Military Strategy Magazine  /  Volume 4, Issue 2  /  

Defeat Mechanisms: The Rationale Behind the Strategy

Defeat Mechanisms: The Rationale Behind the Strategy Defeat Mechanisms: The Rationale Behind the Strategy
To cite this article: Hecht, Eado, “Defeat Mechanisms: The Rationale Behind the Strategy,” Infinity Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, fall 2014, pages 24-30.

© Dragunov1981 | – Soldier In Action Photo

War is deliberate reciprocal violence between two or more groups of people, each trying to achieve its own objective at the others’ expense. It is conducted simultaneously on two planes: the psychological and the physical. On the psychological plane collide the rival wills of the conflicted groups, whereas on the physical plane collide the rival capabilities of the conflicting groups. These planes are not unconnected, though for the purpose of this discussion it is useful to separate them. The interactions are complex, but to simplify we can argue that a reduction in will reduces capability and when capability is low it tends to reduce the will to fight – any sporting person can attest to this basic interaction. It requires enormous willpower to overcome a limitation in physical capability – to suffer the physical consequences of material inferiority, casualties, and damage to one’s assets, and yet persevere. In Vietnam, the Communists suffered several times the casualties suffered by the Americans and South Vietnamese, but they managed, through superior willpower to achieve victory. Conversely, all the American material superiority was not enough to compensate for a lack of will. Prussian military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz referred to the connection between will and capability when he stated that the basic military objective of any commander should usually be the destruction of the enemy force – but that, in fact, it is rarely necessary to actually kill every enemy fighter in order to cause the enemy army to cease to exist[i].

Defeat Mechanisms are the various processes that cause the physical and psychological damage that drive armies to defeat. They describe the theoretical rationale behind the operational plan. It must be emphasized that, though they will be described below separately, in practice they are usually combined, and a single act may trigger more than one mechanism in the enemy force. This article offers a taxonomy and a theory for the various Defeat Mechanisms and the relationship between them as a basis for conscious decision-making when planning a war, a campaign or a battle.

The suggested separate mechanisms and their inter-relationships are depicted in the following diagram.

Figure 1 - Defeat Mechanisms


Physical Defeat Mechanisms:
Reducing the Enemy’s Capability

There are essentially two ways to reduce the enemy’s capability: one is to destroy all or a portion of the physical elements that make up that capability – kill, wound or capture men and destroy or damage equipment; the other is to impair the enemy’s ability to use that capability even if it still physically exists.


Destruction is the intuitive act of war – physical violence begets physical destruction. As previously mentioned, Clausewitz believed that this was usually the best way to defeat an enemy. Spilling blood is the essential driver of the act of war and determines its result. However, he was fully aware that actually killing all the enemy’s troops might not be needed – usually killing some and convincing the others that their fate would soon be the same was enough to cause military units to crumble and cease to exist, except as a mob of fleeing or surrendering individuals. However, historical experience shows that it is impossible to answer the crucial question: “How many must I kill for the rest to give-up?”. The percentage of casualties required to cause an organized force to disintegrate is not a constant – some units have disintegrated after suffering only 10% casualties, others have fought on even when 90% had been killed or wounded. Indeed, the same unit might exhibit different levels of staying power on different occasions – an example of the complex relationship between willpower and physical capability.

Not only is the percentage of casualties suffered important – the rate at which casualties are incurred also affects a unit’s psychological staying power. The faster the unit is reduced the more likely the survivors will surrender or retreat.

Taking Clausewitz’s idea to the extreme, German Chief of the General Staff Alfred von Schlieffen determined that in order to ensure the desired result as efficiently as possible an army must first surround its enemy. His ideals were the battle of Cannae in 216 BC and the campaign of Koenniggratz in 1866. However, when his successors attempted to surround the French army in 1914, they failed. Instead of rapidly annihilating the French army, the Germans themselves were gradually ground-down till their troops and commanders lost faith in the possibility of victory.

With the gradual rise of machines as the main weapon in the military arsenal, destroying them became the focus of planning. During the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War, in the Sinai Peninsula only a fraction of the approximately 90,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed, wounded or captured before the Egyptian army ceased to function effectively. Instead it was the rapid destruction of aircraft, and of tanks and artillery pieces that wrought the Egyptian defeat. In fact, more Egyptian soldiers died from thirst during their disorganized retreat than from Israeli military action.

