Friction, Chaos and Order(s): Clausewitz, Boyd and Command Approaches

  • Martin Samuels


This article aims to establish a conceptual foundation for discussion of command approaches. Drawing on a typology of command approaches based on the options open to commanders in responding to the different aspects of friction identified by Clausewitz, it assesses the effectiveness of each approach in reducing friction. The article then turns the issue on its head and, drawing on the work of Colonel John Boyd, USAF, explores how each command approach responds to the challenge of actively increasing the friction experienced by the enemy, in order to achieve destruction of their strength. Connections are made with two other vital elements of warfare: shock and tempo.

Author Biography

Martin Samuels

Martin Samuels completed an MPhil (1989) and a PhD (1992) in Military Studies at the University of Manchester, both theses being published. For the past two decades, he has worked at local, regional and national level in various parts of the British public service, including six years leading national public service reform projects in the Cabinet Office. Martin has recently returned to academic research, drawing on his experience as a senior public service leader to inform his understanding of military command and friction.