UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Historical Applications Of Maneuver Warfare In The 20th Century
AUTHOR Major Peter E. Higgins, USMC
CSC 1990
                        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TITLE:  Historical Applications of Maneuver Warfare in the 20th
THESIS:  Future Maneuverist can better appreicate the utility and
effectiveness of this approach to warfare if shown examples of
its approach in past applications.
ISSUE:  A review was conducted of the definition and fundamentals
of maneuver warfare to provide a foundation of better understanding
for the battles that would be studied.  In the First World War the
paper covered two German applications of infiltration (Riga and
Caporetto) and one British application (Magiddo).  In the Second
World War the German invasion of France and the British battle for
North Africa in 1940 are covered.  Finally, the Arab-Israeli conflicts
of 1956, 1967 and 1973 are reviewed for examples that are pertinent
to this type of warfare.  Trends noted include the force employing
the innovative tactics was usually inferior in forces, but would
mass at the decisive time and place and surprise his enemy.  The
indirect approach is valid in order to hit an enemy from an
unexpected direction, but is not as critical as time and the
OODA loop.  These tactics are best employed by a force that
decentralizes command and control and emphasizes initiative.  The
examples also show that the employer of these tactics suffered few
casualties, inclicted many and bagged a great deal of prisoners.
CONCLUSION:  Americans and Marines are result oriented.  The two
most important results to Marines are accomplishment of the mission
and the welfare of our Marines.  This paper has shown that maneuver
warfare can accomplish both.  Winston Churchill quote:" Battles
are won by slaughter and maneuver, the greater the general the more
he contributes in maneuver".
                  MANEUVER WARFARE IN THE
                       20TH CENTURY
THESIS STATEMENT Future maneuverist can better appreciate the
the utility and effectiveness of this approach to warfare if
shown examples of its approach in past application.
I.      Introduction
II.     Maneuver Warfare
        A. Definition
        B. Fundamentals
III.    Infiltration Examples of World War I
        A. Riga
        B. Caporetto
        C. Magiddo
IV.     Blitzkrieg Examples of World War II
        A. France 1940
        B. North Africa 1940
V.      Arab-Israeli Conflicts
        A. 1956, War Sinai Campaign
        B. 1967, Six Day War
        C. 1973, Yom Kippur War
Why should maneuver warfare and its history interest any Marine who
is a professional?  American history is replete with examples of our
country's military forces beginning most of its wars and battles
totally unprepared for conflict.  So we made ourselves ready and
off we went to beat the enemy.  America is about to enter a new age
where"peace through strength" will not satisfy a congress which can
see no future enemies, only future elections.  Americas readiness
and uniformed servicemen will decline.  Marines will be called on
to fight outnumbered and possibly with inferior equipment.
Expectations won't change though, Americans willstill expect Marines
to win and Marines will always want to win.  But at what price?
    Good leaders hold all Marines' lives as a precious commodity,
and will try to preserve and husband those lives.  Good leaders will
be interested in maneuver warfare because this type of warfare can
help us defeat our enemy while outnumbered and minimize our casualties
at the same time.
    To better understand maneuver warfare, it would be helpful to
examine its evolution in this century and see how effective and
successful it has already been.  For the serious student who is
interested in achieving a real thorough historical feel for its
evolution, one may study the tactics/battles of:  Sun Tzu, Hannibal,
Genghis Khan, Frederick the Great, Napolean, W. T. Sherman, Stonewall
Jackson, Manstein, Patton and MacArthor.  What these men basically had
in common was to  strike their enemy's weakness with strength, and
to strike them where and when it was least expected and executed their
operations with speed.
    What is Maneuver Warfare?
    The Marine Corps' basic ground combat doctrine is called maneuver
warfare.  Maneuver warfare is an approach to war which emphasizes
disrupting the cohesion of the enemy's tactical units and the mental
process of the enemy commander--his ability to make correct and timely
decisions--rather than simply attempting to inflict casualties at a
greater rate than they are sustained, (Attrition Warfare).  The
commander uses maneuver to create a succession of unexpected and
dangerous situations which occur too quickly for the enemy to react
to them.  However, by no means does maneuver warfare negate the use
of firepower to destroy enemy forces or the use of maneuver to
engage the enemy in close combat for the same purpose.  In fact, the
deterioration of the enemy's cohesion which is the goal of maneuver
warfare is greatly hastened when the enemy has sustained significant
    This is a mental and physical type of warfare.  You are mentally
trying to engage the enemy commander (more on this discussed under
OODA loop).  It is a method of fighting outnumbered and winning.  It
requires sound tactical judgement and a great deal of subordinate
    To grasp the essence of maneuver warfare one must review the
fundamentals that can be reduced to the following considerations:
A.  Focus on the enemy: not on terrain objectives.  The enemy can
    be the objective vice terrain.  If terrain is to be the objective
    that should be because it is useful to you or dear to your enemy,
    (disruptive to him if captured).  Terrain can be used as an
    aiming point or reference point such as "destroy mortar position
    in vicinity of hill 18O" vice "seize hill 180".  We don't always
    have to seize terrain to accomplish our mission.  It is not always
    necessary to assign an objective as long as we have a mission.
