The Strategy and Command chapter of the Stormwind Army Field Manual is a supplemental guide to the ethics, concepts, and strategic principles of strategy and military leadership.
War cannot be won with battlefield tactics alone. To realize victory in any long campaign, an army must be unified under coherent command with clear goals and planned strategies. Soldiers must be in harmony with their commander, with clear methods, logistics, graduation in ranks, and control in expenditure. A campaign should be planned to account for all terrain traversed, including considerations for dangers, restrictions, heat, cold, and whether maneuvers are made during the night or day. Overall, victory in any campaign is determined by a commander’s foresight and flexibility to precalculate and recalculate plans based on all of these factors.
Any who read this chapter must be mindful of their place in their respective chain of command. This is a guide that offers advice and insight into campaign strategy and command ethos, and should not be used as a means to question or disobey superiors.
- Duke Maxen Montclair, Marshal of the Elwynn Brigade.
Why War is Fought Edit
War is a matter of vital importance to the kingdom. The crown’s recent victories against its many foes have secured its holdings and the security of its subjects, while the crown’s defeats against the Orcish Horde saw the kingdom razed in decades past. We of the royal army answer ultimately to the King of Stormwind, and are oathbound to carry out warfighting at his command. It is the duty of royal military commanders to relay the King’s wishes such that their purpose is understood and executed. It is also the duty of commanders to advise their superiors, and ultimately the King, in matters of war and strategy. It is through this advice and by the Light’s will that our King acts, and so shall his judgement be in both war and peace. It is for that reason that every commander should know the benefits and costs of waging war so that they might give the best assessment to their superiors.
Every war is fought to obtain something, be it a warlord seeking to expand his holdings, a nation desperate to secure a certain resource, or a faction seeking retribution for a perceived injustice. Not every war is fought for a just reason, and alliances are broken based more often than not on whether a war is perceived as justified. What seperates a rampaging warlord and a noble ruler is the basis of why war is fought. Betraying an ally or peaceful neighbor for selfish gain is certain to garner contempt from one’s neighbors, even to an extent of making enemies. A wise ruler and commander will carefully consider whether waging war will create more enemies than they hope to subdue.
A commander should never lose sight of the goal they hope to achieve by their warfighting. One who wins campaigns shall envision the terms of victory before they fight, while one who ruins their army carelessly shall fight first and then consider the terms of victory. Should the goal be the deposition of an enemy ruler, victory may be defined as the surrender or death of that ruler and their sycophants. The capture of strategic resources or lands should also have considerations for establishing defenses such that an enemy may not easily recapture them.
Mercy in Warfare Edit
Diplomacy in the face of war should be considered, for war is costly in more ways than a ruler can reliably predict. The death of soldiers, the cost of armaments, and the destruction of lands are all very real costs that shall break a nation faster than any grievance they may have against a neighbor. The angry may be made happy again, but the dead may not be brought back from life. To convince an enemy to serve your cause or reconcile their differences without bloodshed is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. However, diplomacy is not always an option, and should not be pursued when battle is unflinchingly at your doorstep. War is sometimes unavoidable, and in such cases should be fought with attainable goals and plans for victory.
Absolute destruction of an enemy gains nothing for the destroyer, and is often an unachievable goal. An enemy that knows that they shall be killed shall fight to the last man, while one who knows there is an option to surrender may take the opportunity. There will always be humble men and women who seek only to live productive lives, no matter who rules over them. A gracious conqueror shall not put these kindred sort to the sword, but instead shall direct them to serve under his rule. There will be just as many men and women who will seek to undo whatever you accomplish. Be wary of opportunists and do not grant subjugated enemies anything that will lead to your ruin.
Command Ethos Edit
It is easy to say what a commander ought to embody when leading their troops, but for a commander to practice leadership ethos is difficult and often contradictory in practice. A commander should be sincere and never lie to his soldiers so that they may trust his judgment. He should be courageous in order to inspire the same fortitude in his men. He should maintain iron discipline, such that he punishes soldiers who fail to meet a standard of excellence and integrity, but he must have faith in his soldiers and treat them humanely so that they will believe in his leadership and be empowered through his benevolence.
Integrity and honesty are absolutely critical for any commander to maintain the support of the soldiers under his command. There have been many commanders who stood as horrible tacticians but still had the faith and trust of their soldiers to win campaigns. The moment a commander is found to knowingly lie to his troops, his every command will be inwardly questioned by his men as folly, and that indecision will ultimately lead to their deaths. War is a matter of life and death not to be muddied with lies, especially to one’s comrades. If you cannot trust the man beside you to tell the truth, you cannot trust him to lay down his life for you should battle call for it. Lies, deceit, and theft should be stamped out amongst a unit by its commander and punished to the fullest extent. A unit is only as reliable as its least trustworthy soldier.
