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Strategic Theory for the 21st Century: The Little Book on Big Strategy

Strategic Theory for the 21st Century: The Little Book on Big Strategy - Cover

Authored by Dr. Harry R Yarger.

February 2006

89 Pages

Brief Synopsis

The word "strategy" pervades American conversation and our news media and is most often used as a general term for a plan, a concept, a course of action, or a "vision" of the direction in which to proceed at the personal, organizational, and governmental—local, state, or federal—levels. Such casual use of the term to describe nothing more than "what we would like to do next" is inappropriate and belies the complexity of true strategy and strategic thinking. This "little book" talks about big strategy, strategy at the highest levels of the nation-state. It is applicable to grand strategy, national security strategy, national military strategy, and regional or theater strategy. The monograph does not propose a strategy for the United States; rather, it provides a framework for considering strategy at any of the levels mentioned above. It is an examination of theory, exploring those aspects of strategy that appear to have universal application. The theory also may have application to the strategy of nonstate actors, institutions, and businesses, but the explicit purpose and perspective offered herein focus on the nation-state.


Strategy for the nation-state is neither simple nor easy. Good strategy demands much of the military professional whether he is formulating, articulating, evaluating, or executing strategy. Few do it well. It requires the professional to step out of the planning mindset and adopt one more suited for the strategic environment. This is particularly true in periods of great change and turmoil when a successful military strategy must be closely integrated with and may depend on other national strategies of the interagency community. A theory of strategy helps in this transition by educating the professional and disciplining his thinking in any of his roles. This monograph advances a theory of strategy that provides essential terminology and definitions, explanations of the underlying assumptions and premises, and substantive hypotheses that explain the nature of the strategic environment and the role and expectations of strategy. The environment is explained in theoretical and practical terms, and the implications for strategic thinking are developed with a distinction being made between strategy and planning mindsets. The typical problems practitioners have in formulating and articulating strategy are discussed. Strategy formulation is recognized as both an art and science, and the U.S. Army War College strategy model of ends, ways, and means is expounded on and advocated as a methodology for articulating strategies.





I. Introduction

II. A Theory Stated: Strategy’s Logic

III. The Strategic Environment

IV. Theory in the Real World

V. The Strategy Paradigm in Short: A Theory Restated

VI. Concluding Thoughts


About the Author

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