1918 and the emergence of operational art

Ydstebø, Palle (2021) 1918 and the emergence of operational art. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
PDF (PhD in War Studies)
Download (4MB) | Preview


This thesis examines the origins and emergence of operational art. It does so by studying the changes in the conduct of warfare that caused operational art to emerge. It further investigates how armies perceived and responded to the changes. The thesis emphasises how armies adapted at the higher levels of command and especially the strategic-operational interactions. Operational art in western armed forces is often defined in broad terms and may span the entire spectre from strategy to tactics. It has been criticised for that reason and for being a relic from the Cold War. This thesis argues that operational art emerged piece-meal from the mid-nineteenth century. The reason for its emergence was the increased complexity of warfare caused by the effects of new technology, the industrial revolution, and mass armies. The parts first came together in the Allied 1918 offensive that won the First World War. When operational art was defined conceptually in the Soviet Union’s Red Army in the 1920s, the Allied offensive was at the core of the definition. There were previous examples of successful operational art, such as the Russian 1916 Brusilov offensive and the German 1918 spring offensives. Still, all suffered from dysfunctional strategic direction and failed strategically despite positive tactical and operational results.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Jackson, Professor Peter and Marshall, Dr. Alexander
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82285
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2021 12:02
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2022 16:00
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82285
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82285

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year