Operation (military)

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Plan of operations for the Battle of the Bulge

As operation in military sense related in time and space acts are referred by forces of a page toward a common goal are directed.

According to the purpose of the operation, a distinction is made between offensive and defensive operations , whereby the understanding of offensive operations predominates. These are aimed at weakening the opponent or placing them in an unfavorable position by taking away terrain or strategic points and reducing his defensive abilities. In the end, this should make it impossible for him to continue the fight , often as part of a longer campaign . The aim of defensive operations is to hinder and thwart opposing offensive operations through skillful and economical use of one's own forces and to prepare the initiation of one's own offensive operations (winning the initiative ).

Military operations are led by the management level of a large unit from brigade level and take place before, during and after battles and skirmishes . Multiple battles and skirmishes can occur in the course of an operation. In addition to combat activity, it also includes all other military measures such as marches or supply of troops and other measures of any kind and of any size. Operations do not require a specific range of forces. Operations are fundamentally different branches of service and usually from different branches of the armed forces carried out together.

A large number of other terms (e.g. operating line , operating base ) were derived from the term operation at an early stage . However, it only acquired the central importance it has today towards the end of the 19th century, when the adjective operative was derived from it in Germany , with which a completely new management level was created between strategy and tactics , the operative level.

This means that the use of the term in the German-speaking area differs considerably from that in the Anglo-Saxon, especially the US-American language area, where it describes "only very general combat operations" of whatever kind. Found to comply with surgery , not surgery , surgery , however, the English term operational .

Delimitation of the term

The operational level derived from the term operation is below the strategy , but above the tactics . Strategy is to be understood as that part of the art of war that deals with overall warfare. In contrast, tactics involved in the use and deployment of the forces and resources of an association for and in combat while in the conduct of operations of major associations of battle speaks. Tactics thus directs the focus of consideration on the individual battle and strategy far above this narrow perspective on all interrelationships and interests of the warring state, the operational level is located in between.

Tactical measures are therefore closely interdependent. A company defending a town cannot pursue this intention and its mission in isolation from its neighbors. If the neighboring companies on both sides retreat, the unit will also have to evade the village, otherwise there is a risk of being cut off. On the other hand, it will not be allowed to stop in the village if its neighbors take action, otherwise there will be a gap between these neighbors, which could be their undoing, and ultimately also the company in the village. In this respect, the leader of this company is not free in his decisions, but has to orientate them to the behavior of other units over which he has no influence.

This is different at the operational level. Different operations in the same theater of war must be coordinated with one another at the strategic level, but are largely independent of the success or failure of neighboring operations. Another difference that is often mentioned is that movements in tactics are only considered insofar as they are planned and carried out in battle or in anticipation of a possible battle, while they are an integral part of operations. Supply measures are also only considered in the tactics with regard to their effects on ongoing or possible battles, while they are constant companions of operations. Rare to find an indication that tactic is very strong at the branch of service oriented, while operations in principle the idea of using combined arms follow.

This is based on the idea that armored forces , infantry and artillery each have their own operational principles and thus their own tactics. "Where individual types of troops and their specific tactics (...) no longer determine the outcome for themselves because other types of troops and other types of tactics are also involved, we are on the next higher level: the operational level." that in today's combat situations, combined arms combat is already practiced at very low command levels. Battalions almost always have surrendered parts of foreign troops available for their own combat mission, companies and sometimes even platoons are increasingly being reinforced by other troops. The difference that tactical units are initially pure-bred and only receive admixtures through intervention at the operational level, which can dispose of all types of troops, would, however, remain with this objection.

A large number of derived terms are related to the term operation in today's German management regulations:

Origin and development of the term

Antoine-Henri Jomini

The word operation is derived from the Latin operari , which means to be busy, to work, to act, to do . This is used to form the Latin operatio (genitive: operationis ) with the meaning of work, performance, trade . While the term has been used in the medical context since the early 16th century, it can be found in the meaning of a purposeful movement of a military unit from the end of the 17th century. In a broader sense, the term only established itself at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. He cannot be found in the writings of Frederick the Great . His contemporary Henry Lloyd , however, is considered to be the creator of the term line of operations for the lines of connection from the army in the field to their supply bases in the hinterland. This suggests that as early as 1780, the year Lloyd's treatise on the general principles of the art of war was written , the concept of operation was so widespread that the line of operations could be derived from it. At the turn of the 19th century, the term can be found among all major thinkers of the art of war. Archduke Karl overwrote § 4 of his principles of the higher art of war for the generals of the Austrian army as early as 1806 with the title Von dem Operplan . Carl von Clausewitz uses the term more frequently in his book Vom Kriege , which was written in the 1820s . The fifteenth chapter of the fifth book in the second part is entitled Base of Operations . Given this background, it is astonishing that Scharnhorst , of all people, who received considerable support from Tempelhoff , Lloyds' translator, ascribed the authorship of the expression line of operations to Jomini . Whereby Jomini, whose work Précis de l'Art de la Guerre was written about ten years after Clausewitz's Vom Krieg , developed the term and understanding of it considerably further. He built a whole new set of terms around the concept of operation that referred to it or were derived from it. “Jomini looked for the essence of the strategy in the lines of operations and examined the merits of the inner line of operations and the outer.” Scharnhorst's error may therefore be based on this fact.

