Maneuver Warfare And OTH Amphibious Assaults AUTHOR LtCdr. Terry Pierce, USN CSC 1989 SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: MANEUVER WARFARE AND OTH AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULTS THESIS: The Navy's inability to view an amphibious assault by any other means than at the tactical level has left it unaware that there is a need to conceptualize the OTH assault at the operational level of war in order to successfully coordinate the battle. ISSUE: The Navy has traditionally viewed the amphibious assault from an attrition style of war. This approach places great emphasis on the tactical phases of the operation. As the era of over-the-horizon amphibious landings begin, the Navy still views the operation from an attrition style. However, the Marine Corps has recently changed from an attrition approach to a maneuver style based on movement. Maneuver warfare places a higher premium on the operational level of war than attrition warfare. If maneuver warfare is to be successfully applied to amphibious operations, the Navy must take the effort to overcome an entrenched habit of thinking solely in tactical terms and visualize the operation in its entirety at the operational level of war. CONCLUSION: The Navy should take the effort to enlarge its view of OTH amphibious warfare to include not only the sea operations but the subsequent ground operations as well. It is at the operational level where the Navy and Marine Corps can exploit tactical advantages to achieve success. MANEUVER WARFARE AND OTH AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULTS OUTLINE THESIS STATEMENT. The Navy's inability to view an amphibious assault by any other means than at the tactical level has left it unaware that there is a need to conceptualize the OTH assault at the operational level of war in order to successfully coordinate the Battle. I. OTH Assault-Background A. Traditional Ship-to-Shore Movement B. Enemy's new High Tech Threat C. OTH in Response II. Attrition Warfare A. WW II Amphibious Assaults B. Strengths of Attrition Warfare C. Weaknesses of Attrition Warfare D. OTH and Attrition Warfare III. Maneuver Warfare A. Strength B. Weakness C. Why Marine Corps Adopted it D. Challenge to Attrition Warfare IV. CATF's Responsibility A. Should Navy care about Maneuver Warfare? B. Challenge of Maneuver Warfare and OTH Ops V. Operational Level of War A. Lack of Awareness B. Significance of Operational Level to Maneuver Warfare C. Blitzkrieg Example IV. Conclusion MANEUVER WARFARE AND OTH AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULTS As the Navy begins the era of over-the-horizon amphibious landings, it should recognize the significant fact that the Marine Corps has officially changed from an attrition style of warfare based on firepower to a maneuver style based on move- ment. The impact of this change is so dramatic that it could forever alter the way amphibious landings will be planned and executed. However, since amphibious warfare by attrition places less of a premium on the operational level than maneu- ver warfare, the Navy has been content to focus upon the tactical movement techniques of the ship-to-shore phase. If maneuver warfare is to be successfully applied to amphibious operations, the Navy must take the effort to overcome an entrenched habit of thinking solely in tactical terms of the sea and ground operations, and visualize the amphibious operation in its entirety at the operational level of war. With the apparent success of the OTH program, it would seem that the Navy has accomplished its goal of ensuring that the ship-to-shore movement can be accomplished effectively in the face of high-tech weapons. The problem with feeling satisfied with this success is the new technological assets are going to be employed within an attrition mindset that differs little from the Navy's approach to WW II amphibious operations of seeing a division between the so-called ship- to-shore movement and the operations ashore. The reason this mindset has changed so little is that the technical and procedural aspects of getting from ship-to-shore are so significant, the Navy has focused primarily on this aspect of the amphibious operation. Consequently, the Navy continues its trend of seeing the landing as an end in itself rather than just one of the many means to an end--getting ashore so we can accomplish the mission of the Initiating Directive. ATTRITION WARFARE. The Navy's mindset is a carry over from the very successful amphibious Pacific campaigns of WW II. At the tactical level, these campaigns were successfully accomplished using an attrition style of war. Warfare by attrition seeks victory through the cumulative destruction of the enemy's material assets by superior firepower and technology... Results are generally proportionate to efforts; greater expenditures net greater results-that is greater attrition. The greatest necessity for success is numerical superiority. Victory does not depend so much on military competence as on sheer superiority of numbers in men and equipment.1 What continues to make warfare by attrition "appear" as an attractive style for conducting OTH operations is that it favors the side with the greater technological advances and it can be a simple and