American Way of War Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


Military historians and strategists alike have written volumes of content on the American way of war. Given the developments such as the American troops' involvement in Afghanistan and their leaving Iraq, it is, perhaps, time to relook the American way of war for conflicts in the future. Russel Weigley[footnoteRef:1]was the first to attempt to define the American approach to the war in 1973. Many writers have grappled with the concept as they try pointing out the various strategies of America to war and trying to distinguish between a way of battle and a way of war. They illustrate the pros and cons of these traits in both major wars and smaller conflicts.[footnoteRef:2] Historians have also attempted to describe the nature of the American strategic approach to war, which entails the advancement of America's national interests in a wide range of ways. It shows how our culture shapes the American strategy towards war. [1: Was the Distinguished University Professor of History at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a noted military historian.] [2: From “Lost in Translation: The American Way of War” by R. L. Keravuori, 2011, Small Wars Journal, 17]

The Methodology of the American War

The whole set of historians and their debate regarding the American way of war revolve around the thesis by Professor Weigley[footnoteRef:3]. Weigley was preoccupied with US military activities, starting from the Independence War to the War in Vietnam.[footnoteRef:4] According to the professor, there was a decisive shift from the attrition strategy to annihilation in the course of the civil war. The American military generals attempted to shatter the enemy troops on the battlefront, irrespective of the political objectives[footnoteRef:5]. Although the thesis remained unchallenged for decades, it has faced criticism from military operations critics, that it failed to clarify the attrition versus annihilation approaches, that it can only be effectively applied in some wars and not others, and that it does not give room for improvement of strategy and change in the course of a conflict. [3: One of Weigley's most widely received contributions to research is his hypothesis of a specifically American Way of War, i.e. an approach to strategy and military operations, that, while not predetermined, is distinct to the United States because of cultural and historical constraints.] [4: From “The American way of war: a history of United States military strategy and policy” by R. F. Weigley, 1977, Indiana University Press.] [5: From “The American Way of War Debate: An Overview” by B. M. Linn, Historically Speaking, 2010, 11(5), 22-23.]

It can be noted that the historiography of the American way of war lacks an authoritative list of characteristics that define it. When you extrapolate commonalities, the apparent outcomes of these analyses are battle tactics and war strategy. The US military uses aggressive force so as to overcome and destroy the enemy and gain a fast victory with a low number of casualties. The latter is a tactical and adaptive strategy. The indomitable team of professionals…

[…… parts of this paper are missing, click here to view or download the entire document ]

…limited war, and political negotiation. The central idea is to turn the military intervention into a fast tactical success by the military, which will translate into policy's success in the short presidential period. [9: . From “Adapt, innovate and adapt some more” by F.G. Hoffman, 2014, Proceedings, US Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 410, 268–6110 ] [10: From “The American Way of War Debate: An Overview” by B. M. Linn, Historically Speaking, 2010, 11(5), 22-23.]


The American way of war manifests in two ways, i.e., the way of battle and the way of war strategy. The earlier involves an aggressive approach to overcome the enemy and attain quick victory by firepower and superior technological logistic. At the same time, in the second one, the military and political outcomes desired are misaligned. At first, Weigley tried to describe the American approach to war via attrition and annihilation characteristics. Later, historians have listed over 13 traits of the American way of battle or refuted its existence. The traits of a way of battle describe an institution that prefers combat against a regular symmetrical enemy instead of an asymmetrical enemy, even when we already have a history of minor wars, national building, and counterinsurgencies. The American way of war incorporates an array of tools that go beyond military combat when the question of achieving our national interest arises. It seeks to incorporate discourse, an aspect that shapes the American way of life. There will always be a demand to depend on the military's tactical victories to attain the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Echevarria, A. J. (2004). Toward an American way of war. US Army Command and General Staff School.

Hoffman, F.G. (2014). Adapt, innovate, and adapt some more. Proceedings, US Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 410, 268–6110.

Keravuori, R. L. (2011). Lost in Translation: The American Way of War. Small Wars Journal, 17.

Linn, B. M. (2010). The American Way of War Debate: An Overview. Historically Speaking, 11(5), 22-23.

Stewart, R. W. (2010). M521RA: Excerpt from War in the Persian Gulf: Operation DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, August 1990-March 1991 (Vol. 70). US Army Command and General Staff School.

Weigley, R. F. (1977). The American way of war: a history of United States military strategy and policy. Indiana University Press.

Cite This Term Paper:

"American Way Of War" (2020, October 21) Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

"American Way Of War" 21 October 2020. Web.25 February. 2021. <>

"American Way Of War", 21 October 2020, Accessed.25 February. 2021,