduce trafficability. Drainage and soil characteristics affect one’s forces’ mobility. A wellestablished road and railroad network generally facilitates the movement of large forces and
therefore decreases the factor of time.
The factors of time and surprise are critically important for the attacker; the less time
available for the defender’s mobilization, deployment, and concentration, the more likely the
attacker is to catch the defender unprepared. Another advantage of starting early is that by
seizing or controlling a certain area, one can steadily reduce the defender’s area of operations
and his freedom of maneuver—and thereby control the environment.56
Any movement in space requires time. Obviously, the longer the distance, the longer the
time required to overcome the factor of space. Also, the greater the speed and mobility, the
shorter the transit time. This is especially true with regard to the effect of climate and weather in
conjunction with the terrain. For example, in his invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon I did not
reach his objectives before the onset of a harsh continental winter.57 The French troops in Russia
advanced an average of 12.5 miles per day. The distance from Vilnius to the Russian border was
about 60 miles, and some 340 miles separated Vilnius from Smolensk. The French required
about two months to overcome that distance. An orderly retreat required the same or even more
time. The troops had to go into winter quarters by late October, which meant that Napoleon had
to accomplish his operational objectives before reaching Smolensk.58
In the fall of 1941, the Germans failed to reach their principal operational objectives in
Russia before the onset of the muddy season, which was followed by an extremely harsh winter.
The distance between Germany’s border and the Dnieper River was about 310 miles, and to
Smolensk, another 300 miles.59 The direct result of this combination of events was the failure of
the German offensive against Moscow in December 1941. The early victories in 1941–1942 gave
the Germans control over a huge territory in Russia. After the tide turned in the winter of 1942–
1943, Hitler still had an enormous amount of space to trade for time. However, for economic,
political, and psychological reasons, he opted to hold the ground at any cost. This resulted in
devastating German defeats at the operational and, ultimately, strategic levels.60
Time-Force: Napoleon I wrote that in the art of war, as in mechanics, time is the grand element
between weight and force. Celerity multiplies weight that is the numbers. This implies that force
depends on weight as well as on celerity.61 The attributes that affect the timely availability of
forces include, among other things, the type and size of forces and their organization, the
distance to the employment area, the transportation mode, and the infrastructure in the
employment area.62 Sometimes the factors of distance and available time make it impossible for a
numerically stronger side to concentrate superior combat potential in time to prevent defeat, as
was the case for the Imperial Russian Army in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905.
Normally, the time factor is not necessarily an advantage for the attacker, but it benefits the
defender who gives up space. In his invasion of Russia, the factors of time and force limited Napoleon
I’s initial objective to the line at Smolensk and Minsk. Afterward, the campaign in Russia was certain
to overshoot its culmination point. The lack of sufficient forces and an underestimation of the factor
of time led eventually to the defeat of the Grande Armée.63 In another example, the Austrians in June
1866 operated in a confined space that prevented them from conducting a deployment and forced
them to accept battle in a place the Prussians had chosen. The Prussian First Army and the Elbe
Army, by starting their movement early, had penetrated Bohemia without being disturbed and thus
found sufficient space to concentrate on the battlefield.64
Space-Time-Force: The most complex relationship to properly evaluate, especially at the national
and theater-strategic levels, is that of space-time-force. A clear understanding of available means
and their relationship to time and space is key in determining strategic objectives.65
At the strategic level, in facing the prospect of a war in two widely separated theaters, it is
critical to calculate the time required to deploy forces from their home base of operations or from
one theater to another. A major decision concerns which theater should be declared the primary
theater of war and which should be secondary in importance, again relating forces to space and
time. A decision should be made as to whether the strategic offensive or defensive should be
taken, and when a shift from defensive to counteroffensive would take place.
