In Our Odd Hours

Ever wonder what BuNine talks about when we are not talking specifically about the Honorverse? Here’s an example from last year:

MARK GUTIS: “As a USAF veteran I understand the difference between tactical and strategic air operations. In reading about WWII, I have encountered a term I don’t understand. What is the meaning of operational and how does it differ from tactical and strategic operations?”

CHRIS WEUVE: “As it happens, the US government spent a small fortune giving me a masters degree on exactly this subject.

“The operational level of war is the level of war between the strategic (which is focused on the use of national resources to gain a national level result), and the tactical (which is about the winning of battles). The operational level of war is thus about the process of translating strategic objectives into tactical actions, i.e., linking battles together in such a way as to produce a strategically meaningful result. Historically speaking, it’s pretty much the same as the term campaign (e.g., “Wellington’s peninsular campaign”), although modern operational art (the theory that goes with it), IIRC, thinks of campaigns as a set of linked operations.

“Before and during World War 2, this level of war was mainly viewed as being almost exclusively about logistics. Modern op art also talks about things like “operational fires,” which are uses of combat force in places other than the main area of operations for operational effect. The operational fires example often cited in class were Halsey’s raids on Formosa before Leyte Gulf, which served to distract the Japanese and attrit combat power before it could be moved as reinforcements. In a lot of ways modern operational thinking hasn’t changed the details so much as the vocabulary behind them.”

Before the war between Manticore and Haven, the operational level of war was treated as if it was just a logistical exercise in support of tactical expeditions. The Solarian League didn’t fight wars, it mounted punitive expeditions against targets that fight back. Even the People’s Republic of Haven had never had to think in operational terms before, as its conquests were essentially tactical problems, not operational. Manticore was too big to treat as a tactical problem, though, and Pat Doyle and Chris Weuve (both Naval War College grads) have argued that it was Manticore’s — specifically, King Roger’s — understanding that this war would be different that fundamentally set the stage for Manticore’s victory.

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