Topic: Military Theory
The Essence of Warfare
Introduction to the Principles of War, Japanese Ground Defence Force Staff College, 1969 (Translated by Dr. Joseph West, US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth)
What is Warfare?
War is a clash of opposing wills, a struggle between beliefs, and victory goes to the party that crushes the enemy's will and destroys his "beliefs.
In other words, the warfare discussed here is a struggle for victory, using "power" to cause the opponent's will to yield and our will to prevail.
Hence, "the essence of warfare" is "power" and its maximum use. Its objective is to crush the opponent's power of resistance and cause him to submit to our will, and its measures are to use power to destroy the opponent's fighting power (material, spiritual). In other words, it is nothing less than the seizure of victory.
The Essence of Warfare and its Characteristics
The first essential element of warfare is the fact that, "in warfare, there are opponents." Moreover, both parties are characterized by having free will.
The second is that both parties have the will to overthrow the opponent (enemy). War is a struggle between the free wills of both parties, and victory is determined by which one has confidence in it. In other words, it also can be said to be a struggle of faith.
The third is that power is used to cause submission of the opponent's will. The direct instrument for fighting is "power," and when this power is brought to bear against the opponent, it is used for the violent effect of causing submission of the opponent's will.
The fourth is the actual battlefield situation, which is extremely important for our study of tactics and is a basic condition. The actual battlefield situation arises from the above essential elements of warfare and varies according to the time period, the place of combat, and the type and scale of warfare, etc.
The most important of these are that, in warfare, the situation always is uncertain, unstable, and unclear, and the normal state is that there is a succession of inconsistencies and mistakes, danger to life is ever-present, mental and bodily difficulties of fear, exhaustion, etc., are encountered, the situation does not develop as expected, etc.
In the study of the principles of war and in the study of tactics, if thorough consideration is not airways given to the actual battlefield, one will end up in worthless speculation.