Air Land Battle And Maneuver Warfare: Do We Need Both?
AUTHOR Major Mark L. Broin, USMC
SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting
TITLE: AIR LAND BATTLE AND MANEUVER WARFARE: DO WE NEED BOTH?
I. Purpose: To determine if the Army and the Marine Corps can utilize
a single capstone manual.
II. Problem: The need for interoperability as a function of joint
operations has been identified in the area of equipment. The need for
interoperability in the area of execution, although identified, has
not been effectively acted upon. The Army and the Marine Corps have
each recently published new caps tone doctrines which have not been
coordinated or integrated at either the execution level or the Joint
Chiefs of Staff(JCS) level.
III. Data: This paper examines the utility of using a single capstone
manual for the Army and the Marine Corps. It does this by an
examination of three areas, the requirements of the law as contained
in Title 10 of the US Code and Department of Defense (DOD) Directive
5100.1; current doctrinal fundamentals; and a comparison of the new
service capstone manuals. Title 10 and DOD Directive 5100.1 establish
the missions of each of the services and their particular areas of
responsibility. Although specific mission tasks were different the
underlying responsibility was accomplishment of the mission. In this
regard once across the high water mark both services conduct the same
types of operations, namely offensive and defensive. The review of
current doctrinal fundamentals was conducted in the areas of offense,
defense, and operational overlays. There were differences in each
area that would inhibit interoperability, particularly with respect to
overlays. The final area of comparison was the new service doctrines
themselves, Air Land Battle for the Army, and Maneuver Warfare for the
Marine Corps. These capstone manuals turn out to be remarkably
similar in thought and intent. Even though the specific methodology
of presentation is different in each manual the consistency of
direction is evident.
IV. Conclusions: There is nothing in the law, the current
fundamentals, and the capstone doctrine that would prevent the Army
and the Marine Corps from using a single capstone manual. The use of
a single capstone manual would enable the doctrinal fundamentals to be
synchronized and more importantly provide the basis for effective
interoperability at the execution level.
AIR LAND BATTLE AND MANEUVER WARFARE: DO WE NEED BOTH?
Considering the need for interoperability between the Army
and the Marine Corps, the similar nature of their actions, and
the requirements of Goldwater-Nichols, can their parochial
service attitudes, which have resulted in the uncoordinated
rewriting of their service doctrines, be justified, or, in the
interest of interoperability, can the Army and the Marine Corps
use the same caps tone doctrine?
I. Missions of the Army and the Marine Corps
A. By law tasks and missions of the Army
B. By law tasks and missions of the Marine Corps
C. Comparison of the missions and tasks
II. Comparison of current fundamental doctrine
III. Comparison of Air Land Battle and Maneuver Warfare
Air Land Battle and Maneuver Warfare: Do we need both?
This nation has had an Army, Navy, Marine Corps and more
recently an Air Force as the primary forces used by the
government to execute its policy and protect its interests. Each
of the services has developed its own history, traditions, and
doctrine through which they have effectively carried out the will
of the nation. Throughout this time the doctrine by which the
services fought has been left up to the individual service. As a
result the writing of service doctrine has become a tightly held
prerogative of each service.
The National Security act of 1947 and subsequent changes to
Title 10 of the US Code were written with the intent of providing
a more effective method of preparing to fight and fighting the
nations wars. The designation of specified and unified commands
established the framework necessary to fight in the identified
areas and allowed these commands to focus on their specific
mission or area of responsibility. In order to establish these
organizations the services needed to be able to communicate with
each other, and to some degree understand each other. These
requirements have produced an emphasis on joint doctrine that has
lead to the formulation of the methods, processes, and formats
for organizing, mobilizing, and directing the U.S. Armed Forces.
A fundamental finding, as a result of conducting joint
operations, has been the need for interoperability. This need
has thus far been centered on equipment, particularly,
communications equipment, computers, and battle field systems to
include intelligence gathering and transmitting devices.
Although the need for equipment interoperability has been
identified and progress has been made, the need for
interoperability at the execution level has been overlooked.