    Thesubordinate may then want to choose an objective or several
1.  Operational Handbook 6-1 (OH 6-1) Ground Combat Operation, MCCDC,
    USMC January 1988, Page 1-5
2.  William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook
B.  Act more quickly than the enemy can react.  Maneuver warfare is
    as much a mental approach to warfare as it is a physical one.
    The essence of maneuver warfare is to make and implement operational
    and tactical decisions more quickly than the enemy.  However,
    this does not mean making rash decisions and executing imcomplete
    plans.  The commander who generates a faster operational tempo
    gains a significant advantage.  He seizes the initiative and
    dictates the course of battle until the enemy is overcome by
    events and his cohesion and ability to influence the situation
    are destroyed.3
    This can be understood by examining the Boyd Cycle or OODA Loop
(Observation, Orient, Decision and Action).  Definition of Boyd
Cycle: Conflict is viewed as a time - competitive decision cycle
where the goal is to go through your decision cycle faster than the
enemy (out cycle him).
    1.  Observation - observes one's self, physical surroundings,
        and the enemy.
    2.  Orient - take a mental image or snapshot.
    3.  Decision - analyze METT-T, make a decision and communicate
    4.  Action - eventually, the enemy's activities have no relevance
        to your actions.
    The key to outcycling the enemy is to maintain a faster tempo.
Tempo is a function of several factors.
    1.  Focus on the enemy.  What he is doing, find his weaknesses
        and exploit them, and pit your strength against his weaknesses.
    2.  Seize the initiative.
    3.  Retain the initiative (keeps enemy off balance).
    4.  Act quickly and aggressively.
    5.  Use mission orders.  This generates timely action, decentralized
        decision making and initiative.
3.  OH 6-1, Page 1-5
    What is lost with high tempo, or the trade-offs?  Subordinate
will make more mistakes.  You may sacrifice precision for speed of
action and units may lose some physical security although you gain
security through speed and surprise.4
    A Marine Corps Gazette article pointed out:
    Great Commanders in the past used deception, surprise, shock
and firepower within a maneuver context to  rapidly transition from
one tactical maneuver to another - constantly keeping their foe
off balance.  The enemy finds himself reacting, to an ambiguous
flurry of events, to which he cannot keep up with.  He is plaqued
by disinformation as the fog of war envelops him.
    We all know the primary objective in war is the enemy's mind.
If we can break the enemy's will to fight, we can destroy his body no
matter how powerful he is.  Maneuver warfare creates shock, surprise
and psychological paralysis.  The enemy is left with a sense of
hopelessness as he struggles to control the events around him.  He
is made to feel the futillity of fighting an adversary who is
several steps ahead of him in both thought and action.5
    So the idea is to speed up and outcycle him so that the enemy
will either panic, become passive or just make totally poor judge-
ment decisions.  Maneuver warfare accepts chaos and confusion,
seeking to work within it while magnifying the chaos for the enemy.
Through decentralization, you will also generate confusion and
disorder for the enemy.6
C.  Support maneuver by fire.  Firepower supports maneuver by
    creating gaps for maneuver, suppressing and disrupting enemy
    forces, or physically destroying the remnants of enemy units
    whose cohesion has been destroyed.7
    Firepower is very important as Rommell testified in his book
Infantry Attacks.  He describes cases where a few squads were given
whole machinegun companies and artillery batteries for fire support.
4.  C&SC handout MCCDC "The Theory and Nature of War", Maneuver
    Warfare Theory fundamentals, Page 383
5.  Major G. I. Wilson USMCR & Major W. A. Woods USMC "The Controversy;
    Attrition or Maneuver?" Marine Corps Gazette
6.  W. S. Lind, "Misconceptions of Maneuver Warfare" Marine Corps
    Gazette January 1988
7.  OH 6-1, Page 1-6
He constantly stressed plastering the enemy with fire as soon as
he is encountered.  Firepower can be used to open the way, to support
maneuver by blasting a gap, or fixing the enemy in place so you can
maneuver around him.  Tempo must not be sacrificed for the need for
immediate fire support.  A few rounds that are immediately available
may be worth more than a massive bombardment hours or days later.8
So what is needed is to decentralize fire support.  Fire support
should be used not as supporting arms but as combined arms where we
combine supporting arms, organic fire and maneuver in a way that
creates a dilemma for the enemy.  The enemy effort to protect him-
self from one threat makes him more vulnerable to another.9
D.   Issue mission-type orders.  Mission-type orders specify what
     must be done without prescribing how it must be done.  In order
     to effectively issue mission-type orders, the commander must
     ensure that his intent is clearly understood so that subordinates
     can exercise initiative and still serve the ultimate mission.
