Maneuver Warfare Revisited

by Leon EngelbrechT

This is a belated reply to “Maybe It’s Time to Reconsider Maneuver Warfare” by Maj Michael S. Chmielewski (MCG, Aug02). Surface mail takes a while to arrive in this part of the world and, consequently, so does the arrival of my Gazette.

I read the article with interest as our forces also have a rich history of maneuver warfare (the Zulus and the Boers) and since the ability to maneuver in mind, time, and space was one major advantage U.S. forces enjoyed over its enemies in Afghanistan.

It is strange that some now want to throw away this advantage. From my point of view as a (Reserve) infantry officer in southern Africa who has read Clausewitz in part and studied Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDPs) 1 and 6 in full, you seem to have the right recipe. We, I believe, have yet to master command and control here to the extent you have doctrinally in MCDP 6. One reason is that the heresy of complete situational awareness is as alive and well here as it seems to be in your sister Services. It would be foolish to adopt any doctrine- or technology-based approach to war that was not based on an acceptance of fog and friction as normal battlefield conditions.

As MajGen Perry Smith put it in last December’s issue, decisionmakers seldom have more than 60 percent of the information they need to make a choice. And as GEN George S. Patton, Jr. put it, “The best is the enemy of the good.” A good decision now is better than a perfect decision next week (with apologies to Patton).