Each of the services continues to develope its doctrine
independent of the other services. The lack of effective
interoperability was one of the deficiencies identified by
congress. As a result of this identification the
Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 tasks the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff(CJCS) with "Developing doctrine for the joint
employment of the armed forces."1 This task is written into
the law to prevent the problems encountered when the services
operate and train to individual service doctrine and then try to
fight together in joint operations. Further, this tasking
recognizes the need for interoperability at the execution level.
The Marine Corps and the Army are both adapting their forces
to new service doctrine. This doctrine is captured in capstone
manuals issued in 1986 by the Army and 1989 by the Marine Corps.
Although this doctrine is a significant shift from previous
service doctrine, it has been developed without cooperation and
coordination between the two services. Both the Army and the
Marine Corps have a similar purpose in fighting the nations
enemies and when this fighting occurs the types of operations
conducted by them are essentially the same above the high water
mark, in that they both conduct offensive and defensive
operations. Considering the need for interoperability between
the Army and the Marine Corps, the similar nature of their
actions, and the requirements of Goldwater-Nichols, can their
parochial service attitudes, which have resulted in the
uncoordinated rewriting of their service doctrines, be justified,
or, in the interests of interoperability, can the Army and the
Marine Corps use the same caps tone doctrine?
To answer this question it will be necessary to review the
roles and missions assigned to the Army and the Marine Corps by
Title 10 of the US Code and Department of Defense (DOD) Directive
5100.1; their current doctrinal fundamentals for offense,
defense, and operational overlays; and their new capstone
doctrines. These reviews will determine if it is practical,
legal, and necessary for these two services to have a single
capstone manual in order to achieve effective interoperability in
joint operations. It will also allow a determination of whether
or not having a single capstone doctrine would interfer with
operations when the Army and Marine Corps are operating
The Army, as the principle land force of this nation, is
tasked by congress to be capable "in conjunction with the other
armed forces"2 of conducting its missions and
responsibilities. In particular, Title 10 states,
(b)... the Army, within the Department of the Army,
includes land combat forces and such aviation and water
transport as may be organic therein. It shall be
organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt
and sustained combat incident to operations on land. 3
This clearly identifies that the primary focus of the Army will
be sustained land operations. DOD Directive 5100.1 tasks the
*.. specifically, forces to defeat enemy land forces and
to seize, occupy and defend land areas;
*develop airborne doctrine, procedures, and equipment
that are common to the Army and Marine Corps;
*organize, equip, and provide Army forces for joint
amphibious, airborne, and space operations and train
such forces in accordance with joint doctrines;
*A collateral function of the Army is to train forces to
interdict enemy sea and air power and communications
through operation on or from land.4
These tasks reinforce the the assignments in Title 10 in more
specific terms and in greater detail. The Army is specifically
tasked with developing airborne doctrine that is common to both
the Army and the Marine Corps. It is required to have forces
capable of operating in joint operations using joint doctrine,
and has to defeat enemy land forces giving it the lead in
developing land battle doctrine.
The Marine Corps is also tasked in both Title 10 and DOD
Directive 5100.1, under Title lO the Marines are tasked to,
(a)...be organized, trained, and equipped to provide
fleet marine forces of combined arms, together with
supporting-air components, for service with the fleet in
the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for
the conduct of such land operations as may be essential
to the prosecution of a naval campaign. In addition,
the Marine Corps shall provide security detachments for
the protection of naval property at naval stations and
bases, and shall perform such other duties as the
President may direct....
(b) The Marine Corps shall develop, in coordination with
the Army and the Air Force, those phases of amphibious
operations that pertain to the tactics, techniques, and
equipment used by landing forces.5
DOD Directive 5100.1 essentially restates Title 10. As with the
Army the Marine Corps is clearly tasked with certain specific
responsibilities in regard to its war fighting missions. Among
these are to develop, in conjunction with the Army, amphibious
doctrine, and, in conjunction with the seizure of advance naval
bases, conduct-necessary land operations.
