“The more the concentration can be compressed into one act and one moment, the more perfect are its results.”

—Carl von Clausewitz, On War

“And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.”

—Judges 7:20–21

Economy of force is efficiency in fighting, effectiveness in warfare. If our objective is the annihilation of the enemy army, we will take the offensive at the decisive point. In order to do this effectively, the combined application of all the principles of war is necessary. This statement by General Erfurth mentions of most of these principles:

“To concentrate overwhelmingly superior members at the decisive points is impossible without strategic surprise. The assembly of the shock-group must be done as quickly as possible in such a way that all units can attack at one and the same time” (General Waldemar Erfurth, Surprise, trans. Dr. Stefan T. Possony and Daniel Vilfroy [Harrisburg: The Military Service Publ. Co., 1943], 157).

Each of the following principles applied separately works toward economizing force. When they are applied in unison, real economy of force is achieved. Let us look at how this happens, realizing that the principles are interdependent:

Objective: The greatest incentive for economizing is to know where you are going and then go there.

Offense: “Going” economizes forces; it takes less force to mount an offense against one point than to defend all points.

Security: If the enemy does not know what we are going to do, we can do it with less force. If he knows, he will be prepared, and we may not be able to do it at all, even with a much greater force.

Surprise: This principle certainly allows a commander to do the job with less force.

Mobility: Mobility economizes force by increasing, in effect, the numbers of men and arms. “A leader who aims at mobility should not be afraid to strain his troops to the limit in order that they may reach the battlefield in time. Many victories were made possible by forced marches. Mobility equals increase in numbers” (Erfurth, 196).

Cooperation: When allied forces advance in unity and with a common objective, they can attain victory with fewer men than if they had acted independently.

Concentration: This may seem to be, but is not, the opposite of economy of force. To use one’s force in driblets here and there may only result in consistent defeat; but if we concentrate at the decisive points, we are using economy of force.

Over-concentration in places that are not decisive points violates economy of force. “Consequently, the fronts where no decisions are being sought, should be manned with a minimum of force” (Erfurth, 163). It is better to have one’s force scattered in driblets at decisive points than to have it concentrated at a non-decisive point. 

As we apply the various aspects of the principle of economy of force to the spiritual war in which we are engaged, we can say that any concentration of Christians where there are few non-Christians is an overconcentration at a point that is not decisive. To have a concentration of Christians where paganism is thick and rampant is compatible with the principles of war.

*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.