Initiative as a principle of war.

Getting there first with the most and taking advantage of the situation is the principal quality of the combat leader, and not all of them have it. Being first off the mark most of the time leaves the other fellow with less opportunity to respond to your moves. Defeat is the likely outcome for a commander who always waits for something to happen. Indeed, surprise is little more than an enormous disparity in initiative between two forces.
A good example of this is the Gulf War. Saddam Hussein dug in and allowed Coalition forces to mass for a large-scale attack. If Hussein had taken the initiative (or rather maintained the initiative) and attacked coalition forces before they were prepared, the war could have gone on much longer and with far more casualties on both sides. Allowing the enemy to seize the initiative means giving up control of the battle. Even outnumbered forces can control the battlefield by attacking and keeping the enemy responding.
It was not until the United States took the initiative at the Battle of Midway in World War II that Japan started responding to allied actions. Once Japan was responding to the allies instead of initiating combat, Japan was on the defensive.

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In chess, a player is said to have the "initiative" when they are the one dictating the pace and direction of play by making a series of attacks and threats their opponent has no choice but to respond to. Having or gaining the initiative in chess often leads to a significant advantage, even when the two players are equal in terms of material. A player with the initiative can gradually build up a stronger and stronger positional advantage until they are in position to launch an unstoppable mating attack. The player without the initiative either has to hope that the player with the initiative blunders and loses the initiative, or else has to gradually manipulate the position in order to create "counterplay" that might lead to a reversal in initiative.

In*i"ti*a*tive (?), a. [Cf. F. initiatif.]

Serving to initiate; inceptive; initiatory; introductory; preliminary.


© Webster 1913

In*i"ti*a*tive, n. [Cf. F. initiative.]


An introductory step or movement; an act which originates or begins.

The undeveloped initiatives of good things to come.
I. Taylor.


The right or power to introduce a new measure or course of action, as in legislation; as, the initiative in respect to revenue bills is in the House of Representatives.


© Webster 1913

In*i"ti*a*tive (?), n. (Political Science)

The right or procedure by which legislation may be introduced or enacted directly by the people, as in the Swiss Confederation and in many of the States of the United States; -- chiefly used with the. The procedure of the initiative is essentially as follows: Upon the filing of a petition signed by a required number or percentage of qualified voters the desired measure must be submitted to a popular vote, and upon receiving the required majority (commonly a majority of those voting on the measure submitted) it becomes a law. In some States of the United States the initiative is only local; in others it is state-wide and includes the making of constitutional amendments.


© Webster 1913

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