A comparison of the roles and missions of the Army and the
Marine Corps clearly shows that there are overlapping
responsibilities between the two services. Both services are
tasked to conduct land operations, the Army as a primary function
and the Marine Corps as an adjunct when necessary. In amphibious
and airborne operations each service is tasked with developing
the doctrine for the other service and to be prepared to conduct
those kinds of operations. These areas of overlap, the operation
plans of the various unified commanders, and the CJCS tasking
under the Goldwater-Nichols Act demonstrates the need for the
Army and the Marine Corps to possess the ability for
interoperability at the execution level. The requirement for
both services to write doctrine for the other service further
reinforces the need for a common reference. Without a common
reference the services would either have to write the doctrine to
their particular service doctrine and hope the other service
understands their intent or they write the doctrine together and
end up with numerous excerpts and asides. Either method would
present problems with interoperability, would result in
confusion, and a lack of synchronization when the two services
are required to operate together in joint operations. As an
example, to illustrate the potential problems that could arise, a
joint task force(JTF) is assigned the mission of securing an
advanced naval base using a land ward approach that includes a
link-up with airborne forces. The JTF is comprised of both Army
and Marine Units and is commanded by a Naval officer. There is
joint doctrine for amphibious operations, however, what happens
to these forces once command is passed ashore? Whose doctrine
does the JTF commander use, whose symbology is used on the
overlays, which doctrine is he skilled in? Unless the answer to
these questions is the identification of the need for a single
multi-service capstone doctrine the situation does not bode well
for the unity, focus of effort, and synchronization of the
force. These are questions that would not need to be asked if a
single capstone manual was available.
The overlap of assignments in Title 10 and DOD Directive
5100.1 clearly demonstrates that while particular mission tasking
may be different the end requirement is the same, defeat the
enemy or accomplish the mission. How we maximize our forces to
defeat the enemy in-both independent operations, and in the more
common joint operations should be fundamentally the same. When
the decision is made to engage an enemy our forces have to be
ready, the focus has to be the mission and there has to be
effective interoperability at the execution level. There will be
no room for parochial attitudes.
The reason for using a single capstone manual is the need for
interoperability at the execution level to accomplish the
mission. The requirement in Title 10 and DOD Directive 5100.1 is
clear that the services must be prepared to participate in joint
operations. These regulations also show that although the Army
and the Marine Corps have different specific tasks the underlying
requirement is the same, engage the enemy and defeat him.
Defeating the enemy is essentially done in land combat above the
high water mark. A single capstone doctrine would not prevent
both services from accomplishing their specific tasks, it would
make writing the doctrine required by the law simpler, and it
would provide the doctrinal base needed for effective
interoperability at the execution level.
While the tasks in Title 10 and DOD Directive 5100.1 are such
that a single caps tone doctrine would not inhibit either the Army
or the Marine Corps from performing their assigned tasks, the
fact that these services have been writing their own doctrine
without coordination has resulted in a number of differences in
fundamental areas. These differences include overlay symbols,
forms of offensive maneuver, types of offensive combat and some
aspects of the defense. Since both services are conducting the
same types of actions, attacking, defending, seizing, etc., there
should not be any difference in fundamental areas. However, in
the following paragraphs differences in each of the areas will be
The Army describes the envelopment, turning movement,
infiltration, penetration, and frontal attack as the forms of
offensive maneuver. The Marine Corps defines offensive maneuver
as envelopment, flanking attack, and frontal attack. The Army
has five types of offensive operations, movement to contact,
hasty attack, deliberate attack, exploitation, and pursuit. The
Marine Corps has six types adding reconnaissance in force.
On operational overlays the Army and the Marine Corps have
different symbols for start and release points, linkup points,
passage points, rally points and the depiction of restrictive
fire control measures.
In defensive operations the Army sees the purpose of the
*Destroy the enemy.
*Weaken enemy forces as a prelude to the offense.
*Cause an enemy attack to fail.
*Concentrate forces elsewhere.
*Control key or decisive terrain.
The Marine Corps sees the purpose of the defense as,
*To destroy enemy forces.
*To retain or control terrain or prevent the enemy's
capture of terrain.
*To gain time without surrendering ground.
