Operational Art

Operational Art in a Middle-Power Context

By The Cove May 15, 2019


Ever wondered how our allied partners view operational art? This monograph via Richard Dickson considers whether operational art is a viable construct for Canada and other middle-powers. Like most Western allied nations, Canada quickly followed the US lead by adopting operational concepts into its service and joint doctrine. However, the concepts presented by the US are understandably framed in a great-power context of large-force, large-theatre, high-intensity operations. Viewing the subject through the U.S. lens is of questionable relevance to middle-powers such as Canada (and arguably Australia), and their small, tactically focused militaries.

This study first examines operational doctrine and theory in order to distil operational art into terms applicable across the spectrum of conflict and scale of operations. It then explores Canadian strategic imperatives and the Canadian Army’s historical experience, to determine if and how the operational art and level have been practiced in the past, and whether they are feasible constructs for their military today.

This monograph shows that in today’s complex operating environment, Canada is coming under increasing pressure to take more prominent roles in coalition operations, a concept that Australia too has faced in recent years (check out our 'War in the Sand Pit' #WISP17 videos to learn more about this). To meet this challenge, and to ensure Canada retains the ability to exert strategic influence, the author argues the Canadian Forces need to refocus on fielding salient, self-contained forces that can think operationally and function at the operational level.

Read the monograph and see if you can recognise the commonalities between the views of the Canadian military with the ADF.  What views are similar?  What views are quite different from our own?



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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