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

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Originally posted by Henri:

The Israeli Army biggrin.gif

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

Well, even the IDF had its missteps and stumbles, Henri. The Sinai/Suez portion of the Yom Kippur War demonstrated that the Israelis had come to rely too much on tanks at first, and paid for it. (8 Oct 73, El Firdan). To its fortune in that war, however, it was still flexible enough to adapt and turn the tide.

Similarly the Lebanon invasion of '82. Sure, it reached up to Beirut, and some aspects like the Bekaa Valley air battles were brilliant, but few Israelis would say that the resultant morass over the following years (both military & political) was worth it. Even by '83 (REALLY sketchy memory here, sorry), reports of reduced morale in deployed Israeli units were starting to leak out.

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

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Israel is a very poor example. They have a very limited mission with an even more limited scope. Try again.

You're right, I haven't read Leonhard. But if your take of his writing is accurate I dont see much point in reading it anyway. I ran into a lot of Army officers who have a drum to beat. They often publish in army periodicals (Infantry and Armor Magazine come to mind) and though their ideas are often refreshing and interesting to think about they are just as often heavily biased and lack depth. Some of them get published privately and have some success with their message (Hackworth and Bolger, for example). But I can tell from your writing that I would disagre with Leonhard and thats OK, too.

My diety comment simply comes from the fact that he seems to be the only author you ever quote at any length. I wasn't asking you to defend it, I was asking for some further explanation. If you dont want to give any, thats fine. And I never mentioned penis size, you did. So I dont know where you came up with that one from.

Everyone seems to think I have this huge chip on my shoulder about the US Army. Well I do to a certain extent and I have admitted to it before. But not everything I post here is not directly related to that. I just happen to think the facts either prove Leonhard wrong in his assessment or at the very least show that they can be interpreted to mean different things.

"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."

I still dont see this. This is based on one man's assessment of what happened and it doesn't seem that "clear" to me at all. Guess I'll have to wait for the cliffnotes. If the enemy doesnt stand to fight then there is no need for initiative at the battalion and brigade level, its just that simple. All we're doing is a scrimmage against the fourth string team, which results in a step by step dance through the play book. I saw mission oriented orders, commander's intent, blah, blah, blah on a regular basis during my time in. Especially at the CTC's, where victory is much harder to accomplish then it ever was in the Gulf.

"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."

So we should have sent the armor after the fuel trucks and the C&C assets, even though the Air Force had done a bang up job on them already. Plus just write off the fact that it would be alot easier for Iraq to get its hand on a fuel truck then it would a replacement T-72 tank. Take out the RG and you take out the Iraqi Army. I dont care if its labeled as their strength, their chief vulnerability, their schwerepunkt, their ace in the hole or what ever. Bottom line, take it out, you render the Iraqi Army inop. The objective was to destroy the Iraqi army in the field. How could it be any simpler?

Now if we were attempting to take out the Iraqi army with the 82nd Abn Div then we might need to focus on taking out the body of the snake rather then the fangs. But that just wasnt the case. We could handle the RG toe-to-toe, so why avoid a fight we could win and would bring the conflict to a close much quicker?

"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."

Whose military point of view? Leonhard's? The plan all along was to crush the RG in the vicnity of Basra. That never changed. Pres. Bush began seeing the unholy carnage we had caused on that main highway north to Baghdad. Fear of the video footage of the Highway of Death and the one sided aspect of the war turning american public opinion against the war, influenced his decision to pull the plug. So the cease fire was called and the RG escaped north. The only thing the military did wrong there was show the man the photos. And we all know that wasnt really wrong at all. What happens after the fight has been won isnt the realm of the military anyway, thats what the statesmen are there for.

"after all, it WAS the destruction of the command network that really won the war, but that was not the plan..."

Hooray for the Air Force. Instant replay... Kosovo. I wasnt all that keen on having to slug it out with the Serbs in a February winter wonder land anyway. Of course now I suppose this will elicit all sorts of remarks about the American's penchant for sending bullets rather then men.

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Guest Andrew Hedges

I'm with ScoutPL on this one, at least partway: there is simply no credible argument that the military conduct in the Gulf War was deficient. The political decision to end the war -- possibly. But not the military conduct of the war -- look at the casualties, if you want proof; there were, what 100 US soldiers killed due to enemy action? That's simply unprecedented in a battle of this type.

Now Leonhard's point may be that the Army's *use of the theory of maneuver warfare* was deficient, and that this is important because future wars will be different -- but that's a very different point from saying that the conduct of the Gulf war could have been better.

On a WWII related point, and one closer in scale to CM than either WWI or the Battle of France, here's a little passage I found in the US Army's Official History of the Battle of the Bulge. (Note: Ewell is Col. Ewell, who commanded an airborne regiment, so this is slightly above CM's scale. Date is night of Dec. 18, 1944).

"The map spread out before Ewell showed a few blue-penciled marks east of Bastogne where the American armored groups were believed to be fighting at their original roadblock positions. General Middleton told Ewell that his job would be to make contact with these endangered forward posts. Ewell, however, was interesed in the red-penciled lines and circles which showed the enemy between Bastogne and the armored roadblocks. In view of the uncertain situation, he suggested he be given 'mission-type orders' which would permit his 501st Parachute Infantry some flexibility of action. McAuliffe agreed, as did Middleton....McAuliffe's order, then was for Ewell to move out at 0600, attack eastward, and develop the situation."

I think it's interesting how, even at this time, everyone seemed to be aware of the concept of "mission-type orders," including when they would be most appropriate.

Incidentally, this battle doesn't turn into a maneuver or attrition type battle -- the cut off armored units [which were out of contact with the main body] were cut up about the time the orders were given to try an reach them, and Ewell's force was stopped by (and stopped) a roughly equivalent force.

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To Capt. -

No, I haven't been keeping secret the fact that I knew what I was talking about. You just decided the explanation that I didn't, would be easier than the alternate explanation, that you didn't know what I was talking about. LOL. Naturally, I have some responsibility for that in clarity terms (and length terms, perhaps). I submit you do too.

