How do military organizations learn? This book covers an important instance of military learning in which the United States military systematically examined the lessons of Israel's decisive victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and applied those lessons towards major doctrinal and equipment changes. The book relies heavily on Paul Senge’s model of learning organizations outlined in his seminal work, The Fifth Dimension. Using Senge’s model, the book examines the Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy’s reactions to the Yom Kippur War and how they organizationally incorporated—or ignored—the lessons of the conflict within their force. Using source documents, including personal memoirs, doctrinal publications, and individual reflections, the book offers a vital examination of how militaries can use foreign conflicts to make substantive and necessary organizational changes. The Yom Kippur War, particularly the Israeli experience in that conflict, provided the American military a battle laboratory in which to develop new warfighting concepts and assess new weapons acquisitions. In its conclusion, the book offers a cautionary tale that suggests learning and change do not come automatically to military organizations. If they are to be successful in the future, military organizations must embrace learning structures.
Robert W. Tomlinson is associate professor in National Security Affairs (NSA) department of the Naval War College at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey California.
Chapter 1: A Brief History of the Yom Kippur War
Chapter 2: The United States Army and its Reaction to the Yom Kippur War
Chapter 3: The United States Air Force and its Reaction to the Yom Kippur War
Chapter 4: The United States Navy and its Reaction to the Yom Kippur War
Chapter 5: Analysis and Conclusion
This book is a phenomenal exploration of military organizational learning. The Yom Kippur War of 1973 was a pivotal learning event for Cold Warriors. As relevant today as it was 50 years ago. This event was a key turning point for the post-Vietnam US military which motivated transformational innovations such as the Army’s National Training Center, USAF’s Red Flag exercises, the M1A1, and the F-117. A must-read for anyone interested in organizational learning or military innovation.
Tomlinson's timely book on how U.S. military leaders utilized lessons from the Yom Kippur War to propel organizational change to extend deterrence against the Soviet Red Army during the Cold War is essential reading for military and foreign policy decision makers facing similar challenges confronting a rising China and resurgent Russia.