Editor’s note of

: Engels once said that the French Revolution brought France a large number of excellent soldiers and an officer selection mechanism based on merit rather than property and rank. Therefore, without it, France may not be able to sweep Europe. For this problem, this paper has made a brief discussion, which can be regarded as providing a new way of thinking. Can France sweep Europe without Napoleon?

— Napoleon

although Napoleon could not hide his praise and praise when he said this sentence (because he himself was the commander-in-chief). When anyone speaks and does things, he will subconsciously ignore and cover up his shortcomings and mistakes. Napoleon is no exception. The author of all autobiographies about famous people will be “tolerant” to himself, and if his experience is written by his descendants, there will be no words of praise.

Engels, known as an encyclopedia, opposed one-sided exaggeration of the role of the military commander when evaluating the role of the commander in war. He pointed out that the activities of the famous commander were first determined by the material premise that they were not transferred according to his will. Therefore, their role is to find and be good at using the new methods of fighting created by the objective historical development of the army, make the most effective use of military technical means, and make use of the changes in the composition and combat quality of the army affected by the reform of social system. Personally, I think Engels’ statement is more reasonable than Napoleon’s statement.

when the great historian Brodale analyzed history, he looked at the problem in this way. For the first time, he divided historical time into three different levels (i.e. geographical time, social time and personal time), and each time corresponds to different qualitative research objects. Geographical time changes the most slowly among the three times, which mainly involves the environment of human activity background; Personal time changes the fastest among the three kinds of time, which is almost fleeting. It reflects things on a personal scale. It can be said that traditional historiography is carried out at this level. Between these two kinds of time is social time. Its change rhythm is much faster than geographical time, but much slower than personal time. It corresponds to the history of groups and groups, that is, social history. Among the three kinds of time, geographical time changes slowly, which can be regarded as constants in historical research, while social time and personal time are variables in historical research, which is of great significance to historical research. Brodale believes that personal time is superficial and superficial. In his opinion, only social time can best reflect the deep meaning of human history as a whole, and it is the level he attaches most importance to. In fact, this experience of analyzing historical things can also be applied to many aspects, including the art of war and even daily life.

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in the first chapter of Sun Tzu’s art of war on the factors affecting the war, Sun Tzu said: therefore, the classics are based on five things, the school is based on plans, and the situation is determined: one is the Tao, two is the sky, three is the earth, four is the general, and five is the law. Tao makes the people agree with it. They can die with it and live with it without fear of danger; Heaven, yin and Yang, cold and heat, time system also; The place is far and near, dangerous and easy, wide and narrow, and also death and life; Generals are wise, faithful, benevolent, brave and strict; The Dharma, the song system, the official way and the main use. All these five will be heard. Those who know will win, and those who do not know will be invincible. Therefore, the school plans and asks for its feelings, saying: who has the way? Who will be able? Who gets heaven and earth? What is the law? Who’s better? Who can train soldiers? Who knows the reward and punishment? I know the outcome by this.

for the same problem, Clausewitz said in “on war”: we can appropriately divide the strategic elements that determine the use of combat into the following categories: spiritual elements, material elements, digital elements, geographical elements and statistical elements. Everything caused by spiritual quality and its function belongs to the first category; The number and composition of the armed forces and the proportion of various arms belong to the second category; The angle, centripetal motion and centrifugal motion formed by the battle line (as long as their geometric values are of computational value) belong to the third category; The influence of commanding heights, mountains, rivers, forests, roads and other terrain belongs to the fourth category; Finally, all means of supply belong to the fifth category.

by comparing the strategic elements listed by Sun Tzu and Clausewitz, we can find that they are basically the same. Clausewitz believes that if we analyze the strategy according to these elements, we will lose the way of research, because these elements are interrelated and complex. If we analyze these elements one by one, we will naturally lose the way. However, we know that the party with a wise monarch is more likely to win, the party with excellent generals is more likely to win, the party with favorable conditions and people is more likely to win, the party with strict military discipline is more likely to win, the party with strong military forces is more likely to win, and the party with well-trained soldiers is more likely to win, The side with clear reward and punishment is more likely to win. Therefore, Sun Tzu said that after examining these elements, I can roughly judge the victory or defeat.