Helmuth von Moltke

The most important further development occurs in the second half of the 19th century. It is not known whether Moltke , based on the concept of operation, inserted the operative art of war or operative management level between tactics and strategy , or whether his successor Schlieffen was the first . According to Boris Michailowitsch Schaposchnikow , operational art according to Sigismund von Schlichting , Louis Loyzeau de Grandmaison and Heinrich Antonowitsch Leer was taught at the Russian General Staff Academy before the First World War . It is certain, however, that this new concept of leadership emerged in Germany before 1900 and from there was initially adopted in Russia as an operativnoje iskusstvo . Since then there is no longer just the pair of terms strategy - tactics, which was characterized by a wide gray area between the extremes. The operational level intervened as a mediator between the two. Of course, there are now two gray areas instead of one. For as unclear as the assignment of a military measure to the area of ​​tactics or strategy in border areas used to be, the uncertainty can be as great today when it comes to assignment to tactics or operational level on the one hand, or operational level and strategy on the other. Except in Russia, where the concept of operational leadership was further elaborated between 1923 and 1937 by Tukhachevsky and Triandafillow (see Deep Operation ), outside Germany it was difficult to adopt the new idea. Liddell Hart hit in the mid-1950s for Britain and the other Western states an almost identical concept, however, under the appropriate him appearing term grand tactics (about Great tactic ) ago. Shortly afterwards, the French General André Beaufre , a prominent Western thinker of strategy , opened up for the first time for this concept under the name of Operational Strategy . In the Eastern Bloc , the achievement was given high credit and ridiculed at how difficult it was for the class enemy . An official work proudly explains: “The bourgeois military science does not recognize the operative art as an independent part of the K. (riegskunst). In military literature, however, terms such as “great tactics” , “theater of war tactics” and other terms are used to denote operational combat operations. “It was deliberately overlooked that West Germany had never distanced itself from operations and operations. The concept of operation runs through all editions of the basic command regulations for the German Army. In 1982 Edward Luttwak introduced the new concept of leadership to the US armed forces in the basic regulation FM 100-5. In it it is stated that the war is a national endeavor that is coordinated on three basic levels: strategic, operational and tactical. The term had thus finally established itself worldwide, even if there are still some criticisms that in some countries the term has not yet penetrated the management system.

Operation types

The Bundeswehr differentiates between the types of operations

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Army Service Regulations 100/100 Troop Leadership , Bonn 2000; Item 406 ff. And Army Service Regulation 100/900 Leadership Concepts , Bonn 1998; Keyword operation and references
  2. Edward Luttwak: Strategy, The Logic of War and Peace . Lüneburg 2003, p. 156.
  3. for example Edward Luttwak in Edward Luttwak: Strategy, The Logic of War and Peace . Lueneburg 2003.
  4. ^ Edward Luttwak: Strategy, The Logic of War and Peace Lüneburg 2003; P. 157.
  5. Wolfgang Pfeifer (inter alia): Etymological Dictionary of German Berlin 1993, p. 951.
  6. ^ Rudolf Vierhaus: Lloyd and Guibert . In: Werner Hahlweg : Classics of the art of war . Darmstadt 1960, p. 188.
  7. ^ Archduke Karl: Principles of the higher art of war for the generals of the Austrian army Vienna 1806, In: Freiherr von Waldstätten (Ed.): Archduke Karl. Selected military writings Berlin 1882, p. 18.
  8. Vom Kriege , the work left behind by General Carl von Clausewitz, Vol. 1–3, with Ferdinand Dümmler, Berlin 1832–1834, (Ed. Von Marie von Clausewitz ).
  9. Scharnhorst writes: The “Précis de l'art de la guerre” summarize the lessons derived from the history of war and the Napoleonic campaigns. It is to the merit of the “devin de Napoléon” who gave the science of war a strong impetus and to have enriched it with the terms “initiative” and “lines of operation”, especially “inner” and “outer lines”. (Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst: Benefit of the military history. Cause of its lack A fragment from the Scharnhorst estate, Osnabrück 1973, ISBN 3-7648-0867-5 ).
  10. Jomini: Précis de l'Art de la Guerre Paris 1994; in English translation: The Art of War London 1992.
  11. Hans Delbrück : History of the Art of War 4th part, 4th book 4th chapter, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-937872-42-6 , p. 597.
  12. Edward Luttwak: Strategy, The Logic of War and Peace . Lüneburg 2003, p. 156.
  13. ^ Basil Liddell Hart: Strategy Wiesbaden 1954 ( Strategy London 1953).
  14. ^ André Beaufre: Total War Art in Peace, Introduction to the Berlin Strategy 1964 ( Introduction à la stratégie Paris, 1963).
  15. ^ Author collective: Dictionary of German military history. Military Publishing House, Berlin 1985; ISBN 3-327-00239-8 ; Keyword art of war , p. 417 f.
  16. as an example here of 1973, the military regulations 100/100 issuing guidance in the battle called
  17. ↑ incorporated there in the US Army's Field Manual 100-5. Year from: Jay Luvaas: Napoleon on the Art of War New York 1999, ISBN 0-684-87271-4 , p. 127.
  18. Luttwak's authorship is confirmed in JJG MacKenzie and Brian Holden: The British Army and the Operational Level of War . London 1989.
  19. Jay Luvaas: Napoleon on the Art of War New York 1999, ISBN 0-684-87271-4 , p. 127.
  20. for example in Switzerland, compare [1] (website of April 30, 2009).
  21. Army Service Regulations 100/900, Leadership Concepts , Bonn 2007.