I have taken a "good hard look" at the different fighting techniques, which incidentally aren't fuzzy "spirits" and "philosophies" to me but as concrete as hammer and screwdriver, different tools for different jobs but often the same ultimate end in view. I have, however, come to definite conclusions about many advocates for the two styles. At the risk of being merely offensive, I will share those.

I find attrition strategists thin on the ground and keeping their heads down, while the manueverists loudly call them every name in the book without any adequate justification for doing so. I find the manueverists preachy and arrogant, and too often more concerned with seeming smart to themselves than being right according to events and real outcomes.

I find an entirely laughable contrast between their doctrinaire strictures and intoning of authorities and condemning as stupid everything that is not according to their own playbook, and their own self-styled greater flexibility and creativity and adaptation to the situation, which I find all too often exists only between their own ears (which do not seem to be fufilling their dedicated function very well, i.e. they are poor listeners to boot).

I see manueverists regularly violating the principle of simplicity with a Japanese-at-Midway level of abandon. I see them reinterpreting the principle of mass out of existence whenever the course of action it suggests, happens not fit their own dogmas. I see them seeking a perfection in warfare that does not exist and damning as idiots all but themselves for failing to attain it.

In all of the above, I am not talking about the brilliant inventors of modern mobile warfare, who by contrast have boatloads to teach me and generally have their feet in some recognizeable contact with the earth's surface. Them, I find full of common sense statements about real tactical issues and unexpected difficulties, stated clearly. In case anybody doesn't know what I am talking about, I mean the difference between a BH Liddell or a modern manueverist officer-advocate on the one hand, and reading Rommel or Manstein's books and memoires on the other.

I have a simple test of the sensibleness of manueverists. If they can clearly explain alternatives to their own doctrine that will *work*, and why those alternatives can be *superior* in definite circumstances, and can say concretely what some of those alternatives are, then they have a clear sense of their own methods as one set of military tools, understand their strengths and weaknesses, their limits and what makes them work when they do. They are indeed maintaining flexibility of thought. I listen to their analyses with interest. When they are not capable of the above sort of self-critical analysis, I consider them dangerous as potential commanders and misleading at best, as teachers of military principles.

As for applying manuever and what I have called attrition strategies in CM, I think I have discussed that pretty clearly. Its application is certainly not a matter of Napoleon's age, as I think I have shown with modern examples (e.g. the Ia Drang battles in Vietnam).

To take another example being discussed, the Gulf (which I continued to maintain was "overdetermined", as to what "really" won it), it is clear to me that the strategy of destroying the RG by basically frontal attack by VII Corps, was a perfectly workable strategy placing primary emphasis on mass and simplicity and fire. The 24th Mech was to close the back door to render the battle more decisive, and that is certainly a useful application of manuever as a force multiplier. I see nothing whatever wrong with this "hit em where he is" approach, in the total situation.

As for mission flexibility, it is reasonably clear to me from the histories that the commanders of VII Corps did not appreciate the level of success everyone was finding and which was to be expected from their own attack, as rapidly as the overall command did. It was used in an overly cautious manner at first. This may have reflected an excessive fear of what a "frontal attack" would supposedly involved for the unit. But this was a minor and temporary thing. It did justify the high command using more command-push than might otherwise would have been desirable. By contrast, the 24th Mech took off and was let run.

Commanders have to deal with such real world differences in assessments. It is not merely a matter of figuring out where a decision ought to be made, but of the decisions being made correctly, which is sometimes rather obvious. Manueverists, incidentally, tend to be rather quieter about this aspect of delegated "pull", that it can led to overcaution rather than "slashing decisiveness" (in tabloid-headline print), sometimes.

I find laughable, incidentally, the cited author's fears about what would have happened if the Iraqi army, employed more effectively in accordance with his manueverist dogmas, had struck at the links between units and yadda yadda yadda. I'll tell you want would have happened. They would have been blown away, just like they were, only maybe faster.

It was overdetermined. They did not have a chance in a warm place. Theorists are sitting back looking at blocks on their maps and imagining they can do this or that as entire "tank armies" and what not. The reality is we could see them and they couldn't see us, and everything we fired their way killed them and almost nothing they threw at us chipped paint. One armored cav regiment overran three Iraqi armor divisions in a single night, practically without noticing, and utterly destroyed them all in the process, without loss. And no, that wasn't because of Iraqi "command and control." It was sensor technology.

And there are a dozen different overlapping things like that, any 2-3 of which would have led to decisive victory in the most straight-ahead grind. They simply were not in our weight class. And in the desert, unlike a jungle, that was quite sufficient.

I have, incidentally, another tactical problem to present the manuever minded. I put you in a command situation, and you tell me what course of action you recommend taking.

You command a regiment of leg infantry, automatic weapons, with some reinforcement 2-nd line infantry to boost numbers. Morale is fine, supplies are fine, but heavy weapons are notably lacking - a few mortars, light AT weapons, MGs, and that is it. Your men are organized in four different battalions (one is (-) reduced) plus an HQ element. The main ones can be called north, west, and south respectively, based on their location relative to the HQ, each 2-3 miles from it. The HQ is set up on a large wooded hill, and includes supply depots, medical, signal, etc, and supported by the reduced battalion / overblown company.

The terrain is heavily wooded, with a major river off a few miles to the north, and only half-a-dozen small clearings, of tall grass, in the forest. The hill you are on has some slopes that are more bare, however, because of their steepness. Main HQ is on wooded northern slopes of this, with OPs higher up.

About two companies of enemy infantry then drop by air into a small clearing less than half a mile from your HQ. You know the intruders have pretty strong fire support from outside the area while you do not, but otherwise the local odds are in the 5-6 to 1 range, in your favor.

What do you do, and why?

Incidentally, I am also still waiting for any manueverist to tell me how, or whether, to fight the battle of Kursk, with T&T and whys and wherefores included.

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Jason, as usual well said.

I want to play your game but think I would probably spoil your fun. I'll wait to see if any of the "theorists" reply before sending in my own.

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Surely a manouevrist would simply claim that Kursk should not have been fought?

A campaign that was brilliantly won by "manouevre" would be UK's biggest ever military defeat, (Malaya/ Singapore 1942). Not that it helped the Japanese much in the end.

