What is the main difference between a strategist and a tactician?

During World War II, it was said by many that Gen. George Patton was the best strategist in the Allied forces, but that Gen. Erwin Rommel was the best tactition of all the generals throughout the war, even between the Allied and Axis forces.

Could someone clue me in as to the main difference between the two? For example, what do both descriptions entail?

I know many will debate on who was the best general during the war, and everyone is rightly entitled to their opinions. All I really need is a detailed description of the definitions.

11 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A strategist is one who plans the mission, what the missions ultimate goal and what the manpower and equipment requirements are, i.e., what armor, infantry or air forces are required to fulfill the mission strategy.

    The tactician takes the strategists plan and puts into use with a tactical attack plan using the resources provided and looking for weaknesses in the enemy alignment.

    The best strategist of the war had to be General Eisenhower specifically for his D-Day plan and the the push to the Rhine to end the war...he was under pressure by Washington and Allied leaders to end the conflict within one year of invading France according to research. Further, after the defeat of Germany, it was determined that Japan had to be brought to surrender with 1 year after the defeat of Germany and though it ended much sooner, invasion plans for Japan commencing on Nov 1, 1945 were formulated and approved by President Truman in July 1945....sorry I got off the path here!

    As for a tactician, Rommel was an excellent one, but Montgomery for all his faults used limited British/Australian forces to outmanuever and defeat Rommel in North Africa, so he had to be the better tactician. Another one to be considered would be Patton, he knew how to find an enemy weak point and use it to outflank and outmaneuever their positions.

    Source(s): An interest in World War II
  • nashim
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Tactician Definition

  • Dear Departed Dad was a member of the 80th ID Hdq/2/317th IR. They did a lot of lead work for the Strategist you mention. He said little until George C. Scott showed up on the big screen.

    I knew he had froze his butt off on Attu for 2 years and then been sent to Europe. That movie let loose a little info. From the perspective of the little guy Gen Patton was a merciless SOB that was out to get them all killed. Since he did not have CNN, MSNBC and FOX showing 1000's of dead GI's on TV he was allowed to keep Strategising his way right thru that Great Tacticians Colon.

    This is only a guess, but based on your example I would say that strategy beat the crap out of tactics. I realize it's not that simple. Maybe the comparison of these 2 words is like saying Tan and Light Brown are REALLY different.

  • 6 years ago

    Strategy is a broad overall long term goal. Like take out ports and starve enemy.

    Tactics are short term constantly fluctuating adaptations. Like laying mines, flanking or counter flanking. Tactics generally can win a battle but most opponents rapidly adapt to tactics. Strategy on the other hand is not countered easily because it is in the mind of the leader it is not really known to the enemy what the overarching goals are.

    Strategy is usually dictated by the nature of the war. This means for example Israel which is a small country, is unable to utilize a concept called 'Strategic Depth', because they cannot fall back very far into such a small place. In other words they cannot take a hit geographically. So they utilize two key strategies.

    1. Preemptive war. Hit them first before they cut through your small strategic depth.

    2. Interior Lines. Small geography allows quick resupply and movement from battle to battle.

    In summary: Strategy is the larger picture. Tactics is adapting.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Tactics is about taking the hill.

    Strategy is about deciding which hill to take.

    I would put Patton as more of a tactician than a strategist.

    Strategy, especially Grand Strategy, concerns itself more with secondary and follow on effects of actions. For example one of the big raids during WW2 was the USAAC attack on the ball bearing plants at Schwienfurt. These were hit because ball bearings are needed for lots of military equipment, and they need particular equipment to make them, especially the precision ones. Shutting down the ball bearing plants shuts down all the plants that need or use ball bearings... see? That's strategy. A lot of strategy deals with logicstics, both your own (which limits what you can and can't do) and your enemies (because you want to mess with his).

    Tactics would be "what altitude do the planes come in at?", "do we come in from the north or the south?" , "Where are the anti-aircraft guns and how do we avoid them?", things like that. That's tactics.

    Since both Patton and Rommel were of roughly equivelant rank during their heyday, I find it hard to say one was a strategist and another a tactician...though I can see the case that both of them did a bit of both.

    Personally I'd say the best strategist of the war was Macarthur. His island hopping campaing enabled his forces to take fewer casualites, and embodied the Sun Tsu maxim about "defeating one's enemy without fighting him".

  • 1 decade ago

    I always thought:

    A strategist sees the "big picture" - the overall strategy.

    A tactician deals with the details of the strategy on a smaller scale.

    So, it may take several tacticians to fulfill the plan set forth by a strategist.

  • John T
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    A tactician knows how to place units in a battle.

    A strategist knows where to battle the enemy.

    I would definitely call Patton a tactician.

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    4 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Put simply, a strategist does the planning; A tactician puts it into practice.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    OK strategist basically look on the long term and a tactician is mostly what do you do in certain situations

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