by SWJ Editors
The Loss of Strategic Legitimacy
by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Weimann
"War leads to war crimes, and the only sure way to avoid that seems to be to avoid war. Good example, discipline and control (good leadership) can only reduce the problem."
- - Comment on Small Wars Journal discussion board thread titled "The Kill Company" dated 15 July 2009 concerning The New Yorker Article, "The Kill Company" by Kaffi Khatchadourian, July 6 2009
Looking at the latest edition of the DOD Joint Operations Manual (Joint Operations JP 3.0), you noticed, under the "Summary of Changes Section", the addition of three new Principles of Joint Operations (Principle of War). There, in the change section, it states that the publication:
"Establishes 12 "principles of joint operations" by adding three "other principles" — restraint, perseverance, and legitimacy — to the traditional nine "principles of war"
The Department of Defense use to have only nine "principles of war' that included Mass, Objective, Offensive, Security, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of Command, Surprise and Simplicity. These principles were burned into the minds of entry level lieutenants with the permanency of a branding iron during their initial officer training using the acronym "MOOSE MUSS". Ahhh yes, good old MOOSE MUSS; because of it most officers will never forget those nine strategic principles of war. The change also raises a question; why, after more than forty years of military institutionalization, did the Department of Defense changed the "Principles of War" with three additions.
Because the original nine principles are based on Clausewitz's work "On War", they represented a young officer's initial introduction to military strategy. Of course, strategy is the realm of generals and junior officers need to know only the basics. Back then, most officers fully agreed to that unwritten rule because they recognized that the basic operation and function of an M-60 machine gun would be much more valuable working at that "eyeball-to-eyeball" level of war. Junior officers and NCOs trusted that the generals had their backs on that strategy thing.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Weimann's career spans 24 years as an US Marine Infantry Officer including participating in Desert Shield and Storm with the 2nd Marine Division. He retired in 1996, and lives with his family to Raleigh, NC where he works as an information technology program and project manager. He is also a contributing editor of the Defend Our Marines Web site (www.defendourmarines.com).