Israeli army? I remember playing modern minatures in the past, and giving up in boredom. With modern systems, if you see something, it dies. This lead to chain reactions, like the girl swallowing a spider to catch a fly:

A) Bradley makes a move

B) aha! My T80 takes it out!

A) Yes! My Apache pops up and gets the T80

B) Alrighty, my SAM gets that Apache

A) Yey, my ALARM gets the SAM

So the only way to get anywhere vs a modern army is total overkill, that starts with total air superiority. And faced with such overkill, opponents quite understandably revert to guerilla methods of warfare (you could call this manouevre, the Intifada is a good example of outflanking the Israeli army, they may have the best tank corps in the world, but that doesn't help much against snipers in the West Bank)

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"claim that Kursk should not have been fought"

I would certainly accept that statement if they would own up to it. But then I have all kinds of follow up questions. Why shouldn't it have been fought? What aspects of the situation were what way, so that manueverist brilliance was not able to apply and decide the day?

The reason I ask the question, is that I quite agree the Germans shouldn't have attacked at Kursk, but I have all sorts of reasons why I arrive at that judgment, and to me at any rate they seem like attritionist thinking. Or at least, limits of manuever, or recognizing the conditions it needs to prove effective offensively.

I'd like to see a manueverist version of such an analysis, or of a refutation of such analysis. Either one, I do not care which.

What is the importance of the existence of enemy reserves? Of mobile enemy reserves? Of counter-attacking chances for the enemy? Of defenses in depth? Of lack of operational surprise? Of the presence of fortifications? Above all, of the ratio of force to space? Of an enemy with reasonably correct doctrine, not making obvious errors? Of overall odds?

When does the presence of all such factors dictate to a manueverist, that he must stand on the defensive? So much that no degree of operational virtuousity, or initiative by subordinates, or concentration of spearheads, can be expected in practice to outweigh the unpromising negatives? What limits of scale or required supplimental factors, govern the practical achievement of "force multipliers", from offensive manuever?

When are "the initiative" and "manuever", *incompatible*, if ever? When are manuever multipliers only available defensively? And what connections or limitations are there between defensive manuever and such other central manueverist concepts as initiative, dislocating the enemy force, spearheads, etc?

It seems to me that any manueverist who is intellectually honest and capable of a self-critical analysis of his doctrine, should be able to address such questions forthrightly, and to learn from the answers he arrives at concerning them. I'd like to see it. I am still waiting.

Hint - Erich von Manstein was one of the masters of mobile warfare, and especially mastered the extension of it, or application of its principles, to the defensive. He has impeccable manueverist credentials, since he planned the invasion of France in 1940 on the German general staff and led the panzer spearhead of Army Group North in Barbarossa. He also opposed the Kursk offensive and explained the alternate course of action he thought made more sense. I think he was right.

I also think he was a master of mobile warfare with his feet on the ground, not a doctrinaire manueverist guru. He recognized limits to theories and was capable of thinking with more than one "hat" on, which is part of why he was successful with new doctrines and extensions of them. Behind my question lies a suspicion that modern manueverist advocates haven't caught up with him yet.

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Originally posted by ScoutPL:

My diety comment simply comes from the fact that he seems to be the only author you ever quote at any length.

He and Lind wrote the books on maneuver theory for modern warfare, and they have the military's ear.Who else would you like me to quote? Besides, if you checked my messages, you would fid that I also quote Liddell-Hart, Sun Tzu, Glantz, Manstein and others. I withold sarcastic comments about your intellectual capacity and I wish you would do the same to me.

Comparing Leonhard to some hotshot officer who publishes wild ideas in military journals is ludicrous. You seem to forget that maneuver warfare theory is the officially accepted theory of the US Marine Corps, and with a few restrictions, also that of the US Army. One may disagree with it, but one may certainly not dismiss it out of hand as some do on this forum.

We could handle the RG toe-to-toe, so why avoid a fight we could win and would bring the conflict to a close much quicker?

Don't ask me, ask the Army why it wasn't done when it was supposed to be the aim of the war!

Whose military point of view? Leonhard's? The plan all along was to crush the RG in the vicnity of Basra.

You miss the point. By that time, the war was all over but the mopping up.The original plan was to attack and to crush the Republican Guard, because that was identified as what would cause a collapse of the Iraki army. But the Republican Guard was not destroyed because by the time the Army got around to it, the war was all over for all practical purposes because the Iraki Army had already collapsed. The warplan had failed to identify the true vulnerability of the Iraaki Army which was its centralized command and control system. Please explain if you can how at that point destroying the RG would have ensured the collapse of the Iraki Army that had already taken place?

This is what Leonhard means when he says that the war was won by a poor army against a worse one.His depiction is not a reflection on the ability of the fighting units and men but on the defects of the planning and rigid command structure.

Henri

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Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

"claim that Kursk should not have been fought"

I'd like to see a manueverist version of such an analysis, or of a refutation of such analysis. Either one, I do not care which.

[snipped comments about proving one's credentials]

Hint - Erich von Manstein was one of the masters of mobile warfare, and especially mastered the extension of it, or application of its principles, to the defensive. He has impeccable manueverist credentials, since he planned the invasion of France in 1940 on the German general staff and led the panzer spearhead of Army Group North in Barbarossa. He also opposed the Kursk offensive and explained the alternate course of action he thought made more sense. I think he was right.

LOL, you have answered your own question biggrin.gif The answer is in Manstein's book "Lost Victories". Andplease don't ask me to summarize it. I did that for Leonhard's analysis of the Gulf War over the weekend and am now embroiled in defending his point of view against ScoutPL mad.gif

I am no more interested in refighting the battle of Kursk than in refighting the Gulf War...

