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The Evolution of Operational ArtFrom Napoleon to the Present$
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John Andreas Olsen and Martin van Creveld

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599486

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599486.001.0001

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Napoleon and the Dawn of Operational Warfare

Napoleon and the Dawn of Operational Warfare

(p.9) 1 Napoleon and the Dawn of Operational Warfare
The Evolution of Operational Art

Martin van Creveld

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that the emergence of campaigns, made possible by a certain size of military formations, in essence opened the way for the operational level of war, operational warfare, and operational art. The complexity of campaigns, especially those that took place along broad fronts and covered large distances, accentuated the role of effective control, which, in turn, brought into play a new dimension of warfare. The historical factors that ushered the operational dimension into the world were the French Revolution and the levee en masse, and the man who presided over its birth was Napoleon Bonaparte. The revolution in military affairs owed very little to technology per se; it was a result of ‘the God of War’ combining the corps d'armée system and imperial headquarters with the principle of the ‘directed telescope’.

Keywords:   Napoleon Bonaparte, French Revolution, levee en masse, operational warfare, operational art, directed telescope, corps d'armée, God of War, Grande Armée

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