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

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I was the fellow who simply mentioned that I wouldn't have launched Citadel if I were a manouevrist (can we all get the spelling right please!)

Actually, I wouldn't have launched Barbarossa, or invaded Poland. I wouldn't have killed the jews. I would have stopped after Anchluss, had babies with Eva, and die peacefully in my sleep like Franco. Not fighting in WW2 would have been the most sensible option. Franco, a pragmatist, saw that, and died in 1975. Mussolini, a "romantic", got caught up in Hitler's madness, and died young because of it.

By Summer '43, the Germans had lost, and the only way out was a negotiated peace. But the Nazi philosophy made that impossible. Even better strategy (retreating to defensible lines in Russia, moving to mass production of war material earlier, focusing on a few systems rather than wonder weapons) would only have led to a German surrender in August '45 when atom bombs start dropping on Germany.

Anyway, has got nothing really to do with CM.

At the end of the day, I would rather serve under Bradley, Slim, Schwartzkopf than a Rommel/ Jeb Stuart type. Give me a commander who wants all the odds stacked in his favour over someone who relies on a risky plan. And if you need manouevre to have any hope of acheiving victory, then don't go to war in the first place - as Tojo forecast, 6 months of whirlwind, then guaranteed defeat.

Rather stupid Germans. Could have all stayed in Munich, drinking good beer. But nooo, had to all go and die in Stalingrad. Or before that, could have all stayed in Munich drinking beer, but nooo, had to go and die at Ypres (Kindermord den Ypern, 1914). Sheesh, still, they seemed to have stopped for now.

The old lie - "Gloria et dulce est, pro patria mori"

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Here are some research links so you can read the current Army doctrine. You can decide for yourselves where the Army stands in regards to this topic.

FM 100-5 OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/100-5/100-5toc.htm

FM 71-100 DIVISION OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-100/toc.htm

FM 71-3 ARMORED AND MECHANIZED BRIGADE OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-3/f377toc.htm

Additionally, here is a brief exceprt from FM 100-5 for you to digest.

OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

The offensive is the decisive form of war--the commanders' ultimate means of imposing their will upon the enemy. While strategic, operational, or tactical considerations may require defending, the defeat of an enemy force at any level may require shifting to the offensive. Even in the defense itself, seizure and retention of the initiative requires offensive activities. The more fluid the battle, the truer this will be.

Offensive campaigns and major operations are designed to achieve operational and strategic objectives quickly and decisively at least cost. Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm are good examples. Army forces must also be adept and have the will to fight in more protracted conflicts if necessary. Several dynamic characteristics apply to offensive operations: initiative on the part of subordinate commanders, rapid shifts in the main effort to take advantage of opportunities, momentum and tempo, and the deepest, most rapid and simultaneous destruction of enemy defenses possible.

The ideal attack might resemble a torrent of water rushing forward and expanding its channels around major resistance. It should move fast, follow reconnaissance units or successful probes through gaps in enemy defenses, and shift its strength quickly to widen penetrations and reinforce its successes, thereby carrying the battle deep into the enemy's rear.

JFCs orient offensive campaigns and major operations on decisive objectives. Their plans identify the center of gravity and decisive points and establish objectives that lead to the enemy's defeat. Although a campaign should attempt to defeat the enemy in a single major operation, an elusive enemy may cause commanders to structure the campaign to defeat the enemy in a series of major operations.

Within a given theater, a number of ground, air, and naval operations occur simultaneously in support of the campaign plan. Even during a major operation, one large joint force might be attacking, another defending, and still another protecting LOCs, while others arrive in theater.

Additionally, commanders may find themselves fighting offensive campaigns against either concentrated or dispersed enemy forces. Facing a concentrated enemy, operational commanders maneuver to force the enemy to abandon his position or fight at a disadvantage. In practice, this means directing operations against an enemy's flanks or rear or penetrating his defenses through weak areas. Facing a dispersed enemy, attacking commanders can isolate and defeat separated enemy forces in turn before they can join to organize a stronger defense.

However, in any offensive operation, ground commanders try to collapse enemy defenses as rapidly as possible with the smallest expenditure of resources. They do this by massing fires, concentrating units only when necessary. They also do this by retaining the initiative, striking enemy weaknesses, attacking the enemy in depth, and creating conditions that prevent the enemy from organizing a coherent defense. Occasionally, attacking commanders maneuver to avoid battles that would slow or weaken the offensive.

The initiative is critical to successful offensive operations. Whatever its purpose, campaign plans must be flexible enough to accommodate change so commanders can shift their main effort in response to either setback or opportunity without losing the initiative. Accordingly, commanders anticipate likely enemy actions and prepare contingencies for them and train their units to do likewise. Successful commanders do not run out of options and are always looking for ways to hurt the enemy. Anticipation and continuous formulation of attack options are key.

Security of the force is crucial. Successful reconnaissance is vital to success. The high-speed mobility of modern forces can create exposed LOCs and gaps between large, friendly formations. Commanders should anticipate this and take precautions to keep it from happening. Moreover, covering forces operate well forward, providing early warning.

In each phase of a campaign, operational commanders deploy their units using whatever form of maneuver best fits the conditions of METT-T. They move the force as a whole, orienting on enemy forces or major geographical terrain features, keeping some forces in depth as reserves.

The employment of the reserve may be the most crucial decision commanders make. As the battle is joined, operational-level commanders adjust the final maneuver of their forces and look for opportunities to defeat the enemy's defense in depth. In particular, they seek ways to employ their operational reserves decisively. In any battle, commanders position operational reserves where they can best exploit tactical success. As tactical success is achieved, the choices for employing reserves become more certain, whether to destroy the enemy in the battle area, to secure deep objectives, or whatever else commanders desire. So it is important that commanders plan for the commitment of the reserve and, once committed, anticipate its reconstitution.

Finally, in an offensive campaign, commanders try to preserve the fighting integrity of the force. However, if their force becomes dispersed or overextended, they may have to resort to the defense, planning for such a contingency as either a branch or sequel to their offensive operations.

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Sorry boys, been away having a life and missed all the good juicy bull**** flying hither and yon.

Mr Cawley, I have followed your tirades now on several threads and I think you really need to define just what the hell you are asking. The gist seems to be some sort of angst about Manoeuvre and Attrition. And as I have stated before you wouldn't even be asking the questions had you any real understanding of the two schools of thought. I do not find it surprising that you are in fact an academic and an Artsman no less. Please phrase your question in one maybe two sentences and clearly define you required response. Do you want to talk Strategic, Operational, Tactical or philosophy? Are you looking for a definition, a concept or a counter argument? Are you trying to define the use of the two schools or simply refute one of them? I am sorry, I am a poor Army officer who needs the "aim" clearly spelt out and you "smart fellas" tend to overwhelm us.

Now let's let the healing begin and perhaps we can come to a few conclusions about Manoeuvre and Attrition. Now as Mr Cawley has desperately called out for, a clear model or example where Manoeuvre actually works and what are it's limitations.

Now rather than pontificate about old battles which we really don't understand because a) We weren't there and B) We cannot recreate the mind set of those that were. Any and all speculation as to the events of these battles when trying to determine something as nebulous as doctrines of Manoeuvre and Attrition is but mental masturbation and slightly amateurish in my humble opinion. I would ask for someone who actually commanded a major formation (Bn or higher) in operations to come forward with an inside example. If not let's stop babbling in circles.

I will present an example, at it's lowest form and remove the questions of motivations and systems of employment. I will instead use the area in which I learned the most about warfare and the two schools; the boxing ring.

The "square ring" represents to me warfare at it most distilled form. All of the elements are present and much easier to examine and explain. Much more productive than "the Battle of Kursk" or trying to encompass any enormous event in a few paltry paragraphs. In short, what Mr Cawley failed to recognize as an option for his limited responses is the fact that a true answer would be a Master's Thesis not a few quick blurbs on the CM forum.

Now boxing. Fighters exercise tactics, operations and strategy. For example, a 1-2 hook, duck, upper cut is a tactical drill to be applied to an opponent when he moves into range. A round is an operation, with a specific aim, do we try and tire the opponent out, feel him out, or pound him. The entire fight has a strategy based on foreknowledge of the opponent. Should we go for the quick kill because this guys "got legs" or should be play "tag" and wear him out?

Now for Attrition and Manoeuvre. Fighters usually lean one way or the other. Attritionists tend to be big, ugly guys that will try and pound you into "meat-mash" even if they have to take a few hits themselves. The are betting that their bodies will not tire as fast as yours and that they can take more punishment. You may note, that even these fighters try and hit weak spots on their opponents and not the fists (although I've met a few). This is a Manoeuvre goal but delivered via attrition.

Manoeuvrist fighters tend to be light and fast. They hop into range, throw a few and back out. They do try and wear down an opponent but at the Operational level they seem to be practicing Manoeuvre. They can also however, look for the "decisive battle" in which they can end it once and for all.

Lastly, there exists the truly gifted fighter who can do both. Ali was a clear case in point. If you want to learn "hammer and nail" or "rubber meets the road" lessons in warfare watch Ali. This guy could move like a feather-weight even when he was a heavy. He could dance around for three rounds and then "plant and cook" an opponent just when he was getting used to doing the chasing or retreating.

Now pay attention, no matter how fast and light you are there is an opponent who will be so big and powerful that you are going to get killed unless you introduce something truly revolutionary to the process like a "stun-gun" or never get hit. The problem is, he can miss 99% of the time and still win. You have to be perfect. Much the same if you take a fighter so huge that it takes him 5 min to throw a punch, a fast guy will "beat him to death with pillows" even if it take a few days.

In these simple exercise lies most of the lessons you need if you want to talk "reality" and they are a lot more attainable than a detailed analysis of the Battle of Stalingrad or any other such exercise.

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Originally posted by Blackhorse:

Here are some research links so you can read the current Army doctrine. You can decide for yourselves where the Army stands in regards to this topic.

Thanks for the interesting links, Blackhorse.

An interesting paragraph with respect to planning (chapter 8 of FM100-5 relevant to the question of the ability of sub-units to adapt is the following:

MISSION

Commanders pass to their subordinates a clear statement of what is to be done and for what purpose. Different combinations of offensive and defensive operations allow subordinate commanders freedom of action. Whenever possible, commanders assign subordinates a force-oriented objective and a zone with few restrictive measures.

Henri

[This message has been edited by Henri (edited 02-08-2001).]

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Well, I do not mind boxing as an analogy at all. There are recognizable different styles in boxing, and nobody pretends that one of them cannot win a fight and the other one always does. But this is exactly my problem with manuever gurus - they equate attrition strategy with absence of strategy or of thought, or with defense, or with failure. They would be like a boxing coach telling Joe Foreman to learn to dance or begone, because only Sugar Ray Leonard ever *really* boxed (said hautily with nose at 45 degree angle into air), and Joe might as well become an auto mechanic (said with lingering sneer and suppressed giggle).

