Theory and practice of tactics as seen by scholarliness

Christian Riener


The object of this essay is tactics in the Austrian Armed Forces. Together with operations, logistics, leadership doctrine, and military strategy, tactics as a core discipline of military science makes up the scientific field. Tactics is the vested military activity which every officer has to learn, which accompanies him for all his life, and the mastery of which represents the basis for fulfilling all military tasks. Tactics has both a theoretical and a practical aspect. The latter is subsumed under applied tactics. Prevailing method is the tactical leadership procedure which has grown and has been developed in the course of Austrian military history, but also the model method applied in natural sciences, as well as experiments and observation. The contents of tactics apply to both classical traditional and present-day modern scenarios, both of them being subject of research. The knowledge necessary for applying tactics is imparted by teaching. Here the focus of attention is on the relevant specific military culture, in this case the military culture of the Austrian Armed Forces. The essence of tactics is marked by the creative, productive, personality-related aspect of leadership, by mission tactics as a leadership principle, and by application of the principles of leadership. Although tactics meets the criteria of scholarliness especially in the areas of research and methodology, it is - according to the author - no exact science calculable down to the last detail. The last-named creative, productive, personality-related aspects, as well as incalculable areas such as coincidence, friction, or „luck of war“ prevent tactics from being useable in a mathematically conclusive sense. Tactics is a discipline which can be learnt to a high extent, as the military craft, so to speak, without having only inanimate matter as its subject like any other craft. Tactics cannot be reduced to the fight of free will, determined by intelligence, education, training, and military culture, because there also exists a sphere which outshines „the learnable skills of the trade“, constituting the vested creative-military essence of tactics. This essence offers the necessary freedom for developing the users’ individual strengths and interests, and this is exactly what in practice makes the difference between real talent and simple workman, and here we have come full circle with mission tactics. Evidently tactics is partially scientific; it is, however, no science per se, but a core discipline of military science. As has been stated already, scholarliness is not the main purpose of tactics, but the understandable and reasonable use of combined military resources for a certain purpose is. Thus, tactics is an applied science in the most original sense. In conclusion, I should like to mention that one can easily see that tactics is by no means inconsistent with the scholarliness demanded by the Master’s course of studies „military leadership“ to be developed by the respective advanced technical college. So tactics meets all demands stated in the quoted decree, without any changes in form, methods and contents, and without having to sell our „tactical“ souls.

Übersetzung durch ObstdhmtD Mag. G. Gnaser (KdoFüU/IMG)