     The high degree of initiative afforded subordinate commanders
     and the decentralization of decision-making authority provide
     for the rapid operational tempo essential to success.  At the
     same time, certain combat functions, such as the coordination
     of fire support with maneuver, require explicit instructions.
     As a rule, orders should contain only the degree of detail
     needed to ensure necessary coordination.10
     Mission tactics are also called "trust tactics".  Leaders are
expected to make decisions without constant supervision and without
asking for permission as long as their decisions are within the
framework of the commander's intent.  Mission tactics replace
control with guidance and allow the subordinate leader to do
without question or doubt whatever the situation requires - even the
disobediance of orders was not inconsistent with this philosophy.11
     The German concept of mission can be thought of as a contract
8.   Lind, Gazette
9.   Lind, Handbook, Page 19
10.  OH 6-1, Page 1-6
11.  Captain J. F. Antal, USA "Mission Tactics" Armor Magazine,
     May-June 1987
or an agreement between senior and subordinate.  The subordinate
agrees to make his actions serve his superior's intent in terms of
what is to be accomplished, while the superior agrees to give his
subordinate wide freedom to exercise his imagination and initiative
in terms of how intent is to be realized.12  In fulfilling the
contract, the subordinate keeps in mind the short term of the contract
which is the mission, and long term - the commander's intent.  The
commander's intent is a statement of the commander's desire and result
of the operation, or what he wants to happen to the enemy.  Ensures
subordinates two levels down   understand.  The subordinate gives
the intent precedence over the mission.  The situation may dictate
changing the mission to comply with the commander's intent.  Of
course, we want initiative on the battlefield, and when subordinates
know the commander's intent, it will synchronize their efforts to
support the will of their commander.  In the absence of orders,
a subordinate will still know what to do if he knows his commander's
intent.  He now has the latitude to take advantage of fleeting
E.  Avoid enemy strength and attack enemy weakness.  the commander
    bypasses located enemy strength--sometimes described as surfaces--
    and exploits enemy weaknesses--also known as gaps--attacking
    aggressively at key locations where he can achieve local super-
    iority.  He seeks to attack at an unexpected time and place and
    from an unexpected direction.  Enemy weaknesses may take the form
    of physical gaps between enemy units or of inferior mobility
    or firepower, inefficient command and control, lack of initiative
    or flexibility on the part of commanders, poor night-fighting
    capability, discernible tactical patterns, or any identified
    characteristic that can be tactically exploited.  Attacks
    follow the course of least resistance into the enemy flanks and
12.  John R. Boyd, "A discourse on Winning and Losing", August 1987,
     Page 76
13.  Major R. W. Glenn, USA, "The Commanders Intent: Keep it Short",
     Military Review Magazine, August 1987
14.  OH 6-1, Page 1-6
     Surfaces, whether an enemy strength or strong point, should be
bypassed, and if it must be assaulted then use infiltration attack.
A gap may be the enemy flank, or some diversionary effort may
create a flank for us.  We may find a gap through reconnaissance,
infantry (recon screen) probing, or we can create one by conducting
a penetration attack, or a supporting attack may create one, an
infiltration or deception operation.
F.  Exploit tactical opportunities developed or located by subordinate
    units.   This technique, sometimes known as "reconnaissance
    pull", is the means by which the commander attacks enemy weakness.
    In this manner, the course of battle is shaped by subordinate
    units.  Higher commanders must maintain the flexibility and
    agility to react quickly and decisively to fleeting opportunities
    created by his subordinates.  Operations should be fluid and
    continuous, each operation based on a previous success.
    Exploitation should be immediate and relentless, offering the
    enemy no respite until his total collapse.15
     When a gap is discovered, the reconnaissance would pull other
units through the gap.  Other forces can pour through, widen the
gap by rolling out behind enemy positions and collapsing them from
the rear.  Surfaces are isolated and generally destroyed by follow
on forces.16
     The commander will have a reserve, which he doesn't commit
except to exploit success.  He does not use it to reinforce failure
or bail out a unit in trouble.  It is his opportunity to influence
the battle and make a bid for victory.  In a situation where your
intelligence is sketchy, keep 2/3 of your force in reserve so
you have maximum flexibility, and it telegraphs little to the
enemy about your intentions.
G.  Always designate a point of main effort.  The main effort is
    the most important operational task to be accomplished; it is
    that task on which the overall success of the operation depends
    at that instant.  The point of main effort is the subordinate
    unit assigned that task, to which is provided the necessary
15. OH 6-1, Page 1-6
16. Lind, Handbook Page 73
    combat power and support.  The commander masses combat power
    in support of the main effort, exercising economy and often
    accepting significant risk elsewhere.  To do this will often
    deprive other commanders of what they regard as their fair
    share of combat power and support.  In the offense, the main
    effort normally is the main attack.  Through the main effort,
    the commander provides focus to the decentralized efforts of
    his command.  All elements of the command must understand and
    support the main effort.  The decisions of where to locate his
    main effort and when and where to shift it are among the most
    important and most difficult decisions a commander must make
    in combat.17
     The commander focuses his assets and combat power on his
main effort (called the "Schwerpunkt") to-achieve a decisive result.
