Cover of On Flexibility by Meir Finkel
On Flexibility
Recovery from Technological and Doctrinal Surprise on the Battlefield
Meir Finkel


336 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804774888
Paperback ISBN: 9780804774895
Ebook ISBN: 9780804777155

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Excerpts and More

This book addresses one of the basic questions in military studies: How can armies cope effectively with technological and doctrinal surprises—ones that leave them vulnerable to new weapons systems and/or combat doctrines?

Author Meir Finkel contends that the current paradigm—with its over-dependence on intelligence and an all-out effort to predict the nature of the future battlefield and the enemy's capabilities—generally doesn't work.

Based on historical case analysis of successful "under-fire" recovery and failure to recover, he identifies the variables that have determined these outcomes, and he presents an innovative method for military force planning that will enables armies to deal with the uncertainties of future wars "in real time."

His proposed method combines conceptual, doctrinal, cognitive, command, organizational, and technological elements to produce optimal battlefield flexibility and adaptability. He then demonstrates that, when properly applied, this method can eliminate most obstacles to overcoming battlefield surprises.

About the author

Meir Finkel is the Director of the Israeli Defense Force's Ground Forces Concept Development and Doctrine Department. As a Colonel in the IDF, he commanded armor units up to brigade level.

"Originally published in Israel in 2007, this thoughtful work by Col. Finkel (IDF) looks at how modern military forces have coped with surprise in terms of innovative technologies, techniques, or tactics."

—A. A. Nofi,

"This book combines solid history and an innovative analytical structure. It begins to fill in a serious hole in our understanding of flexibility or what could better be called 'adaptation under fire.' It is strongly recommended for senior military leaders and students of military innovation and force planning. In the future, surprise will continue to characterize the character of modern warfare, and the need to be flexible will be at a premium. On Flexibility provides great insights on flexibility and will prove to be an enduring contribution to our understanding of military history and to enhancing our ability to adapt when we hopefully do not get things too terribly wrong."

—Frank Hoffman, Journal of Military History

"A highly original work, dealing with an important and little-explored subject."

—Martin van Creveld, author of Land of Blood and Honey; The Rise of Modern Israel

"This is an outstanding work. Inculcating adaptability, flexibility, and responsiveness to surprise is the chief preoccupation of the major armies of the world. Doctrine writers, practitioners, scholars, and policy-makers concerned with the effectiveness of military force should read this book."

—David Betz, Department of War Studies, King's College London

"[A] thoroughly researched and objective work of events impacting America's military affairs and security policies."