effective way to control a very complex operation. With the emphasis on technology and the efficient application of massed, accurate fires, movement tends to be ponderous and tempo relatively unimportant.2 If practiced enough an attrition approach is a methodical, almost scien- tific approach to war. Consequently, there has been little initiative to changing from a doctrine that rewards technolog- ical advances and offers a simple approach to commanding in an environment that tends to be "inherently disorderly, uncer- tain, dynamic, and dominated by friction."3 The reason the CATF and CLF have successfully operated at the tactical level in attrition warfare is because we enjoyed numerical superiority and an overwhelming superiority of firepower that we could concentrate against an isolated enemy. The CATF's tactical approach has been from a logistical stand- point and from a fire-on-target standpoint, but has been stagnant regarding any new tactical approaches to amphibious operations. In attrition warfare, the CATF's focus has been primarily to ensure victory by providing enough ships to load a greater number of Marines and material than the enemy can muster within the AOA. At the tactical level, this has required that the CATF concentrate primarily on ensuring that the ship-to-shore movement is conducted in such a manner to allow superior number of forces and material to land so the CLF then can tactically search out the enemy and wear him down until he is destroyed or surrenders. The problem with this attrition style approach is that even given WW II vintage threat, it is very costly in terms of casualties. "Success through attrition demands the willing- ness and ability also to withstand attrition because warfare by attrition is costly."4 The "traditional" way of conduct- ing an amphibious landing has been to achieve a relatively short distance of 1500-2000 yards for the ship-to-shore movement. With the development of modern weapon technology and its impact potential to create even greater casualty rates has raised serious questions concerning the rationale of launching a frontal assault landing against the projected threat assessment. Additionally, once ashore if the Marine Corps was to use an attrition style again it probably would not have the numerical superiority to accomplish the mission especially if the enemy is not stranded on an island and is able to reinforce or even withdraw temporarily. The Navy and Marine Corps have both recognized that the traditional frontal assault is not a viable tactic for conducting an amphibious landing. However, they have used radically different approaches in responding to the significant questions raised by conducting the "traditional" amphibious landing. The Navy has responded to the growing challenge of the enemy's increased weapons range and lethality against an amphibious task force by concentrating on technological advances within an attrition style of warfare. It has spear- headed an enormous "technological" investment of $50 billion Navy and Marine Corps dollars to develop the capability of OTH assaults. Experts at Quantico working on the "MAGTF Master Plan for the year 2000" project that the attainment of a full over-the-horizon amphibious assault capability, the capability to land a MAGTF on a hostile shore from 25 nautical miles or more at night and in adverse weather, will soon be a reality.5 Of significance importance is that the Navy has not seriously considered employing their OTH assets by any other doctrine than the traditional method. The solution requires far more than the mere application of technology.6 The Marine Corps has recognized that the technological answer is insufficient to solving the problems to winning an attrition style war against modern threat weapons and potential foes having a numerical and material superiority. As such, they have adopted a maneuver warfare doctrine that offers the most viable alternative to attrition concepts. The Commandant, General A. M. Gray stated that "realizing that many of our potential enemies could bring superior numbers of men and good equipment to bear against us, it would be foolhardy to think about engaging them in firepower attrition duels. Historically maneuver warfare has been the means by which smaller but more intelligently led forces have achieved victory."7 MANEUVER WARFARE. The Marine Corps has adopted maneuver as a concept with which they hope to succeed against a numerically superior enemy, because they can no longer presume a numerical advantage.8 Maneuver Warfare is a style of warfare that attempts to circumvent a problem and attack if from a position of advantage rather than meet it straight on. The goal is the application of strength against selected enemy weakness. "Maneuver relies on speed and surprise, for without either, we cannot concentrate strength against enemy weakness."9 Tempo is itself a weapon. While attrition oper- ates principally in the physical realm of war, the results of maneuver are both physical and moral. The object of maneuver is not so much to destroy physically as it is to shatter the enemy's cohesion, organization, command, and psychological balance. Successful maneuver depends on the ability to identify and exploit enemy weakness, not simply on the