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Attrition vs Maneuver .. secrets revealed!! (long)

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I will stress again however, that the true master will have "fingerspitzengefeul"(sp?) or "sixth sense for battle" and instinctivly know when to employ one or the other. And more importantly be able to train his officers and men to be able to switch from one mindset to the next without dropping a beat.

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I think Picket's Charge is an effective enough response. Following one's instincts is sometimes right.

[This message has been edited by Jasper (edited 02-05-2001).]

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Originally posted by Kingfish:

I thought it was Clinton who said that during his Grand jury testimony. You sure it was the Queen of Hearts?

Well, Hillary Clinton is the Queen of my heart, as I'm sure she is of yours. Especially with her sexy new look. If the Senate Chamber's rockin', don't come a knockin'. biggrin.gif

------------------

Ethan

-----------

"We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech." -- Dr. Kathleen Dixon, Director of Women's Studies, Bowling Green State University

[This message has been edited by Hakko Ichiu (edited 02-05-2001).]

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I think Picket's Charge is an effective enough response. Following one's instincts is sometimes right.

But in that particular time & place, Longstreet's instinct of the assault's inevitable doom was more correct.

"Instinct" doesn't necessarily mean alone to go with a "gut feeling", it can also mean to sense how well & how quickly your opponent will react. In the case of July 3rd, Lee sadly misread both the determination and the ability of the Union army to stand & fight.

[This message has been edited by Spook (edited 02-05-2001).]

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Look, the definitional "confusion" is more confused in the minds of those alleging it, than in the discussion of methods of war. Everybody here knows, I should hope by now anyway, that the military uses the terms in a very restricted sense to refer to particular methods of command delegation and control of decision-making. But the military does so, and refers to the issues by the terms it does, for reasons having to do with the whole method of fighting involved, not the mode of command delegation.

The mode of command delegation is a *means* of *adaptation* of the military animal and its hierarchy, to one approach to fighting or to the other. Those approachs to fighting, not to command delegation, are different in themselves, and that difference, which motivates and prompts differences in command delegation, is the real and underlying subject being discussed.

Manuever is not "when you delegate this way". The army tells commanders to "delegate this way" when fighting in this style or manner, because that way of delegating is adapted to that style or manner of fighting. The command stuff is strictly and entirely subordinate to and ministerial to, application of the "method of fighting" stuff.

When the rest of us are talking about the difference in the methods of fighting, it is not because we do not know that the army has names for this or that aspect of adaption to fight in that style. We just know that the style itself and how it works, and how it differs from alternative styles of fighting, is the real underlying reality driving the whole thing.

"Defining" "manuever" as a style of delegation is missing the point. The delegation to subordinates has a definite purpose. They are expected to find weak spots in the enemy dispositions, and to draw weight behind them toward opportunities. The military logic involved in that has everything to do with seeking decision by manuever elements in lopside shock fights in sequence. Those are the things the forward subordinates know more about than the parent unit does, so the decisions are pushed forward and downward and risk-taking is encouraged, yadda yadda yadda.

It is not simply that attrition or fire-decision strategies are "more conservative" or "emphasize control" instead. It is that the role of the manuever elements in the entire strategy is different. They are not expected to win the fight themselves. They are expected to fix the main body of the enemy and to prevent him from dispersing to avoid the effects of (outside, not their own)fire, by threatening him with defeat in detail *if he disperses*. They are there to hold the enemy's nose to the indirect fire zone, or overrun his renmants if he scatters to avoid it.

Do these strategies differ as fire and shock? Yes. Are fire and shock each tactics? Yes. Does every manuever strategy and every attritionist strategy employ elements of both fire and shock? *Yes*. Does that mean they are really the same thing? *No*. The *roles* of fire and shock are *different* in the two strategies.

In a manuever strategy, the manuever elements are "in the driver's seat", expected to win the battle, and use fire outside and their own, to further their manuever objectives and especially to seek shock action at locally favorable odds and in unexpected places and ways.

In an attrition strategy, the fire elements are in the driver's seat and expected to win the battle. The manuever elements cooperate with them to get them the kind of target they need, and to mop up afterward and thus render the effects of fire more decisive.

The different modes of delegation follow from these differences. They do not cause them. They are not definitionally prior to the two distinct fighting strategies. They are adaptations of command hierarchies, techniques, and procedures, to the one style of fighting or the other.

