Fraud or fuzziness?

In another coup, the Small Wars Journal has posted an article by Col Eric Walters, USMC.  Col Walters chaired the sessions on 4GW at last years’ Boyd Conference and was involved with the Marine Corps’ adoption of maneuver warfare doctrine in the late 1980s.  As with TX Hammes’ comments on Afghanistan (see posting below), any article by Col Walters will repay close reading.

In this piece, he “dissects” (his word) William Owens’ critique of maneuver warfare that recently appeared in the Royal United Services Institute Journal.  It’s not a refutation because Walters gives Owens full credit for several pertinent observations.  But he points out that the concept of “maneuver warfare” has progressed well beyond the notions embodied in MCDP 1 (1997) that were themselves reactions to the experiences of Vietnam. And then he raises the question of whether, because modern maneuver warfare doctrine arose from attempts to defeat an insurgency, are those concepts guiding counterinsurgency theory today?

I think you’ll find it an interesting exploration of state-of-the-art concepts in conflict by someone who is helping shape them.

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One Response to “Fraud or fuzziness?”

  1. Barryon 17 Sep 2008 at 7:04 pm 1

    I do not understand the references to a Soviet school of maneuver warfare, on paper perhaps but where, the soviets had success in WW2 it was only with overwhelming advantages in materiel (Brute Force by John Ellis) due in no small measure to being gifted 400,000 trucks by the US. Considering that they also had access to the day to day decisions of the German command (now said to be supplied by British code breaking rather than a spy”Lucy”) they were very slow to push the Germans back.

    The main concern was to conquer E.Europe admittedly so they maybe didn’t want to drive straight into Germany faster without going into Hungary ect.

    About the Marines threatening to push the Iraqi army out too quickly well some people say to this day that much of Saddam’s army was allowed to escape by Bush elder due to the intervention of Colin Powell. These people seem to have favoured an “annihilation warfare” scenario.

    [CR: Col. Walters would have to comment on that, but the Soviet attack on Manchuria is often cited. This from the Wikipedia entry:

    The operation was carried out as a classic double pincer movement over an area the size of Western Europe. In the western pincer, the Red Army advanced over the deserts and mountains from Mongolia, far from their resupply railways. This confounded the Japanese military analysis of Soviet logistics, and the defenders were caught by surprise in unfortified positions.

    The Soviets wrote extensively on operational maneuver after the war — e.g., Savkin’s book which was translated by the U.S. Air Force. Whether they ever created a force capable of actually doing it is debatable.]