expenditure of superior might."10 The salient differences between maneuver warfare and attrition warfare is that the aim of "maneuver warfare is to render the enemy incapable of resisting by shattering his moral and physical cohesion-his ability to fight as an effec- tive, coordinated whole-rather than to destroy him physically through incremental attrition, which is generally more costly and time consuming."11 Also, maneuver warfare is a doctrine that presents the opportunity to the Amphibious Task Force to win quickly, with minimal casualties against a physically superior foe. The major event that challenges the Navy's entrenched tactical approach to conducting an OTH amphibious assault is not the new concept of beginning the ship-to-shore movement from over the horizon, but rather it is the Marine Corps shift from attrition warfare to maneuver warfare. Unlike the Navy, the Marine Corps has recognized that technology alone is insuf- ficient to solve the problems associated with the capabilities and lethalities of new weapons in the modern battlefield. As such, they have adopted maneuver warfare which is a completely different style than the Marine Corps' previous style of attrition warfare. CATF'S RESPONSIBILITY. At first glance, the Navy might dis- miss the entire challenge to integrate a new land combat doctrine with their current style of warfare as ridiculous. Why should the Navy get excited if the Marine Corps employs a maneuver or attrition style in securing their amphibious task force and landing force objectives? Call it whatever you want, how could a style of combat within the confines of a force beachhead really be that different from each other? The Navy should be very concerned about how the Marine Corps intends to fight because the Navy CATF is being held responsible for the entire operation. The joint doctrine for amphibious operations is very clear in defining the task of the Navy amphibious task force commander, who upon commence- ment of operations, assumes responsibility for the entire force and for the operation. Furthermore, the CATF exercises authority over, or assumes responsibility for, the operations of the landing force units. Even though CATF will transfer control over various functions to the CLF, the CATF remains ultimately responsible for the accomplishment of the landing forces mission. Joint doctrine has dictated that it is the CATF's respon- sibility to ensure he employs the most effective style of warfare to ensure he accomplishes his mission. The Navy takes this responsibility seriously. As with any new change that might affect the amphibious operation, the Navy will examine the Marine Corps maneuver warfare and its implication to OTH operations. The challenge will be for the Navy to see maneuver warfare as a style that requires something more than the current approach. This will be a difficult challenge for CATF because of the attrition style of warfare being successful during WW II, the CATF has come to accept that most of his duties are completed when he can tactically deliver the assault troops to the high water mark. Then a tactical break occurs and it is the CLF's responsibility to take tactical control of these units and accomplish the landing force objectives. So not to argue with success, the Navy has accepted this separation of Amphibious operations and has concentrated primarily on the ship-to-shore movement. Since the Navy has traditionally seen the ship-to-shore movement as an end unto itself, the CATF believes if somehow the Navy can develope a tactical scheme that will resolve the technical constraints of landing a force from 12 miles, that the Navy would be making an even greater tactical contribution to the amphibious landing if they could achieve a landing from 50 miles. Surprisingly from a maneuver warfare approach, whether or not we come from 12 or 50 miles is not the issue for the Marines so much as is how they come ashore and what they do after they are ashore. What is most important for the Navy to become aware of is the landing force is employing a maneuver warfare style which requires that the scheme of maneuver ashore always drives the ship-to-shore movement. The problem is that the Navy is unaware of the signifi- cance of the Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine, and this fact is demonstrated by the Navy's continued focus primarily on its efforts on the ship-to-shore movement. If the entire amphibious assault operation was strictly an effort to land the largest force possible in a frontal assault to wear down the enemy, the Navy's current efforts would be valid. OPERATIONAL LEVEL OF WAR. Because maneuver warfare places a higher premium on the operational level of war, the CATF is also faced with the challenge of operating simultaneously at the tactical and operational levels of war. Maneuver warfare relates directly to amphibious warfare at both the tactical and the operational level. At the tactical level, it offers the landing point amphibious assault as an alter- native to current doctrine. At the operational level, maneuver warfare opens a vista on the amphibious campaign, which may be more important under modern conditions than the amphibious assault.12 Edward Luttwak explains that lack of awareness of the operational