*To economize, to allow the concentration of forces
*When the force is to weak to attack or must halt its
advance to replenish.
*To develop more favorable conditions for offensive
Further, the Army lists four fundamentals, preparation,
disruption, concentration, and flexibility. The Marine Corps has
as fundamentals, preparation, concentration, flexibility,
offensive action, maneuver, use of terrain, defensive in depth,
surprise, and knowledge of the enemy.
The above areas highlight what has happened as the services
have developed their own doctrine in fundamental areas without
coordinating that doctrine. When both the Army and the Marine
Corps are planning and conducting operations that are the same,
offensive,defensive, etc., there shouldn't be any reason why
their plans are formed from different sets of fundamentals.
The reasons for these differences are not readily apparent
but there are two factors that probably influenced them. The
lack of firm guidance from the Joint Chiefs of Staff(JCS) to
direct the services to coordinate their capstone manuals, or the
failure of the JCS to write a capstone manual for all the
services is the first reason. The second reason follows that in
the absence of firm direction from the JCS the Army and the
Marine Corps, each jealous of its own prerogatives, chose to
write its own doctrine to achieve its own independent goals.
In the area of fundamentals the Army and the Marine Corps are
not synchronized. There are a number of similarities and some of
the differences are only a matter of wording, however, there are
significant differences in how both services look at the same
type of operation. Perhaps, the most glaring of these is in the
area of overlay symbols which prevents the simple exchanging of
overlays without detailed explanations of what a symbol means or
the added work of providing a key.
A single caps tone manual would provide the doctrinal
synchronization needed to write the fundamental doctrines of
offense and defense. In joint operations the need for
interoperability precludes the Army and the Marine Corps from
having a different way of doing the same thing. This is not
meant to imply that there will not be differences, differences
will arise because of the unique nature of each force. The
differences that do arise should only be in the area of
techniques due to the differences in equipment and organizational
structure. These application differences would not affect
fundamental areas. For example, because of the differences
between the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle(IFV) and the AAV
the techniques of fighting these vehicles would be different.
This difference would necessitate separate application manuals in
this area but would not change the fundamentals of offensive or
The final area of comparison is the new capstone doctrine
that both the Army and the Marine Corps are implementing. The
Army published their first edition of their new capstone doctrine
in FM 100-5. Operations, in 1982 and called it Air Land Battle.
They published their revised edition of FM 100-5, Operations, in
1986 and it is still called Air Land Battle. The Marine Corps is
publishing their capstone doctrine now as FMFM-1, Warfighting,
dated 1989 and it is called Maneuver Warfare. Although this
doctrine has been developed separately by each service it is
markedly similar. However, by the titles being different, and
there having been worked on separately, without integration or
coordination, it implies that they are different, in fact many
people in both services have stated as such.
To understand if the these capstone manuals are similar
enough to allow the use of just one common doctrine a comparison
of the basic tenets of each is necessary. The Marine Corps
doctrine, Maneuver Warfare, is defined as,
... a warfighting philosophy that seeks to shatter the
enemy's cohesion through a series of rapid, violent, and
unexpected actions which create a turbulent and rapidly
deteriorating situation with which he cannot cope.8
The Army defines Air Land Battle in the following terms,
The object of all operations is to impose our will upon
the enemy--to achieve our purposes. To do this we must
throw the enemy off balance with a powerful blow from an
unexpected direction, follow up rapidly to prevent his
recovery and continue operations aggressively to achieve
the higher commander's goals.. ..From the enemy's point
of view these operations must be rapid, unpredictable,
violent, and disorienting. The pace must be fast enough
to prevent him from taking effective counteractions.9
Although the word usage is different and the Army's definition is
longer, the philosophy that is stated is essentially the same.
They are so similar that one, the Armys, could be a more detailed
explanation of the Marines definition.
The Army and the Marine Corps use a different approach in
discussing their respective doctrines in their capstone manuals.
