The Packaged Maneuver Trilogy

reviewed by Arthur J. Bredehoft

WARFIGHTING: Maneuver Warfare in the U.S. Marine Corps. Edited by LtCol H.T. Hayden. Greenhill Books, London, and Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 1995, 208 pp., $29.95. (Member $26.95)

FMFM-1 Warfighting, the first of three Marine Corps field manuals on maneuver warfare, was first released in 1989. In 1994 Currency Doubleday published Warfighting: Tactics for Managing Confrontation, the U.S. Marine Corps Book of Strategy-the same publication as the first field manual that Gen A.M. Gray had authorized 5 years prior but with an editor’s forward included. In 1995 another new edition of the warfighting manual hit the street-Warfighting: Maneuver Warfare in the U.S. Marine Corps, edited by LtCol H.T. Hayden.

The LtCol Hayden edition neatly packages for the serious “hunter” the three basic field manuals: FMFM 1 Warfighting, FMFM 1-3 Campaigning, and FMFM 1-3 Tactics. This edition could replace the three manuals as the official reference for Marines. Maneuver warfare, as a philosophy of warfighting, has been a difficult concept for many to understand. Now here is a single source that explains the concept and contrasts maneuver warfare \vith the Army’s philosophy of synchronization. LtCol Hayden’s Warfighting also includes new informational footnotes that improve upon the original publications.

LtCol Hayden’s work contains other improvements as well. Among them are numerous well-researched and insightful “notes” strategically placed throughout the book (in addition to the above mentioned footnotes). These notes provide the reader with the editor’s views on maneuver warfare from a theoretical and combat experience point of view. Also included and enhancing the book’s value are a preface, introduction, epilogue, and extensive bibliography.

The preface offers several points that will be of interest to the progressive thinker. For instance: “It must be emphasized that Maneuver Warfare, to the U.S. Marine Corps, is more than just a new doctrine. It is a way of thinking.” Also:

Synchronization has long been a basic tenant of the U.S. Army doctrine. Since the publication of FMFM 1 Warfighting, the U.S. Marine Corps has debated the extent to which synchronization concepts apply in Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine.

The editor objectively clarifies the point that the Army’s approach to warfare is different than the Marine Corps’ without arguing one approach over the other. He is correct to avoid this debate, as it is better suited for journals such as Proceedings, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Army’s Military review.

The introduction likewise contains useful material, including a history of the development of maneuver warfare. Here again, the editor takes up the maneuversynchronization contrast by offering William S. Lind’s thoughts on the matter and then a few of his own comments on Lind’s thoughts. I encourage the reader to focus on these pages because of Lind’s contribution to the development of the maneuver concept. It is in this section, however, that the edition’s one significant shortfall can be found. LtCol Hayden discusses the contributions made to maneuver warfare by Lind, Air Force Col John R. Boyd, Col Michael D. Wyly, and Capt John F. Schmitt. He fails, however, to mention here or in the bibliography the significant contributions that have been made by numerous others.

The three official field manuals make clear the following 11 maxims of maneuver warfare:

* Mission Tactics

* Focus of Effort

* Speed and Surprise

* Reconnaissance Pull

* Surfaces and Gaps

* Firepower

* Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception

* The Concept of Reserve

* Command and Control Systems

* Center of Gravity

* Combat Service Support

Col Wyly, while not refuting these maxims, is quoted in LtCol Hayden’s edition as saying: “Every new structure begins the process of erosion and decay the moment it is formed.” He added that if you want principles for maneuver warfare, there are two-speed and focus. That notion is just one more example of how maneuverists have developed and refined their concept since 1989 and one more reason for reading the newer edition.

The LtCol Hayden edition is drawing some attention from outside military circles as well. Among those looking at broader implications for the concept is George Gendron, editor-in-chief of Inc. Magazine, who wrote in February 1995 that the chapter on “The Conduct of War” has more to say about general leadership than most books on the subject. The LtCol Hayden book offers much for the business professional who is engaged in commercial combat. Watch out Harvard, the Marine Corps’ maneuver warfare is a tool the commercial combat warrior will seek out.

Perhaps, the words of LtCol Hayden best summarize the spirit of his book:

There are some men who will never be comfortable with maneuver warfare. Some people like a structured life. They learn it from birth. Maneuver warfare theory and doctrine will only be fully grasped by a certain personality-aggressive, independent, intuitive, curious, intellectual, and a man who knows that you go for the kill. It is not a game.