When the manuever elements are to win by finding weak links and exploiting them with the support of the whole body, they have superior knowledge about how to proceed with the overall plan. Local knowledge. That draw is not covered by enemy MGs, to take a simple example.

But, in contrast, in the attrition strategy, the manuever elements are to create conditions for fire to decide the battle, and they are not in possession of such superior knowledge, as a rule. The fire elements need to know from the manuever elements, exactly where the *main body* of the enemy is. They need that main body to be more or less fixed and as concentrated as possible. The higher HQ is more likely to know in rough terms who and what is the target, because it is not a gap or seam in a defense, but a big block of enemy with a thousand compiled intel reports on it. The higher HQ is in a much better position to coordinate the supporting fires of larger and outside assets. Control matters when you plan to blast an entire grid-square 2000 feet in the air because you don't want your manuever elements in that grid square.

The modes of delegation in the military terminology, are not the origin of the terms or of the distinction between the styles of fighting. The flow from it, not the other way around. When we have been discussing the different roles of fire and shock in this strategy and that one, we have been talking about the fundamental fighting logics or chains of ideas or goals, which the modes of delegation etc are meant to impliment or make easier.

I am incidentally glad that ASL Vet seems to have grok'ed what I am trying to say (yay! yippee! At last! - LOL). I do not think we are on such opposite poles as he may think, but I do disagree with one of his definite statements.

I am not in a camp that views manuever to decisive shock as impossible or an inferior method. I simply see it as one of (at least) two workable strategies that are very different, and unlike him I see both as potentially decisive. I certainly do disagree with him, however, on his contention that fire is not decisve without shock action by manuever elements or without subordinating fire to that end. I see no prior necessity for this to be so, whatever. And empirically, I find it is simply not so. Strategies that subordinate manuever elements to fire, can and do work, decisively.

I think we have a bit more light by now. Personally, I don't much care what the temperature is as long as I can see :)

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Originally posted by ASL Veteran:

A failed attempt at achieving decisive battle through a focused attempt at penetrating the enemy line. All attempts at maneuver warfare aren't successful. Penetrating the Union line would incur all the definitional results of maneuver warfare - disruption, dislocation, etc - upon the union army.

So "maneuver warfare" has become whatever forces "disruption, dislocation"?

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Guest wwb_99

One thing that strikes me about the great 'manuverists' (how did they become a movement I wonder?) is that they know when and where to force battle. I will use Alex at the Granicus as the example for tonights history lesson:

The Granicus: (I know this one well, having walked the probable site.) Alex, a few days after crossing into Asia met the collective forces of the Persian Satreps of Asia Minor on the river Granicus, near modern Izmir. The Persian host was much more numerous but definitely of lower quality, with the exception of 4000 greek mercenaries. The deployed their army at a ford along the river Granicus, which runs rather deep and swift in mid-may, essentially forcing Alex to attack and attempt to force their position.

The persian satreps deployed their forces in two main lines. The first consisted of a combination of archers, spearmen and cavaly. The Greek mercenaries were kept far to the rear, on a hill, about half a klick back, as a reserve and a fallback position. The other line rested upon the river itself, with the flanks resting upon impassable swamps. Along the river itself, the spearmen and archers were lined up on the higher left bank with the cavalry close at hand to punish the Macedonian forces once they were flounding in the river.

The Satreps deployed soon after dawn, and their men baked in the mediteranean sun for the next ten hours or so, without water. Alex approaches in the late afternoon. Instead of pausing to rest for the night, he sees his advantage. The persians are afraid to attack, even with superior numbers. And the greek mercenaries were too far away to support the frontlines if he hit hard enough.

So, Alex ignores his father's generals and deploys directly from his line of march into line of battle. Examining the Persian line he found a weak spot. Some very inexperienced spearment were covered in front by archers. He then sends a select band of infantry into the river, at that weak spot, which draws the persian cavalry into the river as well. Then Alex charges, at the head of his Companion Cavalry, shattering the Persian line. It must be said that the Greek mercenaries held their ground; they died very well. It should be noted that while macedonian casualties were very low in general, they were very high amongst the companies (for lack of a better term) who led the charge. But still, Alex destroyed the Persian army of Asia Minor (again for lack of a better term) by superior tactical manuver, and deciding to force battle on his terms.

I will explain more later, as I have to run.

