Battlefield prediction

For years I have tried to trace, but without success, the original source of this outstanding quotation, supposedly an aphorism of Moltke the Elder: the actual wording is as I recall it:

“In war, the enemy will have three courses of action available to him; of these three he will invariably choose the fourth.”

The nearest I can get to it is in this pair of paragraphs taken from a paper by a Canadian colonel in 2000 [?]:

“Wargaming does turn out well-synchronized plans of action. It does this, however, at the expense of considering all potential enemy courses of action, by ignoring the enemy’s intent, by focusing on physical attributes alone, by limiting the exploration of branches and sequels, and by failing to involve the commander in a meaningful way.  The wargaming process needs to develop the means to include the enemy’s intent as a factor, must support a calculus to quantify moral as well as physical attributes (at least in relative terms), must produce the broadest range of potential branch plans, and must necessarily be commander driven. The outcome of the process should be focussed on the decision on a preferred way ahead (including branch and sequel identification), rather than the production of detailed decision support and staff products. In the end, this improved process would then ensure that the commander is better prepared for the uncertainty of battle and that the staff have a broader range of options, in terms of branches and sequels, against which they can prepare operations and contingency plans.”

“It is intuition that enables commanders to reason forward from that which they do know, to recognize that which they do not know, and to postulate more accurate assessments or outcomes of enemy actions.”

Stuart A Beare  Planning understanding the enemy: time to tune up the planning process Canadian Forces College AMSC 3, 2000   pp 17, 25

In July 2005, Brigadier-General Beare was appointed Commandant Land Force Doctrine and Training System in Kingston, Ontario.


About rimboval

Writer, thinker and proud grandfather
This entry was posted in Quotations, War, defence and peace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s