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Prateek Goyal asked: What is the difference between strategy and tactics?

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  • D.P.K. Pillay replies: Both the terms, strategy and tactics, originated as military terminologies but today their use has spread in many areas.

    When these two terms are employed in the military parlance, they can be described as being two distinct parts: One that is visible, the actual combat where soldiers carry out ruthless actions to capture, destroy, kill or wound enemies or hold territories or execute physical actions in pursuance of an objective, and the other part that is invisible but actually led to that action and runs in the mind of the strategist who plans the entire operation towards the desired end state. On one end is the primordial violence of physical war, and on the other end is the lonely intellectual strategy that runs invisibly in mind.

    Simply put, strategy is the overarching plan or set of goals to achieve an end state, usually long-term and essentially runs in the mind of the leader or the individual. Tactics are the specific actions or steps undertaken to accomplish the strategy and entails actual actions which are visible on the ground.

    As Sun Tzu stated: “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” 

    Posted on September 04, 2020

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.

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