------------------

Before battle, my digital soldiers turn to me and say,

Ave, Caesar! Morituri te salutamus.

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Originally posted by CavScout:

So "maneuver warfare" has become whatever forces "disruption, dislocation"?

According to the Marine Corps definition of maneuver warfare - that is the stated goal.

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Originally posted by ASL Veteran:

According to the Marine Corps definition of maneuver warfare - that is the stated goal.

Nothing like building a "no lose" definition...

How can anyone be for "attrition warfare"...

rolleyes.gif

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Originally posted by CavScout:

Nothing like building a "no lose" definition...

How can anyone be for "attrition warfare"...

rolleyes.gif

I believe I have posted numerous examples of attrition warfare. Your question - rhetorical (and possibly sarcastic) as it is, actually highlights the difference between Jason and I. I don't see attrition warfare as something that a commander would choose to do if any other option were available and Jason does.

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Originally posted by CavScout:

How can anyone be for "attrition warfare"...

rolleyes.gif

Because it wins wars.

United States Civil War

World War One

World War Two

Vietnam

Korea

Roman-Carthage Punic Wars

Crimean War

Boer War

etc...

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If you ask me attrition wars are a thing of the past. Because, back in the days when you could, could you really wage war without knowing the output of your factories? If not - how would you know if you were winning or losing? Or to restate it another way - when to stop developing (improving) the design and start producing it. Or how many you're going to need, and how to get there from here. All that stuff.

Today of course, the pace is so fast that by the time you crank up the 'stealth fighter' production lines - it's already over. So it's similar to a CM battle in that it's a zero sum game. The only stuff you have is what you bring to the table - you've either built it or you havn't. Losses are not going to be replaced (in time enough to make a difference anyway!)

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BTW, Henri, I recall from one earlier reference by you of Leonhard that he regarded the conduct of the Gulf War campaign with a critical eye. Could you elaborate soon as to what he criticized? Was it the total air/ground campaign, or the ground campaign in specific? And why?

It is risky to try to summarize a 40-page appendix with a few out-of-context lines, but at the risk of oversimplification, here it is. Leonhard is a military officer who was in the Gulf War.

First let me say that Leonhard states that many examples of maneuver warfare were used in the Gulf War, -the threatened Marine invasion that never materialized but that kept 6 Iraki divisions busy to counter it, the feint into the teeth of the main Iraki line that turned into a success when the line turned out to be much weaker than expected, the destruction of the command and control capacity of the Iraki army and so on.

Here are some quotes that point out the deficiencies; I hope that they give a flavor of what Leonhard feels are the deficiencies. Interested readers should read the whole thing for themselves, since compression by a factor of about 100 is conducive to loss of information...

"The thesis of this appendix is quite simply that the US Army which led the coalition forces to success was not a good army. It was merely a better army than its opponent."

"The prevailing theory was that the center of gravity of the Iraki regime was the Republican Guard Corps. Hence the destruction of the Corps would result in the paralysis of Hussein's forces... maneuver theory insists that the enemy's center of gravity is his critical vulnerability, that aspect of which will paralyze or disrupt his forces." (The Republican Guard was not destroyed...).

"The defeat of the Iraki forces through disruption occured as a result of the interdiction of their supply lines by air and neutralization of their command-and-control systems."

"Another deviation from maneuver warfare theory was the preoccupation with mass rather than momentum or force, a mistake that General Schwartzkopf gradually realized and corrected".

"Operation Desert Storm was strictly controlled from the top down...I have maintained previously that this type of command-push is not necessarily a violation of maneuver theory...."

"It is the opposite of what our current and developing doctrine says we so...The break between our written doctrine and our practice has never been more clearly demonstrated than in Operation Desert Storm, despite the politically safe statements that our doctrine has been vindicated".

"Our highly centralized approach to the War worked because the enemy's command system was also highly centralized, even more so than ours."

"...our operational plan made no provision for a decisive follow-up..."

"TRADOC's official interpretation of Operation Desert Storm included the observation that the US Army is moving ever closer to mission tactics and missionorders. In fact, just the reverse is true...My battalion and brigade commanders both noted after the war that they had no tactical decisions to make..."

Other considerations such as the confusion among fire support networks aswell as detailed discussions of teh above issues can be found in this 40-page appendix.

Henri

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Originally posted by CavScout:

I know, my point was to the definition of "manever warfare" being anything causing "disruption or dislocation".