Henri

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(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.Scout PL)I'd

be willing to lay odds that Leonhard has pictures of Rommel and Manstein on his wall. It's really amazing to listen to these "Maneuverists" Almost every book and/or article written by these people use the german army of ww2 as an example on how to fight the "right" way. The germans kicked ass on 2nd rate militaries and they're gods for doing so. The US army ( with help from the other coalition forces) kicks ass on Iraq and their a poor army because they did not follow Manstein's playbook. Read the Maneuver handbook by Hooker. It's a real hoot. Just about every victorious campaign the germans fought in ww2 is used to illustrate how cheap and easy war can be. Never mind that they lost and lost decisively. After all, to quote captain Bolger they sure looked good losing didn't they.(The original plan was to attack and to crush the Republican Guard, because that was identified as what would cause a collapse of the Iraki army. But the Republican Guard was not destroyed because by the time the Army got around to it, the war was all over for all practical purposes because the Iraki Army had already collapsed-Henri)The US army didn't get "around" to it because of 2 very good reasons. 1) when the ground war kicked off the RG hauled ass away from the USA. They did not stand and fight. To have done so would have been their death warrant. 2) after seeing pictures of the devastion that was being wrought over the Iraqis Gen. Colin Powell urged Pres. Bush to end the war before US and world opinion turned against us. If the vii corps had not been stopped the RG would have been annialated. Also just because the RG was a strength does not mean they were not the critical vulnerability. If you have read your maneuver "bibles" you would know that a critical vulnerability can also be an enemy's strength. Even if I acceptted your argument that the Iraqi c3I was its critical vul. that had already been destroyed by allied airpower. There wasn't anything left of c3i for the US army to target. The RG was the logical and correct target.

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Originally posted by Henri:

I should perhaps leave it to ScoutPL to clarify on this one (I wasn't there, and IIRC, he was), but regardless......

Yes, the original operational plan was to engage and to defeat the Iraqi Republican Guard (RG). But the political objective per the UN Coalition was the liberation of Kuwait, and when the bulk of Kuwaiti ground was liberated (regardless of the status of the RG), that was regarded as sufficient to accept the Iraqi cry for a cease-fire. The connection of international politics is inescapable in the Gulf War history.

Further, take note that the RG wasn't destroyed immediately BECAUSE it wasn't deployed to the front. The bulk of the RG deployed at the northern border area of Kuwait, and didn't stray far from there. So it took the US VII Corps the better part of two days to make contact with the RG. And the cease-fire was called only two days later.

So this inherent "failure to destroy the RG" happened mainly due to one thing: an unanticipated time constraint. Are we being realistic to assume that three RG divisions had to be completely annihilated in two days as a "mission objective"? And again, this time constraint happened because political objectives overrode the military ones. The war was not fought so as to thoroughly crush Iraq as was done to Germany & Japan in WW2.

However, for whatever RG units DID engage with the US/UK forces, it still was mainly a one-sided affair. Perhaps if the ground war was allowed to go for six-seven days instead of four.....

In fact, Henri, the most strident air power advocates were estimating that the RG was already pummeled into the sand before the ground war started anyway. That didn't happen. So is this an indictment of air power now? No. Even if the results didn't meet the projections of damage to the RG, the air campaign still played its role to "set up" the battle by "disrupting" and "dislocating" the enemy. Why do it with the ground forces if you can accomplish it from the air? And it played its role on throughout the ground battle too. I recall watching an F-16 (on TV news) "dive-bomb" an Iraqi position with cluster munitions within a half-mile of US ground units. It was horrific to watch, but also reminded how the "air echelon" still was applied in strength and in multiple layers.

I think your last statement on Leonhard, on how he characterizes the US Army as a "poor" one, is what is causing a lot of unnecessary acid. A poor army in what context? It certainly was a much better army on balance than ten years earlier (1980).

Anyway, though, Henri, I do appreciate your willingness to further discuss the Gulf War and its relation to the use of "maneuver principles." I don't fault the intended goals of maneuver principles, nor the desire for seeking flexibility in military operations. But I am concerned of the possibility of "mischaracterization" of the US military on Leonhard's part in order to argue his points, which I will only know about better when I read his noted book in time.

[This message has been edited by Spook (edited 02-07-2001).]

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Having read Lind, I can tell you most, if not everything covered in his Maneuver Warfare Handbook is being applied in today’s Army. Lind himself admits the following in regards to the US Army in Desert Storm:

William S. Lind in Maneuver Warfare, an Anthology 1993 Presidio Press.

In Desert Storm, the American ground forces, Army and Marine Corps, on the whole practiced maneuver warfare. There were certainly exceptions: for example, we had in effect the 1st German Marine Division and the 2nd French Marine Division, in terms of the styles each employed. But the overall picture suggests the ship has come onto the new course, even if it has a long journey ahead of it before it is safe in a maneuver warfare harbor.

This is an interesting statement coming from the contemporary author who is the basis for much of the discussion we’re having on maneuver warfare. It certainly seems contradictory to some of Leonhard’s assertions.

[This message has been edited by Blackhorse (edited 02-07-2001).]

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I will attempt a simple analysis of Kursk ... if the phone would stop ringing I may be able to type something coherent. First, the objective was to cut off the salient in the front lines (the decisive action) and then reduce the isolated portions of the Soviet army (attritive in nature, but the decisive action would have already occurred).

Manstein wanted to go immediately - several months before the actual battle took place. However, the offensive was held up to wait for the 'new' tanks to arrive at the front (which would add punch to the offensive I suppose). Problem was (phone 20 calls later) that the Soviets knew of the German plan (phone 5 more calls) and therefore the decisive action could not be achieved. It would seem that (phone 3 calls) the speed element was discarded in an attempt to create superior mass or shock. (phone 3 calls) It was a failed attempt to create decisive battle through the principles of maneuver warfare - but that which emphasized shock over speed and timing. (phone call) This is a case where maneuver should not have been employed - or if employed, much earlier in the year when the 'timing' was better. (more phone calls - surrenders to the idea that since the market is down the day will be long and busy)

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"I withold sarcastic comments about your intellectual capacity and I wish you would do the same to me."

Oh come on Henri, nothings stopped you before, so dont hold back on my account. Thanks to you and Pillar, I actually have a rather thick skin now. Point to be made - I never brought up your intellectual capacity or penis size. Both of those were introduced by you. I simply stated, albeit in a sarcastic way, that I thought you were awefully one sided in your viewpoint. I feel that neither viewpoint, attrition vs. maneuver, is the "right" theory. A good commander will look at a situation with a good understanding of how to apply both theories and then choose the best COA.