In general, the larger the distances involved in moving and deploying one’s forces, the
more critical the factor of time is. Also, the larger the prospective theater, the larger the force
that is required to accomplish the assigned strategic objectives. A country fighting a two-front war
should balance the factors of space and time by properly sequencing campaigns in various
theaters to preserve economy of force and freedom of action.66
An example of the difficulties of balancing the factors of space, time, and force is
Napoleon I’s dilemma in 1812. Napoleon I recognized that he did not have sufficient means to
go onto the offensive simultaneously in Spain and Russia. The intervening space between these
countries was too large to allow French forces in one theater to be redeployed quickly enough to
meet an emergency in the other theater. Napoleon I was forced to concentrate either in Spain or
Russia and to beat Britain and Russia sequentially. Napoleon I’s subsequent decision to attack
Russia was based on his hope of concentrating the French forces in a limited area and seeking a
decision quickly, after which he would turn against the British forces in Spain.67
In his Russia campaign in 1812, Napoleon I’s initial calculations properly identified the
initial phase of the campaign as the most critical for success. His resources were calculated under
the assumption that a decisive battle would be fought within a month after crossing the Niemen
River. Negotiations with the Russians would follow, and in the meantime his Grande Armée
would fully recover. However, only one month after the start of his campaign in Russia, Napoleon
I realized that his calculations were wrong. He started the invasion with 685,000 men (including
the garrison troops). About 612,000 men of the Grande Armée crossed the border, and more
than 350,000 were in the main army.68 He failed to trap the 48,000-strong Russian army under
General Bagratian and had to fight numerous inconclusive battles.69 In one month, Napoleon I’s
army penetrated 280 miles deep into Russian territory. Yet the Russian army remained
undefeated and stood concentrated at Smolensk; a decisive battle did not take place, and the tsar
was unwilling to end the war despite Napoleon I’s peace offers. By the time Napoleon I entered
Smolensk, his losses had mounted to 130,000 men (mainly due to sickness, poor rations, and
desertions) and 80,000 horses. The Russians had lost only 10,000 men and twenty guns.70 In the
next 28 days, the French troops covered another 280 miles’ distance between Smolensk and
Moscow. After the bloody battle of Borodino, fought on 7 September, Napoleon I’s army was
reduced to about 95,000 men (some sources say 100,000 men), while his Russian opponent,
General Mikhail I. Kutuzov, was left with about 90,000 men. Two weeks afterward, Napoleon I
entered Moscow.71 If Napoleon I had had 200,000 men when he reached Moscow, he would
probably have been able to dictate terms to the tsar and end his campaign successfully.72
In its plans for war against the Western powers in 1941, Japan also had to properly
balance the factors of space, force, and time. The war’s aim was to make Japan self-sufficient by
obtaining permanent control of the sources of raw materials for the country’s economy. The main
strategic objective of conquering the Southern Resources Area (Malaya, Borneo, and the
Netherlands East Indies, including Timor) was to be accomplished in a series of almost
simultaneous major operations against the British, Dutch, and U.S. forces in the Far East. The
key prerequisite for success was the destruction or immobilization of a major part of the U.S.
Pacific Fleet in Hawaii and the U.S. Army Air Forces in the Philippines. The Japanese were
successful in this dual objective, preventing U.S. forces from interfering with their operations in
seizing the Southern Resources Area. Only 6 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese
invaded Malaya, Siam, and Hong Kong, launched their first attack on Singapore, and struck the
U.S. Army Air Force in the Philippines. By April 1942, the Japanese controlled a major part of
the Far East and a vast area of the Pacific. However, the great and growing disparity among
space, forces, and time made it difficult for the Japanese to have effective control over the newly
conquered area, and this ultimately led to Japan’s defeat.
