Strategic Thinkers

        Hello. Today I am going to start writing about people and since an interest of mine is strategic studies I thought I would begin by posting short biographies about the main contributors to this art. I am doing this in a chronological order so that I can keep track of the advancement of strategic thought over the course of history. The posts that I write will have information added as I continue my research so check back.

Sun Tzu The Art of War. (500 BC)

        The most important work ever written about strategy. It deals with principles and fundamentals which are ageless. It has been used as evidence to proof a point in professional military journals as well as business books two thousand five hundred years after it was first written.
He is mandatory reading for the strategist.” U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol. 1, 2010

Vegetius The Military Institutions of the Romans (390 AD )

        The most influential military treatise written in the western world from Roman times to the Nineteenth Century. Modern pontoon bridges, organization of the modern military division, cadenced marching can be attributed to this work. Its impressions on military traditions of discipline and organization can still be seen in the Twenty-first Century.

Nicole Machiavelli(1469-1527) The Art of War, The Discourses, The Prince

        Investigation of the role of military power in political life is one of his contributions to strategy. His book Art of War became a military classic from the Sixteenth Century until the beginning of the Nineteenth Century when he became more famous for his political commentary in The Prince.
        He is considered the first modern military thinker and is credited with
“Establishing the principles according to which intellectual comprehension and theoretical analysis of war and military affairs progressed.”
Makers of Modern Strategy, Atheneum NY. 1967
        He wrote about the fact that preservation of political power depends on military strength.
        “A Prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study, but war and its organization and discipline”
        “There cannot be good laws where there are not good arms and where there are good arms there must be good laws.”
        “The foundation of good states is a good military organization.”
Even the great military theorist of the Nineteenth Century, Clausewitz, did not overthrow Machiavelli’s fundamental thesis but incorporated it into his own work On War.

Field Marshal Maurice de Saxe (1696-1750) My Reveries Upon the Art of War (1757)

        He was ahead of his time with his ideas which were considered absurd by his contemporaries. He was the commander of the French forces and victor of the battles of Fontenoy and Laufield. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte made use of this work to advance military art and create a reputation for himself as a great leader. The propositions made by de Saxe are commonplace in today’s militaries.

Frederick the Great (1713-1786) Military Instructions for the Generals (1747)

        “The outstanding general of the eighteenth century, Frederick II’s military developments rendered the Prussian army technically superior to any contemporary neighbour for fifty years.”
A Concise Dictionary of Military Biography, J. Wiley & Sons, 1991

Most of the observations made in Frederick’s book are applicable to modern war. The Prussian Army’s victory in the Franco/Prussian War of 1760 and the German military’s reputation, methods and success during the World War’s of the Twentieth Century cannot be understood without reading this book.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) The Military Maxims of Napoleon (1827)

        Napoleon is considered the first great strategist of the western world and the greatest of European soldiers. The art of strategy in the 19th and 20th Centuries has its foundations on the study of his campaigns.
        “ Where his enemies were rigid, he was imaginative; where they were unwieldy, he was swift and decisive; where they were predictable, he was dynamic and audacious Now they are buried in obscurity, and he is immortal.”
A Concise Dictionary of Military Biography, J. Wiley & Sons, 1991

Antoine Henri Jomini(1779-1869) Summary of the Art of War(1830)

        A practical theorist he specialized in teaching the Napoleonic manner of war. He wrote from his experience as a staff officer appointed by Napoleon to historically record his Italian campaigns and also appointed by Napoleon, because of Jomini’s intellectual ability, to chief of staff for Marshal Ney. Here he found himself front and centre of the greatest battles and campaigns of the Napoleonic era. He is credited with writing one of the first and most enduring text-books of modern war.         “His maxims form the basis of the language of modern operational art.”
U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Vol. 1, 2010


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