Now, it seems you recognize that two distinct and workable military strategies exist (at least). I wish you'd bother to tell them that. They certainly don't show it by their arguments, which either make everything manuever (end of distinct) or only manuever workable or successful (end of workable), or at the very least insinuate that it will be "cheap" and the other "wasteful", with a decided implication that it is criminal to tolerate anyone with a kind word for attrition within 50 miles of a command.

Now, I like your common sense analogy so much, I will explain what it is I am asking or after, with a rival version. In this situation, conditions are not as ideal as they are in a boxing ring. Instead, you are on a tropical island in extreme heat wearing long trousers and shirt, and as you look down you notice that your left leg is caught in the barbed wire of a double-apron. Just after this shocking discovery, you see a crazed and determined looking Japanese man in excellent physical condition charging straight at you out of the jungle wielding a freaking sword and yelling at the top of his lungs. Meanwhile, from a log bunker 150 yards away, another man fires a burst of MG fire from a bipod light MG that cleanly cuts a large branch off of a tree directly over your head.

Presumably, one is not in this situation admonished to keep ones right hand up, circle continually to the right, and keep throwing left jabs. The techniques of boxing, except by vague analogies, are not immediately relevant to this particular situation. One would, in fact, find it quite maddening, to be repeatedly told to do each of the above, over and over, in this distressing emergency. One would find it not terribly relevant. One might even let vent a "tirade" or two. The point of which would probably be "that is all well in good in a boxing ring, but, I do not at present possess the prior conditions for the successful application of your exact formulas." If your would-be coach insisted that the principle of sound boxing always apply to all situations, you would at least be inclined to ask him to prove it, by supplying such an application is this particular distressingly un-ring-like case.

Now, I can further explain the difference I see by imagining further resolutions of this little hypothetical. Naive me, with my silly attritionist mindset, I go about it like this. First, being an attritionist, and therefore a firm believer in the welcome advantage afforded by superior firepower in any situation, I bring up the Thompson to cover the charging Samuri and let fly. Next, I inartfully fall over sideways to the left, cutting my leg and tearing my pants, but largely succeeding in extricating myself from the wire, and doing so before the MG gunner gets a better bead. The branch then lands on top of me. I grunt and throw in off with my now bruised right arm. After another MG burst goes wide right, I manage to get up into a crouch, and limpingly run off into the jungle to the left, obliquely away from the machinegun. At the next clearing I survey my new wounds, look at the camera, and in my best John Wayne declare - "life it is tough... here on.. Guad-al-ca-nal." Fade.

The manueverist then critiques my performance. You moved! See, manuever is the essence of warfare. When I mention my Thompson's role in the performance, he says that only shows how inartful I was, needing an SMG against a sword. When I demur with a reference to the MG, he waves that off with "fixed positions! The defensive is never decisive", and informs me that I only succeeded in escaping the engagement because of my superior "odds". Another one then chimes in to notice that the MG next is still there, and this proves my tactics were indecisive. Others praise it as the only sound thing I did, avoiding the enemy strength, and offer it as another proof that all useful things in war are manuever. Still another critiques the role of wire in the enemy plan, the inability of the falling branch to neutralize me, and other alleged failings of my antagonists, summarizing with the remark that masters of the art would never have enable a tactical poltroon like myself to escape.

Fine, I say. What would you have had me do instead? I hope for something a little more detailed and applicable than "keep your right up, circle to the right, keep throwing left jabs". One of them does not disappoint me, and offers to explain how it is correctly done by demonstrating.

He starts by making a face of that on-no, not again variety, then bends neatly at the waist, and pulls the wire away from his pants with his left hand, his right helping to remove and then brush down the pant-leg. In this delicate posture, he looks up to see the Samuri almost upon him. With a quick "uh-oh" grunt, he moves his leg inward and releases the wire, then executes a perfect back-flip through the air, landing on his feet clear of the wire. The Samuri predictably trips on the wire and pratfalls toward him. His left foot is instantly on the outstretched sword-blade, his right elevated and bent back at the knee. Without moving a muscle beyond the leg, he kicks the fallen man once in the face. Uttering a low "sorry" and slightly bowing his head, he then lifts the now-released sword handle upward with his right foot, flipping it into his left hand. His right hand comes across and grabs the pommel farther down. He then raises the sword over his head, angled to the upper left in a "Conan at the Beach" pose, artfully parrying the still descending tree branch. Next he runs off to the left, a single burst of MG fire arriving where he just was. In the next field he climbs into a hidden ultralight flyer and, with a squad of soldiers in tan uniforms rushing toward him in the distance-shot, ascends into the air. But he banks right and descends again two fields on to pick up the dame, remembers to smile as she runs to the aircraft, explains bashfully that "something came up" when she asked what took him so long. Last, he flies southwest across a blazing sunset. Cut to the scene in Sydney. I instantly recognize that it is Jackie Chan.

The manueverists are of course full of his praises, and jibe me with "now, why couldn't you have done that?" Besides blank staring incredulity, I can only offer that my conditions were actually less favorable - I did not have a choreographer assigned to my HQ. Also, nobody told me about the dame.

In other words, what I am asking for is a manueverist who recognizes less than ideal circumstances for the application of his principles of war, who recognizes limits to manueverist approaches, and in naive terms, keeps his feet on the ground. I'd like the muddy version, please, not the action hero version. I want to know when the whole thing is going to go south from the opening minute. I want to know when to not even try it.

I want someone to address the prior conditions that successful offensive maneuver requires in order to work in anything like the tabloid-headline advertising-copy way the gurus are always preaching and predicting. You know, the stuff about how the Gulf was a relative failure because it could have been done better. That kinda reminds me of the Jackie Chan standard of tactical analysis.

I suggest, for instance, some limiting factors like this. When is the "cult of the offensive" as dumb as a pile of bricks? (Hint - the French believed in decisive manuever on the offensive at the outset of WW I. The result is usually called in the histories "the battle of the frontiers". Guess who lost). When is a belief in the importance of offensive breakthrough plus a faith in the indecisive nature of mere artillery fire (since it does not "occupy ground"), positively criminal? (Hint - certain armies in the same war).

When do you stop dancing and plant your feet?

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Excellent post Mr Cawley, I think I am beginning to like you...even though you are an Artsman. We should play a game sometime.

To answer your question. They don't know. In fact the ability to make that decision (plant or dance) is highly instinctive and really separates a good commander from a great one. I can offer a few conditions which may make one system better than the other;

a. Manoeuvre is very dependent on the system of "empowering subordinates" and instilling commanders intent. In simply terms tell the boys why they are doing something, or more importantly know why we are doing it in the first place. This system, dangerously presupposes that our troops can in fact be trusted with this information. If you have a highly trained and experienced force OK but conscripts..forget it. I strongly believe the first Decision Point is in the quality of the troops.

Second is the enemy. A highly trained enemy is going to lay barbwire, sight it with a machine gun and train troops to be so aggressive as to charge for close combat. Using your analogy, the real concern is the MG bunker (or Strategic Concern if you will) the Tactical concern is the lunatic with the sword. If the enemy was of poor quality, had forgot the barbwire, carried a dull/rusty sword and is blindfolded but still had a fairly decent working MG then your concern is to side-step "Samurai wanna be" and try to take out the MG. In short the quality of the enemy will also determine the usability of Manoeuvre. If he is really good you wont have a chance until you have won the Attrition battle or the "dog-fight" as I like to call it.

The political will. Manoeuvre is risky. It can get out of control and, against a prepared enemy, you can find yourself "suckered" really quickly. Manoeuvre can lead to over extension and asymmetrical advances, very dangerous if the enemy knows what it is doing. These risks will cause casualties and (as Blackhorse has stated) has an increased effect on the length of conflict as it usually leads to more dead people.

Opportunity. The ability to recognize an opportunity for Manoeuvre is the real trick and nobody here can tell you whether or not it has arrived. It will be a best-guess and if it works you are brilliant and if not you are dead.

Technology. The nuts and bolts of battle also determine on the viability of Manoeuvre. One has to have the ability to "move" troops, collect intelligence, process intelligence and plan faster than the other guy at a sufficient rate in order to obtain Manoeuvre. How much faster, the best minds will spout numbers but I will stick to fighting and say "when it looks right".

You are perfectly justified in your frustration with "the community" on these subjects. Strict adherence to Manoeuvre "in all things" is in my opinion very dangerous. I agree with you that WWII showed clearly that Tactical and Operational Manoeuvrist mentality doesn't add up to much if you are being pounded Strategically. It is not surprising in my mind that Germany was Strategically Attritionist (let's take em all on, in brute force). The driving force behind their Strategy was a Cpl in WWI and had obviously decided to apply the lessons "not learned" from that War to his level in the Second.

I strongly believe (and history will back me up on this) that the two systems are two sides of the same coin and a truly masterful fighter is not only capable of switching but also knows when to do it.

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What you are describing at Kursk is what normal people describe as a counter puncher. You have a puncher and a counter puncher. The puncher initiates the action and the counter puncher blocks then punches. Both are maneuver strategies. The counter puncher is not an attritionist just because he blocks then punches. The attritionist blocks only - usually because he *can't* punch. The counter puncher also *knows* that the blocking part is not the decisive part - as do I. Your question in your first thread asks the question: "Drive on Moscow or trap the army at Kiev? That is the heart of the question". The Problem is that they are *both* strategies of maneuver. That is why your ramblings have been nonsense to me thus far. You see Jason, I don't think that you have any sense about timing on the battlefield - you think that the decisive portion of a battle is the part where the pocket is reduced or when the enemy offensive is stopped. Reality is that the decisive portion of the battle is *when* the enemy army is trapped or *how* you follow up the successful defense (counter punch). If you don't counter punch your defense has achieved nothing except to survive battle and that is not decisive. I think Manstein would have trumped you on the battlefield so often that Stalin would have had you shot in June wink.gif .

I believe that everything I have said thus far is totally in line with Blackhorse's lengthy posting about US Army doctrine (tip of the hat to Blackhorse, who has been holding out all along) - along with the Marine Corps doctrine posted in the old thread (thanks to Desert Fox). In fact, I couldn't have said it better myself. It's all there, you just have to see it. The only person not making any sense here is you Mr Cawley. Don't fret though, because history is littered with incompetent commanders who failed to grasp when the decisive portion of battle arrives and what to do once it has arrived. Your characterization of 'maneuverists' as haughty and full of self congratulation is mildly amusing coming from you.

