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.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.