The discussion above focused on High Intensity Wars (HIW); however, one of the central arguments in modern strategic theory is the issue of whether destruction is a viable tool for conducting Low Intensity Wars (LIW). In the past it was undoubtedly a victorious strategy – ask the Native Americans in North America or the Boers in South Africa. However, the casualty ratios in Vietnam and many other LIWs seem to bear out the hypothesis that given the cultural limitations imposed on contemporary armies, denying them the right to directly attack civilians and the physical difficulty of separating the civilians from the combatants, this is no longer true. On the other hand, there are examples of armies that managed to break the enemy with a series of accurate attacks directed by excellent intelligence that enabled them to identify then kill or capture the combatants and reduce civilian casualties to a minimum. One example is the series of Israeli operations that began with Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002 and gradually destroyed the Palestinian military infrastructure in Judea and Samaria (The West Bank), thus compelling the Palestinians to drastically reduce their attacks on Israel. The American ‘Surge’ in Iraq also achieved something similar – albeit, for a variety of reasons, the result was more temporary than the one achieved by the Israelis. Whilst undoubtedly not a panacea, mostly because of the cultural and political norms that today limit an army’s freedom to kill indiscriminately, it is certainly still a useful strategy when applied properly.

Paralysis or Disruption

Paralysis means that though the military organization still exists physically, it is unable to function effectively. Disruption means that even though the component units of the organization or individual people might still physically exist, they are not capable of functioning cohesively as an organization. A military organization can recover from paralysis or disruption (from paralysis quicker than from disruption), but until it does, its capability has been reduced. One might therefore regard it as having been temporarily destroyed, whether partially or totally.


Preemption is the initiating of action before the enemy is ready. One can either surprise the enemy (i.e., he is not aware of the intention to act at that point in time) or be quicker than him in planning, preparing and conducting one’s operations (i.e., he is aware of your intentions but cannot keep up with your tempo of operations). A preempted force will respond much less efficiently as it struggles to understand what is happening and hastily adapt its plans and prepare its forces. In extreme cases preemption will induce almost complete organizational paralysis in the surprised army or even cause units to disintegrate as their men abandon the field.

Witness, for example, the ineffective, consistently tardy, response of the French army to the German advance through France in May 1940 – every attempt by the French to establish a new defence line was thwarted because the German forces had crossed that line before the French forces had deployed along it. A year later the same happened to the Russian army in the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa. The success of the first wave of the Israeli air force’s attack on the Egyptian air force on the morning of the 5th of June 1967 can be ascribed to the physical result of surprise – the Egyptian aircraft were caught on the ground. However, it was the residual paralyzing effects of that surprise which prevented an effective Egyptian response against the next waves of the attack which struck air fields untouched in the initial wave.

To preempt a rival army, the preempting army must decide and prepare its actions quicker than the rival. This, however, often requires it to forgo some of its own planning and preparation processes – meaning that it too will be less than fully prepared for action. Achieving surprise is supposed to compensate for this lack of preparedness but there is a fine line between being quicker than the enemy and being overly hasty and initiating action while insufficiently prepared, and thus transferring the deleterious effects of surprise from the enemy to one’s own forces.


Another option is conducting the war in a manner or at a location the enemy has insufficient capability to counter or does not expect.

Examples of the first category (insufficient capability) are the Iranian offensives against Iraq in the mid-1980s. These were conducted mostly in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq and the marshes of southern Iraq, thus neutralizing Iraqi superiority in armored forces, forcing them to fight an infantry battle in which the Iranians had numerical superiority. In Iraq in 1991 and in Kosovo in 1999 the Americans preferred to exploit their aerial superiority – conducting a virtually one-sided war because neither the Iraqis nor the Serbs were capable of competing. In these cases even if the enemy knew in advance what the American plan would be he had no possible counter except to try to enhance his survivability and wait. Protracted irregular warfare has often proven effective when facing an enemy with limited time to achieve victory or significant cultural limitations on its use of force.

