Military origin of strategy and evolution of strategic
MILITARY ORIGIN OF
Saksha , 7602
Definitions of strategy have their roots in military strategy, which defines itself in
terms of drafting the plan of war, shaping individual campaigns and, within these
deciding on individual engagements (battles/skirmishes) with the enemy. Strategy
in this military sense is the art of war, or, more precisely, the art of the general –
the key decision maker thus , The analogy with business is that business too is on a war
footing as competition becomes more and more fierce and survival more problematic.
Strategic thinking has been much influenced by military thinking about
‘the strategy hierarchy’ of goals, policies and programs. Strategy itself sets the
agenda for future action, strategic goals state what is to be achieved and when (but
not how), policies set the guidelines and limits for permissible action in pursuit of
the strategic goals, and programs specify the step-by-step sequence of actions
necessary to achieve major objectives and the timetable against which progress
can be measured.
Companies and armies have much in common. They both, for example, pursue
strategies of deterrence, offence, defense and alliance. One can think of a well
developed business strategy in terms of probing opponents’ weaknesses; withdrawing
to consider how to act, given the knowledge of the opposition generated
by such probing; forcing opponents to stretch their resources; concentrating
one’s own resources to attack an opponent’s exposed position; overwhelming
selected markets or market segments; establishing a leadership position of dominance
in certain markets; then regrouping one’s resources, deciding where to
make the next thrust; then expanding from the base created to dominate a broader area.
The Dawn of Strategy:
Strategy sprung from the need for people to defeat their enemies. The first treatises that
discuss strategy are from the Chinese during the period of 400 – 200 B.C. Sun Tzu’s The
Art of War, written in 400 B.C. has received critical acclaim as the best work on military
strategy, including those that have followed it centuries later. However, unlike the
theoretical treatises that followed, the Chinese works took the form of narratives,
including poems and prose accounts.
MILITARY ORIGIN OF STRATEGY
The term “strategy” is derived indirectly from the Classic and Byzantine (330 A.D.)
Greek “strategos,” which means “general.” While the term is credited to the Greeks, no
Greek ever used the word.
The term strategy grew slowly from military strategy to business strategy or strategic management. Military origin of
strategy can be defined with the help of following examples.
MILITARY STRATEGY IS THE SET OF STRATEGIES IMPLEMENTED BY MILITARY TO PURSUE THEIR DESIRED STRATEGIC
MILITARY THEORY OF STRATEGY DEFINES:
Strategy is the utilization during both war and peace, of all the nations forces through large scale , long range
planning and development to ensure large scale victory and to ensure security.
MEANING IN SHORT:
The concept of military strategy consists:
1) The planning and conduct of campaigns
2) the movement and disposition of forces
3) the deception of the enemy
DEFINITION OF STRATEGY (by father of western modern strategic study- Carl von Clausewitz)
“ the employment of battles to gain the end of war”
BY SUN TZU: is often considered as the father of Eastern military strategy and has influenced greatly the Chinese,
Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese historical and modern war tactics. The Art of War by Sun Tzu grew in popularity and
saw practical use in Western society as well.
Strategy differs from tactics, in that strategy refers to the employment of all of a nation's military
capabilities through high level and long term planning, development and procurement to guarantee
security or victory. Tactics is the military science employed to secure objectives defined as part of the
military strategy; especially the methods whereby men, equipment, aircraft, ships and weapons are
employed and directed against an enemy.
Strategy and tactics are closely related and exist on the same continuum, modern thinking places the
operational level between them. All deal with distance, time and force but strategy is large scale, can
endure through years, and is societal while tactics are small scale and involve the disposition of fewer
elements enduring hours to weeks. Originally strategy was understood to govern the prelude to a battle
while tactics controlled its execution. However, in the world wars of the 20th century, the distinction
between maneuver and battle, strategy and tactics, expanded with the capacity of technology and
Strategic goals could be "We want to conquer area X",
or "We want to stop country Y's expansion in world
trade in commodity Z"; while tactical decisions range
from a general statement—e.g., "We're going to do
this by a naval invasion of the North of country X",
"We're going to blockade the ports of country Y", to a
more specific "C Platoon will attack while D platoon
provides fire cover".
DIFFERNENCE BETWEEN STRATEGY AND TACTICS
A debate exists as to whether business strategy and war strategy are equivalent. The attraction of applying strategic,
operational and tactical strategies of war to business is similar. Many principles and tools of war strategies can be
applied to assist those in the business world. Some view business and war strategies differently and come up with a
new view of how they can be applied.
