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From “August Storm” to “Desert Storm”: The U.S. Army’s Research and Adoption of the Soviet Theory of Operational Art in the Cold War Era

HANSU LYU 1

1상명대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to examine the influence exerted by the American military scholars on the adoption by the U.S. Army of the theory of operational art which had been developed in the Soviet Union. We could see that the Russian military theorist Alexander Svechin introduced the innovative concept of operational art in 1920s. The Soviet army was quick to adopt operational art as its official military theory, whereas the U.S. army ignored it for a long time. The latter’s denial of the operational art can be explained by the fact that there was no the massive standing army which could be a basis of operational art and the lack of the experiences of managing the massive army in USA during the peace time. Moreover, the massive conventional forces have been replaced by nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The defeat in the Vietnam War, the massive build-up of the Soviet conventional forces, and the result of the Middle East War in 1973 compelled the U.S. army to think it necessary to adopt an intermediate concept between strategy and tactic, however. Under such circumstances, some American specialists in the Soviet army such as David Glantz and Jacob Kipp began to argue that the U.S. army should not hesitate to adopt the operational-level art which was the part and parcel of the Soviet military theories. Their endeavor prompted the United States Army Command and General Staff College to use the Soviet military literature as textbooks in the School of Advanced Military Studies. At last, the concept of operational art was officially stipulated in the 1986 FM-100/5. Those competent U.S. staff officers who learned the operational-level art by studying the Soviet military theories proceeded to make the efficient plans for the U.S. army’s military campaigns in the Gulf War in 1991. In a nutshell, some excellent Western specialists scrutinized the military theories of the Soviet Army in the Cold War era and contributed to the adoption by the U.S. Army of the operational art developed by the Soviet military theorists. As a result the USA won the Gulf War in 1991.

Citation status

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