It is an accepted military truism that he who defends everywhere or attacks everywhere is weak everywhere. Therefore commanders deploy their forces according to an assessment of where they expect the enemy to defend and where they expect him to attack. Attacking in an unexpected direction that requires the enemy to rapidly change his plans and shift his forces can disrupt the cohesive functioning of those forces. This can occur even if the direction chosen is one considered possible but unlikely – this was the true story behind the German thrust through the Ardennes. The French were not surprised by the ability of tanks to operate in the Ardennes, they themselves had conducted exercises with armored units there, but they considered it a less-likely scenario than an attack through the open plains of central Belgium. French intelligence discovered the German Ardennes thrust on the first day and once the French high command ascertained the seriousness of the threat they began to deploy reserve forces in that direction. However, both they and the German High Command were surprised at the rapidity of the German advance and the success of the German forward troops to cross the Meuse River on the fourth day of the war. French reserves began to arrive on the evening of the fourth day – had the Germans been 12 hours later or had the French responded 12 hours sooner, there might not have been a resounding German victory in the summer of 1940.


Another option is to disintegrate the rival army into its constituent parts by severing its lines of communication. Whereas in the past the term was literal – the routes of transportation between areas were also the routes on which messengers could carry messages, today one has to differentiate between blocking transportation routes for movement of forces and supplies and blocking communications, which no longer suffer measurable delay even if they must be detoured through indirect routes.


C3I refers to the communication of reports and commands along the hierarchy of command – the lower levels reporting the situation to the higher levels and the higher levels ordering the lower levels what to do. Communications are essential not only up and down the hierarchy of command, but also between neighboring units. They enable them to discuss the situation, form a general view of that situation and decide how best to support and reinforce each other – even without the involvement of the superior levels of command.

Disruption of this system can be done by blocking the transmission of communications (jamming radio frequencies, cutting wires, capturing messengers etc.) – or by inserting inaccurate information so that the reports and the orders are no longer realistic (deception operations and psychological warfare) causing commanders and subordinates to lose faith in each other and to begin to ignore each other. The concept of mission-command and pre-set drills is a way of hastening the response and bypassing possible interference to the flow of reports and orders by allowing lower levels some latitude in deciding what to do by assuming what the senior commander would order them to do if he received their report. It can however backfire if a subordinate is deceived by the enemy into believing the situation warrants a particular response whereas his superiors or neighboring commanders believe the situation to be different and therefore react differently. A military organization that begins to act incoherently gradually loses its effectiveness.


Severing the transportation routes connecting the component units of the military organization prevents them from supporting, reinforcing and supplying each other.

Boundaries between the areas of responsibility of neighboring units are especially vulnerable to penetration because the units on either side report to different commanders with separate agendas (i.e. the separate missions) that define what is more important to them. Inserting units to block the routes of transport and communications along these boundaries tends to make cooperation between the units on either side more difficult than it already is and, even if they do cooperate, prevents neighboring commanders from actually sending help to each other.

Blocking the transportation routes between forward units and the units, reserves and supply depots behind them is more difficult, but not impossible – with long-range artillery, aircraft, and airborne troops and in some cases infiltration via gaps in the opposing array.

Inserting forces to physically block lateral and longitudinal transport routes also facilitates blocking communications – it is technically easier to block radio transmissions when the jammer is located between the two prospective communicators.

The German response in the first days of the Normandy invasion in 1944 was considerably less effective because Allied deception operations and the cutting or blocking of all main roads and rail-tracks leading to the invasion beaches by Allied air forces, paratroops and the French Resistance delayed the decision to send reserves from other sectors and then slowed the movement of those units once the decision was made. The Israeli’s cross-canal counter-offensive in 1973 exploited and widened a lateral gap between two Egyptian armies, prevented them from cooperating by forcing each to protect its own flank and rear and then surrounded the southern army, cutting it off from its sources of supplies and reserves. Finally, the NATO concept of FOFA was based on the idea of longitudinal separation of the Soviet offensive formations.

Destroying an Essential Component

The final option is to destroy a specific component of the enemy’s military or national system psychologically or materially essential to its continued functioning: for example killing the supreme commander, destroying the supply and maintenance system, cratering airfield runways, etc. This differs from regular destruction, as described above, in that defeat is induced not by the relative number of casualties but by the physical or psychological criticality of the specific component to the functioning of the entire organization.

