New Principles of War


New Principles of War

Enduring Truths with Timeless Examples

Marvin Pokrant

376 pages
3 tables, index


April 2021


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2021


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2021


$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Influenced in part by the writings of Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Henri Jomini, and other strategists, most major militaries have adopted principles of war that are widely promulgated. Marvin Pokrant argues that these commonly accepted principles fail to reflect the ideas that led to them. Looking at the fundamental and enduring concepts behind the original principles of war, Pokrant presents nine new principles of war. To illustrate his points Pokrant uses numerous examples drawn from military history, including land, sea, and air warfare from ancient times to the present. By analyzing and reforming the principles of war, Pokrant provides a modern, relevant, and useful way to guide decisions made in times of war.

Author Bio

​Marvin Pokrant is a retired military operations analyst for the Center for Naval Analyses and has a PhD in physics. He served on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is the author of Desert Storm at Sea: What the Navy Really Did and Desert Shield at Sea: What the Navy Really Did.


"Pokrant's work is a must-read for the serious historian, planner, or strategist who wishes to explore the foundations of doctrine for more profound meaning and further understand the context behind our modern principles of war."—Glenn H. Jones, Journal of Military History

"New Principles of War has useful history and insights for serious students of war, young and old. . . . For readers seeking a thoughtful reflection on war—and the application of fundamental principles to past battles—Pokrant's nicely composed book offers value."—Dr. Frank G. Hoffman, Parameters

"Commanders of all military branches should read Pokrant's New Principles of War. Examine your command and see if your unit mission can be carried out when called upon."—Maj James A. Boyless, USAF, Retired, PhD, Strategic Studies Quarterly

"New Principles of War provides a solid baseline for any rising military leader embarking on an intellectual training journey within the art of war. The growing demands of today’s global climate force leaders to think in a new way, and this book undoubtedly prompts readers to do so."—Lieutenant (junior grade) Lauren Larar, U.S. Navy, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings

“This is a fascinating book most useful for the practitioner and student of war, with many ideas also applicable to other competitive activities such as business. Marvin Pokrant gives us multiple historical vignettes that illustrate the good and the bad of principles of war from around the world and make a compelling case for significant revisions. Highly recommended!”—Col. John A. Warden III, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), and president of Venturist, Inc.

“Marvin Pokrant has masterfully distilled historical and international writings about the conduct of war and uses many historical examples to develop his new principles of war. I believe they form an important resource for study by both the professional military and our national security leadership.”—Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.)

“The principles of war: prescription for battlefield success or dangerous mental straitjacket? Marvin Pokrant’s seminal exploration of the fundamentals of warfare that have been taught around the globe for generations is sure to engage and provoke. And in these dangerous times we need to rigorously challenge our preconceptions. This book does just that.”—Sean M. Maloney, PhD, professor of history at the Royal Military College

“As the U.S. military refocuses on great-power competition, it must update as necessary the hoary canons of the past. Marvin Pokrant takes on this task superbly in his comprehensive, timely, and highly readable reexamination of the principles of war.”—Capt. Peter M. Swartz, U.S. Navy (Ret.), senior CNA strategy analyst and former U.S. Navy maritime strategist and counterinsurgency advisor and instructor

“Pokrant makes an excellent case for a new set of principles of war. Everyone that deals in the world of war plans needs this in their reference library. Rich in historical examples to support his case.”—Adm. Stan Arthur, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

“An important book for all who seek to understand how to improve the odds of winning our nation’s wars. Marvin Pokrant develops his new, more useful principles of war through the effective application of history, treating history as data to test existing and proposed principles against. I have incorporated both his principles and his methods into my course on wargaming.”—Col. Matthew B. Caffrey Jr., U.S. Air Force (Ret.), author of On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and How They May Shape the Future

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Prologue: Pickett’s Charge
1. History of the Principles of War
2. Principles of War in Various Countries
3. Principles of War in the U.S. Services
4. Criteria for Principles of War
5. Objective vs. Prioritized Objectives 
6. Mass vs. Relative Advantage
7. Offensive vs. the Sustained Initiative
8. Unity of Command vs. Unity of Effort
9. Surprise    
10. Deception    
11. Simplicity    
12. Other American Principles
13. Other British Principles of War
14. Know Yourself
15. Know Your Enemy
16. Environment
17. Summary    
Epilogue: Gettysburg and the New Principles of War

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