Going back to Kursk briefly, naturally we can all Monday morning quarterback and say that the Germans shouldn't have attacked there. We all know the outcome. The Germans knew the odds weren't the best, but they thought they could pull it off. They tried it because they wanted to win the war. We can all laugh about the Ardennes too, but once again the Germans were trying to win the war. Once you have gone over to the Strategic Defensive you have a couple of choices: you can sue for peace, you can extend the war for a few more years using your strength in defensive actions, or you can gamble everything on some risky (or even no win) maneuvers and hope for the best. The Ardennes and Kursk weren't necessarily stupid in principle - they were failed attempts to create decisive battle. These gambles were made at the cost of blood, and the prudent statesman probably would have surrendered by then. Hitler couldn't surrender though so he gambled instead. He knew that he could *never* win World War 2 by standing on the strategic defensive. All he could do was extend the pain and suffering of war. I doubt that he had humanitarian aims in mind, but at least he knew what it was going to take to win the war. I'm not sure that you would know though Mr Cawley, because you haven't identified *how* to win yet. You haven't even identified the *decisive* part of a battle yet. I'm sure that you will characterize my ramblings as those of just another haughty maneuverist, but the Generals in World War 1 didn't constantly strive to create battles of maneuver because they were misguided and didn't fully understand attrition. If anybody gained a measure of what attrition is all about they did. Nope, they did it because any commander worth his salt should intuitively know that successful maneuver is decisive. Falkenhayne came to the misguided notion that attrition, in its ultimate form, was decisive. Jason = Falkenhayne and Falkenhayne was fired. Only Judge Judy can now decide who the bumblers are.

Oh, and don't go telling us all that the French army mutiny in 1917 was a direct result of Verdun either - something as large as an army wide mutiny has more than one factor involved, of which Verdun was but one. Whole books are written asking why the French army had a mutiny and the British and German armies did not. Sorry Captain, but I love to talk about old battles - its what I do. smile.gif

smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif smileys added to prevent flames from erupting.

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

When we were in the Bocage country we were assaulted by them Tigers ... you know what I mean by assaulted huh? WELL I MEAN ASSAULTED!!!!

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Cawley,

If we're going to use a sports analogy for analyzing the nature of military operations then it behooves us to use a sport that resembles military operations. Football is perfect for this.

A team defends to stop the opponent and to regain control of the ball for the offense. Even while defending, the defense is constantly attacking. They blitz, stunt, vary their defensive schemes so as to throw off the opponent's offense and generally do whatever they can to cause the opponent's offense to react to them rather than them react to the opponent's offense.

On offense, a team does not continuously run a fullback dive (this is akin to running straight up the middle). Instead, a team's offense is creative and throws in screen passes, long bombs, traps, and whatever else may result in a touchdown. The idea now is to force the defense to react to the offense. Even while attacking an offense defends (in the form of offensive linemen guarding the QB).

In both offense and defense, the teams strive to retain the initiative and to set the tone of the game. It is their ultimate aim to force the other team to react to them rather than their reacting to the other team.

Doctrine does not label one a Maneuverist or an Attritionist. In fact, in all the doctrine you read you will find no such characterization of one's warfighting technique. There is no single way to do fight battles, and doctrine recognizes this.

In our discussion, we (all of us) have applied the terms of Attritionist and Maneuverist as we personally define it. Your definition and my definition are most likely miles apart.

My definition of an Attritionist, using football as the backdrop, is one who runs a fullback dive over and over in the hopes of getting the lucky break to score a touchdown. On defense, my concept of an Attritionist is one who always blitzes straight up the middle.

Your definition of an Attritionist is more likely in line with my definition of a Maneuverist. Bear in mind, that maneuver does not equal offense only. Maneuver is a team effort, requiring both offense and defense. It is characterized by innovation, creativity, agility, speed, initiative, adaptability, and every other desirable trait you can think of.

An important part of my definition of an Attritionist is the inability to learn from setbacks. All military operations are prone to some form of setback. Failure to learn and repeating failure, is a striking characteristic of someone who fits my definition of an Attritionist.

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Originally posted by Wisbech_lad:

The old lie - "Gloria et dulce est, pro patria mori"

I've usually seen this quoted as "dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori." I suggest you and I fight about it for four pages. Game?

biggrin.gif

I wouldn't blame the Germans totally for World War One - I always thought that Russian mobilization and French train timetables had a little bit to do with it...

I'd like to think I would have been smart enough, were I in Hitler's position, not to wage a war but it's easy to look back and laugh. Germany felt severely betrayed, and the conditions of the Versailles treaty were pretty silly. Again, with perfect hindsight, look at the peace we have had in Europe since 1945 (or with Japan). Funny how the United States doesn't seem to get much credit for any of that. Instead of enslaving the vanquished, they built them into suitable (economic) competitors.

I'm also impressed to see American soldiers on this thread using the Oxford spelling of Manoeuvre - doesn't Webster call it Maneuver?

40 minutes til the weekend....just makin' trouble is all....

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I will respond to Capt's excellent list of real factors later on in this response - to me that is a matter of best for last. But first a few matters with ASL Vet and Blackhorse.

ASL Vet first. I do not understand timing on battlefields, I am told. It is possible. Instruct me, oh wise one, instead of simply pointing to the alleged issue and saying nothing further.

I cited the Kiev or Moscow decision because it was the practical operational choice faced in '41 and the generals argued about it at the time, and maneuverist historians since have made much of it as an alleged departure from doctrine. I did not allege this, they have.

Of course they are alternate uses of the original breakthrough. They were mutually exclusive ideas about how to "cash" gains already secured - in territory or in enemy forces destroyed. There is no serious historical question that the Russians around Kiev would have escaped that pocket had AG Center's armored columns not been turned southward immediately. My presentation of this choice is however disputed, because of "timing", in a way that is not specified in any manner. The question is how to employ a certain force for a certain period of time, toward what end.

I am told they are "both maneuver", which #1 does nothing whatever to help choose between them, #2 contradicts maneuverist historians who have roundly criticised the Kiev decision. They do so by claiming that is was a survival in German general staff thinking of objectives set in terms of destruction of the enemy force rather than seizing unprotected objectives deep in the enemy rear. They allege such objectives were set because hide-bound traditionalists aka attritionists did not appreciate maneuver itself as truly decisive, but only as ministerial to the goal of destroying the enemy army.

If ASL Veteran disagrees with these characterisations and think the Kiev decision was correct, fine, but he is disagreeing with the maneuverist historian's standard line, not with me. Calling them both maneuver illuminates nothing. Since ASL Veteran uses any opposite of maneuver merely as a floating denuncifier, all it amounts to saying it that he sees something sensible in either course.

I am asked what should the Germans have done, or rhetorical words to that effect. I have already explained that the single largest mistake (besides fighting the world, i.e. in how that was done) was not ramping the economy the instant the war decision with Russia was made. If you shift the German tank output chart 18 months to the left, suddenly the Russian win looks one heck of a lot harder.

I am quite aware that the German high command was gambling recklessly throughout the entire conduct of the war. But if the only recommendation that their later attempts at maneuver have for themselves is gambling and hoping, then thanks I'll pass. And they were not just gambles, they were stupid gambles, and their failure entirely predictable, and predicted, at the time.

Furthermore, I find nothing to substantiate the frequent claim that something decisive might be found in a giant armor clash behind Kursk, and nothing decisive might be found in a giant armor clash between Kharkov and Kiev.

There is no rational reason to believe that the first "might" prove decisive because it was on one side of the previous lines, and the other could not be because it would occur on the other. It is making terrain "gained" or a mythical "initiative" into a magic talisman to pretend so.

When the Russians defeated the German armor, they were capable of breakthrough fighting. There is no earthly reason to believe ther reverse was not possible. If the Russian armor had been smashed between Kharkov and Kiev in the summer of 1943, what would happen in the autumn had every bit as much of a chance of proving "decisive", as smashing against their PAK-front in July or August could possibly pretend to be.

It was a reckless gamble, yes. But it was also a dumb reckless gamble, by no means the only or best "bet" on the table. As is often the case, the justification by gambling masks an unwillingness to rationally confront chances, an impulsive mode of acting, no search for the best bet, and magical beliefs in what seemed to work last time.

Well, that covers ASL, because he really only replied with a reference ot timing without any elaboration, a defense of maneuver as gambling when lost that does not demonstrate what he needs it to, top say as little as possible about personal abuse sprinkled with specious smilies.

Blackhorse enters the analogy sweepstakes with football. While used correctly, I think differences in styles can be seen in football and related to the issues being discussed, in his hands it is simply begging the question. The rules of football are all about taking territory. You are not allowed to win by breaking 8 legs on the enemy team and playing the rest of the game with 11 men against 3. In war you are, and it is called attrition by those who mean to criticise it.

I found amusing and revealing Blackhorse's closing statements, that maneuver includes "every other desirable trait you can think of". That is just my problem with it. I think that is exactly what maneuverists use the word to mean. And I think that renders the word utterly meaningless. What they actually mean is just "good". But they say "maneuver", because they are engaged in the sophistical exercise of trying to win an intellectual argument by begging the question.

"Everything desireable is defined as 'maneuver'". That is exactly the position Blackhorse has just taken. It is not even an empirical result or claim, it is meant to be a definition. I can use the exact same sophistical violence to prove that all good men are Buddists. But this will come as news to many.

As for Blackhorse wanting to pack "inability to learn" off into attritionist as part of its definition, which of course strictly follows from maneuver = good and attrition being its opposite, it prompts me to renew the citation of French military doctrine early in WW I. In case anybody forgot, the "cult of the offensive" and "decisive maneuver" a la arme blanche, led to massed columns of men in bright blue pants charging into German machinegun and field artillery fire, taking 1 million causalties in less than a month and almost losing the war.

Because the conditions for the cultish and simplistic claim that the offensive is all that is right and true in warfare and military doctrine, were not present. With the result that acting on such a doctrine was criminally stupid. But the disciples of St. Cyr did not know it, because they had forever been taught, sophistically, that that was the only successful form of warfare. Which was simply not the case.

Who is not learning here? You cannot learn a blessed thing if you define whatever is desireable as the content of your doctrine. You cannot see or acknowledge the slightest weak point or failing in your doctrine, when it is defined as all that is right and true. It is logically inadmissable to criticise it.

No battlefield experience could have any effect on your belief in its rightness and truth, because that belief is not a matter of anything empirical, but of a mere sophistical "definition". Begging the question is merely an elaborate and wordy way of stopping the ears, and it makes learning lessons - e.g. from the school of St. Cyr and its failures - impossible.

If the idea of anything new and attrition strikes you as a contradiction in terms, I also call your attention to Mao's doctrine of protracted warfare, which is not exactly ancient history, in its effects on the world and on modern war.

That less pleasant business out of the way, I turn to the Captain's comments. I am going to rephrase those my way, both to see if I have understood you and to start the transition to me own, other factors. But first let me say I agree with most of what you said, and I appreciate the offering of real variables.

On troop quality, I think you have an excellent point. In your statement that you have no chance against good enemies until you win "the dogfight", I agree completely, but how that "good" comes about is murkier.

They way you put it, I got the impression the troop quality *differential* is important, while there is presumably also some threshold required for the successful attacker. What is less clear is how much good a differential can do, once the enemy is "good enough".

One of the reasons I mention these is that I think two other items related to numbers are critical, and they are not really covered by troop quality. I agree offensive manuever is still perfectly possible against low quality enemies, even when the odds are not favorable. It is much less clear whether conditions for it exist, when the odds are unfavorable and the enemy is "good enough", no matter how good one's own forces are, in pure quality terms. (But with a technology proviso - discussed below).