Thus, the killing of one man, Goliath, precipitated the collapse of the entire Philistine army. The success of the naval blockade instituted by Britain on Germany in the First World War prevented the import of food and raw industrial materials essential for the existence of Germany’s population and the functioning of its military industry. The gradual starvation of both was one of the deciding factors that brought Germany to surrender in autumn 1918. In the Second World War, British targeting of the ships transferring supplies from Italy to North Africa drastically reduced Axis military capabilities there and was, again, one of the deciding factors in the campaign. The destruction of the Egyptian air force on the first day of the Six Day War, though not conceived as such by the Israeli planners, proved to be such a component. It took the Egyptian high command nearly 24-hours to collect and understand the results of the Israeli aerial assault, and when the reality sank in it psychologically shattered Marshal Amer, Egypt’s supreme military commander, who, believing that without air cover his ground forces were doomed, immediately and hysterically ordered a hasty withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. This precipitated the disintegration of the Egyptian ground forces, many of whom had not yet even seen Israeli forces, let alone fought them or been defeated. The Israelis’ original operational intention had been to destroy the Egyptian air force to ensure their civilian rear from Egyptian air strikes, but they had in fact decided the war on the Egyptian front. In 1991, American planners identified the Republican Guard Forces as an essential component of the Iraqi defense system in Kuwait – they assessed that destroying this component would trigger the collapse of the rest of the Iraqi forces. In 2003 the American invasion of Iraq began with an attempt to kill Sadam Hussein – had this attempt succeeded it is very likely that the initial conquest of Iraq would have been even easier than it proved to be. In their continuous war with the Palestinians, the Israelis have often achieved temporary respites by killing top-echelon leaders – for example, in early 2004 the Israelis killed in rapid succession the leader of Hamas and his replacement, causing a drastic reduction in Hamas attacks for a few months.

In most of the examples presented above, one can discern that the material damage, paralysis or organizational disruption also affected the enemy psychologically. We therefore now move on to discuss the psychological defeat mechanisms.

Psychological Defeat Mechanisms:
Reducing the Enemy’s Will

Losing Belief In One’s Capability

Sooner or later, a group of people that is defeated every time they fight the enemy will lose confidence that they can win the war. The military defeat might be inflicted in a single resounding blow, as happened to the French in 1940, or it might be inflicted by a succession of small blows, as happens in most victories achieved by guerrillas. The defeats do not even have to be real – sometimes the semblance of defeat is enough to cause loss of confidence. This happened to the American public after the Communist Tet Offensive in early 1968 – the Communist forces were almost annihilated, suffering ten times the casualties they inflicted on the Americans and South Vietnamese, and yet the American public saw a defeat and lost confidence in eventual victory.

Losing Interest In The Objective

People lose interest in the objective of the war when they feel that the price of continuing the war is higher than the price of accepting the enemy’s political demands or abandoning the military mission.

Military forces focus on computing the cost in resources expended and casualties – human and equipment, but political leaders also compute economic costs, diplomatic and cultural costs, and the expected effect on public support for the war effort. It is impossible to compute a fixed common price list according to the objectives of the war – different cultures measure costs and benefits differently and the same group of people can change their opinion over time or on different occasions. However, the computation is not simply a matter of numbers but also of emotions – psychological warfare can affect the way a people view the price they are paying and are expecting and willing to pay in the future relative to the benefits they are accruing in return. A good example, though perhaps extreme, is the American involvement in the Somalian civil war (late 1993 to early 1995) – intervening with the best of intentions it took only 22 soldiers killed (18 of them in a single incident) to break the will of the American people and the American forces were withdrawn from the fight. On the other hand nearly 4,500 Americans were killed in Iraq before the project there was abandoned. In both cases the issue was not the physical inability of the American military to sustain these losses and continue fighting, but the cost-benefit computation of the American politicians and public that brought the withdrawal of American forces.

Often loss of confidence in the ability to win is the first step towards losing interest in the objective. In 1965 the American government and a vast majority of the public supported intervention in Vietnam as important for American values and interests, but three years later, after it became clear that victory was not certain and even if it were achievable would take many years and an exorbitant price, views changed and by 1970 the USA was simply looking for a quick way out. On the other side, the Vietnamese Communists, who had already suffered many times more casualties than the Americans and the South Vietnamese combined in real terms, and even more in relative terms (the percentage of troops and civilians killed per population size), were willing to suffer many more casualties and economic difficulties and to continue fighting for many more years.

Approaches to Activating the Defeat Mechanisms

There are a variety of approaches on how to activate the Defeat Mechanisms. These approaches can be divided to three groups:

  • Time – striving to achieve a decision rapidly versus gradually.
  • Means – destruction versus disruption.
  • Order of Priority – attacking strengths versus attacking weaknesses.

