by Capt Michael H. Decker

LtCol Robeson (MCG, Aug86), correctly identifies the central problem with the popular version of maneuver warfare: nobody ever gets killed in the OODA-loop (observation, orientation, decision, action). Armchair strategists don’t have the stomach to visualize what really happens when the flagged-pins on their board games close on each other.

Both LtCol Robeson and Maj Davis (also MCG, Aug86) point out that maneuver warfare rightly consists of maneuver that climaxes in brief, localized firepower/ attrition engagements (read: riflemen kill the enemy). “Forrest War recognizes that both firepower and maneuver are essential components of warfare and that they must be integrated. . . .” And from Maj Davis “… the Army did not accept the contention that maneuver and firepower/attrition were dichotomous….”

I think that active duty proponents of true maneuver warfare (vice the armchair strategists’ popular version) understand that fighting belongs in the OODA-loop. They make their stand on maneuver versus firepower to focus on the difference between the military art and the bureaucratic method.

LtCol Robeson’s “OODAF-loop” reminds us that after getting there first with the most men, you need to close with and destroy.

by Col Gordon D. Batcheller

Maj Davis’ piece on military history and other things was valuable for several reasons, but primarily because it points out that many things that are intellectually attractive or superficially compelling become considerably less so when taken out of the realm of speculation and plopped down in the midst of experience. One thinks of the dramatic difference of battle as reported by S.L.A. Marshall in Men Against Fire and as implied in Col Boyd’s OODA-loop theory. One is superficially attractive because it makes things simple, and maybe some things are simple. But battle is not, and a theory of warfare built on the analysis of a one-on-one shootout between two pilots, or two swordsmen, can be interesting but of limited utility in understanding war. Reliance on such a theory could be disastrous. Clausewitz said “Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.” It is all well and good-and totally uncontroversial-to be in favor of initiative and alertness, aggressiveness and audacity; it is something else to claim warfare is reducible to a label, or a single way of thinking, and argue that one type of operation should determine the organization, structure, and tactics of all Services. The maneuverists would be much easier to listen to if they realized this.

LtCol Robeson’s article also does a creditable job of keeping “maneuver warfare” in perspective and highlighting its limited utility for a force designed for strategic maneuver and tactical assault. One can forgive him for creating yet another warfare label. There are, depending upon your national orientation, about nine generally accepted principles of war. While disparaged by some as a checklist crutch or the ingredients for “cookbook tactics” or a substitute for thought, they, rather than simplistic ideological labels, provide the frame of reference from which practitioners of war approach their profession.

by LtCol Wesley L. Fox

The August GAZETTE surely meets the criteria expressed as the purpose of our magazine, the advancement of knowledge, interest, and esprit of Marines. I wonder if it was by chance that LtCol Ed Robeson’s interesting and thought-provoking commentary of “Forrest War: Putting the Fight Back” and the two book reviews on “America Can Win” by Hart and Lind appear in the same issue and only two pages apart. Majs Funk and Anderson in their separate reviews gave good support to LtCol Robeson’s position of a third model of war fighting, identified as “Forrest War.”

I like the six characteristics of Forrest War. All deserve the commander’s fullest attention, but the last one, “Pursuit,” deserves special recognition, thought, and study. “Positioning of friendly forces for battle to ensure that they will end the initial engagement where they are advantageously deployed for the next event” requires more of the commander’s influence than can be satisfied with the free play of the maneuver model.”. . . over 8,000 troops thrown into a rout and driven headlong for nearly a hundred miles by just under 5,000″ is what it is all about. ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!

by IstLt W.P. Miller, USMCR

Maj Davis misses an important point in his article on military history and reform. Proponents of maneuver warfare don’t necessarily maintain that only one form of warfare will succeed. Rather, they maintain that given the realities we face today, it is the only method that is likely to bring us success. Grant fought Lee toe to toe because he rightly saw his main objective as the destruction of Lee’s army. In a future conflict, we’ll more likely face Lee’s dilemma-keeping our force intact in the face of a numerically superior enemy.