Conclusion: Control of space, time, and force and their interrelationship is the chief prerequisite for
success in the planning and execution of any military action; balancing these factors is the core of
operational warfare. The higher the level of war, the more critical it is to have the factors of space,
time, and force in harmony, because the consequences of failure at the operational and strategic levels
are far more serious than at the tactical level. Space and forces are relatively fixed, especially at the
operational and strategic levels; the commander can do little to change them. However, the time
factor is variable and changeable. It is also perhaps the most critical factor of the three: time lost can
never be recovered, but space lost can be regained, and forces and assets lost can be regenerated or
reconstituted. Any major mismatch between the space to be gained and controlled and the forces
available will require the operational commander to take greater risks. If the duration of a major
operation or campaign is longer than anticipated, the operational factors of space, time, and force will
reassert themselves; this, in turn, will almost invariably lead to fatal consequences. Full knowledge and
understanding of operational factors are necessary to plan and conduct major operations or
campaigns successfully. Operational commanders and their planners must evaluate the situation in a
given theater or area of operations in its entirety. They must discern trends in the operational
situation weeks or months in advance. The greatest danger is to focus too much on the battlefield
area—that is, to have only a tactical perspective of the situation. That is a recipe for failure at the
operational level of war—a timeless lesson.
1. Gustav Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung (Frauenfeld: Verlag von Huber & Co.
Aktiengesellschaft, 1944), p. 10.
2. Hermann Foertsch, Kriegskunst heute und morgen (Berlin: Zeitgeschichte-Verlag Wilhelm Andermann, 1939), p. 50.
3. Michael P. Noonan’s letter to the editor, Parameters (2000–2001), p. 131.
4. Jehuda L. Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and Their Impact on the
German Conduct of Two World Wars (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986), p. 277.
5. Trevor N. Dupuy, Numbers, Predictions and War: Using History to Evaluate Combat Factors and Predict the Outcome of Battles
(Fairfax, VA: Hero Books, rev. ed., 1985), pp. 13, 16.
6. Kampferfahrungen aus dem Osten, MS # B-266, ZA/1 617, Studien der Historical Division Headquarters, United States
Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, Bundesarchiv-Militaerarchiv (BA-MA), Freiburg, i.Br., pp. 1–2.
7. Noonan’s letter to the editor, p. 131.
8. Ihno Krumpelt, “Die Bedeutung des Transportwesens fuer den Schlachterfolg,” Wehrkunde 9 (September 1965), p. 469.
9. Kurt Zeiztler, Das Ringen um die Grossen Etnscheidungen im Zweiten Weltkriege. Stalingrad-der Wendepunkt des Krieges, ZA/1,
1733, Studien der Historical Division Headquarters, United States Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, BA-MA, pp. 1–2.
10. Lothar Rendulic, Grundlagen militaerischer Fuehrung (Herford/Bonn: Maximilian Verlag, 1967), p. 22.
11. Friedrich von Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, Combat and Conduct of War, translated by Karl Donat (London:
Hugh Rees, 1913), p. 245.
12. Kurt Zeitzler, “Men and Space in War: A German Problem in World War II,” Military Review 4 (April 1962), p. 87.
13. L. D. Holder, “A New Day for Operational Art,” Army 3 (March 1985), p. 44.
14. Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Faces a Long Fight with Hussein Partisans,” New York Times, 14 June 2003, p. A7.
15. Including 102 infantry divisions, 19 panzer divisions, 14 motorized infantry divisions, one cavalry division, and nine
security divisions supported with army troops, heavy artillery, combat engineers, AA troops, etc.; Alfred Philippi and
Ferdinand Heim, Der Feldzug Gegen Sowjetrussland 1941 bis 1945. Ein operativer Ueberblick (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer
Verlag, 1962), p. 36.
16. Ibid., p. 36.
17. Alexander LaRoque, “The Role of Geography in Military Planning,” Canadian Army Journal (July 1955), reprinted in
Military Review 2 (February 1956), p. 96.
18. William R. Trotter, Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939–40 (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2000), p. 43.
19. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 9.
20. Lothar Rendulic, “Operative Beherrschung des Raumes,” Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 1 (January 1964), p. 82.