if we carefully study these strategic elements, we will find that we can divide these factors into three categories according to Brodale’s method. Among the many strategic factors that measure the strength of both sides, most of them can not be changed by the commander alone. They are affected by politics, economy, history, culture and other aspects, such as the people’s martial spirit, the establishment and discipline of the army and training, and so on. Although they are changing all the time, their impact on the war can be regarded as constant in the short term. In the balance of power, we can regard it as a constant. Of course, there are some factors that the commander can change, such as the route and direction of the March, the terrain of the garrison, the choice of logistics supply lines, and so on; Finally, there are a small number of factors that are unpredictable, such as weather, accidents, and so on. If we take an idealized model, the force of the army is a constant plus a variable plus an uncertainty.

war is a contest between the military forces of both sides. The forces of both sides change differently with the command and dispatching of the commander. highThe commander of Ming Dynasty, he can make all the factors that the commander can change develop in a stronger direction; Under the local conditions at that time, we made use of strategic mobility, exchanged the smallest sacrifice of our army for the greatest weakening of the enemy, and launched the final battle only when we ensured that our army could defeat the other army. According to various conditions at that time, we made use of tactical departments to give full play to the combat power of our army to the greatest extent. So as to achieve the war purpose of attacking fewer people and defeating the strong with the weak.

if we continue to increase the proportion of constants in the whole force, the more stable and powerful the force will be. Rome is a powerful empire growing up from small city states. We found that the vast majority of Roman generals are not professional soldiers. They often have more experience in politics than in the army. People like Farrow, who buried 50000 people to Hannibal, can be elected commander-in-chief of the army. What kind of people can’t be elected commander-in-chief of the army? However, we found that it was this army commanded by a large number of non professional soldiers that conquered almost all the strong enemies in its vicinity. The combat effectiveness of the Roman army was often maintained at a high level and stable because of its strong martial spirit, strict discipline, advanced weapons, good training, strict reward system and strong mobilization ability, And so on, and these strategic factors are the inherent attributes of the Roman army. Before a commander led the Legion, it already had these excellent attributes. These attributes hardly change because of the commander of the Legion, and belong to the constant in the power. In other words, the strength of the Roman Legion has a very large constant, which makes it maintain a very high combat effectiveness and stability. It is this fine tradition developed in Roman culture that makes the strength of the army have a high constant, so that they do not rely too much on a wise commander, or fortunately on accidental factors, It ensured the strong military superiority of the Roman army. For example, if you take the ball from two boxes containing 100 balls respectively and compare the size, the size range of the number marked on the ball in box a is 60 ~ 160. The numbers marked on the ball in Box B range from 80 to 180. Obviously, the number on the ball taken out of Box B is more likely to be greater than the number on the ball taken out of box a. In military terms, the hope of winning is greater, because what the military pursues is a possible result, not an inevitable result.

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without an excellent commander, I’m afraid it’s rare to win more with less. It’s rare to win the strong with the weak. Outstanding commanders are not only good at improving these factors, but more importantly, they can predict the actual situation, produce strange soldiers, create a situation in which the enemy is weak and we are strong, and win the “defeated enemy”.

in the words of Sun Tzu: “if you decide to accumulate in a thousand mountains, you will have a great potential!”

after reading the above words, it is not difficult for us to understand why

should first enrich the country before strengthening the army

Why are there few generals who win wars in weak and small countries? If there are a large number of famous generals in a country, Then his national strength must not be weak

why is the final winner often the strong in national strength, rather than the

with an excellent commander? Because the role of the commander is to maximize the power factors he can change, but there is nothing he can do about other power factors, even if Napoleon commands the Iraqi army, In front of the US military, it is just to let Iraq hold on longer. Unless Napoleon has the time and opportunity to change the first force in Iraq.

history