The perfect sturm innovation and the origins of Blitzkrieg in World War I
O'Kane, John F.
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What are the origins of tactical innovation in large, bureaucratic, military systems? This study will provide a detailed analysis of how the German Army in World War One took advantage of innovative tactical methods developed by their junior and non-commissioned officers in the field. While many historians often look at the results of WWI from the perspective of the General officers and politicians (i.e., top-down), they often overlook the important roles played by creative junior officers in revolutionizing the manner in which the German Army fought. These innovations, when supported by senior leadership, led to massive operational and strategic gains for the German Army late in World War One. I will explore how the German Army successfully applied these tactical innovations at the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, a.k.a. The Battle of Caporetto in 1917. The result was a crushing Italian defeat. This success encouraged the German leadership to attempt similar offensives in 1918 on the Western Front in France. Initially successful, the offensives later stalled. However, the lessons of these attacks formed the basis for what would become universally known as the Blitzkrieg, or â lighting-warâ tactics. These lessons continue to effect how modern militaries employ combined arms in maneuver warfare today. This case study will highlight the importance of â bottom-upâ tactical innovation within todayâ s U.S. military.
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