"You seem to forget that maneuver warfare theory is the officially accepted theory of the US Marine Corps, and with a few restrictions, also that of the US Army."

How is it possible my short term memory is that bad? A quote from my post a day ago:

"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."

"Don't ask me, ask the Army why it wasn't done when it was supposed to be the aim of the war!"

I've already answered this question. Are you even reading my posts?

"You miss the point. By that time, the war was all over but the mopping up.The original plan was to attack and to crush the Republican Guard, because that was identified as what would cause a collapse of the Iraki army. But the Republican Guard was not destroyed because by the time the Army got around to it, the war was all over for all practical purposes because the Iraki Army had already collapsed."

Thankfully, when our commanders define the combat goal of our Army they look long term rather then just tomorrow. Taking out the RG was the LONG-TERM vulnerability of the Iraqi army. It would have taken Saddam years (under the right sanctions) to buy and repair that many replacement tanks and train new crews and officers, much less get them the same combat experience the RG had. Yes, taking out the C3I assets severely crippled the Iraqi Army, rendering them ineffective. But most C3I assets can be replaced rather quickly. T-72 tanks and trained crews are alot harder to find. Thats why they were the main objective. Why they weren't destroyed when it would have been easy to do so has already been explained, a number of times, by different people.

[This message has been edited by ScoutPL (edited 02-07-2001).]

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Incidentally, history is littered with examples of commanders who did not fully grasp the importance of using shock in conjunction with proper timing and speed. Many commanders feel that shock alone is decisive, but it is shock at the right time that is decisive, not the shock itself.

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I do find it ironic that those drooling over the German books on maneuver warfare attack the US military for the Gulf War. How they couldn't identify the "real" weakness of the Iraqi army. Funny, the German Army found itself in a similar position in France with the French army collapsing faster than thought and like the Republican Guard, the British were able to escape. I ask, who's failure to "identify" cost more inthe end?

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Originally posted by Blackhorse:

This is an interesting statement coming from the contemporary author who is the basis for much of the discussion we’re having on maneuver warfare. It certainly seems contradictory to some of Leonhard’s assertions.

Leonhard wrote a 40-page chapter on an analysis of the Gulf War where he describes where maneuver theory was used and where it wasn't.

I was requested by Spook to summarize Leonhard's criticisms of the US planning and execution in that war. I did so. I was not asked to give an account of what they did right, but of the alleged deficiencies, and that is what I did.

Leonhard never claimed that maneuver warfare was not used at all in the Gulf War, and that mistaken impression probably comes from my trying to summarize 40 pages in one page and arguing against people who have not read Leonhard's book.I apologize for not being able to give the same information in one page that Leonhard gave in 40 pages mad.gif

Henri

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I do recognize that you were trying to respond to my earlier request, Henri, and FWIW, I again appreciate your efforts. At the least, I am curious enough to seek out and read Leonhard's book (with the Gulf War-related appendix) someday. But I prefer to rent it from a library than buy it.

Leonhard may indeed have valid criticisms of the US military's existing "doctrines" and training methods. The problem again with the Gulf War case examples is that the "objectives vs. results" MIGHT be mischaracterized enough by Leonhard so as to label the US Army as a "poor" one. I don't know yet.

It's like that with other authors in providing views on the US Army in WW2. Authors like Weigley & Creveld are noted to be ungenerous to the US Army in how it conducted performing operations or small-unit actions (though I've read neither). Others like Doubler (and more recently Zaloga) offer a contrasting view. Who's right? We can only discern from cross-referencing and applying our own best judgement.

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Henri,

In most cases 20 words are better then 200. Thats why the Army has always stressed putting the bottom line up front in all of its correspondence. People have a tendancy to ramble on. Unless your synopsis is way out of whack with what Leonhard was saying, I think its safe to say that most of the posters here that are disagreeing with him (you) would continue to do so even if you posted all forty pages.

Amount of text has little to do with content. We all know that. I think there are some pretty good arguments here that suggest Leonhard's thesis (if I understand you correctly) that the US did a poor job of applying maneuver during the GW can be logically refuted based on facts.

Thats fine and dandy. No ones launching a nuclear stike on Casa de El Henri. We're just pointing out an opposite viewpoint. Leonhard could be wrong, Henri could be wrong, Jason could be wrong, I could be wrong. Probably the right answer lies out in the cosmos somewhere and its an entirely uncomprehensible amalgamation of all of our views.

Dont make the mistake (which I myself am guilty of upon occasion) of attaching your ego or self-esteem to this Message Board. The truth of the matter is that most of us wouldn't find anything the remotest bit interesting about the other outside of CM. So lets all work on not taking these debates so personally.

Now before all the "touchy-feely" posts, that inevitably follow a peace offering, begin pouring in let me finish with this. I still think you and Leonhard are way off base. ;)

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Yes, I have answers to many of my questions. All teachers do. That hardly means that those I am addressing those questions to, know the answers to my questions. When I provide them a hint in the form of an authority they are inclined to respect, that has something to teach them I see no sign they have yet learned, no, it is not a proof that one has learned those lessons to point to the dust jacket of the source I gave as a hint.

What do I actually get? "Don't ask me to summarize it", "I don't want to refight the battle", "no time, phone is ringing". One fellow actually gave a direct answer - don't attack - to which my response, in substance was "that's fine, but another sentence please. Why?" Another fellow offered the contrast between shock and its effective or timely employment, which I think is a promising begining but not yet(remotely) an entire thought or chain of reasoning. But he was busy.

Gentlemen, this is pathetic. If the qualifications and adaptions of manuever principles to defensive fighting, and to the decision offense or defense, were truly taught to you by your own doctrine, then you should be able to reel off three connected paragraphs explaining the subject in your frigging sleep. Lord knows you can all reel off three connected paragraphs about delegation and initiative, or the maxims of Sun Tsu, or the supposed thickheadness of successful commanders who do not repeat your doctrine and nothing else word for word. Could it be that your doctrine teaches you more about such allegations than about such an elementary military matter as when to defend instead of attacking?

