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Objective

The Department of Defense defines objective as "The clearly defined, decisive, and attainable goal toward which every operation is directed." According to Prange (1982),

Of all the principles of war, this is the first and most basic. The planner must ask, "What is the point in fighting this battle? What do I hope to achieve? How will it forward the national interest of my country? Will it be worth the estimated cost in lives and treasure?

Prange has criticized Yamamoto for failing to set a single clear objective for the Midway campaign. Was its primary purpose the destruction of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, or the seizure of Midway? The operational plan failed to make this clear.

A commander must not allow himself to be distracted by possibilities for action on the battlefield that look attractive but do not actually further the objective of the operation. Failure to thus maintain the objective is one of the cardinal errors of warfare. However, maintaining the objective must not be confused with inflexibility, which is the inability to seize opportunities to achieve the objective in a manner not anticipated in the original planning.

References

DOD Dictionary of Military Terms (accessed 2011-10-12)

Prange (1982)



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