Attrition does not cause dislocation - although it may cause disruption. Attrition wants the enemy to remain where they are, so dislocation is the antithesis of what the attritionist wants. You see, the attritionist wants the enemy to remain where he is so he can be pounded by your weaponry.

By the way, once we start categorizing wars as wars of attrition, we have begun to mix a strategy (attrition) with the act of war itself. The very nature of war is attritional. Therefore, since the very nature of war is attritional, you will find all wars to be attritional - no matter what the time period in history. World War 2 wasn't a war of attrition and it wasn't a war of maneuver. World War 2 was Total War where both attrition and maneuver was practiced and in which all the participants suffered the loss of resources and life. Such is the nature of war. But the act of waging war does not equal the military strategy of attrition.

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Originally posted by ASL Veteran:

Attrition does not cause dislocation - although it may cause disruption. Attrition wants the enemy to remain where they are, so dislocation is the antithesis of what the attritionist wants. You see, the attritionist wants the enemy to remain where he is so he can be pounded by your weaponry.

I believe that if you read Jason's discussion of "fire" tactics, this is only half the story. If the enemy breaks or even withdraws in poor order, a commander should have sufficient forces to engage the enemy piecemeal at decisive odds thereby resulting in the desired effect: the destruction of his strength.

------------------

Ethan

-----------

"We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech." -- Dr. Kathleen Dixon, Director of Women's Studies, Bowling Green State University

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Originally posted by Henri:

It is risky to try to summarize a 40-page appendix with a few out-of-context lines, but at the risk of oversimplification, here it is. Leonhard is a military officer who was in the Gulf War.

(snip)

Here are some quotes that point out the deficiencies; I hope that they give a flavor of what Leonhard feels are the deficiencies. Interested readers should read the whole thing for themselves, since compression by a factor of about 100 is conducive to loss of information...

The disclaimers are duly noted, Henri, and thanks for the snippets. At least one of my initial queries was answered right off---if Leonhard partook in the Gulf War campaign too. This helps a little to frame what his perspective or POV comes from.

As you said, this probably bears reading in detail. Even so, a nagging issue to me is just how many others who also operated in the Gulf War's command chain will correlate his views, and how extensive the hinted "deficiencies" were within the scope of overall command ops for the Allied ground forces.

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Originally posted by Spook:

As you said, this probably bears reading in detail. Even so, a nagging issue to me is just how many others who also operated in the Gulf War's command chain will correlate his views, and how extensive the hinted "deficiencies" were within the scope of overall command ops for the Allied ground forces.

Leonhard states that he carried out extensive interviews with participants and tht the deficiencies were extensive if not universal. He explicitely mentions battalion and brigade commanders, so it is safe to conclude that at least some of the commanders at that level agreed with him about the top-down comman structure (but who knows, some might have liked that...).

Knowing the military and the politics, it is probably safe to say that there are also some who disagree with him, in particular those who wrote the TRADOC document...

Some might reply to Leonhard "how can you argue with success?", and he makes it clear that he does not; his worry is that if the Iraki army (or some other army in the future) with more command initiative had exploited the inflexible attack of Desert Storm by for instance attacking at the junctures ofthe moving forces, it could have turned into a disaster or at least resulted in heavy casualties for the US.

I think that the most telling part of the analysis is pointing out that although the Republican Guard was wrongly identified as the center of gravity (key vulnerability) of the Irakis, they were not destroyed, but the Irakis collapsed anyway, so the center of gravity had to be somewhere else. For a totally top-down army like that of the Irakis, it was clearly the command and control system which was destroyed early in the battle, thus leaving the commanders without orders and totally paralyzing the whole army.

This was not exactly Sun Tzu's ideal winning of a battle without fighting, but it was as close as one can get in modern warfare...

Although Leonhard doesn't go this far, one could say that Desert Storm was won as a battle of maneuver by accident!

One shudders at what could have happened if the Iraki Army had been trained and organized along the lines of say, the Israeli Army... eek.gif

Henri

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Originally posted by The_Capt:

The acutal goal of Manoeuvre is to get "inside" of the enemies decision cycle and maintain a higher tempo (therefore initiative) of action. By doing this you will be able to render his total force useless (dislocation) by preventing him the ability to concentrate it. You will seriously degrade his morale and command effectivness (disruption) furthering the cascade action of faster tempo. How you accomplish this is the heart of Manoeuvre warfare.

