Jomini and Clausewitz

It is common for analyses of the work of Jomini and Clausewitz to point to the differences between the two. The most basic of these arguments is that Jomini addressed issues at the tactical and operational level and Clausewitz insights were more political and strategic. But if viewed from a broader prospective, one could argue that not only could their viewpoints coexist but that some of their ideals were very similar and that they complement each other. I would argue that a comparison of their philosophies would reveal that; both suggested the concentration of forces on the enemy’s decisive point, emphasized simple operations and battle planning, and both theorists had similar ideas concerning politics and warfare.
Jomini and Clausewitz suggested that all military planning should focus on identifying and exploiting an enemies’ weakness so that an offensive operation could divide and conquer the enemy. Clausewitz referred to this decisive point as a center of gravity. Clausewitz argued that “the idea strategy is to identify the enemy’s centre of gravity, and then to direct all one’s energies against it” (Malik, 1999). He defined this center of gravity as “that point in the enemy’s organism – military, political, social, economic, etc. – at which, should he be defeated, or should he lose it, the whole structure of national power will collapse” (Clausewitz, 1908). Jomini referred to his idea of a center of gravity as a decisive point. Jomini’s definition of a decisive point is “that point in the enemy’s defences which if attached, destroyed or captured would cause the enemy’s total collapse” (Malik, 1999). This is evidence that Jomini and Clausewitz agreed that all enemies have a center of gravity and it should be attacked. However, as aggressive both measures may sound, both Jomini and Clausewitz believed in the simplicity of warfare.
Jomini and Clausewitz both understood the complexities and the friction of war. Both writers warned that while war seemed like...