The Science of War: Back to First Principles

By Brian Holden Reid | Go to book overview

6

INCREASING TEMPO ON THE MODERN BATTLEFIELD

Colonel A. Behagg MBE

A commander must accustom his staff to a high tempo from the outset and continually keep them up to it. If he once allows himself to be satisfied with norms, or anything less than all out effort, he gives up the race from the starting post and will sooner or later be taught a bitter lesson by his faster moving enemy and be forced to jettison all his fixed ideas.

(Field Marshal Erwin Rommel)

In a land/air battle fought between equipment intensive, modern armies, manœuvre warfare offers the possibility of results disproportionately greater than the resources applied to the effort: in essence, the chance of victory to the side that is materially weaker. A return such as this is extremely attractive to forces operating within modern democracies and interest in this type of warfare has grown considerably in recent years.

The aim of manœuvre is to apply strength in the form of firepower against weakness, in contrast to attrition where strength tends to be applied against strength. In manœuvre theory the emphasis is on the disruption and then destruction of the enemy. It depends for its success on the precise application of this force against identified points of weakness.

Apart from the obvious components of firepower and mobility the most significant elements of manœuvre warfare are momentum and tempo. Momentum is a measure of the effect that a formation or unit that is moving can have and is easily compared to the physical product of the force's size

-110-

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