Next you addressed the political aspect, but what I noticed is the high variance of maneuver options or attempts. That to me is partly political, yes, but not simply so. I can explain why with an analogy from insurance and betting.

Roulette is a high variance thing for someone who puts everyone on 1 number - mostly lose, rarely win big. But if you put 1 on every number, the variance goes away, and the player is left with an automatic small loss. However, the owner of the wheel is in the exactly contrary position, since his "competition" with the players (as a group) is zero sum. To him, bets on every number ensure a small profit, and the more times he gets that the better. He then doesn't care how the individual chances "break". This analogy is often used to explain insurance principles. As long as the average odds are your way, diversified bets and repetition benefit you. But when they do not, repeated and diverse bets only ensure loss.

An elaborate explanation of a simple enough point. The thought it leads to is this - is maneuver a loser's strategem? Not meaning one who will inevitably lose, but meaning one who is likely to. When the odds are on your side, why take risks?

It is still possible the potential size of gains, or (equivalent really) reductions in possible costs, may justify the risks. And maneuver can have force-multiplier effects that can make it the desireable strategy for reasons besides risk and variance. But other things being equal, it is more important for the guy "ahead" on winning chances, to stamp out the other guys possible long-shot gambles, than to take his own. This might be called maneuver of a kind, but not really. It is more a matter of restricting the opponent's range of maneuver options. (In chess, this is called a strategy of "blockade").

Next, you mentioned opportunity, as an undefinable. I agree, in part. Inchon comes to mind. But I wonder if the cases you'd cover with opportunity, might be broken out a little further, with parts of them covered by your other categories. For instance, part of this is probably chance, but that is just variance or risk-taking wearing a new hat. Part of it is definitely enemy mistakes, whether in deployment or in doctrine, but that is mostly low enemy quality in camo. The remaining factor of command or inspiration, I agree remains. That is not the same thing as one's own troop quality, because it is not as knowable beforehand, for one thing.

Last you mentioned tech, but under it the sort of thing you really meant was more about tempo. Tech can multiple tempo (German use of radios widely in WW II e.g.). But I think tech is the wrong term for this one. Tech can have other effects, that are not really troop quality and are not really tempo. I'd place it in its own sphere.

I also note in passing that the tempo effects sometimes expected from technical means have not always had the maneuver v. attrition effects that people expected. Helicopters in Nam are an example. They certainly gave us a decidely higher possible tempo for operations, and they were undoubtedly a large force-multiplier as a result.

But they did not make the war one of maneuver as opposed to attrition. There were probably many reasons for that including our politics, but what strikes me as the largest such reason was the enemy strategy itself, which was consciously attritionist. Some will undoubtedly say we did not try, and there is truth to that.

Other effects of tech strike me as important in a different way. They change overall combat power when one side has them or has perfected them and another does not - simple enough. But they also have effects on things like variability in deployments, defense dominance, times to front, and force to space effects.

E.g. increases in artillery firepower lead to spread deployments and wider variance between spread and tight. Go back before indirect HE and force to space varies little across battlefields and the two sides, as packed frontages are common. After the change, tactical opportunities for maneuver ideas are higher than before it.

I bring up these other cases, because when I think about military history and the changing doctrines and conditions in the course of it, these effects stand out in a particularly striking way. In WW I, it is not a glaring absence of WW II quality differentials that is immediately apparent, but the deadliness of massed artillery, machineguns, and magazine rifles against infantry in the open, on in other words high defense-dominance for technological reasons.

Or consider an issue like times to front. In WW I, breaks in the enemy line were regularly achieved, mostly by blasting the area with artillery in "drumfire" fashion, then sending infantry at the stunned survivors rapidly. But what happened on these occasions is that the defenders always found it easier to form a new line, even without prepared trenches, and to thicken and field-fortify these, before the attacker could accomplish much else.

There are a number of reasons for this, but "time to front" is probably the biggest. The defensive zone, miles deep, was a moonscape by the end of one of these attacks. It was not possible to deploy fresh troops through it rapidly. Guns in particular could not displace forward, and could not be supplied with ammo in the enourmous quantities available to the other side, through a moonscape. The defenders were getting trainloads of artillery shells along open and working rail lines, and dumping them all over the penetration. Similarly, their reserves rode in on trains, debused near the new line, and deployed outside of, or just inside of, the field of craters. By contrast, all the attackers had to traverse and be supplied through the entire mess. Horses were tried, but horses and drumfire barrages do not mix. Laying new rail track took forever. Unimproved vehicles do not crawl through cratered moonscapes very well.

The term for this difference is time to front, or thruput to front. The defender could simply move more ammunition, reserves, and supplies of all kinds, to his side of the battlezone, much faster and in much larger quantities, than the attacker could. The idea that the attacker had the "initiative", was thus somewhat illusory. The defender might "have to" react to an attack and a hole in the front line, certainly. But he could be sure he'd get there with enough before the attacker did.

Tanks get through battlezones faster, and perhaps more important, they proved able to shoot their way through defensive positions without destroying the road net in the process - unlike WW I artillery offensives. There were also far more trucks serving all the armies in WW II - even though horses were a larger part of the trains of all but the U.S. and British forces, than is often realized. In addition, the shock-action spearheads did guzzle fuel, but they needed comparatively little in weight of ammo to achieve reasonable combat power, so the strain of supporting a penetration adequately, was significantly lighter than in WW I.

I think your factors and I agree with them. But force to space, time to front, local odds ratios created by dispersion or lack of them because of the threat from indirect fire weapons, overall odds, presence of reserves - these are the other factors I think about, when considering the question of when to "plant one's feet".

Do any of these have applications at the scale of CM? Yes, I think so. For example, for a CM-scale maneuver to prove effective, the time from discovery of what is being attempted, to adaptation to it, has to be shorter than the time needed to complete the maneuver. In plainer terms, if he's in a "V" formation, flanking him from the right may just mean he says "right face" and designates a new platoon as his reserve, or shifts one only slightly.

To me this is analogous to time-to-front issues. If the maneuver was based on deceiving him about where to deploy his reserve, these sorts of effects might be avoided, but the point is to think about the question in those sorts of terms.

For what it is worth, heat taking with the light...

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Mr. Cawley,

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Blackhorse enters the analogy sweepstakes with football. ... The rules of football are all about taking territory. You are not allowed to win by breaking 8 legs on the enemy team and playing the rest of the game with 11 men against 3. In war you are, and it is called attrition by those who mean to criticise it.

It's better than a boxing analysis which is one man vs one man. In football, the tactical level (i.e the execution of plays) calls for numerical superiority and overwhelming the enemy (it's called double and triple teaming). At the point of attack, football is indeed about outnumbering and clobbering an opponent to the ground. Furthermore, football is about scoring, not gaining territory. You might gain over a thousand yards a game and not score and you will still lose if your opponent gains just 1 yard and scores. The score is tantamount to achieving an operational objective.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

I found amusing and revealing Blackhorse's closing statements, that maneuver includes "every other desirable trait you can think of". That is just my problem with it. I think that is exactly what maneuverists use the word to mean. And I think that renders the word utterly meaningless. What they actually mean is just "good". But they say "maneuver", because they are engaged in the sophistical exercise of trying to win an intellectual argument by begging the question.

I was defining the characteristics of warfighting as outlined in current doctrine. It would be silly for doctrine to say that laziness, lack of vision, ineptitude, dimwittedness, etc were all desirable traits, wouldn't it?

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

"Everything desireable is defined as 'maneuver'". That is exactly the position Blackhorse has just taken. It is not even an empirical result or claim, it is meant to be a definition. I can use the exact same sophistical violence to prove that all good men are Buddists. But this will come as news to many.

I simply stated,

Your definition of an Attritionist is more likely in line with my definition of a Maneuverist. Bear in mind, that maneuver does not equal offense only. Maneuver is a team effort, requiring both offense and defense. It is characterized by innovation, creativity, agility, speed, initiative, adaptability, and every other desirable trait you can think of. So your definition of a maneuverist is what? Someone who is un-creative, slow, lazy? Your definition of an Attritionist is what?

I say again, doctrine does not assign a label of Attritionist of Maneuverist upon anyone. We define those terms ourselves.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Blackhorse wanting to pack "inability to learn" off into attritionist as part of its definition, which of course strictly follows from maneuver = good and attrition being its opposite, it prompts me to renew the citation of French military doctrine early in WW I. In case anybody forgot, the "cult of the offensive" and "decisive maneuver" a la arme blanche, led to massed columns of men in bright blue pants charging into German machinegun and field artillery fire, taking 1 million causalties in less than a month and almost losing the war.

They didn't learn after the first day did they? My point exactly.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Because the conditions for the cultish and simplistic claim that the offensive is all that is right and true in warfare and military doctrine, were not present. With the result that acting on such a doctrine was criminally stupid. But the disciples of St. Cyr did not know it, because they had forever been taught, sophistically, that that was the only successful form of warfare. Which was simply not the case.

Rigid training and rigid doctrine led to an inability to foresee change and an inability for the French to fight well. Brave men yes, Smart men, no. It was even a common problem with the French Army in World War II. You have demonstrated my point exactly.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Who is not learning here? You cannot learn a blessed thing if you define whatever is desireable as the content of your doctrine. You cannot see or acknowledge the slightest weak point or failing in your doctrine, when it is defined as all that is right and true. It is logically inadmissable to criticise it.

Since when are desirable characteristics damning to doctrine. If my doctrine says that commanders should be agile, have initiative, and goes on to list several desirable charatersitics, is it flawed? Hardly. The Army that cultivates low standards and lacks creativity,initiative, or the ability to learn form mistakes is the one that is doomed.

I cannot stress enough that doctrine does not label one a Maneuverist or an Attritionist. Those two terms and their definitions come from a few authors and our own personal definition of those terms as applied to warfighting.

Question for you Mr. Cawley.

What is your opinion of the war in the pacific as applied to

1. The Japanese? maneuver/attrition, why?

2. The Allied forces? maneuver/attrition, why?

[This message has been edited by Blackhorse (edited 02-10-2001).]

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Actually, they learned within a month, which is more than I can say for many modern manueverists who repeat their idiotic claims about "the offensive is the only decisive form of warfare" and all that rot. The disciples of St. Cyr are alive and well; they just don't know their own pedigree very accurately.

Since when is saying all that is desireable is part of your doctrine, tendentious? Since you made ridiculous question-begging statements like that you think inability to learn should be included in the *definition* of attrition. You are not merely saying you are in favor of mom and apple pie, you are also saying anyone who quibbles with the universal applicability of your manueverist doctrine is against them. Which is called *lying*, or at the very least begging the question.

As for the statement that "manueverist" and "attritionist" do not apply to individuals, I suppose you expect me and all bystanders to conclude you are arguing with me not because I criticise the universal applicability of manueverist doctrine, but because I am, perhaps, a Mormon or something - but certainly not because I am an attritionist, because there is no such animal; the term does not apply to people. In fact, all of your critics are figments of their own imaginations, and every actual person agrees with you. Right?

