Learning from History: Changes in German Tactical Doctrine during the First World War

Research Paper Title

The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine during the First World War.

Abstract

This paper is a case study in the wartime evolution of tactical doctrine. Besides providing a summary of German Infantry tactics of the First World War, this study offers insights into the crucial role of leadership in facilitating doctrinal change during battle.

It once again reminds us that success in war demand extensive and vigorous training calculated to insure that field commanders understand and apply sound tactical principles as guidelines for action and not as a subordinate for good judgement. It points out the need for a timely effort in collecting and evaluating doctrinal lessons from battlefield experience.

Finally, this study reminds us of yet another fundamental lesson from the past – that tendencies toward accepting the battlefield as a routine can be a deadly error. Altering previously accepted tactics in the middle of a struggle, as the author points out, is a very urgent and serious matter.

As members of the profession of arms, we must be sensitive to the demands of change, visionary in our examination of their implications, and creative in our adaptation of combat organisations, tactics and techniques.

Document

The Dynamics of Doctrine – The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine during the First World War (Lupfer, 1981)

Reference

Lupfer, T.T. (1981) The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine during the First World War. Leavenworth Papers No.4. Fort Leavenworth, VA: Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College.

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