Defining the Battle to be Analyzed
Define The Subject/Evaluate The Sources: Just like a military operation, a successful study of military history requires a clear, obtainable objective. The battle analysis format begins with the definition of the study.
a. Define the Battle to be Analyzed. This will become your introduction
(1) Where did it take place?
(2) Who were principle adversaries?
(3) When did the battle occur?
Evaluate the research sources: Finding good sources to support your study is not easy, despite the large volume of published material. As you gather the research material, evaluate each in terms of its content and bias.
(1) Content: Determine what information the source can give you. Is it relevant to your subject? Will it help you complete your study?
(2) Bias: Decide to what extent the author is subjective or objective in his/her work. Is there a clear bias? If so, what is it? Does the bias make a difference in your use of the work?
This portion of the battle analysis format establishes the setting for the study. You must have a good understanding of the strategic, operational, and tactical situations before you can analyze the battle. If the causes of the war and the opponents are well known, there is little reason to go into great detail. You should focus on the operational or tactical levels of the topic.
a. Strategic/Operational Overview:
(1) Identify the war this Battle is fought in to include the time frame and locations.
(2) Identify the war aims of the principle adversaries.
(3) Identify and briefly describe the campaign this battle was part of, if any. What were the events that lead to this battle being fought at this location with these units?
b. Compare the principle antagonists (Operational/Tactical): In many ways, this is the heart of the study—analyzing the opposing forces. Describe and analyze the forces involved in the following terms:
(a) Size and composition. What were the principal combat and supporting units involved in the operation? What were their numerical strengths in terms of troops and key weapon systems? How were they organized?
(b) Technology. What were the battlefield technologies, such as tanks, small arms, close support aircraft, etc., of the opposing forces? Did one side have a technological advantage over the other?
(c) Doctrine and training. What was the tactical doctrine of the opposing forces, and how did they use it? What was the level of training in the opposing forces? Were some troops experienced veterans, some not, and some in between?
(d) Leadership. Who were the leaders, and how effective had they been in past actions? How were they trained, and what was their level of experience?
d. State the mission and describe the initial disposition of the opposing forces: What were the objectives? What plans were developed to achieve the objectives? Were there other options—such as attacking, defending, or withdrawing—open to the two sides? Were those options feasible? What were the locations of the units of the opposing forces? How were the units deployed tactically?
Describe the Action: This part of battle analysis—describing the battle itself—is what most people consider to be real military history. By following the format, you will study the battle chronologically. Do not let this approach disrupt your study of the battle. If you need to skip a phase in order to examine a combat functional area—such as maneuver, logistics, etc.—because it is more important to your overall objective, then do so.
a. Describe the opening moves of the battle: Examine the initial actions by the opposing forces. Did one side gain an advantage over the other in the opening phase of the battle?
b. Detail the major phases/key events: Establish a chronology for the battle while examining the actions after the opening moves. Look for key events or decisions that turned the battle toward one side or the other.
c. State the outcome: Who won the battle? Did either side achieve its objectives? Did the battle provide an advantage to the winning side, and what was it? Did the battle have any long term effects, and what were they?