As for the Pacific war, I find it another overdetermined case in which the inferior side hadn't a chance in a war place. As such, the contributions of different effects and methods cannot be easily distinguished, but an effort that way can still me made. Always understanding, that question like "what won the war against Japan" do not have logically non-redundant answers, because a dozen different things would each have been sufficient alone.

I find the overall strategy employed against Japan to be an attritionist one, or if some prefer the distinction, a total war one. Japan entered the war with only about 1/10th the steel output of the U.S., and an economy entirely inadequate for major war on the scale of a quarter of the globe against both the U.S. and the U.K. The U.S. committed between 1/4 and 1/3 of its overall effort to defeat of Japan, while the U.K. breakdown was evenly more heavily weighted toward Europe, but conscious planning with the U.S. It was predicted, rightly, that these amounts would still prove sufficient to contain and then roll back Japan, while leaving as many resources free to deal with the main threat, Germany, as possible.

Elements of manuever were still utilized operationally, and proved to be significant force multipliers, speeding the end of the war or cheaping its overall human costs considerable. There are three most noticable aspects of the Pacific war that used manuever ideas in one fashion or another, on different levels.

First, superior intel allowed the employment of U.S. carrier task forces as ambushers. This was mainly seeking decisive battle, a la the doctrines of Mahan, but it elements of it involve the sorts of things manueverists aim for - getting inside the enemy decision cycle, discoordinating enemy forces by proper placement of one's own and by suprise, etc. These were materially aided by a definite Japanese penchant for overly complicated naval manuevering, however, that had the cumulative effect of simply dissipating their forces, and that was especially ruinous against an enemy with superior intel work.

Sometimes this edge did not prove terribly useful, though. By late in the war it hardly mattered, and even when "tricked" e.g. at Leyte, the overall effect of U.S. numerical superiority, and Japanese over-complexity and confusion, simply smashed through all such questions and decided things for us regardless of how they had gone.

Second, the technique of "island hopping", an application of bypass principles, reduced the cost of clearing the island chains and establishing bases. This was certainly a manuever idea, and useful. It did, however, depend on prior reduction of enemy airbases to be bypassed, by direct attack and attrition of their aircraft and pilots, and further air attacks on transport links, shipping etc. to impliment it. Those transport links (more on them below) were in a way a principle target of the U.S. strategy overall.

The third manuever idea was less successful, but not because it failed to be implimented or failed in its intended effect. It simply became redundant due to the overdetermined character of the whole war. I am talking about the U.S. operational idea of driving its chain of bases to the Philipines, recapturing those, and then using that base to close the China Sea to Japanese shipping, thus cutting off Japan from the raw materials of southeast Asia. This was actually done, but by the time it was completely, nearly 90% of the Japanese merchant marine had been sunk, mostly by U.S. submarines in their attrition campaign, some by air power. The transport links that the operation was meant to "cut" had evaporated before the slice was complete, in other words.

The most decisive processes of the war were the enourmous U.S. output of ships and planes, the destruction of Japanese air power by attrition methods in direct combat, and the destruction of the Japanese merchant marine by U.S. submarines. I will discuss each in turn, and their complications.

The production story is probably the best known. The Japanese navy was small enough, and early in the war the same was true of ours, that the lost of 4 fleet carriers carrying ~250 naval aircraft at Midway could be a devasting blow. But before the fight was over, the U.S. fielded more than 100 aircraft carriers carrying more than 5000 naval aircraft. The Japanese navy simply had a "zero" missing at the end, once the U.S. war economy kicked in - if the pun can be forgiven. It was as bad, or worse, in planes. The Japanese started the war with excellent types, but could not come close to matching the rate of U.S. technical improvements (combined with U.S. air combat tactics innovations), and by mid-war the U.S. types were superior in quality and overwhelming in quantity.

This production enabled the U.S. air forces to destroy the forward elements of the Japanese air forces. The Japanese could replace the planes, although they were unable to keep pace with the steadily rising numbers of deployed U.S. planes. But the Japanese could not replace the trained pilots at all, or did not manage to do so at any rate. When newly produced planes were sent into battle against the veteran Americans as standard fighters and bombers, they proved hopeless (e.g. at the "Great Mariannas Turkey Shoot").

Japan did find a desperate way of making her inexperienced pilots effective against the U.S. by late in the war - the kamikazes. Although it is rarely explained in detail in the histories, these inflicted more damage and destruction on the U.S. navy that any navy had ever incurred in war before (e.g. hundreds of ships disabled), and which only Japan's in the same war exceeded. But their sacrifice could not stop the U.S. fleets. The small portion that made it through U.S. fighters and flak were simply outnumbered by the ships the U.S. deployed.

Without regular air power to speak of, capable of challenging the U.S. air forces (both carrier and land-based), the Japanese forward bases lay open to the "bypass" technique. Any attempt to supply them anyway, met nearly complete loss at the hands of U.S. air power (e.g. the "Battle of the Bismarck Sea").

It would have proven impossible to supply them in any event, because the Japanese merchant marine was evaporating. That body of shipping was never adequate to the task assigned it by Japanese military planners, from the moment of the outbreak of the war onward. And it was never larger than at the outbreak. The tiny Japanese engineering industry could not produce enough ship engines to power a large replacement fleet, even if the Japanese economy had been up to the task of replacing losses in other respects, which it was not.

The Japanese empire at its height span such a huge portion of the globe, its forward combat elements in some of the most primitive and infrastructure-free portions of the world where absolutely everything had to come thousands of miles by ship, and its industrial economy was completely dependent on ship-borne imports for most raw materials, including oil, coal, and iron ore, from Indonesia, China, and Korea. It entered the war with the U.S. with a merchant marine barely sufficient for civilian needs over this extended space, and unable to supply the army in forward areas without causing civilian shortages and bottlenecks.

At this taut rope, the U.S. directed a horde of submarines, who mimicked advances in German U-boat doctrine the U.S. was painfully learning about in the Atlantic, and added their own improvements (such as more advanced mine warfare) and refinements suited to the Japanese enemy. These proceeded to sink the Japanese merchant navy, and with it undermined the Japanese war economy and starved all its forward elements.

Once Pacific bases were available, the B-29s added to this economic disaster by burning to the ground the centers of the 66 largest Japanese cities, long before the A-bomb. The Japanese final defense plan for the home islands included a militia of 10 million men armed with bamboo spears, as the economy was collapsing.

In the island fighting itself or at the tactical level, the U.S. developed an attritionist doctrine of overwhelming firepower and methodical attack. Occasionally this may have been wasteful, as for instance in the Okinawa fighting, when some opportunities for manuever may have been missed. With all the firepower means available, however, this tactical approach did allow the U.S. to establish and maintain a colonial-era kill ratio of 10 to 1 and up, which in most conflicts between major powers would be considered decidedly "cheap".

Anyway, you asked for my views about the Pacific war - probably with nothing more than island hopping in mind, is my guess. It was overdetermined. Anything besides sinking our own fleets with friendly fire would eventually have worked. Manuever ideas acted as force multipliers to shorten (intel and Midway e.g.) and cheapen (island hopping), the war. Production, air combat and air interdiction of supply links, and subs destroying the enemy transport links wholesale, were decisive.

See, I answer your questions whenever they are real questions. Why can't you do the same in return, and address some of mine? E.g. address the question of when offensive manuever cannot be expected to work, in terms of Captain's elements, or my suggestion about odds, time to front, force to space, etc.

I realize this is hard for you, because you think everything else is idiotic by definition or something. So did the St. Cyr crowd. But anyone can look at empirical cases can learn from historical facts, and therefore you ought to be able to say when your own doctrinal ideas would be misleading or useless. "When the commander is an idiot" is not a response.

Stop pretending that a definite doctrine is a patent medicine cure-all, and look at the cases where it does *not* apply, where its central concepts are *not* the important items. That is the only way to see its limits. And its limits are what determine its real nature, and its possible value when conditions are ripe for it. If it "doesn't have limits" then it doesn't have a real content, and is just a set of meaningless bromides.

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Mr. Cawley,

That was humorous.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Actually, they learned within a month, which is more than I can say for many modern manueverists who repeat their idiotic claims about "the offensive is the only decisive form of warfare" and all that rot. The disciples of St. Cyr are alive and well; they just don't know their own pedigree very accurately.

LOL. I know my pedigree just fine thank you. It's called the US Army.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Since when is saying all that is desireable is part of your doctrine, tendentious?

Here is my doctrine. read it for yourself.

FM 100-5 OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/100-5/100-5toc.htm

FM 71-100 DIVISION OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-100/toc.htm

FM 71-3 ARMORED AND MECHANIZED BRIGADE OPERATIONS

http://155.217.58.58/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/71-3/f377toc.htm

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Since you made ridiculous question-begging statements like that you think inability to learn should be included in the *definition* of attrition. You are not merely saying you are in favor of mom and apple pie, you are also saying anyone who quibbles with the universal applicability of your manueverist doctrine is against them. Which is called *lying*, or at the very least begging the question.

ROTFLMAO. You calling me a liar? Nah, not possible. In all seriousness though, when did you fail to realize that the we are applying our own definitions to the terms attritionist and maneuverist? Doctrine does not define those terms, we do. Your definition it seems is attacker=maneuverist, defender=attritionist?

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

As for the statement that "manueverist" and "attritionist" do not apply to individuals, I suppose you expect me and all bystanders to conclude you are arguing with me not because I criticise the universal applicability of manueverist doctrine, but because I am, perhaps, a Mormon or something - but certainly not because I am an attritionist, because there is no such animal; the term does not apply to people. In fact, all of your critics are figments of their own imaginations, and every actual person agrees with you. Right?

Wrong, I never said that. An intellectual such as yourself should have picked that up. Perhaps your comprehension is clouded. the terms do apply to individuals. who else would the terms apply to? chipmunks? fish? Doctrine does not apply the terms, we apply them. Read doctrine and you will notice it does not talk in terms of maneuverist or attritionist. I've provided you the link, if you want, you can read it yourself.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

...nice analysis snipped...Anyway, you asked for my views about the Pacific war - probably with nothing more than island hopping in mind, is my guess. It was overdetermined. Anything besides sinking our own fleets with friendly fire would eventually have worked. Manuever ideas acted as force multipliers to shorten (intel and Midway e.g.) and cheapen (island hopping), the war. Production, air combat and air interdiction of supply links, and subs destroying the enemy transport links wholesale, were decisive.

Good analysis. Can't say I disagree with too much.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

See, I answer your questions whenever they are real questions. Why can't you do the same in return, and address some of mine? E.g. address the question of when offensive manuever cannot be expected to work, in terms of Captain's elements, or my suggestion about odds, time to front, force to space, etc.

Hmm. I must have missed those questions. Perhaps if you were not so verbose and trying so hard to come across as a scholar I might have seen the question and answered them. For my simple soldier's mind, number them and make them clear and direct. As someone else in this thread stated. BLUF..bottom line up front.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

I realize this is hard for you, because you think everything else is idiotic by definition or something. So did the St. Cyr crowd. But anyone can look at empirical cases can learn from historical facts, and therefore you ought to be able to say when your own doctrinal ideas would be misleading or useless. "When the commander is an idiot" is not a response.