The convention that soldiers be severely punished for insubordination of orders is an age-old practice dating back to the legions of the Arathorian Empire. An army must be unified and disciplined if it is to win any extended campaign, much less any armed engagement with an enemy. Failure to follow clear, legal orders is a grave offense that should be spared no mercy in punishment. If a soldier cannot or will not follow simple instructions, they cannot be trusted to follow orders to take the fight to the enemy when duty calls. It is the responsibility of commanders to issue clear and justifiable orders to their men. If the orders are unclear, it is the fault of the commander if the troops do not perform on the battlefield as he expected. If the orders are clear, it is the fault of the subordinate soldiers if they refuse to carry out the will of their commander. A soldier who will not follow simple orders and give due attention to detail has no place in any army, and should be removed from service. A commander should regularly test his men to see if they are fit to serve by this standard.
A commander should remain level-headed and confident in his abilities, never resorting to emotion-driven decisionmaking. Act in accordance to tested tactics and procedures, with knowledge of the capabilities of your own soldiers against the enemy. Do not succumb to a temper from insults or failures. Honor should be defended, but recklessness in decision making will lead to your army’s destruction. Do not commit to any action without first calculating the risks that may lead to defeat, but do resolve yourself to act when time is of the essence. Failure to act is just as damning in war as acting rashly. You are a commander, so do not fail to issue commands to your troops!
While maintaining the discipline and integrity of one’s troops is important, it is also crucial for a commander to account for the simple fact that the men and women under his command are beings with needs, feelings, and aspirations. As much as a disciplinarian would wish to stamp out these things, the humanity of one’s soldiers is an immutable factor that will lead to a degradation in an army’s unity and battlefield performance if suppressed. A commander should reward his soldiers for the good they do, and honor them for surpassing expectation. He should allow his soldiers entertainment in dull conditions and celebration in light of victory. He should have faith in his soldiers and give them agency to solve problems with their creativity. Most importantly, he should be humble enough to take advice from those ranked below him if they are qualified to give it. Soldiers will invariably make mistakes, and it is up to their commander the extent of punishment in consideration of their humility. Humanity is what sets the royal army apart from the savagery of the kingdom’s enemies.
Any professional army will pride itself on its organization. Organization in practice is the enforcement of a hierarchy of authority such that competent commanders are placed in charge of larger units of soldiers, while those who are learning command principles are given smaller units to lead as they test their abilities. Excellence in command, discipline, and integrity should be rewarded with increases in responsibility and placement in this enforced hierarchy of rank. Failures of leadership and responsibility should be punished with removal of prestigious ranks. Small and large units of soldiers should be controlled similarly such that new commanders may prove that they can handle larger forces with experience. Scalable and efficient organization of soldiers is key in war. It allows higher ranked commanders to better calculate what the entirety of their army is capable of when divided by organizational hierarchy. A commander should be able to easily discern what each unit in his army is capable of.
War is a frightening thing. Warfighting soldiers are expected to lay down their lives for their nation, often marching to certain, gruesome death. If a commander truly wishes to inspire his troops, he should join them in facing down the fear of death and battle. The bond of courage a commander and his men share is such that soldiers will fight harder for one who fights with them, while they will more likely rout and be captured if they are directed to fight by a commander who is absent from the battlefield. A wise commander will not order his men to do anything that he himself will not reasonably attempt, for the question will invariably rise: why should a soldier die for one who will not put his life at risk in return? Cowardice in the face of an enemy will lead to the capture of your men.
A commander should be well-rounded with knowledge and practice in single combat, battlefield tactics, and courteous diplomacy. All are vital skills that will inevitably be tested while on the warpath, and faltering in any of these fields may lead to an army’s ruin. A commander should know or strive to know the culture and common history of whatever land he is deployed to. One cannot hope to conquer a land without knowing the dangers present. Soldiers should be directed to practice in sparring and battlefield maneuvers so that they are prepared for combat with the enemy. This cannot be achieved if their commander is incompetent and does not know fundamental concepts himself. Study and train with your soldiers, and you will be ready to face any foe. With prowess comes confidence, and with confidence you shall inspire your troops.
The difference between tactics and strategy is that tactics are individual ways of defeating an enemy on the battlefield, while strategy is the overall allocation of supplies, resources, and troops in a campaign. Clever tactics will win individual battles, but good strategy is what will win wars. Effective consideration, planning, and preparation for all variables in war is what will put you beyond the possibility of defeat.
Having more troops than your enemy confers no advantage as a factor in itself. Mismanagement of troops and supplies can reduce the fighting effectiveness of soldiers to such an extent that even a small force can cause a large army to rout. Do not advance relying on sheer military power alone.
Knowing the capabilities of your own army and enemy armies wins wars. If a commander knows how many troops he can field and what they can accomplish, he can allocate them based on what he knows about his enemy’s army and what capabilities they have. He can calculate the risk of defeat based on these factors, and redirect his troops to utilize tactics that will better his own chances. Based on these calculations, he will know whether to surround, attack, or flee an enemy, and whether or not he should fight at any given time. The commander who capitalizes on the best chances of victory wins wars, attacking where his enemy is weak and defending his own assets that he cannot afford to lose. Rash action without consideration for strategy and the chances of victory in the long term shall lead to an army’s defeat. Measuring one’s capabilities against an enemy, making calculations of risk based on those measurements, and acting based on those estimates shall lead an army to victory.
