Maneuvering Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
In the absence of expert [senior military] advice, we have seen each successive administration fail in the business of strategy - yielding a United States twice as rich as the Soviet Union but much less strong. Only the manner of the failure has changed. In the 1960s, under Robert S. McNamara, we witnessed the wholesale substitution of civilian mathematical analysis for military expertise. The new breed of the "systems analysts" introduced new standards of intellectual discipline and greatly improved bookkeeping methods, but also a trained incapacity to understand the most important aspects of military power, which happens to be nonmeasurable. Because morale is nonmeasurable it was ignored, in large and small ways, with disastrous effects. We have seen how the pursuit of business-type efficiency in the placement of each soldier destroys the cohesion that makes fighting units effective; we may recall how the Pueblo was left virtually disarmed when it encountered the North Koreans (strong armament was judged as not "cost effective" for ships of that kind). Because tactics, the operational art of war, and strategy itself are not reducible to precise numbers, money was allocated to forces and single weapons according to "firepower" scores, computer simulations, and mathematical studies - all of which maximize efficiency - but often at the expense of combat effectiveness. An even greater defect of the McNamara approach to military decisions was its businesslike "linear" logic, which is right for commerce or engineering but almost always fails in the realm of strategy. Because its essence is the clash of antagonistic and outmaneuvering wills, strategy usually proceeds by paradox rather than conventional "linear" logic. That much is clear even from the most shopworn of Latin tags: si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war), whose business equivalent would be orders of "if you want sales, add to your purchasing staff, " or some other, equally absurd advice. Where paradox rules, straightforward linear logic is self-defeating, sometimes quite literally. Let a general choose the best path for his advance, the shortest and best-roaded, and it then becomes the worst path of all paths, because the enemy will await him there in greatest strength... Linear logic is all very well in commerce and engineering, where there is lively opposition, to be sure, but no open-ended scope for maneuver; a competitor beaten in the marketplace will not bomb our factory instead, and the river duly bridged will not deliberately carve out a new course. But such reactions are merely normal in strategy. Military men are not trained in paradoxical thinking, but they do no have to be. Unlike the business-school expert, who searches for optimal solutions in the abstract and then presents them will all the authority of charts and computer printouts, even the most ordinary military mind can recall the existence of a maneuvering antagonists now and then, and will therefore seek robust solutions rather than "best" solutions - those, in other words, which are not optimal but can remain adequate even when the enemy reacts to outmaneuver the first approach.

Edward N. Luttwak
The strategic level is concerned with the use of military force to achieve national objectives. In the new American style of war, it has come to be interpreted as the highest political and diplomatic level at which decisions are made to collect and deploy military forces to a distant theater. The size of strategic land forces varies, depending on the nature of the topography and the seriousness of the enemy threat. In past limited wars, deployments involved relatively large armies consisting of multiple corps of 50, 000 soldiers each. The numbers of soldiers deployed in more recent campaigns have been considerably smaller. The strategic challenge in the years ahead will center on "time versus risk"-that is, the decisions that must be made to balance the size of the strategic force to be projected versus the time necessary for the force to arrive ready to fight. The United States must be able to overcome the problems of distance and time without unnecessarily exposing early arriving forces to an enemy already in place within a theater of war. The operational level of warfare provides a connection between strategic deployments and the tactical engagements of small units. The "art" of maneuvering forces to achieve decisive results on the battlefield nest here. As with the deployments of strategic level forces, the basic elements of operational maneuver have shrunk as the conflict environment has changed since the end of the Second World War. During the Cold War, corps conducted operational maneuver. More recently, the task has devolved to brigades, usually self contained units of all arms capable of independent maneuver. An independent brigade consists of about 5, 000 soldiers. At the operational level, ground forces will face the challenge of determining the proper balance between "firepower and maneuver" resources and technologies to ensure that the will of the enemy's army to resist can be collapsed quickly and decisively. Battles are fought at the tactical level. In the past, the tactical fight has been a face-to-face endeavor; small units of about company size, no more that several hundred soldiers, are locked in combat at close range. The tactical fight is where most casualties occur. The tactical challenge of the future will be to balance the anticipated "ends, " or what the combat commander is expected to achieve on the battlefield, with the "means, " measured in the lives of soldiers allocated to achieve those ends. Since ground forces suffer casualties disproportionately, ground commanders face the greatest challenge of balancing ends versus means. All three challenges must be addressed together if reform of the landpower services - the Army and the Marine Corps - is to be swift and lasting. The essential moderating influence on the process of change is balance. At the strategic level, the impulse to arrive quickly must be balanced with the need for forces massive and powerful enough to fight successfully on arrival. The impulse to build a firepower-dominant operational forces will be essential if the transitory advantage of fires is to be made permanent by the presence of ground forces in the enemy's midst. The impulse to culminate tactical battle by closing with and destroying the enemy must be balanced by the realization that fighting too close may play more to the advantage of enemy rather than friendly forces.

Robert H. Scales Jr.
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