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NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769 - 1821) AS A STRATEGIC LEADER INTRODUCTION
The survival of societies has been due, in part, to the handiwork of
exemplary leaders that have positively advanced the course of humanity. Leaders need to be strategic in thoughts and actions to be effective, especially, in a world in which the actions, intentions and purposes of players remain uncertain. 1 The adjective "Strategic", which is related to the concept "Strategy", refers to the most advantageous, complex, difficult, or potentially damaging challenges to a nation or organization.2 The adjective thus refers to leaders with the highest conceptual ability to make decisions. Leadership, on the other hand, is the influencing of people by providing purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish set mission and ultimately adding value.3 2. Strategic leadership aims to determine the ends, choose the best ways, and
apply the most effective means. Skills for leading at the strategic level are more complex than those for leading at the tactical and operational levels. 4 Strategic leadership could therefore be described as the ability of an experienced senior leader, who has the wisdom and vision, to create and execute plans.5 It also includes the ability to make consequential decisions in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous strategic environment.6 History is replete with strategic leaders who impacted their countries positively and one of such leaders is 1 RESTRICTED
e.RESTRICTED Napoleon Bonaparte. Britain. Factors that influenced Napoleon Bonaparte's approach to strategic leadership. Consequently. How Napoleon Bonaparte influenced his followers. 3. d. This presentation seek to focus on Napoleon Bonaparte in view of the strategic impact he had on his country France and indeed the whole of Europe including Egypt. c. SCOPE 5. Relevance of Napoleon's thoughts to contemporary strategic thoughts. Background of Napoleon Bonaparte. AIM 4. 2 RESTRICTED . The presentation will cover the following: a. The aim of this presentation is to discuss Napoleon Bonaparte as a strategic leader with a view to drawing lessons for contemporary national security matters in Nigeria. the purpose of this presentation is to discuss the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte as a strategic leader. Russia. Main thoughts and contributions of Napoleon Bonaparte to strategic leadership studies. Haiti and America. b.
Adaptation and application of Napoleon Bonaparte's thoughts to contemporary national security matters and statecraft in Nigeria. military history and artillery drills. This was how he became a French citizen. BACKGROUND OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 6. 8. as an Artillery officer. at age 16. achievements and failings of Napoleon Bonaparte will be discussed in the succeeding paragraphs. Napoleon was granted royal scholarship to study in France. EARLY LIFE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 7. He was second of the 8 children of spendthrift Lawyer Carlo Buonaparte and Marie-Letizia Buonaparte who was a focussed and strong willed mother that moderated the excesses of Napoleon during his growing up years.RESTRICTED f. Napoleon Bonaparte who was originally of Italian descent was born on 15 August 1769 in Ajaccio in the Mediterranean Island of Corsica. He trained at a French military school in Brienne and the elite Ecole Royale Military Academy in Paris where he developed interest in mathematics. The early life. He was commissioned in September 1785. Objectives. military campaigns and governance. about a year after France had possessed the Island. Napoleon's knowledge of mathematics and military history aided him to draw and execute fluid war plans that gave him the many options that he adopted infinitely as 3 RESTRICTED . merit and relevance of Napoleon Bonaparte's thoughts in contemporary times. g.
He was nicknamed "The Little Corporal" after the Battle of Lodi because of his visibility and daring moves in the heat of battle. He had a strong rapport with his soldiers. 10. This was how his understanding and mastery of the intrigues of power began at a young age. Napoleon sailed to Egypt to protect French trade interests and undermine Britain¶s access to India. Napoleon became an ardent supporter of the new regime in France after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy. Napoleon led the French army on a successful invasion of Italy and mercilessly defeated Austria in the process. His next moment of glory was when he successfully defended the National Convention in 1795 from an armed protest organized by the royalists and counter revolutionaries. An unusual aspect of the Egyptian expedition was the inclusion of many scientists amongst the invading French forces. This was 4 RESTRICTED . appointed artillery commander and subsequently given command of the French army in Italy. The opportunity to distinguish himself as an officer came in 1793 when he recaptured Toulon from her revolting citizens.7 His devastating freedom of manoeuvre was due mainly to his methodical and flexible planning style. he was promoted Brigadier General.8 MILITARY CAMPAIGNS BONAPARTE AND GOVERNANCE OF NAPOLEON 9. In 1798.RESTRICTED situations developed. He became noticed by the ruling class and he started associating with those in authority. many of whom he knew by name. For these heroic feats.