LOL, it will always be a potential response. In any event, if the doctrine is misleading or useless, then we have problems. The idea is for the doctrine to be flexible enough to be adapted to any situation. That's how it works. If the doctrine is not capable of dealing with something, change the doctrine to where it is.

Originally posted by jasoncawley@ameritech.net:

Stop pretending that a definite doctrine is a patent medicine cure-all, and look at the cases where it does *not* apply, where its central concepts are *not* the important items. That is the only way to see its limits. And its limits are what determine its real nature, and its possible value when conditions are ripe for it. If it "doesn't have limits" then it doesn't have a real content, and is just a set of meaningless bromides.

You can read my doctrine in the above links. Decide for yourself.

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Originally posted by Blackhorse:

You can read my doctrine in the above links. Decide for yourself.

Good point. It has become the habit of some on this forum to characterize those who support mneuver warfare as some kind of wild-eyed maniacs who understand nothing about warfare, neglecting the fact that maneuver theory is the official doctrine of the US Army and of the US Marine Corps.

It is even clearer in the case of the USMC, since whole sections of the doctrine in MCDP-1 are lifted directly from Lind's book. MCDP1 like the Army manuals is also available on the web for free, so there is no excuse for not reading it.

So I would launch the following challenge to those who characterize themselves as attritionists and who oppose maneuver warfare: please read MDCP-1, then please tell us exactly which parts of the doctrine you think are wrong. I can't speak for anyone else, but as far as I am concerned, this is EXACTLY what I support as maneuver warfare, nothing more and nothing less.

So never mind the straw men about maneuverists claiming that one should never attack or never defend, or about when to stop dancing and start hitting, or requesting examples of when the theory is wrong, and let us have the specifics of exactly where and why you think the doctrine of the USMC as described in MCDP-1 is unrealistic and stupid. Chapter and verse.

It's time to stop dancing around and time to start hitting. smile.gif

Henri

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Wow...the sheer magnitude of this thread can be overwhelming. I believe all this b*lls**t biggrin.gif is centered around the one simple strategy of moderm warfare; which can only be fought one way. Whether it is on the offensive or defending:


  1. *Find out what/where your enemy's weak points are or most likely will be.
    *Use your indirect assests (air, arty, etc) to suppress your enemy.
    *Then combine your assets and attack their weak points in hopes of breaking their will to fight, their capability to fight.
    *Keep going and you'll have to drag your logistics tail along.
    *The faster you capitalize on opportunities, the more likely you are to win.

Simple enough wink.gif

Prost!!

[This message has been edited by Abteilung (edited 02-11-2001).]

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Abteilung,

I dont know if you realize this but the length of your post was way below standard for this particular discussion. Plus you were way too brief and to the point. You must make another go at it. Jolly good attempt though. Better luck next time.

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Originally posted by ScoutPL:

Abteilung,

I dont know if you realize this but the length of your post was way below standard for this particular discussion. Plus you were way too brief and to the point. You must make another go at it. Jolly good attempt though. Better luck next time.

LOL!

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You want to know what is wrong with existing doctrine? OK. But it is long. You probably knew that. I was sort of under the impression that you could speak for your position instead of a book, but if you'd rather watch me carry on an argument with a book, that is fine by me. The books are longer, though, so you'll have to put up with "verbosity". If you want me to be pithy, you'll have to cite arguments that fit on one page yourself.

>The offense is the decisive form of battle.

Except when it isn't. And when that is and is not, we shall yet have to examine.

>Divisions seize and retain the initiative through offensive action.

Except when they lose. then they lose the initiative and the ability to respond to enemy threats, through lack of reserves.

>commanders prefer offensive operations that find and destroy the enemy.

Well, compared to him being alive in an unknown location, yes that is preferable. But what does it have to do with the word "offensive"? The level of connection here is so tenuous that as little might be meant as "shoot 'em". But we all know that is not what "offensive" properly means in a military context.

>They use the maximum range of available assets

Now here is an idea that is actually useful. But it has little to do with the rest. Obviously, stressing the use of firepower at maximum range is not exactly the same thing as stressing the maneuver of battalions to point-blank through supposed weak points in an enemy formation. For those in Rio Linda, there aren't many gaps in enemy formations from maximum range, since usually his entire formation is within the weapons range of his units, or at least many of them.

>They leverage technological advantages to gain intelligence and employ lethal and nonlethal precision fires as a precursor >to maneuver, and the decisive blow

Slightly mangled syntax, but the meaning is clear. Fires are "prep fires", and the "decisive blow" follows maneuver, i.e. getting closer. There is no such thing as a decisive blow by precision fires. Someone should explain this to General Moore. He obviously must have lost the battle of landing zone X-ray in 1965, because he did not follow this formula. Moore certainly thought he was "leveraging technological advantages", without the rest.

Now, here is the clearest statement of the doctrine's purpose -

>destroy the enemy's ability and will to resist.

So far so good. The question is precisely how to destroy his ability.

>This is done by defeating the integrity of his defensive system;

This ambiguous phrase obviously means make holes in his formation or penetrate it. But it is stately broadly enough to cover entirely different notions, like destroying his forces.

>capturing his territory;

Essence of the maneuver idea, to me.

>and destroying his supporting fire systems

Again, phrased ambiguously enough to mean his forces, but they really mean his artillery, his rear-area long range weapons.

>command and control systems, command posts, reserves, and logistics support

Reserves are a curious addition to the rest of the list.

The clear meaning of the entire statement is - you make a hole (defeat "integrity"), go through it ("capture territory"), and blast his rear area elements - artillery, C3I, supplies. This is offered as the way to destroy the enemy's ability and will to resist. Because the bald statement of the formula would seem insufficiently broad to cover other cases, key clauses are phrased in a fuzzy enough manner to barely allow alternate readings. E.g. if you destroy the entire enemy front line force where it stands, you can say "I was defeating the integrity of his defensive system". Similarly, if a breakthrough battle becomes nothing more than a giant collision of the main forces, you can say "I was destroying his reserves". And the all purpose "destroy his supporting fire systems" can cover shooting anything in the enemy force, even focusing on that rather than his C3I or the rest of the list.

Nevertheless, it is clear the doctrine has a real reading, and these other add-ons are qualifications. The doctrine planly teaches that the way to destroy the enemy force is to make holes, run through them, and destroy the "softer" rear area supports of the fighting force. It is plain to any impartial reader, that the idea is *not* to destroy the enemy fighting forces at the front or in place. It is precisely this that is being *avoided*, as a harder task that supposedly superior maneuver attempts will avoid the necessity for accomplishing.

So the question is, when is this *not* the way to achieve the end of destroying the enemy's ability to resist?

#1 when it is harder to "defeat the integrity of the defensive system" i.e. break through, than it is to defeat the enemy front line forces in place. The most obvious tactical example is a defense in depth in which the forward elements are a very thin screen, but powerful mobile reserves that cannot be neutralized by indirect fire, are available to meet any given spearhead, more rapidly than attackers can be expect to reach the same point - and where, moreover, enemy indirect fire strength makes extremely dense formations to overcome such reserves, impractical (a force to space issue). Because, in that situation, the screening elements of the defender can be destroyed with *little loss*, without any excessive bunching up. And he will then have to replace them. And the operation can be repeated, if he retains the same dispositions of forces.

This will not "defeat the integrity of the defensive system" in the sense plainly meant by the phrase. But that phrase can be stretched a few yards to cover it, just. Does the doctrine teach anything about this, as a way to destroy the enemy's ability to resist? No. Because it "sees" the enemy front line forces as *obstacles* to the intended purpose, breakthrough to the rear areas, to be fought when they have to be to remove them. The alternative is to view them as *targets*, as *opportunities* to destroy the defender's capability to resist. To view the forward forces, in other words, as the most *exposed*, *unsupported*, and *engadered* portions of the enemy force, and thus the finest places to achieve lopsided local firefights.

To the "when" (or when not) question, then, the answer ought to be "when the enemy is deployed in a certain way." The doctrine envisions most of the enemy firepower concentrated along the front of his defensive system, and the rear area targets, including a catch all "reserves", as a more appealing and softer target. But what if his "reserves" at 2/3rds of his force and all of his heavy armor? And his fearsome "front line" forces. are a thin screen of light vehicles and leg infantry in hasty foxholes? Then which is the softer target, the "enemy reserves" and "defeating the integrity of the defensive system", or just plinking off of whole front screen every day? Few defenders can afford such a regular drain for long. But the "most back" deployment, is *optimized* to defeat attackers seeking *breakthrough*. It is *vunerable* to attackers seeking to attrite the enemy force instead.

Is this covered by what they mean? No. Read on -

>the preferred method is to overwhelm an enemy force during a *short period of time* throughout the depth of the battlefield

Meaning, methods that defeat only the exposed forward portions of the enemy defense, are not at all "the preferred method". There is a proviso about it sometimes being "tactically required" to fight "in sequence", for the sake of "later engagements". But it is clear the breakthrough battle is meant - fighting the enemy throughout the zone. And it is logical to require that when the goal is to reach the enemy rear areas, because otherwise the enemy will react and patch holes or fall back, and hole-making attempts will not succeed.

When is this simultaneous attack throughout the zone, doctrine, likely to be wrong-headed? The clearest case is when the attack possesses a definite but limited edge in a combat characteristic like *range*. Remember the point above about commanders seeking to engage enemies at maximum range? Well, that is going to have different meanings with this "hit the whole enemy defense" requirement. If you put your longest range weapons on his furthest back assets, you may be able to cover his whole depth of defense - but only by deploying those weapons somewhat forward, to get the necessary "reach" into his backfield. And those enemy forces will likely be less accurately located, most of the time, than the front line enemies.

By comparison, hitting the enemy's *forward* elements at the near the extreme range of your own longest range weapons, cannot promise to defeat the whole enemy depth at once. But it is much more likely to allow hitting them *without reply*. If you think this is academic, consider that an edge in NV equipment can give our maneuver elements a significant, but not unlimited, range edge in night fighting, even against enemies equipped with some NV equipment, just not as good. How does this doctrine wind up recommending that sort of edge be used? Well, you can't use it to hit his whole depth, and also fully exploit the "I see him, he doesn't see me" assymmetry, simultaneously. If you think the *breakthrough* is more important than the *attrition* effects of the front-line fighting, then you might easily decide to use the edge to hit further into the enemy defensive zone. Whereas the other use of it might prove decisive *alone*, if repeated - and do so without loss.

Range is not the only characteristic that may favor the attacker, that can render the "hit the whole depth at once to break through" idea, sub-optimal or at the very least not the only or obvious way to go. So can e.g. front line odds, importance of losses to both sides (e.g. through replacement rates), relative toughness against indirect fire, visibility or lack of it which often relates to range but is sometimes independent (e.g. hidden until fires cases). If the enemy's "ability to coordinate" is less *without* engaging all of his depth at once (e.g. when his whole defensive set up is *designed* for that), then the doctrine's recommendation is simply wrong.