The Marine Corps has divided their manual into four chapters,
Chapter one, The Nature of War; Chapter two, The Theory of War;
Chapter three, Preparing for War; and Chapter four, The Conduct
of War. Each chapter provides the basis for the next one and
provides the practitioner with the necessary frame work to
understand where Maneuver Warfare derives its methods and why the
doctrine is necessary. This has resulted in a very concise
manual that concentrates strictly on the purpose, derivation, and
method of Maneuver Warfare. It avoids detailed lists and the
appearance of being a how to manual in the prescriptive sense.
The Army has created a larger manual that covers essentially the
same areas as the Marine manual, but not in the same order or
with the same conciseness. The Army manual has a number of lists
as they have tried to codify their doctrine more, however, close
reading of it makes it clear that it is not prescriptive.
Inaddition the Army manual covers how their doctrine applies to
sustainment, environment, offensive and defense, and joint,
combined, and contingency operations and provides the frame work
for how these areas should be viewed in light of their new
In their discussions about their respective doctrine the
following tenets or principles are presented to guide the
practitioner in understanding the doctrine and its philosophy of
execution. The Army identifies four tenets that it feels are
necessary to the understanding and execution of Air Land Battle,
initiative, agility, depth, and synchronization. In FMFM-1 the
last chapter is, The Conduct of War, within this chapter is the
definition of maneuver warfare and those areas that have been
identified as having an impact on it, these are, Maneuver
Warfare, Philosophy of Command, Shaping the Battle, Decision
Making, Mission Tactics, Commander's Intent, Focus of Effort,
Surfaces and Gaps, and Combined Arms. The thoughts from these
areas will be used in comparison with the tenets. A look at the
definitions will revel that the same points are covered by each
Initiative to the Army is the effort needed to force the
enemy to conform to our operational purpose and tempo while
allowing our forces freedom of action. It stresses the need for
leaders and soldiers to act independently within the commanders
intent. Speed to seize the initiative enables the force to
dictate the terms of combat and keep the enemy off balance. In
Maneuver Warfare, under Philosophy of Command, it says that
command must be decentralized, that subordinate commanders must
make decisions on their own initiative based on their
understanding of their senior's intent. Under Commanders Intent,
it states,that we achieve harmonious initiative, which is talked
about in Mission Tactics, through the use of the commanders
The Army talks about agility as the ability of friendly
forces to act faster than the enemy, as a prerequisite for
seizing and holding the initiative. Agility is the process
where, by operating quicker than the enemy you disrupt his plans,
slowing his responses and causing him to piecemeal his efforts.
Agility is both mental and physical, the need to think fast and
take advantage of situations is inherent in agility. The Marine
Corps talks about the aim of maneuver warfare to shatter the
enemies cohesion. To impose menacing dilemmas which happen
unexpectedly and faster that the enemy can react or respond-to
them. Further, by the use of mission tactics, the commander
provides the freedom for initiative that permits the high tempo
of operations that are necessary to keep the enemy off balance.
Depth, as the Army views it, is the extension of operations
in space, time, and resources. By using depth effectively thee
necessary space to maneuver, and the necessary time to plan,
arrange, and execute operations is gained. The Marines view
Maneuver Warfare as maneuver in both space and time to generate a
faster operating tempo than the enemy. Shaping the Battle states
that we should try to shape events in such away that allows us
reserve options so that by the time the moment of encounter
arrives we have not restricted ourselves to only one course of
Synchronization is the arrangement of battlefield activities
in time, space, and purpose to produce maximum relative combat
power at the decisive place. Supporting fires are synchronized
with maneuver and shifted to support the attack as it
progresses. It is based on fully understanding the commanders
intent. Maneuver Warfare addresses supporting arms as applied
selectively in support of maneuver. Violence is the
concentration of strength against enemy vulnerabilities, striking
quickly and boldly.
These comparisons identify that except for the ordering of
the explanations and the specific word used to identify a
particular area the explanations and the areas covered by them
are essentially the same.
After the tenets the Army talks about combat imperatives.
These imperatives are a guide to the application of their
doctrine, principles that the commander, as he prepares to
execute and executes, considers but is not rigidly held to. They
*Ensure unity of effort.
*Anticipate events on the battlefield.
*Concentrate combat power against enemy vulnerabilities.
