Maneuver Warfare Handbook

Maneuver Warfare Handbook

Maneuver Warfare Handbook

Maneuver Warfare Handbook


Maneuver warfare, often controversial and requiring operational and tactical innovation, poses perhaps the most important doctrinal questions currently facing the conventional military forces of the U. S. Its purpose is to defeat the enemy by disrupting the opponent's ability to react, rather than by physical destruction of forces. This book develops and explains the theory of maneuver warfare and offers specific tactical, operational, and organizational recommendations for improving ground combat forces. The authors translate concepts- too often vaguely stated by manuever warfare advocates- into concrete doctrine. Although the book uses the Marine Corps as a model, the concepts, tactics, and doctrine discussed apply to any ground combat force.


The author of this book has never served a day of active military duty, and he has never been shot at, although there are no doubt some senior officers who would like to remedy that latter deficiency. Yet he demonstrates an amazing understanding of the art of war, as have only a small handful of military thinkers I have come across in my career.

I served over 31 years active duty with the Marine Corps, saw combat in both Korea and Vietnam, and attended service schools from The Basic School to the National War College. Yet only toward the end of my military career did I realize how little I really understood the art of war. Even as a Pfc in Korea, after being med-evaced along with most of my platoon after a fruitless frontal assault against superior North Korean forces, it seemed to me there had to be a better way to wage war. Seventeen years later, commanding a battalion at Khe Sanh, I was resolved that none of my Marines would die for lack of superior combat power. But we were still relying on the concentration of superior firepower to win--essentially still practicing Grant's attrition warfare. And we were still doing frontal assaults!

When I first heard Bill Lind speak, I must confess I resented a mere civilian expressing criticism of the way our beloved Corps did things. After all, he was not one of us, he had not shed blood with us in battle, he was not a brother. And I had strong suspicions that he would have difficulty passing the PFT. But what he said made sense! For the first time I was personally hearing someone advocate an approach to war that was based on intellectual innovation rather than sheer material superiority: mission-type orders, surfaces and gaps, and Schwerpunkt, instead of the rigid formulas and checklists that we normally associate with our training and doctrine. It was a stimulating experience! Through Lind's articulation, years of my own reading of military history began to make a lot more sense.

But why all this from a civilian instead of a professional soldier? In fact, the entire movement for military reform is driven largely by civilian intellectuals, not military officers--one notable exception being retired Air Force Colonel . . .

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