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Military Origins of Strategy

The term Strategy is derived from the Greek work Strategos in the 18th Century. The strategy has a background of Military for its Origin or evolution. The concept of strategy evolved slowly from Military Strategy to Business Strategy or strategic management. Military origins of Strategy can be explained with help of the following points and examples.

Definition: Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals (Source: Wikipedia)

Military theory of strategy defines: strategy is the utilization during both peace and war, of all of the nation’s forces, through large scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security and victory” (Random House Dictionary).

Meaning in short: The art of general, or the art of arrangement of troops

The concept of Military strategy deals with:

1. The planning and conduct of campaigns
2. the movement and disposition of forces, and
3. the deception of the enemy.

Definition of Strategy (by Carl von Clausewitz, The father of Western modern strategic study)

“Strategy is the employment of battles to gain the end of the war.”

Definition of Strategy  (by B. H. Liddell Hart)

“Strategy is the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy”.

Sun Tzu: the father of Eastern military strategy

The Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese historical and modern war tactics are influenced by him.

Origin & Background

500 BC

The principles of military strategy emerged in the works of Sun Tzu and Chanakya.

Following are some examples of Military Strategy (Planning & Development) demonstration & implementation:

Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya, Hannibal, Qin Shi Huang, Julius Cæsar, Zhuge Liang, Khalid ibn al-Walid


Niccolò Machiavelli’s Dell’arte della guerra (Art of War)

1618-1648 (The Thirty Years’ War)

Advanced operational strategy by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Victories on the soil of the Holy Roman Empire.


In the Seven Years’ War, Frederick the Great improvised a “strategy of exhaustion” to hold off his opponents and conserve his Prussian forces.


The word was first used in German as “Strategie” in a translation of Leo’s work

shortly thereafter in French as “stratégie” by Leo’s French translator


The word Strategie in English (Strategy)

19th Century:

Three ways: Art &/or Science of conduct of warfare, Tactics and Logistics were the main bases for strategy in Military

It was difficult to distinguish Tactics from strategy in Roman Times and there was confusion about these concepts.

Involvement of Troops observed in French Revolutionary War.

20th century:

The distinction between manoeuvre and battle, strategy and tactics, expanded with the capacity of technology and transit.

This is all about Military Origins of Strategy.

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