Clausewitzian Friction and Future War

Clausewitzian Friction and Future War


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Since the end of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, there has been growing discussion of the possibility that technological advances in the means of combat will produce fundamental changes in how future wars will be fought. A number of observers have suggested that the nature of war itself will be transformed. Some proponents of this view have gone so far as to predict that these changes will include great reductions in, if not the outright elimination of, the various impediments to timely and effective action in war for which the Prussian theorist and soldier Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) introduced the term friction. Friction in war, of course, has a long historical lineage. It predates Clausewitz by centuries and has remained a stubbornly recurring factor in combat outcomes right down to the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent conflicts. In looking to the future, a seminal question is whether Clausewitzian friction will succumb to the changes in leading-edge warfare that may lie ahead, or whether such impediments reflect more enduring aspects of war that technology can but marginally affect. It is this question that the present paper examines.

Clausewitz's earliest known use of the term friction to "describe the effect of reality on ideas and intentions in war" occurred in a September 29 letter written to his future wife,Marie von Brühl, less than 3 weeks before France defeated Prussia at the twin battles of Jena and Auerstädt on October 14, 1806.1 By the time Clausewitz died in 1831, his original insight regarding friction's debilitating effects on the campaign of 1806 had grown into a central theme of the unfinished manuscript that his widow published as On War [Vom Kriege].

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781502958167
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 10/26/2014
Pages: 132
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)

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