War Planning and Effective Military Organizations



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Military organizations devote substantial attention to pre-war planning. This is not surprising given the uncertainties associated with preparing for the next war, as well as the enduring influence of President Eisenhower’s dictum on the importance of planning. But just because planning is occurring does not mean that it is producing anything useful. Does pre-war planning really make a difference in terms of wartime military effectiveness? In this dissertation, I find that it does, but not always in positive ways. I argue that military planning organizations that adopt five pre-war planning practices are most likely to produce war planning outcomes that contribute to higher levels of military effectiveness: specificity, resource-sensitivity, moderate civilian oversight, external collaboration, and strategic education. I put the argument to an empirical test by examining the implications of German, French, and British war planning from 1905-1914, to these states’ experiences during the July-August 1914 crisis and initial operational phase of the First World War.