It would not be the first time that students who have gone to publicists have come away with cartoon versions of military realities, that lack any depth or coherence of thought, yet have convinced themselves that they have thereby absorbed all the knowledge of their predecessors.

Not to put too fine a point on it, praising an author does not mean you understand him. No, you are not instantly a military genius because you know the *name* of one. No, every doctrine you subsequently come up with, is not necessarily indisputably correct, and the correct deduction from a predecessor's thoughts and discoveries, merely because you cite someone.

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Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Not to put too fine a point on it, praising an author does not mean you understand him. No, you are not instantly a military genius because you know the *name* of one. No, every doctrine you subsequently come up with, is not necessarily indisputably correct, and the correct deduction from a predecessor's thoughts and discoveries, merely because you cite someone.

I can't believe anyone would actually write such an arrogant and condescending statement in a discussion. I refuse to discuss with anyone who admits that his obejctive is trying to prove that I am an ignoramus.

But just for good measure, here is a quote from a military expert about civilians and military theory.

"But why all this from a civilian instead of a professional soldier?In fact the entire movement for military reform is driven mainly by civilian intellectuals, not military officers, - a notable exception being retired Air Force Colonel John Boyd. When you think about it, this is not surprising. We have never institutionalized a system that encourages innovative ideas or criticism from subordinates. Proposing significant change is frequently viewed as criticism of superiors, since they are responsible for the way things are, and borders on disloyalty if not insubordination. So it is not surprising that the movement for reform comes from outside the military establishment."

Colonel John C. Studt, USMC, in the forward to Lind's "Maneuver Warfare handbook".

Goodbye... tongue.gif

Henri

A dierrhea of words usually indicates constipation of the mind (can't remember whosaid it, but I wish it were me...)

[This message has been edited by Henri (edited 02-07-2001).]

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I stopped by Barnes & Noble today and spent about an hour browsing through Leonhard's book. I didnt buy it since they had Michael Connelly's new novel (anybody who enjoys great crime fiction should check this guy out!), so I opted to spend my hard earned dollars on something I was sure I would enjoy.

But a few points on what I did read. I think its in the chapter titled "Constructing a Theory" that Leonhard states that an Army or a particular part of one could serve as a strategic "chief vulnerability." He offered the American Regular Army during the War for Independance as an example. Kill the army and the revolution dies with it. Great example.

Then in the Gulf War chapter he rails on the US for choosing the RG as the "chief vulnerability" at the operational level then admits in the next pragraph that the RG is actually Iraq's strategic vulnerability.

Question. How can your enemy have a strategic vulnerability that is seperate from their operational or tactical vulnerability? Leonhard admits that the strategic Iraqi vulnerability was the RG, but then he admonishes the US for going after it operationally. He claims the operational "chief vulnerability" of the Iraqis were their C&C and logistics assets. Ok, so we go after their chief vulnerability and barbecue every officer, radio van and fuel truck we can find. Does that accomplish our strategic goal? Hardly. The RG can be back up and operational in a matter of weeks. So even though we temporarily rendered them ineffective, we failed to destroy them.

To use another of Leonhards examples, the American Revolution is a great case of a force trying to go after an Army's infastructure and having some success, but ultimately losing the war because they were never able to bring their combat power against the enemy's strength (i.e. chief vulnerability).

Using Leonhards reasoning we are fighting a very limited war and we all know the dangers in doing that. The US's goal at all levels was the destruction of the RG, because that was the Iraqi vulnerability at all levels. Destroy the RG, destroy the Iraqi capability and will to fight (to paraphrase Leonhard himself). That didnt happen because the cease fire was called before it could be accomplished. Not because the Army wasnt trying, but because it takes some time to travel those kinda distances no matter what the level of resistance is.

An interesting side note. Leonhard also made the point that both command push and command pull doctrines can be appled to maneuver warfare, another contradiction with his statements about the conduct of the GW.

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Henri said - "answer is in Manstein's book "Lost Victories". And please don't ask me to summarize it"

He even managed to laugh out loud at me for giving the hint, stating that I was answering my own question. Then when I call him on the carpet for ducking the whole line of questioning with a mere citation of a source I cited to begin with, instead of any discussion of the actual issues involved, he promptly ducks again and moreover calls me condescending and arrogant for demanding substance instead of ducking.

And then replies in what I suppose he thinks is "in kind" with some irrelevant comment about supposedly doctrinaire and rigid career military officers. Irrelevant because I am not a career military officer in the first place. I am an academic with reserve experience in USAR artillery. I study political science, including security issues, at the University of Chicago. If it means anything to anyone, I've studied with John Mearsheimer (author of "Conventional Deterrence") among others.

Henri, the reason the subject matters is because the over-arching subject in this thread is the nature of manuever warfare as a theory and a strategy, and alternatives to it, and whether those are sound or unsound. The limits on applicability of manuever principles, according to other variables in the overall situation (of which I mentioned a whole range a few posts ago - e.g. force to space, mobile enemy reserves, etc), are central to that discussion. The men who mastered the arts of modern mobile combat, and especially its extension to defense, were aware of those issues and thought about them seriously.

When I direct the conversation to a consideration of those factors, I got a decidely weak (and delayed) response. ASL Veteran, though hurried, mentioned one factor, common misunderstandings of the role of "shock" and some of its relations to timing, barely alluded to. Another fellow previously said that manueverist doctrine would council not attacking at Kursk, but did not elaborate and gave no reasons why.

To understand the *limits* of manuever doctrine, or the offense-oriented version of that doctrine, it is kind of important to engage on the actual substance of these issues. They go to the heart of whether manuever is one strategy out of several alternatives with its use dependent on overall factors, or is instead synonomous with thoughtful or intelligent warfighting, as some claim.

The latter claim implies no limits on the applicability of manueverist principles. It is a particularly strong claim. Those who make it have to be able to apply their doctrine in the less favorable cases, not just the most favorable ones. Since they are diverging in important respects, when they make such claims, from authorities they pretend in other contexts to rely upon, they have a particularly clear responsibility to say exactly what they mean.