He may shift Schwerpunkt during battle if he discovers a better
gap that should be exploited.  The commander should deceive the
enemy and create for him multiple threats, and keep him uncertain
as to which is real.  This will slow down his OODA loop by making
it hard for him to make a decision.
H.  Avoid set rules and patterns.  The enemy must not be allowed
    to anticipate tactical events or he will seize the initiative.
    Each combat situation is based on different circumstances and
    requires a unique approach.  Leaders must take an imaginative,
    practical approach to solving tactical problems.  They must
    not fight according to checklists.18
    Maneuver warfare is more than just a formula for flank attacks.
A usual goal is to attack the enemy in an unexpected place, but
that does not just mean flanks.  If you always attack his flanks,
he'll soon figure out the pattern you follow, and he'll be waiting
for you on the flanks.  His flanks will in effect become his front.
In WWII German General H. Balck practiced maneuver warfare success-
fully, and he warned to never do the same thing twice, because
if the enemy has adapted, he'll clean your clock.19
I.  Act boldly and decisively.  Commanders at all levels must be
    able to deal with uncertainty and must act with audacity,
    initiative, and inventiveness within their commander's intent
    to seize fleeting opportunities.  When fighting a numerically
    superior enemy the commander must be willing to take prudent
17. OH 6-1, Page 1-7
18. OH 6-1, Page 1-7
19. Lind, Gazette
   risks, especially when there is the opportunity for a significant
    When we penetrate deep into enemies' rear and acting within the
commanders intent, we want to disrupt the enemy and its commander.
We should cut his lines of communication, disrupt movement,
paralize command and envelop adversary forces and resources.
J.  Command from the front.  The commander must be located well
    forward in order to make effective and timely decisions based
    on first-hand knowledge of the situation.  The commander must
    not be confined to his command post; rather, he should locate
    himself where his presence has the greatest influence on the
     To appreciate what maneuver warfare means, you need to compare
it to attrition warfare.  Attrition warfare is a mutual casualty
inflicting and absorbing contest where the goal is a favorable
exchange rate.  It is characterized by the physical destruction
of the enemy, centralized command and control and low tempo of
operations.  It uses the direct approach to fighting (locate, close
with and destroy), seeks certainty before making decisions, it
requires superiority in firepower, manpower and logistics to win,
and results in heavy casualties.  And the main points of maneuver
warfare are to collapse the enemy by disrupting his forces and
shattering him, high tempo of operations, decentralized control,
quick decisions and exploiting opportunities.
     In WWI, both the Allies and the Germans initially desired to
be mobile and maneuver, but in the Western Front, the military
professionals had new lessons to learn about the immobilizing
effect of barb wire and paralyzing and deadly effect of machine
guns, fast firing rifles and rapid firing artillery.  The Western
Front became bogged down in trench warfare from the North Sea to
20. OH 6-1, Page 1-7
21. OH 6-1, Page 1-7
Switzerland, because there was no room left to maneuver, and no
flanks to turn.  The eastern front was a different type of war
because of the vast amount of area that Russia offered as a battle-
     The Allies developed the tank to break the deadlock of trench
warfare, but failed to capitalize on the breakthrough such as
occurred at Cambrai in November 1917.  The Germans developed the
Stormtroop Tactics of infiltration.
     In order for change to occur, you first need an idea which will
only appear if you can perceive a problem.  The problem was the
trench deadlock of WWI.  The man with the idea was Captain Andre
Laffargue of the French Army who in May 1915 led an attack on a
German position.  To improve tactics, he wrote a pamphlet titled
"The Attack in Trench Warfare".  The French published it for
information only, the British didn't publish it.  By 1916, the
Germans captured a copy and issued it to all units.22
     The Captain's tactics advocated a sudden attack to achieve
a deep penetration.  The momentum of this in-depth attack would
disrupt the enemy, keep him off balance, and prevent him from
organizing an effective response.  To capitalize on disruption, the
assault had to advance as far as possible.  The 1st wave would
identify - not reduce defensive strongpoints, and subsequent
attack waves would destroy them.  An artillery bombardment applied
suddenly and in depth throughout the enemy area would precede the
infantry assault.  Disruption of enemy artillery batteries was
particularly important to protect the infantry advance.23
22. Major T. T. Lupfer, USA, "The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes
    in German Tactical Doctrine During The First World War", USA
    C&SC, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, July 1981, Page 38
23. IBID., Page 36
     The Germans were anxious to put some of these ideas to the
test and were impressed with his practical combination of surprise,
firepower, and maneuver to break the tactical stalemate.
