The Warfighting Skills Program

By LtCol Gregory A Thiele

There is great news for those interested in understanding or teaching others about the changes in warfare that have taken place in the last 350 years. The Warfighting Skills Program has been scanned and posted online. The Warfighting Skills Program was a correspondence course offered by the Marine Corps Institute to junior officers in the late 1990s. It did an excellent job of teaching maneuver warfare concepts. It also provided students with the historical background necessary to understand maneuver warfare so that they could continue their personal education plan in a meaningful way.

Understanding of maneuver warfare and its integral concepts has sunk to an abysmal level in the last few years. Professional military education has come to be nearly a contradiction in terms. The lack of serious thought and discussion about military affairs within the military is extremely troubling. The Warfighting Skills Program is a first step to addressing these conditions.

The Warfighting Skills Program consists of five books. The first book, Tactical Fundamentals, provides a basic understanding of maneuver warfare. The second book, Small Unit Tactical Problems, requires students to provide solutions to a variety of tactical decision games (TDGs) that will test and deepen their understanding of maneuver warfare. Book three, Combat Techniques, discusses techniques useful for a maneuver warfare force as well as how to develop future techniques because techniques must evolve as the enemy adapts. Book four, Marine Corps Leadership, addresses leadership principles appropriate for a maneuver warfare force. Book five, Combined Arms, teaches the student the appropriate manner to employ combined arms in support of maneuver warfare.

This course is particularly well adapted to teaching young NCOs about maneuver warfare. There are a number of small unit TDGs and discussion questions included in the course.

The Marine Corps discontinued the requirement for Marines to complete the Warfighting Skills Program some years ago. Since then, the books have gone out of print and are exceedingly difficult to find. Fortunately, they have each been scanned and can now be found online. Those wishing to download copies should visit The Warfighting Skills Program can be found in its own folder under the “Resources” tab. Those desiring access to the site must create a user identification and password, but there is far more information on maneuver warfare on the site than just the Warfighting Skills Program; may be the most comprehensive site for maneuver warfare resources available on the Internet.

Young leaders and those interested in military affairs once again have access to the Warfighting Skills Program. This is a significant opportunity and one not to be missed for those seeking to improve their own or other Marines’ understanding of maneuver warfare.