E.g. how far was Manstein wrong to recognize limits on offensive manuever, and how far was he right to do so? To the extent he was right to do so, how does the manueverist who equates manuever principles with intelligent warfighting, reconcile his own analysis, with one that seems on the surface to turn on other, perhaps even (gasp) more attritionist, principles?

There are at least three explanations for people not engaging on this point. Number one, which I ascribe to ASL Vet and another fellow or two, it can be put down to time and space constraints, or not seeing what the point of the question is, or why it matters. Number two, and this I ascribe to you Henri, as the more charitable of the two remaining options, is that people do not know the contents of the doctrines they are actually esposing, in important respects. Number three would be, having the time to respond and seeing the issue, it might seem rhetorically inconvienent to honestly address the question of the limits of manuever, when trying to peddle it as a cure-all. This one is not intellectually honest, so I avoid ascribing it to anyone.

And no, this is not because the intention of my arguments is to "show you are an ignoramous". I note in passing that ignorance is not a fault but a mere condition about some aspect of a technical subject, and entirely curable. As any academic, or any officer who understands what processes like "lessons learned" are for, understands. There is nothing whatever wrong with simply not knowing something, especially if one is self-critical enough to notice it when it is pointed out. But that is an aside.

My intention is, instead, to get to the substance of the limits of manuever effects in warfare. Which is not a matter of personalities, which merely get in the way, nor of authorities, which are merely helpful in understanding things, and especially so in disputed discussion when both parties to such a discussion recognize important lessons to be learned from source A or B. It is necessary to actually *engage*, on the *substance*.

On the subject of my hint, that does not mean I want a summary of Manstein's thoughts on everything. Instead, I want some acknowledgement of the same factors he saw, or the others that you see, in the overall Kursk situation, that bear on the questions of - manuever and force to space limits, manuever and when to stand on the defensive, manuever and the importance of mobile enemy reserves and defenses in depth, etc.

"I don't want to re-fight the Battle of Kursk".

Well, pick a battle you *do* want to refight then, in which manuever principles dictate, in your own judgment, standing on the defensive, and then analyse that situation and tell me how and why you arrive at that conclusion. If there aren't any such examples, because you *don't* think it is ever *necessary* to stand on the defensive, then kindly say so, and explain why Manstein's contrary assessment in front of Kursk was wrong.

But perhaps you don't want to refight any battles, or at least not any in which standing on the defensive is necessary, because that might expose limits in the "daring, slashing attack" (TM, tabloid headline print) version of manueverist advertising copy. Or perhaps because it might involve you in controversy, and one can't have that!

I simple insist on some contact with a real world example in which all the factors that make for successful offensive manuever opportunities are *lacking*, or on a frank statement that it is your opinion such situations can never arise. The latter involving you, necessarily, in a dispute with those who claim otherwise, including some you might rather cite as authorities supposedly on your own side, if it were all just left at the substance-free, advertising copy, level of discussion.

I'd personally prefer the former. I think it is more fruitful and nearer the truth. By that I mean, a frank analysis of what factors prevent successful use of offensive manuever, laid out in a practical and common sense manner. "When these factors are thus and so, forget it, it won't work". That kind of thing. I think we'd all make a bit of progress toward understanding real alternatives that way. Attrition principles might come in, and specific modifications of manuever doctrine to the defensive might come in, etc.

I really do not see why it is so hard for advocates to just do this. It seems entirely commonsensical to me, a matter of the most basic empiricism - "here is a real case, the real deal without all the ideal conditions". And of forthright intellectual honesty - "no, I don't really think the picture I had covers that case, yes my doctrine deserves to be qualified thus and so". Instead of that sort of directness, I feel like I am pulling teeth.

Doesn't stop me, though, does it?

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Wow, the air is getting a little thin in here. Anyway, I guess I will present the answer that I believe Mr Cawley is seeking. Kursk was a victory by attrition since the Soviet forces ground down the attacking German columns and achieved victory. At least that is how he views it (I think). However, I view Kursk as a failure of maneuver rather than a victory by attrition. Simple fact is that if the Germans didn’t attack, the Soviets could have sat in their defensive works until doomsday and nothing decisive would have occurred. If I try to drive a nail into concrete and the nail doesn’t go in, I don’t say that the concrete defeated the nail, I say the nail failed to go into the concrete. Why? Because I am describing the action – in this case the attempt to drive the nail into the concrete. The concrete can’t defeat the nail until I attempt to hammer the nail into it. You have two forces at work – one active and one passive. At the very least the defender responds to what the attacker does, or at best the defender entices the attacker into attacking where the defender is strong. Ideally, the defender can perform some form of maneuver (as Zhukov at Stalingrad) and create the circumstances for decisive victory. Defense and attrition go hand in hand. What is being described as the difference between maneuver and attrition seems to be more like the difference between defense and offense to me.

The act of attriting the attacking columns is generally not the decisive portion of the battle. What is decisive is what you do after the attack is defeated (attrited). To illustrate this I would like to use the Somme as an example. I view the Somme as a failure of maneuver (misapplication of timing and shock), others may view the Somme as a victory by attrition (destruction of the attacking columns). For me, the question would be whether the strategy has created the circumstances for decisive battle. Simply surviving battle is not decisive – crushing your enemy is. Did the Germans win a decisive battle at the Somme? No, they merely kept their front lines intact – and lost a lot of lives doing it. Was the German’s ability to keep their front lines intact decisive? Maybe decisive in keeping Germany in the war, but not decisive in defeating the enemy. So it would appear that victory through attrition alone can only perpetuate stalemate. Once again we are left with maneuver creating decisive battle while attrition perpetuates stalemate. Is the glass half full or half empty?

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ASL Vet said - "Defense and attrition go hand in hand"

I found these comments useful. I don't agree with them, but I found them useful - LOL.

First, the Russians followed up the blunting of the German spearheads with a huge counteroffensive of their own, which among other things featured massive armor spearheads launched at the (far) flanks of the German concentration opposite Kursk (from around Orel on the one hand, and the Kharkov area on the other). The Germans did not have mobile reserves sufficient to meet these attacks, which subsequently broke through the German lines. The Germans reformed thin lines ahead of the Dnepr and Kiev, but none held until behind the Dnepr river line, which was still crossed in places. This counteroffensive lasted throughout the fall months, pausing for the autumn rains and the subsequent mud period on the steppe.

