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Dolman, Pure Strategy

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“Victory is but a moment in time” (9).


a product of the imagination. 1

what requires revelation, insight, steadfast commitment, and faith. 1

alchemy. 1

transmutation from idea into action. 1

a plan for continuing advantage. 6

search for the right question. 4

an unending process that can never lead to a conclusion. 4

  • because continuation not culmination is the goal. 4

about change and adaptation. 4

concerned with aggregate interactions and conditions.

a larger focus [than campaigns and wars]. 5

to seek a favorable continuation of events [versus a culmination]. 5

connects the conduct of war with the intent of politics. 6

stringing together anticipated outcomes. 6

to enhance the position of the state. 6

conceives of what might happen if limits were changed/altered. 7

not strictly bound by the exigency of the conflict. 9

a plan that sets into motion a series of actions or events that lead the state toward a desired condition or policy. 11

to understand how the parameters of action determine the means and ends chosen in conflict, and to manipulate the processes that transform them. 11

qualitatively judged. 12

has no beginning or end only more or less. 13

confined only by the even horizon of possibilities. 13

a state of being not a series of events. 15

purpose to continue to exert influence. 15

(military strategy) is to link military means with political aims in pursuit of a continuing advantage. 14

informed by theory. 17

is the realm where political concerns and military means interact. 20


It may be centuries before it is truly determined who won WWII. 3

Victory is but a moment in time. 9

Winning a battle, however, does not end strategy, just as winning an election does not end politics. 15


‘Strategy changes the context within which those events will happen.’ 6

“If the strategist is successful in dictating the terms of the fight, then the probability of a desired outcome in any given combat is raised considerably.” 7

Strategic plans set conditions. 11

Quoting Liddell Hart, “true aim is not so much to seek battle as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that if it does not of itself produce the decision, its continuation by a battle is sure to achieve this” (21, LH 325).

“Just military strategists act on behalf of an abstract concept-the state. They are the reification of the shared image. They plan on behalf of the state or military force and the actions they take continue to shape decisions long after they are removed from authority. The plan embeds itself into the fabric of the state, and the structure it creates becomes the responsibility of everyone in it. The strategist can never finish the business of strategy, and understands that there is no permanence in victory--or defeat. The real winner is the side that has established the framework…” 10

PERICLES--a model innovative strategy (21-22)Edit

Set boundaries for the war: D(i)ME

Set rules of engagement.

Understood the next war is with Persia, not Sparta.

Anticipated change (had an adaptive plan).

Did not mandate specific force structure or battles.

Did not have an end in view (key to his thesis of ‘continuing advantage’).

Sparta’s demise was undesirable due to a view of the next war.


“To sum, the purpose of military strategy is to link military means to the political aim. The purpose of operational strategy is to contest or gain command of the medium of battle, which allows the tactical and political aims to remain at odds logically but to converge practically.” 30

· Grand Strat - generate political aims

· Military Strat - link to (military) means

· Operational Strat - command mediums

· Tactical (Bat Strat) - violence and victory


The means dictate the manner of war. Differences matter (F-22 vs cav) 31.

What do military means really give you? 33

a. Options

b. Means of war

c. Violence

Specific purpose of a service? 34

a. Purpose – to command the air

b. Function – maximize violence

Body-count strategy examples (placed here as the wrong way to go)

a. Mig Alley small flights as baiting, then they’d die. 36

b. Vietnam

Mahanian view with Corbett supports. 39

a. Mahanian view is correct... command of the sea. But not as an end… command must be actively exploited [for a strategic purpose].

Past notesEdit

Everett Dolman, Pure Strategy (XIX-Gloves)

- Strategist will search for right questions; strategy – unending process that never leads to conclusion; continuation of strategic advantage is the goal, not culmination; understand how parameters of action determine chosen means and ends; manipulate boundaries and limitations; dictate terms

- Complex adaptive systems: a great number of independently acting agents continuously interacting with other agents and the environment. They tend toward self-organization and display emergent behavior.

- Thinking about complexity leads to a mindset where:

- - Don’t expect specific outcomes from single inputs

- - Treat enemy as a system

- - No prescriptive answers

- - Strike at the enemy’s ability to adapt to change

Dolman, Pure Strategy (Gloves notes) / the acknowledgements section is worth reading! Wit, charm, etc. / continuation is the goal of strategy, not culmination - the strategist knows conflict is unending 4 / "strategy is a plan for attaining continuing advantage" 6 / tacticians are bound by a certain place and time, while strategists have a broader perspective 9 / a tactician never consciously seeks defeat, but a strategist might 11 / strategic success is judged qualitatively (better or worse than another) rather than qualitatively (good or bad) 12 / strategies require champions, because even succeeding ones don't always have victories or body-counts to support them 22-3 / since Clausewitz's ideal of absolute commitment to war is practically impossible, then the purpose of military power must be to provide measured violence rather than total violence 33

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