Rapid versus Gradual

Generally, rapidly achieving victory requires a concentrated effort aimed at quickly destroying or disrupting the enemy’s physical capability to conduct war, whereas gradually achieving victory usually focuses on the psychological aspects of the enemy’s will to fight. Most high intensity and medium intensity wars are fought with a view to achieving a rapid result, whereas low intensity wars are generally decided gradually.

It should be stressed that the actual result is not always the planned result – all the armies entering the First World War planned their campaigns to achieve a rapid victory, however all failed and the war became a drawn-out struggle of physical and psychological strength. It was finally decided when the Central Powers lost faith in their ability to win (because of a gradual accumulation of casualties slightly higher than their ability to replace those casualties and the gradual starvation of their populations and industries by the Allied naval blockade that prevented them from procuring food and raw materials at a rate commensurate with their consumption). The Iraq – Iran War (1980 – 1988) was similarly decided by the Iranian population gradually losing confidence in victory before the Iraqi population.

Destruction versus Disruption

The Destruction approach is based on the assumption that only the physical reduction of most, if not all, the enemy’s military capability and, in extreme cases, the destruction of a significant proportion of his civilian population as well, will compel him to surrender. The German doctrine of war from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, based on an extreme interpretation of Clausewitz, focused on destroying the enemy army – therefore their plans were generally designed to surround that army, compelling it to either surrender or die fighting.

The Disruption approach assumes that, even if the actual destruction is minimal, it is enough to deny the enemy the ability to actually use his forces effectively in order to convince him to surrender. Achieving disruption can make the fighting cheaper in blood, but it is more complicated and situation-sensitive. The Israeli army has generally preferred to apply this approach by surprising and out-maneuvering its foes, or focusing its attacks on perceived critical components of the enemy forces. However, in 1973 the Israelis found it more difficult to achieve as the Egyptians and Syrians were aware of this preference and attempted to counter it.

A mid-way approach is to try to capture what Swiss theorist Jomini termed ‘the keys of the country’ – geographic locations that confer an advantage so great that holding them compels the enemy commander to choose between risking destruction or withdrawing. The offensive plans of the French supreme commander in 1914 – 1916, Joffre, were focused on capturing rail and road junctions vital for the transportation of supplies to the German army in France, thus compelling that army to withdraw. This approach failed because of the tactical strength of German defenses, and in 1916 Joffre turned to gradual destruction – the guerre d’usure.

Targeting Strengths versus Targeting Weaknesses

Military planning focused on targeting strengths is based on the assumption that defeating the enemy where he is strongest will almost automatically bring about the collapse of the rest of his forces.

Military planning focused on targeting weaknesses is based on the assumption that this ensures a series of small-scale victories which will gradually accumulate a psychological and perhaps also physical advantage, or perhaps open a route giving easier access to an enemy’s critical component.

One of the central disagreements between British and American decision-makers in the Second World War was when and where to invade the European mainland – immediately on joining the British the Americans wanted to attack the Germans directly by landing in France and driving to Germany, whereas the British preferred to first ‘nibble’ at the weaker extremities such as North Africa, the Balkans, Italy, gradually eroding German forces there before tackling the German strength head-on.

Liddell-Hart’s concept of the Indirect Approach was to a great degree focused on avoiding enemy strengths at all costs and targeting only weaknesses (‘soft spots’) in his capabilities and deployment. Fuller criticized the rigidity of Liddell-Hart’s approach: “In war, a general should aim at a decisive point; if this point is also a soft spot so much the better, but if it is only a soft spot and he still aims at it he is not a great general”[ii].

Influence of the Type of War on the Defeat Mechanism

The type of war, as determined by the intensity of fighting, has a significant effect on the choice of mechanism: the rate of destruction is a direct function of the intensity of combat; therefore, in Low Intensity Wars it is virtually impossible to achieve victory by destroying enemy capabilities faster than they can be regenerated. Consequently, in Low Intensity Wars the rivals focus on applying the psychological mechanisms. Psychological defeat still requires physical pain, but the resonance achieved by each attack is more important than the amount of actual physical damage caused – therefore, the rivals aim their attacks at symbols. Such symbols might be important people (political, spiritual, economic, military leaders) or cultural values (religious sites, governmental institutions, school-teachers, doctors) or life styles (such as economic institutions, freedom of movement or entertainment – see for example the Palestinian attacks on Israeli buses, discotheques, coffee-shops etc.). In High Intensity Wars the rivals tend to focus on attacking each others’ capabilities in order to rapidly destroy or disrupt them faster than the rival can generate replacements. Of course, if the two sides in a High Intensity War are evenly matched, so that neither manages to achieve victory via destruction or disruption, then the physical ‘slogging’ match becomes also a psychological struggle and one can see planners adding psychological targets of the kind mentioned above.