21. Harry Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812
(Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 1964), p. 16.
22. Erich von Tschischwitz, “Der Kulminationspunkt des Angriffes im Landkrieg,” 1st Part, Militaerwissenschaftliche
Rundschau (Berlin) 7, no. 4 (1942), pp. 342–43; 2nd Part, Militaerwissenschaftliche Rundschau 8, no. 1 (1943), pp. 23–24.
23. Franz Werb, Raum—Zeit—Mittel als Faktoren Strategischer Zielsetzung (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr,
February 1965), p. 20.
24. R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present (New York:
Harper & Row, 2nd rev. ed., 1986), pp. 758–59.
25. Werb, Raum—Zeit—Mittel als Faktoren Strategischer Zielsetzung, pp. 14–15, 17.
26. Juergen-Hans Schmidt, “Der Einfluss des Gelaendes auf die Durchfuehrung von Operationen der Landstreitkraefte,”
Part 1, Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 2 (February 1970), pp. 96–97.
27. Ibid., Part 2, Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 3 (March 1970), p. 154.
28. Wolf Schenke, “Der Raum als Waffe,” Zeitschrift fuer Geopolitik 9 (September 1938), pp. 705–06.
29. B. H. Liddell Hart, “The Ratio of Troops to Space,” Armor 3 (May–June 1960), p. 25.
30. These forces were supported with about 1,500 aircraft (including 600 bombers, 250 ground attack aircraft, and 620
fighters) and one Air Defense Corps of the Luftwaffe; ibid., pp. 25–26; Karl-Heinz Frieser, Blitzkrieg-Legende. Der
Westfeldzug 1940 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag), pp. 119, 194, 105–106.
31. Liddell Hart, “The Ratio of Troops to Space,” p. 27.
32. Ibid.
33. Wolf Weth, “Fuehrungsgrundlagen und ihre Bedeutung. Betrachtung ueber einige historische Ereignisse und die
moegliche Nutzanwendung der dabei gewonnen Erkentnisse,” Wehrkunde 2 (February 1967), p. 67.
34. Kurt Zeitzler, “Men and Space in War: A German Problem in World War II,” pp. 87–88; Zeitzler, “Mensch und Raum
im Kriege (Ein deutsches Problem im zweiten Weltkrieg),” Wehrkunde 11 (November 1961), p. 565.
35. Center for Military History, U.S. Army, CMH Pub 104-5, Terrain Factors in the Russian Campaign (Washington, DC:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1st printing July 1951, facsimile printing 1982, 1986), pp. 24–25.
36. Neefs, “The German Command on the Western Front in 1944,” L’Armée–La Nation, 1 August 1953, reprinted in
Military Review 6 (June 1954), p. 93.
37. Zeitzler, “Men and Space in War: A German Problem in World War II,” p. 89.
38. The Germans suffered 250,000 casualties during the fighting; Martin Blumenson, “Sicily and Italy: Why and What For?”
Military Review 2 (February 1966), p. 67.
39. Zeitzler, “Men and Space in War: A German Problem in World War II,” p. 92; Zeitzler, “Mensch und Raum im Kriege
(Ein deutsches Problem im Zweiten Weltkrieg),” p. 568.
40. Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 11.
41. Zeitzler, “Mensch und Raum im Kriege (Ein deutsches Problem im Zweiten Weltkrieg),” p. 569.
42. Keith Simpson, “The German Experience of Rear Area Security on the Eastern Front 1941–45,” R.U.S.I. Journal
(London) (December 1976), pp. 41–45.
43. Wilhelm Hauck, “Der Gegenangriff der Heeresgruppe Sued im Fruehjahr 1943,” Part 2, Wehrwissenschaftliche
Rundschau 9 (September 1962), p. 535; Othmar Hackl, “Operative Fuehrungsproblems der Heeresgruppe Don bzw. Sued
bei den Verteidigungsoperationen zwischen Donez und Dnepr im Februar und Maerz 1943,” Truppenpraxis 3 (March
1982), p. 198.