     In 1915 Captain Rohr was one of the first commanders of the
Assault Detachment.  His mission was to use his experience to
develop new tactics and provide detachments to support offensives
in the western front.  What he had to work with included a machine
gun platoon, a trench mortar platoon, a flamethrower platoon and
some 76.2 mm field guns.24
     The trench mortar had first been used in the Russo-Japanese
war to breach thick belts of obstacles.  The field gun was used for
direct fire and made it possible to have immediately responsive
fire support to meet their needs against enemy emplacements and
machine gun nests.  The flamethrower idea also comes from the Russo-
Japanese war.  It came in two sizes; large was only employed from
the protection of a sap and could spray 40m.  The smaller 2 man
portable flamethrower could throw flame 20m.  It was good for
clearing trenches and bunkers, because the liquid flame would bounce
off walls, around corners and through embrasures.  They also commonly
used hand grenades.  A man with a bagful of hand grenades could
clear a trench more effectively with less danger to himself than if
armed with a rifle.
     Rohr would meld these weapon systems together into one unit.  For
an assault to be effective, he wanted speed and violence of execution.
He first worked on perfecting the following three elements:
     (1) Replace the skirmish line with the surprise assault of
         squad size stormtroopers.
24.  Captain B. I. Gudmundsson, USMCR, "Stormtroop Tactics
     Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918", Praeger, NY 1989,
     Page 47
     (2)  Use supporting arms (machineguns, mortars, artillery and
          flamethrowers) coordinated at the lowest level to suppress
          the enemy during attack.
     (3)  The clearing of trenche by "rolling them up" with troops
          armed with hand grenades.25
     The stormtroopers' mission was to cross "no man's land" and
take possession of the enemy's trench.  The squads were trained to
move as individual units, taking advantage of the cover and con-
cealment that the terrain provided.  This changed the role of the
NCO from being behind his men and pushing them forward to being
in front of them to lead them, and making decisions.  Indirect
artillery was used to both suppress enemy batteries and provide
a box barrage on the objective to seal it off from the battlefield.
The preparatory fire was to suppress and paralyze the enemy so that
the stormtroopers could maneuver.  It came to be realized that
artillery tended to keep heads down rather than tear them off.
Accuracy and timeliness of fires, as well as the ability of the
infantry to exploit its effects, came to be seen as more important
than the volume or duration of fire.26
     Stormtroopers were employed at Verdun in February 1916.  They
moved right up to the artillery barrage, risking the occassional
casualty from short artillery rounds in order to be able to fully
exploit the effects of the fire.  Sometimes they could take
possession of a trench within seconds of the barrage being lifted.
This was when the French were caught in their dugouts.  The second
wave of the attack would contain infantry in skirmish lines who
were to defend the captured trenches from counterattacks.  The third
wave of men would carry ammo, tools and material to improve the
trench and build breastworks.  The six machineguns assigned to the
infantry battalion would also move forward with this wave.27
25.  IBID., Page 49
26.  IBID., Page 50
27.  IBID., Page 61
     The German infantry and stormtroopers had real problems progressing
past this point where they would meet even more machineguns.  That
was the situation until infiltration came to be doctrine, which
further decentralized the offense.  The stormtroopers or infantry
pushed deep into French positions whenever they could without
insisting that the units on their flanks be able to make the same
progress.  Then they were able to strike at the French from the
flank and rear and bypass strong points.
     Rohr's assault detachment grew to an assault battalion and
provided training to different units' offfcers and NCO's wbo would
return to their units and establish ad hoc assault units.  The
Reserve Bavarian Ersatz Division established their own elite
assault group and experimented by placing them in reserve, vice
leading the assault.  Infantry companies would lead the assault
deployed in skirmish lines.  When they meet resistance, they couldn't
easily overcome, or a strong point,then the assault group would
reduce it.  In May 1916 following a 75 minute bombardment, they
captured a position with a 1800 meter frontage.  It took them 25
minutes to overcome four lines of resistance.  They bypassed strong-
points to be reduced by assault groups and they pushed deep into the
rear.  They only stopped when the   French counterattacked.  This
tactic is effective when we don't know the location of enemy
strongpoints and skirmishes act as "recommaissance in force".
This method was the precursor to tactics in 1917-1918 where small
infantry units equipped with the means of providing their own
fire support bypassed strong points in order to attack deep and
took those strong points from the rear and flanks.28
     General Ludendorff became Chief of Staff and he believed that
by using Rohr's tactics and training his armys in the use of them,
28.  IBID., Page 69
he could break the deadlock in the West and return to a war of
ground maneuver.  He authorized the formation of an assault battalion
with each army.29
     The Germans were more flexible and not afraid to decentralize.
They realize that:
"In war, both sides try to maneuver for an advantage and finally
engage in battle.  During the battle, fleeting opportunities may
arise.  An important advantage accrues to the side which can make
appropriate decisions in a confusing environment and act on them
quickly.  The German command system tried to allow great latitude
of decision to the local commander.  In 1914, this extended to army
and corps commanders.  At the same time, there was need for
centralized coordination.  Accordingly, the high command issued
generalized statements of its intentions, to serve as a framework
for the independent initiative of subordinates.  There was no
guarantee that this system would always produce the right decisions.