level lies within the American military tradition where there has not been an emphasis on that level whereby one "seeks to attain the goals set by theater strategy through suitable combinations of tactics."13 The difficulty the Navy encounters is that "the absence of the term referring to the operational level reflects an inadvertence towards the whole conception of war associated with it. .. It is not merely that officers do not speak the word but rather that they do not think or practice war in operational terms, or do so only in vague or ephemeral ways."14 The tactical approach to commanding a maneuver warfare OTH landing is no longer effective because at the operational level there is no longer a distinction between land and sea movement because the ship-to-shore and land movement are blended together. Edward Luttwak was one of the first mili- tary thinkers to make the critical connection between maneuver and operational art. He comments that the tactics and salient principles of war are all interrelated when one is commanding a maneuver style of warfare. "It is because of this inter- relationship that the decisive level of warfare in the relational-maneuver manner is the operational," that being the lowest level at which the "key principles of war and tactics can be brought together within an integrated scheme of warfare."15 While the Marine Corps has come to accept that maneuver warfare as also applicable at the tactical level, the impor- tance of Luttwak's contribution is that when using maneuver warfare one must acknowledge the importance of the operational level. The CATF and CLF must recognize that the level one can effectively control a maneuver amphibious assault is at the operational level. The Navy has not recognized this problem as exemplified by the Navy's continued emphasis on training which has not been an integrated one, but has concentrated primarily on the tactics applicable to its own area of con- cern. The basic tactics of maneuver warfare, although vitally important will be only of marginal utility if not applied with a thorough understanding of the concept of the operational art.16 It is at the operational level the CATF and CLF must transcend to in order to visualize and integrate the efforts of all the tactical phases to achieve victory. Unlike the operation level of attrition which consists only of stringing together tactical victories, maneuver warfare operational level is based on the selective application of strength versus weakness, which puts emphasis on when, where, how to accept or refuse battle--the essence of operational level. Concentrating on the whole amphibious action, a CATF and CLF skilled in the operational art will be concerned with tactical events only if they impact on there ability to achieve there objectives.17 What may appear to be uncoordi- nated movements of dispersed units at the tactical level will make complete sense at the operational level if the units are following the CATF and CLF's intent. An OTH amphibious landing is an operational scheme designed to exploit the potential speed of the LCAC, VM-22, and assault helicopters against front wide linear defenses.18 While tactical maneuver will be accomplished during each phase of the operation, it is at the operational level of maneuver that the OTH landing will be won of loss. To successfully execute at the operational level, the CATF and CLF must at all times have a clear understanding of their strategic objectives and ensure that the tactical results they envision accomplishing attain the military objectives they have received or selected. The key to success is that once the CATF and CLF have determined how they will operate at the operational level this will allow them to coordinate each tactical phase from an operational view. This concept is extremely significant to maneuver warfare because from a tactical view the thin columns rapidly penetrating the enemy's linear front by LCAC, or a unit that has penetrated deep by air behind enemy lines by VM-22 would appear very weak and highly vulnerable to attacks on their flanks. But from an operational view, the CATF and CLF would see these mobile columns of penetration were very strong "because their whole orientation and their method of warfare gave them a great advantage in tempo and reaction time."19 The process of operation at the operational level begins well before the landing force achieves its initial break- through during the landing of the forces. The CATF and CLF must begin visualizing the operation from the receipt of the initiating directive. During the planning cycle the CATF and CLF are responsible for numerous decisions. One of the most important decisions is the formulation of the concept of oper- ations ashore by the CLF with the concurrence of CATF prior to promulgation of the concept. If the CATF has no idea of the concepts of maneuver warfare than it is more than likely he will not be able to operate at the operational level of war. The art of logistics at the operational level is an area where the CATF and CLF are seriously deficient. These commanders have enormous experience at the tactical level of logistics which involves "concentrating on fueling, arming, and maintaining troops and machines."20 Although important at the