I think the captain summarized the goals of maneuver nicely. If we use dislocation as the enemy's inability to concentrate his force, then that is positively not what you want in a battle of attrition. Did Falkenhayne not want the French to concentrate their forces at Verdun? Absolutely not. He was thinking 'the more the merrier', and 'bring it on baby' because he wanted the maximum density of Frenchmen per square mile that he could get. The more French packed into Verdun, the more French could be killed. Attrition strategy. Warfare at its most elemental level.

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For, Mr Cawley. I think you are at last seeing (or perhaps where just keeping it a secret all along) the entire picture. One cannot address tactics at any level without first addressing the philosophies and methodology of the two schools. You have focused on historical example and direct tactical problems. Now in your last post you have addressed the "systems" which sprung from the "spirit" of the two schools. Now take a hard look at the mentality or philosophies of the two schools and we can get somewhere.

The problem with historical analysis is that "we are here and they are there". It is very hard to determine if Napoleon was a genius or just lucky. (Probably both). If you wish to look forward and talk about the future of war or if what we are speaking of has an application to CM, I believe it would be more productive.

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Originally posted by Henri:

Although Leonhard doesn't go this far, one could say that Desert Storm was won as a battle of maneuver by accident!

One shudders at what could have happened if the Iraki Army had been trained and organized along the lines of say, the Israeli Army... eek.gif

Henri

I recall quite vividly, Henri, how the media painted the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Desert Shield phase (1990). Something like "toughened veterans (from fighting with Iran), trained both in western & eastern (Soviet-bloc) tactics, thereby likely to use their training & experience to their advantage." Uh-huh.

It's one thing to speculate "what if" the Iraqi RG was as capable as the Israelis in their prime (and yes, the IDF has had its ups & downs too). It's another to establish that the resultant Gulf War attack plan would've been applied if indeed the Iraqis were sufficiently drilled and were also able to protect their forces from the month-long "air attrition."

And that's what makes the Gulf War unique: the fact that over of month's worth of aerial "softening up" was applied with relative impunity. If the Iraqi air force was capable enough to deflect most of this, then the circumstances, attack plans, and resultant actions would all had been different. And thereupon, perhaps the US ground command would have had to strive harder to allow the application of lower-level "initiative" and "mission orders" as per Leonhard's assertions.

As an added note, the assertion of Leonhard that the Repuplican Guard was not "destroyed" may have to consider an added noise factor: international politics. Was the "mission intent" of the Gulf War to completely annihilate the Iraqi southern armies and the RG? If so, I don't get the impression that the Iraqis were much in a position to prevent this by Feb. 28th. Rather, I get the impression that enough of the RG was left standing so that Hussein's regime would not be toppled as a result. Was this wise? That's another whole long-winded argument of hindsight which goes beyond the basic goal of "force destruction."

Well, with continuing curiosity, I checked over at amazon.com to see reader reviews of Leonhard's "Art" book. Most seem to be favorable, although some reviewers in turn considered him to be overly strident or generalizing in his assertions.

Regardless, I am intrigued enough that I will have to track this book down from a library somewhere. His other book about warfare "in the Information Age" is probably just as relevant to review in terms of modern warfare.

I've also found a link that compiles "maneuver" references for anyone that is interested:

http://www.1earth.com.au/militaria/b/academy04.html

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A few questions for Henri and his diety, Leonhard.

"The thesis of this appendix is quite simply that the US Army which led the coalition forces to success was not a good army. It was merely a better army than its opponent."

Does Leonhard point to a "good army" as an example? I would argue that, no matter how much you disagree with its doctrine or techniques, a good hard look at its battlefield track record would convince anyone that the US Army gets as close to that qualification as an organization that size can.

"The prevailing theory was that the center of gravity of the Iraki regime was the Republican Guard Corps. Hence the destruction of the Corps would result in the paralysis of Hussein's forces... maneuver theory insists that the enemy's center of gravity is his critical vulnerability, that aspect of which will paralyze or disrupt his forces." (The Republican Guard was not destroyed...).