Not that high command could not and did not issue orders, they did,
but they also expected appropriate action without orders".30
     The German practice of giving generalized orders that allowed
subordinates a maximum of initiative had a German name which
translates to "leadership by directive".  Understanding his leader's
mission and intent and having detailed knowledge of the local
situation,  he is better able to adapt to a fluid, fast changing
situation and make decisions.  This system is fast because it avoids
delay of passing information up the chain of command and waiting for
a response or a decision.  By the time the response is received, the
situation may have changed and any fleeting opportunity is surely
     The Chief of Staff wanted this concept used throughout the
army.  Through it was not universal at the tactical level, even by
the end of the war, it increasingly became a matter not just for
generals, but for lieutenants and sergeants as well.  By World
War II, its successor was "mission orders".31
29.  IBID., Page 83
30.  B. J. Meyer, "Operational Art and the German Command System
     in World War II", Dissertation for Ohio State University, 1988,
     Page 101
31.  IBID., Page 132
     Ludendorf also reminded all levels of command that leaders,
including commanding generals and their staffs, belonged on the
battlefield and should lead from the front.  This would cause a
positive effect on morale and give the troops confidence and respect
for their leaders.  In maneuver warfare this is stressed so that
the commander knows first hand what is happening and can influence
the battle by changing the focus of effort or committing the reserve
in his bid for victory.
     One of the keys to the success of the infiltration tactics,
was the coordination achieved with the artillery.  Colonel G.
Bruchmueller was the maestro who orchestrated so many of the German
successful offensive fire support plans.  He integrated it with the
assault plan.  Its fires had to be fast and accurate and its mission
was neutralization rather than the elusive and costly destruction.
He developed techniques for the sudden concentration of artillery
fire rather than the prolonged artillery preparation.  If kept
short, the enemy had less time to bring up reserves.  His plan
included three or more stages:
     First Stage - Surprise, concentrate, hit headquarters, phone
                   links, command posts and batteries
     Second Stage - All batteries fire on enemy batteries
     Third Stage - Fire on infantry positions and long range targets
                   like troop concentrations and major approach
     The result was to cut enemy communications and isolate forward
units.  By 1918 Captain Pulkowsky made further progress to help the
Germans achieve surprise in their assaults.  He practically
perfected a method of preparing tables for each artillery piece that
when combined with atmospheric and weather data the howitzer could be
laid and fired without registration and be retatively accurate
with the first rounds.  This also reduced the possibility of the
enemy guessing or discovering the preparations for an offensive.32
32.  Lupfer, Page 44
     Aircraft also supported these combined arms attacks as recounted
in this British story of the German counter offensive for Cambrai
in November 1917.
    "Preceded by patrols, the Germans advanced in small columns
bearing many light machineguns and flamethrowers.  From overhead
low flying airplanes, in greater mumbers than had hitherto been seen,
bombed and machinegunned the British defenders, causing further
casualties and distruction at the critical moment (dilemma air-
planes and assault).  Nevertheless, few posts appear to have been
attacked from the front, the assault sweeping in between to
envelop them from the flanks and rear."33
     Besides straffing enemy troops in the immediate path of the
stormtroopers, the planes dropped hand grenades on them.
     What occurred at Riga in September 1917?  Along the Baltic
coast, General Von Hutier had to cross the Dvina River, take
Riga and continue the German advance to Petrograd.  The Russian
commander expected Hutier to eliminate the bridgehead first before
crossing the river, and he defended the bridgehead with his best
troops.  Hutier's strategy was the exact opposite of what was
expected.  He would cross and swing north towards the coast to trap
the Riga defenders.  He was employing the indirect approach - a
recognition that an enemy position could be made untenable as a
result of successful operations elsewhere rather than by direct
     The artillery employed mustard gas in a 5 hour preparation
fire.  The assault troops relied on speed and infiltration to work
their way through the enemy successive defense lines, while waves
of ground attack aircraft raked over the trenches with machineguns.
Seeing the rapid advance past them, the Russians panicked and
surrendered (9000).  Both sides had negligible casualties.  Hutier
also tried to deceive the Russians by using three divisions in
33.  IBID., Page 40
34.  B. Perrett, "A History of Blitzkrieg", Stein and Day, New
     York, 1983, Page 28
supporting and diversionary attacks, while 9 divisions crossed the
river 30 km east of Riga.  What lessons were to be learned?  This
battle proved the value of surprise, the concentration of superior
forces against weak spots in the enemy disposition, and the deep
penetration of that weak spot in order to encircle a portion of
the enemy force.35
     Why was a battle in Italy at a place called Caporetto in
October 1917 significant?  The Austro-Italian front ran through
the Alps.  The Austro-German armies planned a massive assalt.  The
German infantry accompanied by light artillery and machineguns
carried in trucks that would thrust down the roads and valleys and
ignore the enemy on the high peaks and take Caporetto.  General
Below's army would sever Italian communications, outflank and
cutoff the Italians on the high ground.36  The choice of the actual
sector for the assault was chosen on a principle new to the
eastern front - that of seeking the line of least tactical resistance.37
     The Italians were isolated and panicked.  Some fought while
others gave up without a struggle.  Within three days, 60,000
prisoners had been taken along with hundreds of guns.  On 25 October
the Italian 3rd and 4th army fell back to prevent encirclement.
