This approach does not require that an enemy is wiped out: the objective is simply to ensure that its effectiveness is reduced to the degree that it gives up the fight or is unable to prevent an operation succeeding.This helps to explain the tactics in the current Gulf campaign, in which US tank squadrons have pushed on to Baghdad, largely bypassing enemy strong points and leaving other troops to ‘mop up’.However, Clausewitz can’t take all the credit for ‘Shock and Awe’.The Chinese military writer Sun Tzu also wrote about many of the same ideas…in 500 BC. The defense secretary’s controversial notion of ‘Old Europe’, a brickbat aimed at anti-war France and Germany, has if anything been eclipsed by his boastful propaganda about America’s ‘new’ military strategy – ‘Shock and Awe’.The concept, developed by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade in a 1996 book of the same name commissioned by the Pentagon’s National Defense University, is not really a US creation at all.The basic principles of the strategy were first explored in detail by Prussian General Karl Gottlieb von Clausewitz in the 1830s. His ideas were extremely influential in Germany in both world wars of the 20th century.The 1917 Battle of Caporetto is viewed by military historians as a classic example of such tactics. The combined Austro-Hungarian and German forces (which included a young Erwin Rommel) broke through Italian lines in the Julian Alps by hitting the weakest points in a massive artillery barrage, followed by a devastating infantry assault which forced the defenders to retreat 25 kilometres.The same blitzkrieg approach was used to defeat Poland and France in the Second World War. British strategists developed the idea into the doctrine of ‘Manoeuvrist Warfare’. This is defined in the army field manual as “an approach in which shattering the enemy’s cohesion and will to fight is paramount”.Key aspects of this are ‘tempo’, aimed at always keeping one step ahead of the enemy, pre-emption (that word again) and applying strength against weakness.