Strategic Principles Edit
There are several strategic principles that hold true in the grand scheme of warfighting. While their application may not be relevant in every situation, each principle should be taken to heart as fundamental truths that will govern the outcome of a campaign.
A commander on the warpath should always have a clearly defined and attainable objective that he pursues with his army. Fighting without purpose or reason shall waste resources and crush the morale of your men. The ultimate objective of any war is to destroy the enemy’s ability and will to fight while obtaining that which the war was declared for.
The most straightforward way to attain a military objective is through combined and sustained offensive action. Invading enemy territory, capturing key terrain, and engaging enemy forces in direct or even indirect combat are all considered offensive actions. The army which seizes and exploits opportunities to attack their enemy’s warfighting capabilities shall achieve victory, while the army which fails to act shall be forced on the defense.
Economy of Warfare Edit
A nation’s war chest will be quickly depleted unless special care is given to efficient budgeting and allocation of resources, supplies, and troops. Army units should be deployed with consideration for their upkeep and how they will perform against enemy units. Efforts should be made to protect one’s supply lines while disrupting those of the enemy. Overall, an army should be distributed throughout a campaign such that all resources are utilized to their fullest potential.
Each strategy has an effect on the enemy, be it how you maneuver, where you choose to fight, and what offensive actions you have already taken. Combining these effects against an enemy as a campaign progresses is to achieve mass. A starving, exhausted, and demoralized enemy will fall before you even if they have greater numbers. Mass your strategic advantages and prevent your enemy from doing the same.
Where you face your enemy in combat and whether you make direct or indirect attacks will affect your chances of victory and the safety of your soldiers. Maneuvering your troops so that they attack the enemy where they are weakest will advance your cause more effectively than leading them into direct assaults on the enemy’s main army. Exploit your strengths and the enemy’s weaknesses and preserve your freedom of maneuvering so that your army has options in how it conducts its warfighting.
An army will stuffer casualties not only from enemy attacks, but from traversing terrain in adverse conditions. Reconstitution is the set of plans or actions a commander takes to restore his troops to combat effectiveness. This includes the employment of medical personnel and supplies, the maintenance of morale through inspiration and entertainment, and the allowance of rest between long marches and combat engagements.
Rules of Engagement Edit
Rules of Engagement are directives issued by the crown which dictate the circumstances and limitations under which forces of the Royal Army will initiate and continue combat with other encountered forces. These may include orders to avoid combat with certain groups, or to avoid damaging certain structures or grounds. To violate the Rules of Engagement is to put the crown’s honor at risk amongst its peers, and to bring shame upon the Royal Army.
Remain vigilant. Do not allow your enemy to infiltrate or otherwise sabotage your efforts outside of your field of control. Secure tactically important terrain and deprive your enemy of access to that which you cannot afford to lose. Security is a combination of maintaining defenses such that your forces and key assets are protected from opportunistic attacks. Study your enemy’s tactics and capabilities so that your own strategy may be developed to counter their attacks. Supply lines are both critically valuable and vulnerable to attack; they should be given extra care in their protection.
Exploit your enemy’s lapses in security and strike them where they are unprepared. Supply lines, fortifications, resources, and key terrain should be seized if your enemy fails to man them with adequate defenses. A smaller force can disrupt and ultimately destroy a larger foe if they utilize deception and surprise to chip away at the enemy’s fighting capabilities. Lay ambushes where your enemy will be forced to fight without preparation.
While complex plans may appear to be ironclad on the drawing board, their execution ultimately lies with the readiness of communication. If a plan is unable to be made manifest with clear, concise instructions, its realization may face delay due to confusion in communication and understanding. Miscommunication leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to the deaths of your troops. Simplicity ensures that your orders are carried out to their fullest potential.
Nothing is constant in war, and predictions may only be so accurate. It is vital that a commander budget flexibility into his campaign plans so that he is not forced to undertake an unfavorable action due to a lack of supplies or men. Ideally, for any engagement, multiple plans of attack should be drawn so that victory can still be achieved if the first approach fails to yield favorable results. Some troops should be kept in reserve so that they might be redirected to counter any unforeseen tactical shortcomings in battle.
A commander should know the capabilities of his own troops and that of his enemy so that he may utilize his army’s strengths to strike at his enemy’s weaknesses. The commander who is able to gain such insight shall be able to reduce the risk posed to his own troops through counter measures tailored to fight enemy abilities. Information and intelligence of a hostile army are not easy to come by, especially if one’s foe employs deception in its maneuvers. Resources and personnel should be directed to learning the nature of the enemy while depriving their knowledge of your own forces.
Unity of Command Edit
For an army to be truly inspired to achieve the goals of its commanders, the full spectrum of personnel must be unified in effort and responsibility. Officers and lesser leaders within each unit must commit to the same rigors and hardships that their men face, and each must ultimately answer to the same commander. The chain of command must remain unbroken so that the vision of the army’s commander may be executed with both authority and motivation.