More than 800,000 had been lost through death, wounds and capture
compared to losses of 5,000 for the Axis.38
     German General Krauss violated a tenet of mountain warfare
by sacrificing security for speed.  He declined to take the ridges
along his route of march.  Surprised, the Italians did not capitalize
35.  Gudmundsson, Page 120
36.  A. Livesey, "Great Battles of World War I", Macmillan Pub.,
     New York, 1989, Page 154
37.  B. H. Liddell Hart, "Strategy", Signet, New York, 1967, Page 175
38.  Livesey, Page 160
on this, and the Germans got behind the bulk of the Italian defenders
and left them stranded and impotent on the mountain tops while they
pushed on.39
     General Von Below's orders to his forceiIncluded this statement:
     "Every column on the heights must move forward without
hesitation; by doing so opportunities will be created for helping
neighbors who cannot make progress, by swinging round in the rear
of the enemy opposing him.40
     At Caporetto Rommel using infitration tactics attacked the
peaks and bypassed forward defenses, and captured an Italian
infantry regiment with only a few German companies.41  In less
than three weeks, the Italians gave up 70 miles and did not turn to
fight until they reached the Prave River.  Von Below was not able
to capitalize because his infantry were only foot mobile and they
had reached the limit of their endurance in the pursuit.42
     Ludendorf felt confident he would achieve a penetration and
breakthrough in March 1918 and he did. He would conduct a well
coordinated attack in depth relying on surprise.  In the deep
penetration, the disruption of enemy units and communications was
essential.  Throughout their doctrine, keeping the enemy off
balance, pressing the attack continuously, and retaining the
initiative received great emphasis.  The artillery preparation
would be intense but not long because not only didn't the Germans
have the manufacturing capacity of the Allies, but they found it
to be a waste of ammo - those tactics didn't work.  They used high
explosives, gas and smoke.  The gas was used for its disruptive
characteristics.  To conduct this attack, the German infantry
39.  Gudmundsson, Page 132
40.  Lupfer, Page 38
41.  E. Rommel, "Attacks", Athena Press, Vienna, Virginia, 1979,
     Page 177
42.  Perrett, Page 30
organized in depth.  Speed and depth were the means of securing
their flanks and rear: speed to keep the enemy from reacting in
time to the attack, and depth to provide the follow-up units which
would isolate the bypassed pockets of resistance and prevent these
remnants from interfering with the continuation of the attack.43
     The stormtroop tactics did work at Cambrai for the German
counter offensive in November 1917, and the beginning of the
Spring 1918 offensive the Germans make impressive gains.  That
battle was lost due to subsequent decisions.
     Captain Bruce Gudmundsson in his book "Stormtroop Tactics"
    "At the operational level, the weapon that kept the Germans
from winning a war of maneuver on the western front was not the
machinegun but the railroad.  Stormtroop tactics worked, but the
Allie's railroad and motor transport columns could always bring
up more fresh troops.  The means of dealing with this problem
would have to wait for the next war.  Beginning in 1939, the fully
motorized amd partially armored Panzer Division gave the German
army the means to move troops toward, across, and around the battle-
field faster than the German enemies could move troops behind it.
The new innovation wasn't the tank, it was the mobility of complete
formations that could quickly exploit gaps in the enemy disposition.
In 1918, the German infantry could use stormtroop tactics to tear
gaps.  But as long as the following formations depended on muscle
power for mobility, those holes could never be turned into war
winning victories".44
     The Germans didn't have a monopoly on fighting smart.  Following
is a short account of what the British accomplished at Magiddo in
Palestine in October 1918.  General Sir Edmund Allenby's plan was
bold and decisive.  He wanted to penetrate the Turks' lines and
capture some key road junctions to cut off the Turks' lines both
of supply and retreat.  His plan was to delude the Turks into
believing that his attack would come in the Jordan valley, while it
43.  Lupfer, Page 42
44.  Gundmundsson, Page 172
in fact would strike hard in the west.  The bulk of his cavalry
was to ride north along the coast, and then swing in behind the
Turkish 7th and 8th army's communication centers.45
     Allenby didn't want to exhaust his cavalry but to preserve
them for the exploitation, so his infantry would punch a hole in
the Turkish line along with massed artillery.  He intended to build
up a large enough force to ensure the success of his assault by
bringing both infantry and cavalry by stealth from his right wing
to reinforce his left.  To keep the Turks guessing as to his movement,
it was necessary to deprive them of reliable overall reconnaissance.