13. It was in the Battle of the Pyramid in Egypt that Bonaparte adopted the "Hollow Square" or "All Round Defence" fighting formation and defeated the Mamelukes. his vessels were destroyed at the Battle of the Nile by the British fleet under Rear Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. This attempt was a disaster mainly because of his ignorance of nautical matters. The inclusion of the scientists was an act of propaganda and a deception masterstroke as it clouded the true imperialist motives of the invasion. he returned to Italy that has been re-conquered by the Austrians. Napoleon regrettably said ³Had I been master of the Sea. Against daunting odds. Bonaparte's attempted in 1805 to lure the British fleet away from the English Channel. While he triumphed on land. In 1800. He got convinced at this point that he was no match to Britain on sea and 5 RESTRICTED . sound logistics arrangement and efficient man management. I should have been lord of the Orient´. 11. Napoleon's crossing of the impregnable Alps with his troops was a result of ingenious and detailed planning. scholarly and intellectual pursuits. Napoleon left his troops in Egypt and returned to Paris where he staged a successful coup d'etat in 1799 and became the 1st of 3 consuls and ruler of France. who were overwhelmingly superior in strength.RESTRICTED an indication of Napoleon's devotion to the Principles of Enlightenment.9 12. Napoleon crossed the Alps with his troops into Italy and deployed to the rear of the Austrian forces that he eventually defeated.
Russia eased its application of the Continental System and this angered Napoleon who reasoned that he had to act against Russia to serve as deterrence to other allies. the Russian troops and the biting Russian winter. It became obvious that he had dumped the revolutionary ideals and has embraced imperialism. Napoleon estimated wrongly as he failed to exhaustively analyse the key factors in 6 RESTRICTED . acquisition of territories and installation of his siblings as puppet rulers. up to Moscow which they razed down.RESTRICTED resolved to exploit his strength on land to the maximum. Knowing that Napoleon and his troops "Live off the Land" during battles. The French troops had to contend with lack of supplies. preferring to retreat using the "Scorched Earth" tactics. Napoleon continued with his strings of defeats. After waiting in vain in Moscow for Czar Alexander to sue for a truce. Napoleon withdrew back home after losing about 95 percent of his men. He did not quite succeed in this effort because his allies disregarded his directives and continued trading with Britain out of necessity. He commenced his invasion of Russia in June 1812. The Russians avoided a decisive engagement with the French troops. 14. He attempted to enforce a Europe-wide commercial boycott of Britain called the "Continental System" by ordering all the French conquered and administered states not to patronise British goods. By 1811. the Russians burned crops and slaughtered livestock. Napoleon waged economic war in addition to military endeavours against Britain. In this operation.
Spain.RESTRICTED the planning for war coupled with the fact that he stubbornly refused to hearken to wise counsels not to attack Russia. He was exiled by the British to the Island of Saint Helena in October 1815. Prussia. Sweden and Austria. Napoleon final defeat came in the hands of the Duke of Wellington and General Blucher of Prussia at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium in July 1815. Heartened by Napoleon's losses in Russia. Bonaparte used linear deployment. ACHIEVEMENTS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 16. a small Island in the Mediterranean. Napoleon's achievements would be categorized and treated as military and administrative feats. This was demonstrated by his creative use of artillery as a mobile and hard hitting force to support his infantry. all round defence and maintenance of 7 RESTRICTED . He won battles by concentrating his forces in overwhelming strength on an unsuspecting enemy. Portugal. Paris was occupied in March 1814 and Napoleon abdicated unconditionally in April 1814 and was exiled to Elba. 17. 15. a Coalition against France was formed comprising Britain. The series of Bonaparte's military conquests were as a result of his ability to apply his knowledge of conventional military thoughts to real life situations. He was a master of both intelligence and deception. He died on 5 May 1821 bringing to an end the glorious and eventful life of a great man. He escaped from Elba and arrived Paris in March 1815 to govern France for 100 days. Russia.
