Proper MAGTF Objectives

by Col John C. Scharfen, USMC(Ret)

* Congratulations to LtCol Michael D. Wyly on his perceptive, incisive article “Thinking Beyond the Beachhead” (MCG, Jan83). In this reader’s opinion he gets to the heart of the maneuver warfare issue-that the objective of maneuver is the destruction of opposing forces and that maneuver is not an objective in itself. His case would have been strengthened if he had given more space to the prerequisites of a thoroughly efficient combat service support system to support early operation past the force beachhead line.

by Maj W.A. Woods

* LtCol M.D. Wyly hit square on the mark with his recent article. . . . It was refreshing to read a common sense approach to the battered controversy over maneuver warfare versus amphibious operations. Advocating the latter is not excluding the former. Practitioners of amphibious warfare need understand that amphibious assaults, leading to the securing of beachhead areas, are not the sole reasons for conducting amphibious operations. Establishing fortified coastal enclaves should not be an end in itself. Expecting an enemy to bludgeon himself against our defenses is equally naive and presupposes he is operationally inept-a thought process that could easily prove to be fatal. Military history reeks with tales of defeated armies who possessed a similar Magi-not Line mentality.

Landing men and equipment across a hostile shore is a complex, but basically mechanical, operation requiring simple attrition style tactics to succeed. Initially the beachhead is a temporary lodgement that threatens only locally engaged forces. It becomes strategically dangerous when the forces within begin to expand rapidly and deeply inland seeking to destroy or disrupt enemy forces. A closely integrated air-ground team consisting of its own command and control, ground, air, combat and combat service support forces becomes a major threat if it is moving about in the enemy’s rear. An entrenched, stagnant force, regardless of its capabilities, is of little more than nuisance value to a more mobile enemy.

Congratulations to LtCol Wyly for his perceptive article that puts it all into perspective and to the Marine Corps GAZETTE for its good sense in publishing it.