American Way of War Essay Example

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The American Way of War


The study of American way of war started in the early 1970s following the publication of Weigley Russell’s book, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. Looking at the way war was practiced and thought about by major United States political and military figures his conclusion was that except for the early periods of the existence of the nation, the American approach of war focused on the wish to attain a clashing militia victory either via a strategy of annihilation or a strategy of attrition over an enemy. United States political leaders and military men usually saw the annihilation of the armed might of an opponent and the taking up of his capital as a mark of the termination of war and the start of post-battle negotiations. Therefore, Americans, unlike several of their European fellows regarded battle as an alternative to negotiating, other than a component of a continuing bargaining procedure. This implies that the American notion of battle hardly ever extended beyond winning of campaigns and battles to the resolute task of turning the victory of military into strategic victory.

Definition of the American way of war

The American way of war was first defined by Weigley who argued that it comprised of a distinct American methodology of annihilation and attrition. From the colonial period to Civil War, whilst America grew into a new nation, its militia forces were comparatively weak and thus engaged in battles of attrition. From civil war all through Vietnam War, as the country developed politically, militarily and economically, its strong military abilities permitted a move from an attrition strategy to a strategy that supported annihilation. The Annihilation strategy depended on the development of huge masses of military using mass concentration as well as firepower to utilize overwhelming force to wipe out the enemy (Weigley, 25).

Taking the varying viewpoints in American way of way into consideration, there is no an authoritative list of features that define the American way of way. Nevertheless, extrapolating the shared aims, what come out are a tactical approach of battle and a strategic approach of war. The tactical approach of battle encompasses adaptive United States armed forces utilizing an aggressive method of force to overpower and annihilate adequate of the opponent’s forces to attain a quick and decisive victory with minimum casualties. The apparently overwhelming forces of the well trained professionals utilize maneuver, speed and flexibility and this method of fight is greatly dependent on firepower and technology, and has significant logistical requirements.

From the strategic viewpoint, the American method of way searches for quick military success, independent of the strategic policy victory. The wanted military and political outcomes don’t always align Gray (71) notes that this method of warfare divulges Americans under appreciation cultural differences and historical lessons which usually results to a disconnection amid the military activity and peace that came before it. The strategic method of war additionally entails alternative nationwide strategies like preclusion and warfare of partial aims. In regard to this model, there isn’t a singular definition of the American way of war. To a certain extent, American way of war is dual; a tactical way of battle entailing a scheme of warfare in which discrete American characteristics defines the utilization of force. The other is the strategic way of way adjusted to the impulses of a political scheme, a procedure not usually favorable to converting tactical conquests into strategic victory or success (Gray, 74).

When assessing characteristics of American way of way, the question comes up whether or not these features fit into an American method of war or into an American method of battle. The American method of battle would entail an economic, political, military and social approach to the United States viewpoint of war, other than simply a fight of focus. Echvevarria (47) notes that American method of war doesn’t exist, and instead asserts that what is in existence is an American method of battle. He deems that until a time when American method of war gains the capacity to turn battlefield into strategic success, it will simply as a method of battle.

The American way of war and American tactical way of battle

Military strategists and historians have attempted to describe American way of way, or somewhat the features of American tactical way of battle. The American way of way comprised of a distinctive American method; one of annihilation and attrition. The study of the American way of war after 2001 entails several historians such as Linn Brian and Lynn John, questioning the initial accord of the American way of war (composed of Wrigley’s attrition and annihilation), and illustrating more valid features of the tactical way of battle which better interconnect with the small wars in the military history of America.

According to Linn (66) appreciating a nationwide method of war needs surpassing the account of operations, beyond the debates on merits of annihilation or attrition , mobility or firepower, collective professional capability or military genius. Linn objects the classical work of Weigley, illustrating the irregularity of attrition or annihilation during the eighty years between the termination of civil war and middle of the Second World War two. Linn (70) asserts that American military are compelled to improvise, adapt and surmount limitations so as to apply a method of way that is well matched to their particular situations, which entailed peace building and counterinsurgencies and solemnly entailed the features of attrition or annihilation. Linn rebuffs the reality of both the western and American way of way claiming that the American way of war is more of an adaptive scheme of battle with military officials combining national strategy, military theory and operational considerations as they envisage them at the moment.