Read a couple histories of the Iran-Iraq war. It should become obvious, just as it did to US intel analysts, that the RG units were exactly that. They had the best equipment, the best training , the highest morale, etc. They were allowed to escape by our political leadership. The fact that after three days of hard pounding by our air and ground forces they were still able to conduct a relatively organized withdrawal should serve as evidence of their quality. Keep in mind I said "relatively". I spent a couple weeks herding up the other "combat forces" (the consript divisions) and destroying equipment. The conscript divisions were hollow shells and the majority of the equipment, crew served weapons and vehicles, didnt work or hadnt been maintained. Had the Republican Guard been destroyed (which by the way was the commanders intent in every OpOrder I ever read after Jan 13th), I think it would have become very clear how they were indeed the Iraqi Army biggest vulnerability. After their destruction paralysis would have definately followed. They were the only units still maneuvering effectively after the first 48 hours.

"The defeat of the Iraki forces through disruption occured as a result of the interdiction of their supply lines by air and neutralization of their command-and-control systems."

Correct me if I'm wrong but has anyone ever limited maneuver warfare to one dimension? Is this not the aim of the penetration/exploitation phase? Why not do it from the air if you have the capability?

"Another deviation from maneuver warfare theory was the preoccupation with mass rather than momentum or force, a mistake that General Schwartzkopf gradually realized and corrected".

"Operation Desert Storm was strictly controlled from the top down...I have maintained previously that this type of command-push is not necessarily a violation of maneuver theory...."

I would very much like to hear these two points expanded on. Swarzkopf is no hero of mine, I'm fully aware of his criticisms in handling his staff. But I was always under the impression his top-down style ended at task and purpose and commander's intent. The whole point of all those studies done on the GW commanders was that they had learned the lessons of Vietnam and stepped back to let subordinates fight their battles on their own. If Leonhard has evidence of other things happening then I'd like to hear them.

"TRADOC's official interpretation of Operation Desert Storm included the observation that the US Army is moving ever closer to mission tactics and missionorders. In fact, just the reverse is true...My battalion and brigade commanders both noted after the war that they had no tactical decisions to make..."

Neither did mine. But I would argue that that was entirely situational. With no one fighting or maneuvering against you, you follow the plan as it was laid out. Commanders dont have to make decisions when there are no decisions to be made. The overwhelming success of the ground/air campaign contributed to this, not a lack of initiative or top-down control by higher commanders.

I know you guys are really enjoying debating the maneuver/attrition warfare thing, its obvious by the size and scope of your arguments. But what you are arguing is theory, not reality. The world is way too gray for one theory or another to serve as the end all solution. The reality is that a good army will be well trained on the basics and remain flexible enough to adapt to any given situation. The army that wins the war will be the one that can adopt the most effective technique, whether it be destroy the enemy by maneuver or force, quicker and more effectively then its opponent. The method chosen will also have a lot to do with an army's assets and strengths. No one can adopt an entirely maneuveristic approach to warfare and be successful. The bottom line is you have to destroy the enemy's will to fight. That always includes some attrition. If you are able to maneuver against your enemy to achieve that attrition then great job, but there still has to be some butt kicking going on somewhere. You can also debate that armies could do a better job of applying maneuver doctrine. But ask a logistician if we couldnt do a better job at moving supplies and he'd say yes. Ask a Medical Doctor if we could do better job evacing our wounded and he'd say yes. Ask an admin officer if we could do a better job managing replacememnts and he would say yes. But ask them if the current system works and, bottom line, they'd say yes to that too. Does current US Army doctrine and training fit the criteria of being adaptable to the situation, the assets and the enemy, while keeping the maneuver units trained on the basics? I would like for someone to point out an example of where its not. Then point out an army in the world that is better prepared for combat and all its uncertainties. I think you'll be hard pressed to do both.

[This message has been edited by ScoutPL (edited 02-06-2001).]

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"The bottom line is you have to destroy the enemy's will to fight."

Amen brother. Personally I'm slightly entertained that people put labels on wars. I suspect that the reason the USMC calls it a "Maneuver War" is because that's the kind of thing they want Congress to pay for. And the kind of war they want to fight. Implicit it that is the message "Don't send us on any (more) peace keeping missions."

And I guess if you keep reading into "Maneuver War" there are other messages :

"No urban combat please. We paid our dues in Lebanon."

"We're not too crazy about dense terrain like that found in Kosovo - no room for those fancy maneuver's."

If only the enemy will oblige us in that.

