Capabilities and Missions

by LtCol M.D. Wyly

In his response to my article, “Thinking Beyond the Beachhead” (MCG, Jan83), Maj E.J. Robeson (MCG, Apr83) expressed doubts over whether the MAGTF can conduct maneuver warfare beyond the beachhead, except in situations akin to the “Banana Wars.” If Maj Robeson is correct that our capabilities have so diminished-and he may well bethen, we have a problem that we must solve. For if we can only seize defensive beachheads and perform roles, such as the limited one presently in Lebanon, our value as a separate Service is slight, indeed.

Maj Robeson correctly points out that my historical examples do not correlate directly to the modern Marine Corps. You will not find exact correlations. There are none. Successive wars are seldom similar. The challenge is to find meaning in past events that might relate to the future. For instance, it is not Patton’s or Rommel’s tanks that are interesting; it is the tactical agility of their units. In my view, we may well be seeing the beginning of a renaissance of infantry, signaled by the lessons of Korea and Vietnam. The tenets of maneuver warfare are likely to be practiced most extensively in the future by light infantry.

We need to be able to do better than just “Banana Wars.” Good tactics and thorough training with emphasis on high initiative at the lowest level are the keys. The right equipment is important: modern, simple, and light, where possible. Agile, maneuver tactics are even more important.