The fact that one rival chooses a particular mechanism does not necessarily compel his opponent to compete in exactly the same way. The Germans in the Second World War preferred a rapidly fought battle of destruction between the rival armies – the actual concept behind the term ‘Blitzkrieg’. The British preferred a long drawn out struggle of national perseverance, focusing on gradually destroying Germany’s industrial infrastructure and starving its civilian population with aerial bombardment and naval blockades. In the specific circumstances of the Second World War neither side was able to defeat the other in the manner it preferred. In the first two years of the 2000 – 2006 war between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Israelis tried to “play the game” according to the Low Intensity War rules set by the Palestinians, but after Israeli casualties gradually increased and national morale began to plummet they broke from the mold, increased the intensity of their operations and instead of conducting a psychological campaign began a physical man-hunt for the Palestinian combatants aimed at capturing or killing as many as possible. The first effect of this new strategy was a drastic reduction in the rate the Israelis suffered casualties and after approximately a year of repeated failures and mounting loss of capabilities the Palestinians began to lose heart and gradually stopped fighting.

Influence of the Hierarchy of Command

Though all the Defeat Mechanisms can be applied at all the levels of command, from the Grand Strategic to the Minor Tactical, the different characteristics of the conduct of war at the various levels of command affects the relative value of each Defeat Mechanism and the manner it is implemented.

At the tactical level more emphasis is placed on physical destruction, and the other mechanisms are applied either to assist this or are side-benefits of the accumulation of destruction – for example, an enemy unit breaks psychologically and flees after suffering partial destruction or a surprise attack.

When employing larger forces at the higher command levels, destruction becomes harder to achieve and commanders focus on achieving paralysis or disruption of the enemy forces that might be sufficient in themselves, or subsequently enable destruction of a large part of the enemy force thereby, perhaps, precipitating a crisis in confidence.

At the senior military levels, where civilian leaders and military commanders meet, the focus is on creating a plan that leads to the enemy losing confidence in his ability to win.

At the top level, civilian leaders think in terms of strengthening the resolve of their own public and weakening the resolve of the enemy – creating a rational or an emotional discussion in enemy ranks as to the worthiness of the political objective versus the price being paid to achieve it. Unlike military commanders, civilian leaders can also add alternative inducements to the enemy (e.g. why fight and suffer for this when we can give you that instead?)


War is a violent physical and psychological encounter between two or more parties. Defeat Mechanisms are the processes that damage the physical and the psychological stock of an army and, eventually, render it unable to perform.

The physical capability of an army can be damaged by the actual destruction of its manpower and/or equipment but one does not necessarily need the complete annihilation of the enemy’s manpower and equipment. Often partial destruction is sufficient to prevent an army from performing its tasks because of the psychological effect of accumulating casualties on that army’s personnel and/or civilian population. However, there may be other ways of preventing an army from functioning properly. Thus, preempting the enemy army’s preparations for offensive or defensive action, circumventing its capabilities, disrupting its lines of communication, or destroying of an essential component in its structure may also prevent that army from fulfilling its tasks.

Obviously, the inability to fight saps the will to fight. However the psychological will to fight can also be uprooted by convincing the enemy that, in view of past experience, he can not win, or that the price of the encounter is higher than the value of the objective.

The Defeat Mechanism ought to be an inherent part of any strategic or tactical plan. For methodological purposes this article separated the various mechanisms, but in reality they are intermixed and affect each other, so that a military plan could be directed to activate a number of mechanisms simultaneously or in tandem to each other. The activation of a Defeat Mechanism must consider the time, the means and the order of priority allocated to it. It must also consider the intensity of the encounter for which it is planned, the effects of the level of command and size of forces involved and the unique background circumstances in which it is applied.


[i] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Book 1, Chapter 2.
[ii] J.F.C. Fuller, J.F.C., War and Western Civilization 1832 – 1932 (Freeport, New-York, 1969 – original London, 1932), p 220.