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On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle Paperback – Illustrated, August 15, 2020
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About the Author
- Publisher : Naval Institute Press; Illustrated edition (August 15, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1682476243
- ISBN-13 : 978-1682476246
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.58 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #282,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"Tactics" is merely the quest for advantage over an enemy. Its how you seek to strike at him from a position of advantage. Done properly, it achieves the dilemma effect, in which your unified/synchronized efforts effectively take away all enemy options to respond. When he seeks to avoid one of your directed efforts, he only succeeds in making himself more vulnerable to another. In the end he has no way out...The concept of dilemma (the fundamental quest for decisive advantage) that drives all tactical approaches wasn't mentioned in anything but passing form.
What was valuable was the "Principles of Planning". What are key aspects of planning that military staff officers need to keep in mind as they plan operations. In this one appendix to the main text, the author makes up for much of what was lacking in the main text.
I still think Bill Lind's "Maneuver Warfare Handbook" is superior in teaching key mental concepts that should be understood by low level tactical leaders. If that simple yet effective book doesn't get you there (its a LT/CPT level book), try "Warfighting" by LTC Hayden.
This book is bad. It is filled with inaccurate information, and to be candid, bad ideas.
The author demonstrates ignorance of tactics, operations, and strategy throughout the book.
The book is poorly researched, and consistently demonstrates mediocre writing of a lazy mind.
-The author disregards, and then dismisses the operational level of war. He talks of the operational art, but insists there is nothing between the tactical and the strategic levels. While true 2500 years ago, this is not true today.
-The author misrepresents doctrine in multiple parts of the book. At one point the author suggests that the joint principles are of little use to the tactician. I don't buy that statement.
-Reading this book, it is clear that the author does not understand the historic or current concepts of the Center of Gravity. Linking to his dismissal of an operational level of war, he does not mention mention or discuss operational COGs, but insists on tactical COGs. It becomes clear in his writing that he had never seen plans where the strategic or operational COGs shift dependent upon what phase one side is in, something that is common in most plans. Moreover, the author misrepresents doctrine by asserting that our doctrine insists that the COG is "the enemy's fighting force." While this is used as an example, doctrine does not specify what the COG is, planners do so in the operational design phase of planning.
The author asserts CALL was created in response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. CALL stood up in 1985
B. A. Friedman’s 2017 treatise “On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle” is one of those long overdue books that makes you wonder why someone didn’t think of it earlier. There are numerous books on strategy, many of them overly complex, theoretical, and not particularly useful at the level most of us plan and work at.
Friedman does yeoman’s work here laying out a clear framework for thinking about, studying, and planning tactical engagements of all kinds. Along the way he barbecues a few sacred cows, the operational level of war (no such thing!), Center of Gravity analysis, conventional v. Irregular war and others, and brings clarity in their wake.
It’s not a perfect book, neither his examples nor his descriptions make useful distinctions between the tenets of surprise and confusion. Neither does he do an adequate job discussing deception. The section on deception focuses primarily on the strategic aspects of its application, and the work suffers for it. This is done at the expense of appendixes which, while well written, also tend to be a more strategic in nature.
I recognize this work was intended to be portable and accessible enough to travel in the cargo pocket of a Platoon Sergeant or Company Commander at war. That’s an admirable goal but I can’t help but think that another 20 or so pages would have fleshed the tenets out enough to provide more value to the tactician, while not substantially reducing its convenience.
Overall I give it 4/5 stars and view it as one of the more important books on tactics I have ever read. It should be required reading in schools like the Infantry Officers Basic Course and NCOES. Let’s hope Mr. Friedman has more to follow.