His Napoleonic or Civil Code is relevant to this day in many countries. He broke away from the 18th century type of warfare and ushered in a new era in war fighting. He organised French army into corps for ease of command and control and institutionalized a reward system for merit. an equitable tax system. he owned 3 widely circulated newspapers.RESTRICTED strong reserves to defeat his adversaries. He provided qualitative higher education for qualified persons regardless of class and religion. a central bank. He was a master logistician who trained his troops to live off the land. spurring and raising the morale of his men by his presence. As First Consul. He precipitated the movement of national unification and the rise of the nation state notably in Italy and Germany. He introduced the concept of total war and the nation at arms including conscription which increased the strength of the French army. he carried out several lasting reforms including centralized administration by prefects of the departments. Napoleon was a master strategist and a good administrator as he ended lawlessness and disorder in 8 RESTRICTED . 18. He negotiated the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church seeking to reconcile the mostly Catholic population with his regime. a stock exchange including road and sewer systems. As a warring General. same as states in Nigeria. He was an expert in motivating. speech and attention to details. Napoleon understood that the mass media was a strong propaganda machine and used it effectively to actualise his ambition of ruling France. the Legion of Honour.
Napoleon's futile invasion of Russia and the Battle of Waterloo were failings that wrecked him beyond redemption. He believed that wars resulted from political decisions and expressed political intentions.10 MAIN THOUGHTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE TO STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP STUDIES 21. France was worse hit. War was the central element of Napoleon's foreign policy. The dethroning of King Charles IV of Spain and the installation of Napoleon's brother. The crowning of Napoleon and his wife as Emperor and Empress of France including King of Italy were considered a departure from the tenets of the revolution. The reforms he carried out as 1st Consul and Emperor added value to the lives of French people. Also. Napoleon's failings include his use of the Continental System of trade blockade against Britain. Joseph Buonaparte as king of Spain was a blunder.RESTRICTED France. France had fewer territories than she had before the wars. Napoleon believed in the integration of violence and diplomacy. This action led to revolts by Spaniards and their waging of guerrilla warfare against French troops. He believed in offensive 9 RESTRICTED . Though Britain was affected by the blockade. At the end of the Napoleonic War years. he overstretched himself by attacking Spain. Africa and Russia at almost the same time while the Peninsular War that comprised the invasion of Spain. Austria and Portugal drained the resources of France. 20. FAILINGS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 19.
He believed in the employment of all means available and overwhelming strength when confronting his enemy in order to ensure victory. This method of command that is now known as the Philosophy of Mission Command allows subordinate commanders to use their initiatives. He became ambitious and sought recognition because of his early contact with power. He realised early in life that he had to work extra hard over and above an average Frenchman to prove his worth. 10 RESTRICTED . He became a statesman. 22. He kept adequate reserves in all battles. He took battles to the land of his adversaries and avoided fighting inside France in order to avoid collateral damage. He told his commanders his intentions and allowed them freedom of action in executing assigned tasks.RESTRICTED action as the best approach to warfare. Napoleon¶s early education was a key factor in his approach to strategic leadership. Napoleon's unity of political and military authority eliminated friction at the top that otherwise was inevitable. FACTORS THAT INFLUENCED NAPOLEON BONAPARTE¶S APPROACH TO STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP 23. 1st consul and an emperor at relatively young ages. He embarked on territorial expansion as a strategy to cushion France from external invasion. This must have accounted for his drive for success at everything he did. Napoleon was born an Italian Corsican into a family whose breadwinner died quite early. The rapid political development of Napoleon could be considered a factor.
000 men during the 1st Gulf War in Iraq. war fighting has moved from attrition to maneuverist approach where collateral damage is kept at its minimum. He studied and absorbed the strategic thoughts of Jean de Beaumont du Toil who conceptualised the massing of big guns at decisive moments in battle to achieve maximum impact. His favourite authors were Polybius and Plutarch. the US deployed more than 300. He read the thoughts of Jacques de Gilbert who conceptualised speed as a condition for success in battle and suggested that army could live off the land as opposed to long train of logistics that slows down advance. Napoleon read and understood the history of the Romans. He also read the work of Pierre Bourcett who prescribed the division of fighting forces into columns of units for purpose of rapid movement and concentration before a battle. Due to advancement in science and technology which is a direct consequence of Napoleon's Principles of Enlightenment. Taking cue. the British government used the aforementioned principles to reoccupy and force the Argentineans' to vacate the Falkland Island of South Atlantic.RESTRICTED 24. RELEVANCE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE¶S THOUGHTS TO CONTEMPORARY STRATEGIC THOUGHTS 25. These works impacted on Napoleon as a strategic leader. 26. Modern armies have adopted the principles of using overwhelming and concentrated force to achieve desired end states. The use of the ³efficient and mobile artillery´ to destroy the adversary's 11 RESTRICTED . In 1982.