tactical level, it is at the operational level where logistics governs what can and, perhaps even more importantly what cannot be accomplished.21 The CATF and CLF must base their concept of operations on the logistics immediately available upon arrival in the AOA, and be prepared to have adequate support arrive in such a fashion as to support intermediate and follow on goals. While the amphibious landing plan could well be a phase of a much larger campaign plan, the CATF must ensure he can support follow on strategic objectives. With using an attrition style of warfare individual phases of the landing could only be executed when the necessary logistical means become available. However, with a maneuver warfare style, the phases between ob- jectives becomes less distinct as the entire operation becomes more fluid. Consequently, the CATF must be prepared to support the relative speed and success of maneuver warfare. As the Navy begins to focus on OTH amphibious landings, it should take the effort to enlarge its view of amphibious war- fare to include not only the sea operations but the subsequent ground operations as well. Bright tacticians can solve the anticipated problems they will encounter, but at the CATF/CLF level, limiting their vision of the battlefield to the tactics they plan to execute is grossly inadequate. The next step for the Navy/Marine amphibious team is to translate the concepts of ship-to-shore tactics and maneuver warfare ground tactics into a flexible amphibious warfare capability. We must strive for the operational level of war which is much more than the sum of the tactical parts. It is an art of exploiting tactical advantages to achieve campaign success. The Navy's responsibility is to ensure that OTH amphibious assaults should be viewed as a fluid mobile war in its entirety, not an operation that shifts to position warfare or slow ponderous maneuvers once ashore. ENDNOTES 1"Warfighting," FMFM 1 U.S. Marine Corps, March 1989, p. 28-29. 2Ibid, p. 28. 3Ibid, p. 64. 4Ibid, p. 28. 5As of 20 March 1989, Published copy not released. 6Moore, Capt. Richard, USMC, "Blitzkrieg from the Sea," Naval War College Review, Nov-Dec 1983, p. 38. 7Gray, MajGen. A. M., "Maneuver Warfare," Advance sheet for Command and Staff College, Nov 88, p. AS-C-9. 8FMFM 1, p. 58. 9Ibid, p. 29. 10Ibid, p. 29. 11Ibid, p. 37. 12Lind, William S., "Misconceptions of Maneuver Warfare," Marine Corps Gazette, Jan 1988, p. 16. 13Luttwak, Edward N., "The Operational Level of War," Inter- national Security, Winter 1980/81, p. 61. 14Ibid, p. 61. 15Ibid, p. 73. 16Moore, p. 40. l7Ibid, p. 40. l8See Edward N. Luttwak, "The Operational Level of War," International Security, Winter 1980/81, p. 61-79. Here Luttwak explains the operational level of the Blitzkrieg. His analysis applies directly to the operational level of Amphibious Maneuver Warfare. 19Luttwak, p. 68. 20Newell, LtCol. Clayton R., USA, "Logistical Art," Parameters, March 1989, p. 33. 21Ibid, p. 21. A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources U.S. Army, Operations, FM 100-5, May 1986. U.S. Marine Corps, Warfighting, FMFM 1, April 1988. U.S. Marine Corps, Ground Combat Operations, OH 6-1, Jan 1988. U.S. Navy, Doctrine for Amphibious Operations, NWP 22(B), Nov 86. Secondary Sources Books Addington, Larry, The Blitzkrieg ERA and the German General Staff. 1965-1941, Rutgers University Press, 1971. Bolt, Col. William, USA, The Operational Art of Warfare Across the Spectrum of Conflict, U.S. Army War College, 1 Feb 87, p. 37-54. Creveld, Martin Van, Supplying War, Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Cambridge University Press, 1977. Lind, William S., Maneuver Warfare Handbook, Westview Press, Inc., 1985. Perrett, Bryon, A History of Blitzkrieg, Stein and Day (Pubs.), 1983. Articles Carlson, Col. Kenneth, USA, "Operational Level or Operational Art?", Military Review, Oct 1987, p. 50-54. Franz, Col. Wallace, USA, "The Character of Modern War: Theory-Doctrine-Practice at the Operational Level," Strategic Studies Institute, 15 Dec 81, p. 1-12. Gray, MajGen. A. M., "Maneuver Warfare," Advance sheet for Command and Staff College, Nov 88, p. AS-C-9. Lind, William S., "Misconceptions of Maneuver Warfare," Marine Corps Gazette, Jan 1988, p. 16. Luttwak, Edward N., "On the Need to Reform American Strategy," Planning U.S. Security, Defense Policies in the Eighties, P. S. Kronenberg, ed. 1982, p. 13-29. Luttwak, Edward N., "The Operational Level of War," International Security, Winter 1980/81. Moore, Capt. Richard, USMC, "Blitzkrieg from the Sea: Maneuver Warfare and Amphibious Operations," Naval War College Review, Nov-Dec 1983, p. 37-47. Moore, Capt. Richard, USMC, "Maneuver," Amphibious Warfare Review, July 1983, p. 34-42. Newell, LtCol. Clayton R., USA, "Levels of War," Army, June 1988, p. 26-29. Newell, LtCol. Clayton R., USA, "Logistical Art," Parameters, March 1989, p. 32-40. Palmer, Michael, "Lord Nelson: Master of Command," Naval War College Review, 1987, p. 105-115. Schneider, James J., "The Loose Marble-and the Origins of Operational Art," Parameters, March 1989, p. 85-99. Sullivan, MajGen. Gordon, USA, "Learning to Decide at the Operational Level of War," Military Review, Oct 1987, p. 16-23.
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