Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2018-04-01

Implementing Strategy: Essential Strategic Principles

By: Dr. John R.Ballard
 
Former Dean of the National Defense College
 
Our regional security grows ever more complex and important with the ongoing changes in the global power structure. Modern strategists must now be capable of managing multiple strategic challenges. To do that effectively, strategic leaders must have both an understanding of the tools of national power and must be skilled at implementing strategies effectively. Fortunately, analysts have identified a short list of essential principles that can make every strategist more effective; some label them principles of war, but in today’s world they apply just as well to other strategic national efforts. These concepts are essentials for success on the world scene.
 
Some may argue that developing national principles, doctrines or other methods for implementing strategies can give opponents an advantage (if they are understood by other leaders) or can lead to predictability (if strategists apply them without thought). However the advantages of having such common approaches well understood by leaders throughout the national security structure have been well proven throughout history. Russia benefited from such common approaches as it held off defeat by Germany in 1942 and used them to conquer Berlin only three years later. Great Britain and the United States have demonstrated similar success in crises spanning the spectrum from counterinsurgency to media campaigns, economic embargoes and coalition building efforts
.
Many nations have identified different key elements for strategic success; this indicates that differing cultures and histories have resulted in unique national approaches. Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States all have different lists of principles suited to their own circumstances. Still, there is significant agreement that the following strategic concepts, which appear again and again in different national doctrines, have enduring value for every nation: 
• Freedom of action – to be able to act as desired to achieve national interests, despite the efforts of other states 
• Initiative – acting proactively, always to gain advantage, sustain momentum and retain freedom of action
• Security – the maintenance of an environment that provides protection for essential capabilities and services, on land, sea and in space.
• Surprise – deliberate use of the unexpected to remain unpredictable
• Concentration – synchronized application of national power (diplomacy, information, military and economics, and other sources of power) to realize objectives
• Maneuver – the flexible application of national power to place the opponent in circumstances giving you an advantage
• Flexibility – strategic agility: freedom to change your approach readily to meet new circumstances
• Cooperation – maintaining alliances and sharing efforts towards common objectives, when beneficial
• Sustainability – maintaining a flow of resources to ensure national strategic freedom of action over the long term
 
No two international actions are exactly alike, so each of these principles will apply slightly differently in each unique circumstance, but taken as a whole, they are all important to the majority of national efforts. Used wisely and with flexibility always in mind, they are the best method of ensuring success. In the coming months each of these principles will be explored in more detail, providing strategists a ready tool box for future UAE success on the world scene.
 

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