Theory of Surprise – Part 2
Module 2. Much is written about intelligence failure, but little is written about the failure of surprise. Scholars have focused on successful surprise at the operational level of war, not on the effect of surprise in achieving overall victory. In this second module concerning the theory of surprise, we emphasize that surprise attacks often fail disastrously because the side undertaking the initiative miscalculates in several ways. It is also suggested that surprise fails because it leads the weaker side in the conflict to forget that when the effects of surprise dissipate, the dialectic of war returns with a vengeance. We can see examples of this type of mistake in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The trick now lies in making operational use of the theory of surprise.