An eccentric retired Air Force colonel accepted an invitation to speak to the students of Amphibious Warfare School class of 1979 only after the staff grudgingly agreed to his demand for a five-hour block of time.1 From this slightly awkward beginning, the Marine Corps’ doctrine of manœuvre warfare sprouted and grew. The shift from attrition to manœuvre hardly occurred overnight. It took the efforts of many intelligent and dedicated officers and civilians years to create a critical mass of manœuvreists within the officer corps to bring about this momentous shift.This article is a must read. While I disagree with the young Captain, his heart is in the right place.
Now more than three decades later, almost everyone in the Marine Corps can identify that Air Force colonel as John Boyd and say he “invented” the OODA (observation, orientation, decision, action) loop. But few people appear to understand the real significance of Col Boyd’s work anymore. This becomes readily apparent any time a staff creates a synchronization matrix or a battalion attacks straight into an enemy defense during an integrated training exercise. We are doomed to backslide completely into old attritionist habits without a reexamination of our way of doing business. To prevent this, a manœuvre renaissance is necessary to move forward as we transition away from the long war and prepare to confront a future fourth generation adversary.2
Maneuver is alive and well...the problem is how the USMC is approaching the problem.
Once again I have to point out that for some odd reason, the ground side of the house has yielded to the air and maneuver is seen as vertical only.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM.
Even if we emphasize vertical envelopment the last mile...or if we're using proper ground maneuver tactics, the last 25 miles will require speed and agility on the ground. Additionally there is always a time when assaulting the enemy will require taking hits. That means armored protection, shock, firepower and agility.
That's why the USMC should be emphasizing the Amphibious Combat Vehicle...that's why we need to bite the bullet and tell the Tankers that they will survive but it will be in a mobile gun system based on the ACV...we need to make as much of our ground combat element swim as possible, use maneuver as an additional form of FIREPOWER and only then will we be able to take on the enemy horde and win.
Oh and a sidenote. I am getting a little tired of the meme that has developed about Marine Corps tactics. "Hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle" came from the tight quarters and limited operating space that was afforded during the island hopping campaign in the Pacific during WW2. It is not to be derided. It should be applauded. Those Marines did the hard thing and it's unseemly for today's Marines to look at it in anyway other than pride and astonishment.