by William S. Lind

Congratulations on the July issue. A number of articles showed a growing and deepening understanding of maneuver warfare, including those by Col Gary W. Anderson, Capt Paul C. Schreck, Capt Francis C. Halliwell, Capts Michael F. McNamara and Paul C. Kennedy, and 1stLt Michael O. Barron. Jr.

Unfortunately, while Maj Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr’s article, “On the Verge of a New Era: The Marine Corps and Maneuver Warfare,” starts out well with its brief history of maneuver warfare and the Marine Corps, it quickly gets badly off the track. The concepts that, according to Maj McKenzie, are central to the draft FMFM 2-1-battlefield geometry, battlefield systems, and top-down planning-do not represent the institutionalizatiort of maneuver warfare but rather its abandonment. These are the guiding concepts of methodical battle, the opposite of maneuver warfare.

Maj McKenzie makes plain the source of these fundamental doctrinal errors: the Marine Corps has (again) been copying the Army’s doctrine. Regrettably, after some progress toward maneuver warfare in the early 1980s, the Army has gone hard in the other direction. Army doctrine is now dominated by the concept of “synchronization,” which under different terms was also the centerpiece of French army doctrine in the 1930s, Intelligence preparation of the battlefield, battlefield operating systems, and battlefield activities, etc., all flow logically from synchronization, which is to say they are all incompatible with maneuver warfare.

In the late 1980s the Marine Corps demonstrated with the excellent Warfighting, Campaigning, and Tactics FMFMs that it was capable of thinking for itself and did not need to copy the Army’s doctrine, Each of these manuals is far superior to anything the Army has produced and all of them are used in a number of Army units. For Quantico now to return to copying seriously defective Army manuals that directly contradict the Marine Corps’ doctrine of maneuver warfare is both damaging and unnecessary.

As to the draft FMFM 2-1, if it follows the lines laid out in Maj McKenzie’s article, it represents a sad case of doctrinal regression.