44. Norbert Hanisch, Untersuchen Sie die operativen Ideen Manstein hinsichtlich Schwerpunkt-bildung, Ueberraschung, Initiative
und Handlungsfreiheit an den Beispielen Westfeldzug 1940 (Sichelschnitt-Plan) und Operation ZITADELLE (Hamburg:
Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, 15 January 1988), pp. 50, 19.
45. Hermann Foertsch, The Art of Modern Warfare, translated by Theodore W. Knauth (New York: Veritas Press, 1940), p. 40.
46. Hans Hannesen, “Militaergeographie,” Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 3 (March 1965), p. 147; Liddell Hart, “The
Ratio of Troops to Space,” p. 24.
47. Friedrich von Bernhardi, Vom Heutigen Kriege, Vol. 2, Kampf und Kriegfuehrung (Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn, 1912), p. 236.
48. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 7.
49. Hanisch, Untersuchen Sie die operativen Ideen Manstein hinsichtlich Schwerpunkt-bildung, Ueberraschung, Initiative und
Handlungsfreiheit an den Beispielen Westfeldzug 1940 (Sichelschnitt-Plan) und Operation ZITADELLE, p. 5.
50. Werner Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland
1812 (Hamburg: Fuehrungsakademie der Bundeswehr, November 1964), p. 2.
51. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 19.
52. Werb, Raum—Zeit—Mittel als Faktoren Strategischer Zielsetzung, p. 20.
53. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 2.
54. Adolf Heusinger, Der Ostfeldzug 1941–1942. Ein operativer Ueberblick, T-6, ZA/1 2325, Studien der Historical Division
Headquarters, United States Army Europe, Foreign Military Branch, BA-MA, p. 16.
55. Headquarters, Department of the Army, FM 100-5, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office,
5 May 1986), p. 85.
56. Adapted from Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, pp. 224–25.
57. Wittigo V. Dobschuetz, “Der Faktor Zeit in der Lagebeurteilung,” Wehrkunde 11 (November 1970), p. 580.
58. Werb, Raum—Zeit—Mittel als Faktoren Strategischer Zielsetzung, p. 22.
59. Philippi and Heim, Der Feldzug Gegen Sowjetrussland 1941 bis 1945. Ein operativer Ueberblick, p. 34.
60. David Jablonsky, “Strategy and the Operational Level of War: Part I,” Parameters (Spring 1987), p. 69.
61. J. F. C. Fuller, Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, and Tyrant (New Brunswick, NJ; De Capo Press, 1965), p. 322.
62. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, p. 246; Hans-Joachim Schubert, “Mehr Raum, weniger Zeit und Kraefte,”
Truppenpraxis 5 (May 1995), p. 328.
63. Werb, Raum—Zeit—Mittel als Faktoren Strategischer Zielsetzung, p. 24.
64. Bernhardi, On War of To-Day, Vol. 2, pp. 225–26.
65. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812, p. 2.
66. Daeniker, Raum, Kraft und Zeit in der Militaerischen Kriegfuehrung, p. 12.
67. Lange, Raum, Zeit und Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812,
pp. 5–7.
68. Hans Delbrueck, History of the Art of War, Vol. 4, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, translated from the German by Walter J.
Renfroe, Jr., (Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 1985), pp. 436–37.
69. Alan D. Landry, Time Estimation at the Operational Level of War (Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military
Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, June 1990), p. 24.
70. Marx, Raum-Zeit-Mittel als Faktoren strategischer Zielsetzung. Ueberlegungen zu Napoleon Is Feldzug in Russland 1812, pp.
71. David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon (New York, NY: Scribner, 1966), pp. 806–07.
72. Delbrueck, History of the Art of War, Vol. 4, p. 437.
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