Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Ten Principles of War

This is one of a series of articles on lessons from Commando training. Here is the full list.

In the British Armed Forces, all leaders are trained in the 10 Principles of War. These short principles - many of them only a single word - are distilled from centuries of studying conflict and competition. While they are designed for warfare, they are a great set of guidelines for life in general and business in particular.

The first principle is usually singled out as pre-eminent, with the second also considered to be special:
  1. Selection and Maintenance of the Aim
  2. Maintenance of Morale
  3. Offensive Action
  4. Security
  5. Surprise
  6. Concentration of Force
  7. Economy of Effort
  8. Flexibility
  9. Cooperation
  10. Sustainability
These principles were codified by JFC Fuller, a Major General and Military Historian, after the First World War, but they incorporate the ideas of the greatest military thinkers in history including Sun Tsu, von Clausewitz and Napoleon. They are at the core of current British military thought - as the former Chief of Defence Staff writes in his foreword to British Defence Doctrine (which also gives a detailed analysis of each of the principles in Chapter 2),

"[doctrine] is meant to educate the mind of the future commander, or, more accurately, to guide him in his self-education, not to accompany him to the battlefield"

So this is not a set of rigid rules - the principles are an educational tool that the leader can reflect upon before battle. As you prepare to face 2012 you may find it useful to reflect on how these principles can help you win in the new year and beyond.

This is one of a series of articles on lessons from Commando training. Here is the full list.

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