In regard to a distinctive discourse of America method of war, Lynn John outlines the predominance of three interrelated tendencies: abhorrence of the United States casualties, confidence in the military technology to reduce United States losses and focus on exit strategies. Gaffney (102) claims that a distinct American method of war surfaced in post cold war era. The American method of war is characterized by intentional, sometimes worrying decision making, assembly, careful planning and movement of an overwhelming force, utilization of a blend of ground and air forces applied with accuracy, particularly by well trained, professional military personnel. According to Boot (47) a new American method of war depends on speed, flexibility, surprise and maneuver, seeking a swift victory with less injured person. The war heavily relies on Special Forces, psychological operations and precisions firepower. Boot utilizes the latest incursion of Iraq to demonstrate the successful utilization of the novel American method of war, which enabled the U.S. to ambitiously occupy the entire Iraq within a short period with minimal cost and minimal casualties.

Consistence existence of the American way of war

The American way of war has not evolved and is still applicable. The U.S. nation strategy is in line with American method of war. In regard to security, United Sates is one of the key nations that can carry out offensive form of operations both in neighboring and far off nations. This capability permits United Sates to preemptively strike before fighting takes place in the country’s land. This policy is a characteristic of American new method of war. In the real sense, it is a defensive approach that tries to expect and strike any form of danger before it gets into U.S. in regard to economic affluence, the strategy of national security states that the involvement of America is not essentially for the utilization of local resources, but rather for lessening interruption to international markets and fro free movement of international resources; economic gains originating from opening overseas markets to American services and products along with raising domestic demand overseas(Lynn, 56).

In regard to values, American method of war purposefully propagates the benefits of the American democratic principles with leadership being committed to the battle to transmit capitalism and democracy, which essentially implies committing forces to the fight against diverging ideologies, from Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan to communism during Cold War. In regard to attaining nationwide interests, American method of war entails numerous diverse strategic apparatus afar from intervention of military in small wars and huge, decisive battles. It entails diplomacy, strategic positioning, deterrence and global coalitions. There exists interdependence amid military tactics, strategy and operations so that the tactical activities of soldiers have a strategic impact, which subsequently has political outcomes (Gaffney, 89)

The interpretation of the present conflicts via discourses is a factor which shapes strategic American method of war. Lynn recounts the war of a certain period of its individual distinct cultural dialogue, the intricacy of perceptions, expectations, values and assumptions, that a certain society upholds on warriors and war. Lynn (117) claims that that discourse changes due to the changing situations and changing cultural norm. Therefore, culture shapes warfare and the inference of this warfare as a preparation for battle shapes strategic American method of war. The United States democratic culture along with prominence of free speech permits its numerous interest groupings to engage on intellectual discussion war preparations. These intellectual debates by pundits and intelligentsia in media, the reflections on time of war by armed forces and the American approach to warfare merge to form strategic American method of warfare. In addition, this discourse entails the United States militarily methodically and regularly undertaking after battle assessment so as to learn military history so as to avoid a repeat of mistakes, to advance military theory and shape or change the needed doctrine.


The American method of warfare is twofold. The first way is the tactical way of battle entailing an aggressive approach of war to overpower and destroy opponent forces and attain a quick and decisive victory with minimum strategies. The second way is the strategic way of war whereby the expected military and political outcomes don’t essentially align. Weigley defined American way of waging a battle via the characteristics of annihilation and attrition. Consequent historians have used several characteristics to define an American method of battle or rejected its existence. The characteristics of an American method of battle demonstrate an institution inclined to fight against a proportionate frequent rival other than an uneven rival, regardless of U.S. history of counterinsurgencies and small wars.

Works cited

Boot, Max. Savage Wars of Peace. Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Bsaic Books, 2009.

Linn, Brian. The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Weigley, Russell. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. Bloomington: Indian University Press, 2005.

Lynn, John. Battle: A History of Combat and Culture. Boulder: Westview Press, 2008.

Echevarria, Antulio. “An American Way of Way or Way of Battle?” Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute, 2012.

Gaffney, Henry “ The American Way of War through 2020.” Alexandria: Center for Strategic Studies, 2013.

Gray, Colin. “Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can The American Way of War Adapt? “Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute, 2008.