It is also possible for the doctrine to mislead, not because it overlooks a way to exploit an advantage, but because it assumes the absence of a weakness that is actually present. For instance, attempting to attack the entire defensive zone in some WW I cases, meant expecting to fight at the forward edge of a "scarred" area through which resupply was essentially impossible. Since this would fail, the goals of breakthrough would not be achieved, and moreover the point at which the fighting occurred would be disadvantageous, compared to the defender still being in the scarred zone himself, and within range of attacking artillery. That is an historical example; other weaknesses of a similar kind are possible. E.g. the doctrine might council using air-mobile assets to deal with the depth of the enemy battle zone, but if enemy AD assets are overwhelming, this is not a sound approach.

The point, again, is the attacker weaknesses or strengths may be better utilized by stuffing the idea of breakthrough and its co-requirement to attack the entire enemy defensive zone, in particular circumstances.

The last paragraph of the fundamentals of attack section is the action hero version, about how the enemy commander decides "it is just too much, I can't take it anymore, aaaaa" and our guys get to do whatever they please. This is not the effect the boys in blue pants found in August 1914. Multiple attacks simply engaged all of the "defender's" firepower, while dissipating that of the "attackers". Since they had thus delivered their stunning and initiative-grabbing daring and decisive simultaneous offensive maneuvers, at about 1:2 local odds, they got creamed.

As for maneuvers, the doctrine does not speak of maneuver as thought or success or the absence of failure to learn, as some here have. It speaks more prosaically of envelopment, turning movement, penetration, and frontal attack. It also rapidly changes turning movement into envelopment, at least at the level it is talking about, leaving a total of three. These, briefly, are "flank 'em", "split 'em", and "push 'em". How refreshingly concrete.

When flanking them, the doctrine stresses that the purpose is to avoid the enemy strength, which it thus assumes is located along the front of the enemy formation. This is not always the case, as should hardly require repeating by now. The doctrine also states that the flank of the flanking force itself, which is by definition offered to the main enemy direction if not to his local forces, is to be lightly screened, and mentions some of the elements that can do so. It does not say when this can't be expected to prove adequate and flanking attempt therefore have to be foregone - it only envisions not being able to flank someone, when the flankers can't find or get around that flank. Simplistic, and a bit vunerable to certain kinds of traps. (See Scout PLs 1st defense series if you haven't a clue what I am talking about. Suckering an attacker around a seemingly open flank into a kill zone is a standard defender's trick).

How so? Well, again the focus of the doctrine throughout, sees maneuver forces as obstacles and sources of front-facing combat power. It does not see them as targets in their own right. That an enemy would want you to put, not your rear areas or C3I, but fighting forces, right about *here*, to destroy them, is not really something it emphasizes or thinks about. The commander is expected to decide based on overall strengths and dispositions of own and enemy forces - fine, that is a bromide without content so it is true, but doesn't say anything.

But the doctrine does not just leave it up to commanders. It says flat out "commanders use penetration when flanking is unavailable", which means they use flanking when it is available. There is, you see, a definite chain or ordering of the maneuvers. They go from best case to worst case - flank, split, push. The only reason to drop down the chain is because the higher ones aren't available. That is what "maneuver doctrine" means in the concrete and day to day world.

Now, penetrations. The doctrine says directly, the division masses its power usually at a single point. Those quibbling that the maneuver idea is not based on bunching up in definite circumstances, are not quoting their own sources. It does. And it is said that they will be costly in casualties. And why? Because it attacks into the defender's strength. Notice, the front of the enemy is considered his strength, regardless of his actual deployment. And in addition, the costliness is traced to the defender's strength, which the flank attack avoided. It is not traced to the attacker's being bunched up to achieve the breakthrough.

In other words, the thing that is thought of as "costly" is simply coming at defenders from the front, as such. The bunching is thought of as a way of achieving breakthrough by overpowering the enemy at a single point, *not* as a way of reducing the maneuver element's vunerability to enemy maneuver elements, or a means of lowering own or raising enemy losses. The stress is put on achieving the hole, holding it open, and widdening it, and on exploitation into the enemy rear areas.

There is not discussion of failed breakthroughs or engagement of enemy reserves. It is implicitly assumed, in the "holding open" emphasis, that enemy efforts will be focused on closing the hole again by counterattacking from the flanks of the breach. If he has other ends in view and takes other actions, the doctrine says nothing about it. Attacks generally, it is stated elsewhere, are always to be directed at weak points. There is no discussion of stand-off firepower attacks explicitly directed at strongest points. at the enemy mass, because again the emphasis is entirely on breakthrough and not on destroying the enemy in the combat zone.

The doctrine says flat out that frontal attack or pushing, is the least desireable "form of maneuver". It is mentioned, or perhaps "allowed" is better, to fix an enemy (while others turn his flank e.g.), or to "overrun or destroy" a weak enemy. Notice, even there, destroy is half subordinated to getting through them "overrun". It is explicitly stated that it may be "appropriate" in the enemy rear "to destroy forces" (egads!) and to "secure lines of communication". I suppose this means you are allowed to destroy HQ and artillery batteries by frontal attack, and you are also allowed to seize bridges and road junctions, because after all they really are needed. But terrain is at least as important as anything done to the enemy force even in these cases.

"The frontal attack is only favored against a weak or disorganized enemy when the situation is not fully developed, when the attacker has overwhelming combat power, when the time and situation require immediate reaction to enemy action, or when the mission is to fix the enemy in position, deceive him, or assist the main attack. Frontal attacks squander combat power."

Now, I would like someone to explain this to Matthew Ridgeway's memory. Because he didn't have any of those (unless "disorganized enemy" is turned into a sophistic catch-all), and he didn't squander any combat power. He just smashed the Chinese to heck and gone by an appropriate use of extremely well-time frontal counter-attacks followed by withdrawls. Because he noticed, within weeks of arriving in Korea, that the Chinese logistics were their weak point, and that their whole army was operating in a definite tempo of flurries and lulls. He deduced that these flurries and lulls, and advances and periods remaining stationary, reflected logistical strains, and that when they were prepared for battle they were dangerous, and when they were not they were vunerable. He then pounded out a slippery jazz beat on their quartermaster's heads and tore them to pieces.

Oh I forgot. You are not supposed to rely on operations in sequence. Silly Matt.

When transitioning to the offensive against a spent attacker who no longer has an edge at the point of attack, it is flatly stated that frontal attack by the forces already in place is the least favorable course of action. It also stresses that time is critical. These two would seem to be in just a little bit of tension with each other. I submit that if you have disorganized an attacker with fires, and he is obviously in extreme confusion and right in front of you, that you tell this doctrine to take a flying leap, and jump out and finish the bastards. Yes, getting "le moment juste" for this operation is a delicate matter. It is safer to err on the side of caution and wait until it is quite clear the attack is broken. But after that, waiting for a whole defense shuffle and an ad hoc battlegroup to "flank em", strikes my as missing the point. The enemy's front is *not* the most dangerous place at all times. Sometimes it is where he is most vunerable, precisely because his forces farthest forward are least supported by and tied in with, the rest of his force. This is especially true in confused situations. The "flank" of the attacking force is probably where his supporting fire base or fixing attack elements were, and they are probably in the best shape, not the worst.

As for transition to the defense, it is baldly stated that attacking units only cease attacking because they must. "Without a compelling reason to defend, however, Army divisions continue the attack. The defense is a temporary state". This would come as news to many fine historical commanders, but after all "the offensive is the decisive..." blah blah blah. They do at least tell the commander to "remain mentally agile" and to "anticipate transition to the defense". Since they don't tell him when to, accept when he can't attack, it seems this is synonymous with "be ready to lose and adapt", which is about as far as St. Cyr will go. Literally the only thing mentioned about this transition, is that it is OK to pick your terrain by falling back, instead of attacking forward to seize the line you need. Why do commanders need to be told this? Because they are drilled that "the offensive is..." Otherwise it would be rather obvious. If what you are trying to do is not get territory, but kill the enemy, you want to pick the place where you can do it best, and directions forward or backward be damned. See Ridgeway, above.

As for how to defend, the razzle dazzle blind 'em and baffle 'em school is in the saddle here too, writing the manual. There are paragraphs about taking out enemy AD so the choppers can have fun, and the enemy artillery and CB and fire direction centers, and some stuff about how the purpose of air deployed minefields is to allow counterattacks, which sounds to me like the purest possible horsefeathers. The rest of the fire plan discussion is about calling for lots and assigning something to everything and everyone, every deep objective, and some direct fire for each maneuver unit.

The mobile defense is at least "oriented on destroying the enemy", which seems however to mean "as opposed to holding the terrain". It is stated that one reason to use it is insufficent forces. Why the retention of terrain would ever take precendence over the destruction of the attackers, is not stated. But obviously it is assumed the attackers are following the same doctrine and trying to create holes, so presumably one can't let them take places. How a hole is supposed to be created by a willingness to fall back, as opposed to by a rigid defense that stays forward even when a flanking unit is overwhelmed, is never explained.

But the "mobile defense" aspect is to me the least objectionable part of the doctrine, the part that I think is most nearly right. If it has failings, they lie in what I would call an overconfidence that the striking force or reserve will defeat the attackers if merely placed opposite them. There seems to me to be little emphasis on avoiding an attacker's presumably superior firepower (except by supposedly blinding him, which would seem to require all of your own or assume the attacker has no business trying to attack you in the first place if you have more than enough for that and all other uses - or dispersion in depth, which actually makes the firepower of his maneuver elements more dangerous not less). There is also little discussion of what to do if the attacker is content to kill your forward screening force, not walk into your striking force trap, then yawn and resume the procedure as often as desired. The deep defense is also quite vunerable to this "eat the surface cheaply" approach. Presumably the "unnatural" defensive state is supposed o magically evaporate if he thus "cedes" the initiative. I can't see why.

This is certainly not a defense doctrine which envisions the destruction of bunched up attackers by massed indirect fires. Yet if you asked a dozen attack order planners what they fear most, they would say "getting hit by massed indirect fires while bunched up opposite the hole or hole-making attempt". And you are not massing fires for that purpose, when you are striking everything in the attacker's C3I rear, where the target density is south of Florida. This is all undoubtedly because the whole idea is to regain the initiative and to dance with the maneuver elements. It is incidentally stated that the defender's purpose in maneuvering is to shift "sufficient" to stop him. Further "Decisions in defense may be reached through a single, massive counterattack or in a series of local actions", which about sums up the thought applied to the subject. They want to attack even on the defense, and the only alternative they see is "a series of local actions", meaning presumably ambush and fall back, or some idiot attacker feeding piecemeal forces into an interlocking-fire-zone meatgrinder.

