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The Loss of Strength Gradient (LSG) was devised by Kenneth Boulding in 1962. He argued that the amount of a nation’s military power that could be brought to bear in any part of the world depended on geographic distance. The Loss of Strength Gradient demonstrated graphically that the farther away the target of aggression, the less strength could be made available. It also showed how this loss of strength could be ameliorated by the use of forward positions. [1]

Boulding went on to support the idea of a decline in the Loss of Strength Gradient. He used two lines of attack. One of these was that transport was becoming easier. Another was that combatants had achieved sufficient capacity to defeat the opponent through strategic air and missile power. Boulding said that there had been a “military revolution” in the 20th century, the significance of which was “a very substantial diminution in the cost of transportation of organized violence of all kinds, especially of organized armed forces” and “an enormous increase in the range of the deadly projectile.” [2]

There is support for the continued importance of the Loss of Strength Gradient such that where it is reduced in significance it is of only temporary nature. Transport is said not to be becoming permanently easier while air power is said not to be permanently replacing need for forward deployed ground forces.[3]

See also


  1. Kenneth Boulding, Conflict and Defense, (New York: Harper, 1962), p. 262.
  2. Kenneth Boulding, The Meaning of the 20th Century: The Great Transition, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1965), p. 87.
  3. K. Webb, 'The Continued Importance of Geographic Distance and Boulding's Loss of Strength Gradient', Comparative Strategy, Volume 26 Issue 4, 2007, pp. 295-310.

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