American Professional Military Education, 1776-1945: A Foundation for Failure
Van Riper, James K
This paper presents the history of professional military education in the United States from 1776 through 1945. As its fundamental point, the paper argues that the scientific view of war prevailed over the views of the German Movement within American professional military education from the early nineteenth century well into the twentieth century. The scientific view-a view that perceived war as a phenomenon subject to analysis, predictability, and control-was a contributing factor to the plights encountered by the American military following World War II. This was particularly true during the Vietnam War, a war unique to American experience. The paper contrasts the scientific view of war with the humanities-based approach of the German Movement and an important advocate, Carl von Clausewitz. The theories and principles advanced by General Antoine Henri Jomini during the nineteenth century were among the early embodiments of the scientific perspective of war and were the harbinger of the even more scientific and enumerated principles of war contrived by British General J.F.C. Fuller during the 1920s and 1930s. These principles remained a staple of officer professional military education in the United States until well after the Vietnam War ended, their usefulness only occasionally questioned. After World War II systems analysis supplemented the existing principles of war as another scientific tool for understanding and waging war. The paper concludes that the scientific view of war-evidenced by Jominian theories and principles, the principles of war, and systems analysis-offered American officers and senior defense officials no realistic understanding of war in its totality or an understanding of its true nature as a nonlinear phenomenon and, thus, contributed to America's inability to achieve its political and military objectives during the first several decades of the post-World War II era.
Van Riper, James K. (May 2016). American Professional Military Education, 1776-1945: A Foundation for Failure (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5322.)
Van Riper, James K. American Professional Military Education, 1776-1945: A Foundation for Failure. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, May 2016. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5322. September 26, 2023.
Van Riper, James K, “American Professional Military Education, 1776-1945: A Foundation for Failure” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, May 2016).
Van Riper, James K. American Professional Military Education, 1776-1945: A Foundation for Failure [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; May 2016.
East Carolina University