Then they discuss the use of reserves, and the context is how to attack while defending. The purpose of a reserve is to retain the initiative. Of five cited purposes of reserves, only one, "to relieve depleted elements and allow continuous operations", is wholly a matter of attrition logic. There is a noticable confusion in the discussion of counterattacks, because their entire purpose in a defensive scheme is obviously to destroy attackers, at whom they therefore must be directed, yet the attack doctrine is to always hit weakness. They settle for a muddled "hit a weak spot from which you can shoot at their sides and rear", or in other words, they distinguish where you go (no enemy there) from where you can see (lots of enemy). Of course, the idea that a tank can't fire at its side is, shall we say, optimistic, and where you go is definitely "at them" when you enter a spot they can see. But the distinction allows them to pass the verbal difficulty. Counterattacks are obviously directed at where the enemy *is*, but they can't quite bring themselves to say so.

The sum of my criticism is that the existing doctrine is overlooking important "paper scissors" relationships and council a single definite course in numerous cases, where in fact those courses of action are only optimized against a single type of enemy action. Even this type is confused. Thus, in the discussion of maneuvers and the offensive, it is assumed the front of the enemy is the dangerous place. But in the defensive schemes, everything is depth and reserves, so what is so dangerous about the forward edge of the battle area, really? "Massed indirect fires" might be a real answer if the attackers are bunched, but the defender's indirect fires are supposed to be hitting the entire range of tiny and spread C3I and artillery and AD assets, so what's to mass? And if you do not need to mass to overpower thin front defenders, then where is the target anyway? Similarly, in discussion penetrations, the doctrine stresses holding open a hole, but on defense, the defenders fall back so what hole? More, the penetrations are to seek out the enemy rear areas, but the defense seeks to counterattack with a strong striking force after luring the attacker too far forward.

Sorry folks, but whenever there are two options there are head games and not one right answer. If you attack the way the doctrine says, then yes the defense set up in the doctrine is the way to beat it, I agree. And it will beat it. I'd predict defense dominance in this doctrine vs. itself with equally sophisticated forces. But to attack this defense, an entirely different doctrine would be possible and ought to work quite well.

He is in depth. OK, then don't try to go deep. He has a giant reserve held out of his already inferior forces, if you are attacking. OK, so don't try to break through. Just kill his forward forces with your whole force. If overall you have only 2:1 odds, and he holds out a king sized 2/3rds in reserve or deep, then you've got 6:1 local odds at the forward edge of the battle area, without concentrating to a spearpoint at all. Steamroll frontally in line, using fire from near the limits of practical ranges, and he either backs away, or he loses his entire screening force, not just a little piece of it along one avenue of advance. The forward elements of the *defenders*, are isolated from supports, by the very depth with which they are deployed. If they mass opposite you somewhere to "counterattack", then just concentrate indirect fire on their massed-up point, and stop pushing.

You aren't trying to get through him in this approach. You are trying to kill his forces, and at minimum cost to you. Territory is secondary, because you aren't attempting a massed breakthrough anywhere to start with.

Now, the defense needed to stop that kind of attack, is not the same defense as the "in depth" one described here. For one thing, you are going to have to worry rather more about replacing depleted forces, because you are going to be getting them regularly from your chewed up screening elements. For another, blind 'em and baffle 'em are not going to help much, when he is not trying to cut a seam in your defense set up, but only wants to lick the frosting off it.

What is wrong with the doctrine is that it is only part of the story, and it presents that part as though it were the whole story. Against a rigid linear defense all up-front, the stuff it says about attacking would be true. But not against the deep defense scheme it describes. The things it says you should never do because they will fail, would indeed often fail against a rigid all-up-front defense scheme. But against the defense in depth described, a number of them would work like a charm.

Otherwise put, you cannot count on defenders using a rigid linear defense, that you can attack with the formulas described with good expected results. Sometimes instead they will use a mobile defense. And if you get all aggressive pushing for the decisive breakthrough and keep reciting that "the offense is the decisive..." then that kind of defense will hand you your head. Meanwhile, on defense you cannot assume that the attackers will oblige your defense in depth formulas and push to the utmost for deep breathroughs straight into your kill sacks. Sometimes they will just eat your screen with a short, broad front shove, burp politely, and wait to be fed again tomorrow.

It would seem to me that these sorts of alternate options, with a full understanding of them as move and counter, their effectiveness not set in concrete but related to the enemy's choice out of the same set, should be taught to all field grade officers.

[This message has been edited by jasoncawley@ameritech.net (edited 02-13-2001).]

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Doctrine is but a tool. So are decisive battle, manuever, attrition, defense, offensive, and the terms of the like. How they are used and in what order is ideally dictated by the situation at hand and your goals (strategy).

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First of all I am Canadian and contrary to popular belief we are not the 51st state and still use the proper English spelling. Or at least till they give it up and we all talk Yank.

I think it may be time to settle this like men and CM it out. I am trying to develop a CM Campaign system which would allow us to test these theories but I am having a hard time. It needs to be very simple but built around CM battles. Let me chew on this and I'll take suggestions.

Mr Cawley,

Everybody hold your hats but I think I agree with most of what you say. Even though the length of the disertation was extreme.

I think there are some serious dangers associated with the "cult of manoeuvre" which can lead to disaster if not tempered with a healthy dose of realism.

I shy away from the "bleeding of the screen" idea however as it smacks of real attrition.

I think the Manoeuvre is the "desired end-state" of any strategy, operation and Tactic. The ability to hit the soft underbelly, smack the chin, get the ball behind his defence or whatever. It is Manoeuvre which (it is believed) will win wars by getting the enemy in a reactionary stance and keeping him there. It is a good philosophy but a little narrow (as American driven philosophies tend to be...cheap shot but I couldn't resist), as you have pointed out Mr Cawley, often Manoeuvre is not possible. We have listed several reasons:

Troop Quality Differential: If our boys are a poorer quality in training, experience and motivation, the system by which we attain Manoeuvre will break down. Our jr leaders cannot be entrusted or empowered to execute intent over orders, a tenant upon which the whole freakin house of cards rests.

Duration of conflict and Political will. As conflicts protract without the quick victory our "Nintendo generation" has come to expect, the will to conduct bold, risky plans really falls flat. In fact current political climate favours attrition far more than Manoeuvre. I will use a case which will raise eyebrows, Kosovo. The attrition strategy worked. Let's bomb em from high altitude until he's had enough and leaves. It even led to a loss of political power. I think we won that one but it was't Manoeuvre. Manoeuvre was the Russians rolling into the airport at Pristina (sp?) saying, "go ahead send in the airborne...I dare you". That was risky as hell, could have cost them a lot of lives but paid off in political consessions. American Manouevre would have been a major Airborne operation onto the border of Serbia, followed by amphibious assault link up. We would of caught most of the Serbian forces in Kosovo before they could withdraw and set the stage for a push into Serbia and settled this once and for all. Problem is most North Americans (including myself) would call that insane. Why should we get a few thousand of our boys killed when an air assault can do the job? Let's commit the ground troops after they have been bombed into submission, a much better plan but not bold Manoeuvre.

Technological Tempo; if our kit allows us to move, see, think and plan faster we have a better chance at Manoeuvre. If it is the other way around, you have a problem. I think time to front or reaction also falls into this category.

Opportunity or timing; a very "touchy feely" concept but one must be able to know when the conditions of Manoeuvre are ripe. Is it a gut feel or a checklist of conditions. I am not sure and contrary to modern doctrine, neither are they.

In conclusion, I think that reality is "shades of grey" in which both systems will be employed. An attrition defence may provide an opportunity to conduct Manoeuvre. A Manoeuvre may set the stage for Attrition. It is the use of both of these tools and what I believe is coming (the techno hybrid of Attrition control/Manoevre mentality) which seperate the winners from the losers in future wars.

Finally to Mr Abteilung, this is not "b*llsh*t" nor is it simple. These types of discussions elevate our concepts of warfare and put us on the road to a professional viewpoint rather than an amateur one.

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Well captain, I see you have reached the first level of understanding in Jason's position. Yes, Jason has described the differences between Maneuver and Attrition quite well. Unfortunately, just identifying the differences is not the sole focus here. Let's put these definitions into the correct context for this discussion now.

The original context within which this discussion began was a challenge by Jason. His challenge was that all wars are won by attrition and that no war (or very few) have been won through maneuver. The challenge was for 'maneuverists' to prove that maneuver won wars rather than attrition. Seeing the definition of attrition as put forward in Jason's last post, does this challenge have any merit? Have any wars been won through the method of attrition that he put forward?

Further, he stated that the heart of the question was either to drive on Moscow or to cut off the army at Kiev ... well, cutting off the army at Kiev would be a classic flanking maneuver - something directly identified in Jason's master's thesis. However, he views this as attrition. At the same time he says that the goals of attrition are not to flank. This leaves the question of what really is the decision to cut off the Soviet army at Kiev? Obviously, by his own definition both Moscow and Kiev are actions of maneuver ... yet somehow Kiev is attrition? This doesn't wash.

One last thing captain, do you think that Jason's description of 'licking the frosting' is a description of decisive battle in the strategic context? If you are licking the frosting off the entire US army, it may take a while before any sort of decision is reached. It took the Vietnamese ten years of licking before we pulled out. Does that fit your definition of decisive?

So, I will restate the points I raised in the initial post. Total War does not equal military attrition strategy. Wars are won through a combination of attrition and maneuver. Moscow and Kiev are both maneuver strategies. Decisive battle is achieved through maneuver. I am sitting at the negotiating table ready to recieve Jason's surrender - otherwise I will really have to shred his argument through direct quotes (his own) and Atomic action. I have enjoyed crossing swords with you Jason, but it's time to put the sword belt away. wink.gif Specious smiley added for Jason's benefit.

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

When we were in the Bocage country we were assaulted by them Tigers ... you know what I mean by assaulted huh? WELL I MEAN ASSAULTED!!!!

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ALS Vetran, we are agreeing loudly. I totally agree that warfare is a balance between Attrition and Manoeuvre. Jasons position (which seems to have shifted) in it's original context is no more dangerous that the extreme of Manoeuvre which has sprung up. Both have to be weighed and used where appropriate.

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Originally posted by The_Capt:

ALS Vetran, we are agreeing loudly. I totally agree that warfare is a balance between Attrition and Manoeuvre. Jasons position (which seems to have shifted) in it's original context is no more dangerous that the extreme of Manoeuvre which has sprung up. Both have to be weighed and used where appropriate.

Capt, the only "extreme of maneuver" that I have seen are those that are wrongly attributed to maneuverists by their opponents.

Jason's long dissertation of MCDP1 is interesting, but it makes the mistake of considering the doctrine as a set of recipes, which is certainly is not.

Lind (on whose book MCDP1 is based) clearly states that "warfare brooks no rules", which means that it cannot be reduced to a set of rules. By doing so, Jason is whipping a dead cat. As you yourself have pointed out (I think), Maneuver Warfare is an approach to war, a philosophy.

By requesting Maneuverists to state cases where the theory does not apply, Jason puts supporters of the theory in the dilemma of either admitting that the theory is false (does not always apply) or to appear as unbending extremists.

I have recently quoted a passage by Leonhard himself on this forum where he states that maneuver does not always preclude attrition, but this is conveniently ignored by some.

Henri

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