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The USMC is often forced to take a maneuver warfare type approach to many of its tactical problems due to the three big factors I discussed earlier. The situation, the assets and the enemy. The clearest real world mission for the USMC is the projection of small forces into hostile AO's, often to evacuate US citizens. Since they lack the combat power to seize terrain for a long period or to go toe to toe with the aggressor force they have to rely heavily on maneuver to get their job done. Also they often have to go into situations where they have little influence over the overall outcome of things. So they have to stress flexible and mission oriented thinking in those situations. I think you would find their approach to breaching the Iraqi defenses in Kuwait very similar to the US Army approach in Iraq. When it comes down to slugging it out, the two services doctrine and TTP are very much alike. Its when the USMC has to go into these third world hotspots to help out that they HAVE to become hard corps maneuverists. Just like the Army's Ranger and Parachute Battalions, who have a very similar mission.

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Originally posted by ScoutPL:

A few questions for Henri and his diety, Leonhard.

Why the sarcasm? I was requested to summarize Leonhard's views on the Gulf War and I did so.I'm not too crazy about defending a book against someone who has not read it, but whaddahell...

Does Leonhard point to a "good army" as an example? I would argue that, no matter how much you disagree with its doctrine or techniques, a good hard look at its battlefield track record would convince anyone that the US Army gets as close to that qualification as an organization that size can.

Leonhard clearly spells out that the main problem with Operation Desert Storm was not the prevailing theory, but the fact that the US Army acted in direct contradiction to its own theory.He also says that he has nothing negative to say about the excellent soldiers who fought there, but gimme a break, I was trying to summarize a 40-page chapter tongue.gif

They were allowed to escape by our political leadership. The fact that after three days of hard pounding by our air and ground forces they were still able to conduct a relatively organized withdrawal should serve as evidence of their quality... Had the Republican Guard been destroyed (which by the way was the commanders intent in every OpOrder I ever read after Jan 13th), I think it would have become very clear how they were indeed the Iraqi Army biggest vulnerability. After their destruction paralysis would have definately followed. They were the only units still maneuvering effectively after the first 48 hours.

This is what Leonhard says, but you seem to have missed the point:although the RG were the STRENGTH of the Iraki Army, they were not its main vulnerability and therefore not its center of gravity. The mission objective to destroy the RG was not aimed at the Iraki's main vulnerability, but at its main STRENGTH. And although the stated mission objective was to destroy the RG, it was not accomplished, due mostly to another basic error, which was not to have a plan for what to do after the victory was ensured.Yes there were political reasons for this, but that's how it was from a military point of view.

Correct me if I'm wrong but has anyone ever limited maneuver warfare to one dimension? Is this not the aim of the penetration/exploitation phase? Why not do it from the air if you have the capability?

No one least of all Leonhard said that you shouldn't; after all, it WAS the destruction of the command network that really won the war, but that was not the plan...

I would very much like to hear these two points expanded on. Swarzkopf is no hero of mine, I'm fully aware of his criticisms in handling his staff. But I was always under the impression his top-down style ended at task and purpose and commander's intent. The whole point of all those studies done on the GW commanders was that they had learned the lessons of Vietnam and stepped back to let subordinates fight their battles on their own. If Leonhard has evidence of other things happening then I'd like to hear them.

The chapter is not written as a historical text but as a personal analysis, and there are no references beyond Leonhard's statement that it was top-down all the way down based on his interviews that included brigade and battalion commanders. He does give more details, but I don't feel like quoting 20 pages of text...

Neither did mine. But I would argue that that was entirely situational. With no one fighting or maneuvering against you, you follow the plan as it was laid out. Commanders dont have to make decisions when there are no decisions to be made.

Leonhard claims that the orders were not of the mission-oriented -commander's-intent style, but people were told where to go and what to do. I haven't seen the orders myself, so I can't really say any more.

I know you guys are really enjoying debating the maneuver/attrition warfare thing, its obvious by the size and scope of your arguments. But what you are arguing is theory, not reality. The world is way too gray for one theory or another to serve as the end all solution... I would like for someone to point out an example of where its not.

Leonhard claims that the Gulf War is such an example.

Then point out an army in the world that is better prepared for combat and all its uncertainties. I think you'll be hard pressed to do both.

The Israeli Army biggrin.gif

The issues raised in Leonhard's analysis of Operation Desert Storm are not about who has the largest penis: they are about how the US misapplied its own warfighting theory in that particular conflict,with the hope that this anmalysis will help prevent failures in the future.

Henri

[This message has been edited by Henri (edited 02-06-2001).]

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