Wartime tactical adaptation and operational success
: British and Japanese armies in Burma and India, 1941–45

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This dissertation examines wartime tactical adaptation and its relationship with operational performance and outcome, using case studies of mid-to-high intensity conflict during the Second World War. It asks: In what circumstances and in what ways does tactical adaptation contribute to operational success or failure? Also examined are what conditions cause wartime tactical adaptation to be more or less effective at changing performance, and how different types of adaptation cause different effects on outcome. The study begins by considering contemporary theories on military innovation, adaptation, and effectiveness. Then it builds upon this foundation through case studies of seven operations in Burma and India from 1941–45. Three hypotheses are considered regarding types of adaptation under various conditions, to examine performance and effectiveness of British and Japanese forces, and how these factors contributed to operational success or failure. From these case studies the dissertation develops more general principles about how forces may adapt more effectively and efficiently during conflict, limitations regarding wartime adaptation, and some risks associated with wartime change.
Date of Award1 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorWilliam Philpott (Supervisor) & David Betz (Supervisor)

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