humane and result oriented leader. He was an intelligent and eloquent speaker who used his oratory prowess to spur his troops to achieve unimaginable feats. His authority over his men was so strong that the mere mention of his title. He was a strong source of inspiration to his men. HOW NAPOLEON BONAPARTE INFLUENCED HIS FOLLOWERS 27. 12 RESTRICTED . A uniform and regulated system of education still exists in France. Napoleon was both ruthless and compassionate. His influence is evident all over Europe particularly in France. His followers adored him while his enemies dreaded him. intelligent. Clausewitz asserted that "One must not only see the light. The administrative and judicial systems of most countries in Europe are essentially Napoleonic. Emperor energised his troops while it drove fear into his enemies.11 Napoleon predicted the future correctly and acted accordingly to leave legacies for oncoming generations to emulate. Napoleon was a fearless. 28. He exhibited bravery and fearlessness throughout his war fighting years. but must possess the determination to follow that light". determined.RESTRICTED decision making centres and thus his centre of gravity thereby breaking his will to fight is popular amongst many modern armies. OBJECTIVES MERIT AND RELEVANCE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE'S THOUGHTS IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES 29. focussed. He was never afraid to confront difficulties and was always present at the heat of battle.
equity and fair play that need to be addressed before Nigeria could be projected to lead Africa. political and defence sectors could draw from the ideas of Napoleon. the rule of law. 32. Nigeria¶s diplomatic. some internal dynamics like the imbibing of democratic tenets. The launching of Nigeria Satellite is a welcome development which could also be put to defence and security uses. ADAPTATION AND APPLICATION OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE¶S THOUGHTS TO CONTEMPORARY NATIONAL SECURITY MATTERS AND STATECRAFT IN NIGERIA 31. The impact of the civil code is widely felt in the laws of most European countries. Napoleon used propaganda to mobilise the French people in support of his war agenda. Despite the failings of Napoleon. the objectivity. He introduced the Legion of Honour to reward excellence and this event holds in France till date. however. 13 RESTRICTED . Napoleon¶s radical reforms in every part of Europe paved way for the revolution of the 19th Century. The country needs to reclaim her position as the leader of Africa. Nigeria has all the potentials to lead Africa and cannot be rivalled by any other country if her past leadership roles are taken into consideration. free and fair elections. Nigeria could use the wide reach offered by developments in Information and Communication Technology to mobilise her population in support of Government policies. the same way that Napoleon repositioned France. There are.RESTRICTED 30. merit and relevance of his thoughts in contemporary times cannot be contested.
The Nigerian Government would benefit immensely from adopting of some of Napoleon's major strategies in her aspiration to play a leading role in the West Africa sub region and in the African continent. he introduced many reforms that are relevant till date. 14 RESTRICTED . Napoleon's ideas and thoughts on strategy and warfare have helped to shape modern armies and the conduct of war. CONCLUSION 34. World powers use their military strength for power projection. 35.RESTRICTED 33. He was driven to secure some of the biggest achievements in history by a passionate desire to always win. He could be described as a great military commander of all time. The military capability of France played a major role in projecting her as a major power under Napoleon. Nigeria needs a well trained and fully equipped armed forces to be able to project herself in the sub region and in Africa. Napoleon Bonaparte came from humble beginning to become one of the most famous men in history. Nigerian Armed Forces play this role when participating in peace support operations. As emperor of France.
5. 152-153. Ibid. p. Micheal Guillot. 3. (London: Bounty Books. p. The US Army Leadership Field Manual: Be. p. 15 RESTRICTED . (New York: Penguin Group Inc. 11. 6. p.1. US Army War College. 7. Air and Space Power Journal. 2004). Strategic Studies Institute. 2. p. "Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy". pp. 2003. "Strategic Leadership: Defining the Challenge". 5. WJ O'Neil. Ibid. Robert Greene. William Weir. 10. Centre for Army Leadership. 4.RESTRICTED NOTES 1. July 2008. Volume 17 Issue 4. Ibid. Strategic Leadership Competencies. 9. Leonard Wong et all. p. The 33 Strategies of War. Know and Do. 50 Military Leaders Who Changed The World. 2006). 2007). Anne-Marie Slaughter et all. (New York: McGraw-Hill.15. 8.259. Military and Political Leaders and Success.67. (New York: McGraw-Hill.5. 2004). September 2003. Centre for New American Security. Ibid.
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