Defending the ‘Maneuverists’

by LtCol M.D. Wyly

Recent letters and short articles in the GAZETTE purporting to counter the concepts of maneuver warfare are going wide of the mark. The tendency has been to counter things that the “maneuverists” haven’t said.

There is a false notion that maneuver warfare proponents dismiss lightly fire control and logistics. My observation, however, has been that the “maneuverists” tend to be the officers most willing to labor seriously in the study of their profession. The officers who devote the extra time studying the history of how man has out-maneuvered man are the same whom I see being most conscientious in studying how to control fire and ensure optimum combat service support.

A recent letter (Apr82, p. 17) to the editor asks whether maneuver warfare is “symbolic for always being on the attack”; yet, many of maneuver warfare’s best applications are in the defense. Such an application is described by Capt Anthony Coroalles in Maneuver to Win in September 1981 Military Review.

A favorite myth is that “maneuverists are ignoring the give and take of killing and destruction in combat.” Maneuver warfare, however, is based on boldness and acceptance of risk. Clearly, this means acceptance of casualties when necessary.

Worst of all, a recent writer (Apr82, p.22) has “difficulty with a concept [maneuver warfare] that appears to presume this [high] level of competence down to and including the small unit level.” Should not we set out standards at the highest level and work up to them?

I suggest maneuver warfare’s critics need to study more. The same applies to its advocates, who must also keep writing. I regretted to see Capt G.I. Wilson’s laboriously thought out article on the subject dismissed (Apr82, p. 17) as a “regurgitation of Messrs, Boyd and Lind.” There is nothing wrong with an interpretive article now and then. I am sure that Capt Wilson wrote it to be studied and discussed. He did not deserve to be insulted. I trust that he will rise above his critics, not be discouraged, keep writing, studying, and training.