Special Contribution – Feb 09, 2006 – The principles of war are tenets used by military organizations to focus the thinking of leaders toward successful prosecution of battles and wars. They are generally attributed to Carl von Clausewitz and his book, On War. The United States Armed Forces use the following nine principles of war in training their officers:


Define a decisive and attainable objective for every military operation.


Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.


Apply sufficient force to achieve the objective.

Economy of Force

Focus the right amount of force on the key objective, without wasting force on secondary objectives.


Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.

Unity of Command

For every objective, there must be a unified effort and one person responsible for command decisions.


Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.


Strike the enemy at a time and/or place and in a manner for which he is unprepared.


Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders.
(Officers in the U.S. Military sometimes use the acronym “MOUSE MOSS” to remember the first letters of these nine principles.)

Principles of War is also a book published in 1969 for the Japan Self-Defense Forces. It outline the basic military principles and startegies by which the Japanese army was to operate. The book is used for most military exams in Japan. The book backs up all military principles with historical examples.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.