One dissimilarity with business is that, within the context of past military planning and doctrine, there tended to be,
generally, only one enemy and the purpose of the planning activity is to fashion the conditions for a specific, decisive
act to bring defeat to the enemy. However, the nature of current warfare has transformed vastly from the days of state-
to-state positional warfare and two well-defined enemies fighting within distinct geographic theaters of conflict.
For more than seventy years, war planners have been
dealing with asymmetric warfare, fourth generation
warfare, low intensity conflict, non state actors
participating in various wars and skirmishes. As in
business, rarely do we deal with a single enemy or a single
decisive battle to end a conflict and bring about the defeat
or surrender of the single enemy. The Iraq and Afghan
wars of conflict are examples of this assessment.
CURRENT WAR STRATEGIES
In Iraq, the US military and its allies were fighting Iraq’s the Sunni Arab community upon their
toppling of Saddam Hussein’s brutal Baathist regime and subsequently these same Iraqi Arab
Sunnis allied themselves with US forces to extract from communities the menace and plague of Al
Qaeda. Both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, US military forces were fighting alongside of, and
supporting, the national security forces of these two nations while the next minute they are
combating them directly and indirectly while fighting the Taliban, fragments of Al-Qaeda and
different Jihadist combatants.
Accordingly, current warfare strategy, as we know it today, and business strategy have begun to
converge with more remarkable similarities than differences. In business, the competitive
landscape is generally complex and dynamic. Strategy and tactical interplay are vital in business.
Similarly in warfare, the multitude of different stakeholders must be considered. In Afghanistan,
the US military must, at the same time, plan and manage relationships encompassing Pakistanis,
the Iranians, the Russians and several Afghan clans. Some times they are treated as friends and
sometimes as foes. This complex relationship is also trues in business. Look at Apple Computer
and Samsung. Both are fighting in the battlefield of the courts over intellectual property rights
and at the same time cooperating and collaborating on other projects.
TYPES OF WARFARE
In large part, warfare strategy, at a tactical level, fosters “kill, capture, destroy” asuch of the military
opponent’s capabilities as fast as possible while protecting current forces. In business strategy,
parallel tactics are called upon. Types of warfare include:
Limited War—a military example is the US versus the Nicaragua Sandinistas whereas the US used
overwhelming superiority to defeat. A business example is Microsoft versus smaller software
producers in the 1980s and 1990s. Microsoft used patent trolling techniques and it market
dominance to block competition.
Total War—a military example is the Soviet Union versus Nazi Germany. Typically a high intensity
conflict of balanced opponents, such wars tend to be a victory at any price, even if truce would be
advantageous for both parties during a stage of the war. An example is two of Germany’s most well
known brands Volkswagen and Porsche and reclusive industrial families, the Porsches and the
Piechs; both belong to the same family line. This resulted in the 2008 majority takeover by Porsche
of Volkswagen. The typical strategy is total exhausting of the opponent similar to war.
Counter-Insurgency (COIN)—a military example is the
US versus the Taliban. Although decisive victory probably
cannot be achieved within the normal mode of warfare, a
COIN strategy use the divide and rule tactic that
the existing power structure and prevent smaller power
groups from linking up. The strategy is designed to
fracture the connections between insurgency and the
population thus weakening the enemy. A business
example is the US versus Microsoft for violating the
Sherman Antitrust Act. Microsoft used its WINTEL
dominance to crush its competition during the browser
wars with Netscape’s Navigator and Opera Software’s
Opera browsers. By bundling its Internet Explore web
browser into its operating systems (O/S), making it
to download competing browsers into the Window O/S,
and forming restrictive licensing agreements with its
original equipment manufacturers, Microsoft prevented
smaller companies effectively from competing or gaining
Correspondingly, purpose of much of the best of current
business strategy is to transform the rules of the game in
favor of the business. Creating unique market niches
based on the first move advantage, and discovering a
unique technology as well as product, and process
innovation can grab an unquestionable market share
based on a combination of these factors that competitors
simply cannot weaken. Accordingly, warfare, whether
business or military, becomes a series of battles whereby
the cleverest “wins”, but where victory is more about the
superiority at what you do rather than total dominance
leading to a wholesale decimation of the company’s