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Subject: What is the difference between operational and strategic levels? rss

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mark novak
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bozeman
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I do not quite know the difference between the terms operational and strategic. Is operational at a larger scale than strategic? Thanks
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Kent Reuber
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Strategic is the larger of the two. Operational games are usually short campaigns as part of a war, while strategic games might focus on longer term conflicts involving a whole theater. My criteria for classifying the games is that strategic games include rules for supply and for new unit production. With operational games, you might some scheduled reinforcements from other areas, but there's not the time to raise and train new units as in a strategic game.
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john f stup
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games on THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE,and the WATERLOO CAMPAIGN are more operational. the whole WWII in EUROPE and/or the PACIFIC would be more strategic. most battle games are operational more or less and sometimes with tactics thrown in. both the campaign and the battle of GETTYSBURG are generally considered operational. whereas the decision to do that campaign would be a strategic decision whereas caring it out would be more of an operational level. i like strategic games that also have the operational level built into them and operational games that have the tactical level built into them although they're usually longer and more complex which i don't always like.
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Dom Rougier
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There are many, many contradictory definitions, so no easy answer is possible.

Having said that, the definition I'm happy with is the following:

"Operational level" refers to a scale bigger than one where line-of-sight and the time of day are important ("Tactical level"), and smaller than the "Strategic level", where production and diplomacy are considerations.

Thus, I would expect an operational level game to involve the logistics of supply and perhaps the personalities of varying generals. I would not expect an operational game to include production of tanks, or politics.

If I were interested in modelling the Ancient world, for instance, then a tactical game could be the battle of Gaugamela (For instance, C&C:Ancients or GBoH), the operational game could be the care are feeding of Alexander's army as he marched through Persia (Field Commander: Alexander), and a Strategic level game could involve conflict in the Mediterranean as a whole (Empire: The Macedonian Punic Wars, 350-150BC)
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Wendell
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And incidentally, the concept of "operational" level of war is a relatively recent one, from Soviet military theoreticians I believe.

Back in the day, things like the Bulge were often called "Grand Tactical."

David Glantz writes in Soviet Military Operational Art, the the operational level is "a distinct intermediate level of war between military strategy, governing war in general, and tactics, involving individual battles."
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Judy Krauss
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Hmm, I prefer Grand Tactical.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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The short answer is that at the strategic level, you're choosing which operational level campaigns to conduct, and how many resources to allocate to each.
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I wish I could remember where I'd seen this before, but this handy little diagram has served me well to explain the differences...

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Steve Arthur
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Wasn't just this very thing discussed at length a few months ago...maybe someone can supply a link...sadly I don't know how...
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