I quite agree that the Germans failed at Kursk, and that at least some of them thought they were fighting a battle of manuever, and that the high command agreed with your statement that "nothing decisive" could be expected from "defensive" action, which is why Manstein's recommendations were ignored. In other words, they equated decisiveness with offense, and offense with manuever, and conceived defensive manuever to be a sort of contradiction in terms. I happen to think they were quite wrong in just about all of the above, and I see ASL Veteran as repeating many of the same mistakes in his analysis of the events, though not in his recommendations perhaps.

The Russians, on the other hand, viewed the overall situation as one in which only attrition could prepare the conditions suitable for breakthrough, and where the "manuevers" in a perhaps over-broad sense of the term, that were called for, had everything to do with such attrition-thought topics as reserves and wearing out etc. But I do not think the Russians connected this with the defensive per se, and I think they were right not to.

The Russians thought they could not achieve a breakthrough until the Germans had committed their armored reserves to battle, and had worn them out. They thought that if they still had armored reserves *left*, and *fresh*, for breakthrough fighting, *after* the German armor reserves had been drawn into battle and "attrited" - whether offensively or defensively - that they could attempt breakthroughs. I think they were basically right on those topics.

Manstein thought that it was a mistake to commit the armored reserves to battle, essentially because of the same process of thought as the Russians. But he also thought that the Russians would attack if the Germans stood on the defensive, and that in doing so the Russians would wear out their armor reserves. He also thought that no breakthrough the Russians might achieve would actually be dangerous to the German army, if the Germans kept the bulk of their armor in reserve.

In particular, the success of his Kharkov counterattack in February of 1943, had convinced him that destroying Russian penetrations would be relatively easy to accomplish, with adequate armor in reserve. Part of this had to do with existing weaknesses in Russian armor doctrine, not yet corrected.

The Russians were still using massed tanks more or less alone, with little in the way of combined arms cooperation. Fighting at a front or defensively, this doctrinal weakness was masked, because units were intermingled by the front. In Russian breakthroughs, though, it came to the fore, as Russian armor tended to outstrip everything else, not cooperate with anybody, and push recklessly into the German rear.

What Manstein had learned in February, was that these penetrations - devastating enough in the Stalingrad campaign when unprepared for them - could be destroyed relatively easily by combined arms counterattacks. He had found, in other words, that the easiest place to destroy massed Russian armor formations, was inside the German rear areas. This required adequate combined arms reserves, handled according to tenets of manuever strategy, such as many-of-few engagements in sequence, momentum, etc.

Manstein had achieved the defensive synthesis of manuever applied to mobile warfare in a way the inventors of the blitzkrieg had not themselves envisioned. The target he sought was the mass of the enemy armor, and in seeking its destruction he was certainly thinking in the staff manner with its somewhat "attritionist" focus, or at least its decisive battle focus. Whatever you choose to call it, the maxims that counciled closing the Kiev Pocket in 1941, counciled Manstein in 1943 to seek the destruction of the Russian armor.

And the way to destroy it was what Manstein termed "the backhand". In some respects this was an adaptation from the old defense-in-depth scheme. That had planned on local strongpoints and local instant counterattacks. Manstein applied similar manuever ideas about concentration and shock to these counterattacks. He envisioned delaying them, but collecting them, and at the proper moment launching an armored force across the axis of an intruding enemy spear head, turning up its length, and seeking many-of-few engagments in rapid succession. He had basically turned these ideas into an operational plan in the Kharkov counterattack in February and had seen it work.

Manstein did not expect the Russians to apply the same reasoning, but realised that the mere presence of a defense in depth with adequate armor reserves would bring about many of the same effects without needed his full-blown doctrinal add ons, about how to handle the counterattacking reserves and their proper composition. He therefore thought the attack at Kursk would prove unpromising, but that the chances to destroy the Russian armor if it attacked first, and was almost "let through" before being hit by the German reserves, were excellent.

These views were roundly rejected by most of the German command. They did not like or understand the divorcing of the offensive from manuever ideas that it involved. They associated manuever ideas (many on one engagements in sequence e.g.) with the possession of the initiative, and sometimes flat conflated the two.

There is an interesting parallel in the thought process of Manstein and the thought processes of the Russians. The Russians frankly thought in attrition terms, but they were seeking conditions for breakthrough. They recognized that such conditions did not exist. They had seen how their spearheads had been wiped off the map for little loss in a single month in February, when overextended and facing German mobile reserves. They did not believe, therefore, that conditions favorable to breakthrough existed, and they thought the German armor must be defeated first.

And Manstein thought substantially the same thing. First, that the Russians would not be able to achieve breakthrough as long as the German armor was intact and available in reserve - they would just be open to his "backhand". And second, that the Germans themselves could not *risk* an attack themselves, which would not break through anyway against the deep Russian reserves, *and* which would remove their defense against Russian breakthrough by wearing out their armor.

Was this attritionist thinking his part? I think that it was, in terms of the overall strategy, but not in terms of how he wanted to impliment it. He wanted to use a mobile defense, and thought that "force multipliers" were available from manuever ideas when doing so. But he put all of that in an attrition-logic framework, based on force to space and depth of reserves, that told him that offensive moves would not work, that husbanding (armored) reserves mattered most, and that the immediate battle "logic" if I may call it that, was that the balance would tip to the side with the last uncommitted armor reserve.

I think that entire analysis was substantially correct. And it has definite implications for manuever doctrine. First, manuver and the offensive are not synonomous, both because attritionist or broad-front strategies do exist on the attack, but also because, as Manstein has seen, manuever ideas had useful operational or grand-tactical applications on the defensive.

But there is another implication. It is, that when force to space ratios are high, defenses are in depth, doctrines on both sides are not completely dumb, large mobile reserves are kept, and the overall force ratios are reasonably close - in the 3:2 range or so - a defense dominance exists even in mobile warfare, and an essentially attritionist logic is in force. The last reserve, and the destruction of enemy armor, are the decisive variables, and not who concentrates where or who strikes first.

I hope this is interesting.

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