*Designate, sustain, and shift the main effort.
*Press the fight.
*Move fast, strike hard, and finish rapidly.
*Use terrain, weather, deception and OPSEC.
*Conserve strength for decisive action.
*Combine arms and sister services to complement and
*Understand the effects of battle on soldiers, units and
The Marine Corps has also identified principles to guide the
commander and they are contained in OH 6-1. As with the Army
they are not binding but are references or keys for the commander
to consider. They are,
*Philosophy of command.
*Shaping the battle.
*Focus of effort.
*Surfaces and gaps.
These imperatives show the same consistency between the caps tone
doctrine of the Army and the Marine Corps as the tenets did. The
major difference is that the Army goes into greater detail in its
lists and descriptions prompting some to think that the Army is
trying to be prescriptive. However, repeatedly in the
discussions of their doctrine FM 100-5 emphasizes the commanders
and subordinates role in keying in on intent and using these
imperatives and tenants as guides. This is the same as the
Marine Corps which says that warfare cannot be prescriptive and
the there are no set solutions.
The explanations, tenets, and imperatives of Maneuver Warfare
and Air Land Battle are essentially the same. As a concept of
thinking, fighting, and employing ones forces to defeat the enemy
these doctrines represent a similarity of thought that is
fundamental for interoperability. Although, reached by different
means these doctrines represent the foundation upon which a
single doctrine for both services could be compiled.
Do the Army and the Marine Corps need a separate caps tone
doctrine, the answer is no. The need to defeat the enemy and
accomplish the mission is the most important function of the
services and the Goldwater-Nichols Act as part of Title 10 has
recognized this. There is no failure in accepting a fighting
doctrine that accomplishes the mission and provides for the best
opportunity for success. As the two services that provide the
majority of this nations ground forces and who, in most unified
command campaign plans, will fight side by side the need for
interoperability and effective synchronization are more important
than whose doctrine it is.
Title 10 is clear in its tasking and in review shows that the
roles and missions of both services are essentially the same in
that they are required to accomplish the mission and defeat the
enemy. The differences that do exist can be taken care of in the
application manuals. The review of current manuals identified
some fundamental differences that should not be there because
when the services fight they are conducting essentially the same
types of operations. However, a review of the new capstone
doctrine reveals a consistency of thought and ideas. They
provide excellent common ground for the development of one
doctrinal publication governing the concept of fighting for both
1Supplemt V, United States Code, (Washingjon, D.C.: United
States Government Printings Office, 1987),p.856.
2Title l0, Armed Forces, United States Code Volumn III
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3United States Code, Volumn III, p.465.
4National Defense University, Armed Forces Staff College,
The Joint Staff Officers Guide. AFSC, Pub. 1, (Norfolk, Va.,
5United States Code, Volumn III, p.606.
6Headquarters Department of the Army, The Tank and
Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force, FM 71-2 (Washington,
7MCDC, Ground Combat Operations, OH 6-1 (Quantico, VA.,
8Headquarters United States Marine Corps, Warfighting,
FMFM-1 (Washington, D.C., 1989) ,p.59.
9Headquarters Department of the Army. Operations; FM 100-5
(Washington, D.C., 1986),p.l4
11FM 100-5, p.
12FM 100-5, p.23.
13FM 100-5, p.
National Defense University, Armed Forces Staff College. The
Joint Staff Officers Guide, AFSC Pub 1. Norfolk, Va.,1988.
Title 10 United States Code Volumn III, Armed Forces, 1982
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United States Government Printing Office, 1987.
U.S. Army, Headquarters Department of the Army. Operational Terms
and Symbols, FM 101-5-1. Washington, D.C., October 1985.
U.S. Army. Headquarters Department of the Army. Operations, FM
100-5. Washington, D.C., May 1986.
U.S. Army. Headquarters Department of the Army. The Tank and
Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force, FM 71-2.
Washington, D.C., September 1988.
U.S. Marine Corps. Department of the Navy. Headquarters United
States Marine Corps. Command and Staff Action w/change 1,
FMFM 3-1. Washington, D.C., August 1988.
U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
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