Allenby employed his aircraft to drive the enemy's aircraft from
the skies.  He used subterfuges as he moved troops to his left
wing, like dummy camps and rows of dummy horses made from wood
and canvas set up in the Jordan Valley.  He had some groups of
soldiers march back and forth to give the Turks the impression of
a huge buildup of troops in the East.  They also employed mules
pulling sleighs about continuously to create dust clouds and
suggest intense activity and an imminent attack.46
     So successful were these ruses, that when the bombardment
opened in the west, some 35,000 infantry, 9000 cavalry and 383
guns had been secretly deployed along a front of 15 miles.  This
was out of a total force of 12,000 cavalry, 57,000 infantry and
nearly 550 guns.  His men were British, Anzac, Indian and Arab
and all were well provisioned.  The ill-provisioned Turks could
muster only 2,000 cavalry, 32,000 infantry and about 400 guns.
The Turks supposing the attack would come in the area of the
Jordan had only mustered a mere 8,000 infantry and 130 guns
near the coast.  Field Marshal Wavell later wrote, "The battle
45.  Livesey, Page 170
46.  IBID., Page 176
was practically won before a shot was fired".  Along the remaining
45 miles of front, the British had only 22,000 infantry, 3,000
cavalry and 157 guns in the line as against the Turkish force of
24,000 infantry and 270 guns.47
     The main engagement began at 0430 on 19 September 1918.  The
cannonade of 383 guns lasted only 15 minutes before the infantry
assaulted.  Meanwhile, the British aircraft were bombing and
straffing the 7th and 8th armies headquarters and telephone exchange
to leave the command echelon groping in a fog of war at Nazareth.
The assault overwhelmed the Turks, created a gap in their lines
through which the cavalry could pass unmolested.  The 7th Turkish
army in the center realizing their right flank had been turned,
and their rear menaced - tried to pull out only to have the units
integrity destroyed by persuing aircraft and finally rounded up by
    Allenby's cavalry.48
     Allenby's absolute victory was achieved through his observance
of  three of the proven maxims of warfare: surprise, mobility and
the destruction of all enemy lines of communication.  Having
concentrated on superior force opposite the sector chosen for the
breakthrough, Allenby achieved complete surprise.  Then he used
his cavalry's mobility to strike across the Turkish lines of communi-
cation at the strategic objective of the Jordan valley.  Meanwhile,
the German commander Von Sanders command network was paralyzed by
air attacks, and the raids of Lawrence of Arabia.  Allenby's forces
between 19 September to 26 October had advanced more than 300
miles northward and taken some 75,000 prisoners, 360 guns for the
loss of fewer than 5,000 of his own men.  This battle was said
to be the first example of Blitzkrieg in modern times.49
47.  Perrett, Page 51
48.  IBID., Page 51
49.  Livesey, Page 177
     There were many developments between World War I and World
War II that set the stage for Blitzkrieg.  At the forefront in
Britian was Colonel J. F. C. Fuller who pushed armored doctrine
and German infiltration tactics to disrupt the enemy's rear command
and communication system.  He wanted faster tanks, but he overlooked
mobile infantry to accompany, protect and work in conjuction with
the tanks.  The Royal Air Force avoided learning and practicing
close air support until 1942.  B. L. Hart wanted a true combined
arms forces with mechanized infantry, but early attempts at
combined arms exercised failed and so flagged Britians interest.50
     Since the 1860's, the Germans  preferred to outflank and encircle
their enemy, or break through to disrupt his organization.  Germany's
enemies fought frontal battles of attrition in WWI. with broad
frontage  of attack to protect the flanks.  The Germans believed in
concentration on narrow front for a breakthrough.  That concentration
required a careful integration of weapons to overcome
the enemy's defenses.  Though  restricted in many ways the Germans
continued to improve their doctrine.  General H. Guderian was most
influential in German mechanization.  The rest of the German army did
not become true believers in the concept of mechanized blitzkrieg
until the defeat of France in 1940.  By 1929, he was convinced
that it was useless to develop just tanks, or even to mechanize
parts of the traditional arms.  What was needed was a mechanized
formation of all arms that would maximize the effects of the tanks.
He planned on tanks, anti-tanks, guns, infantry, reconnaissance,
engineers, artillery and support units all being mechanized for
sustained mobile warfare.51  By 1935 Germany had three panzer
50.  Captain J. M. House, "Toward Combined Arms Warfare: A Survey
     of 20th Century Tactics, Doctrine, and Organization:, USA
     C&CS College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, August 1984, Page 51
51.  IBID., Page 54
divisions.  The Luftwaffe learned from the Spanish Civil War that
it could not ignore ground attack and had four Stuka drive-bomber
groups by 1939.
     The French still believed in the dominance of the defense
and established the Maginot Line.  They also expected to have to
rush to Belguim as they expected the Germans to attack from that
direction.  What tanks they had were to support the foot mobile
     The Russians wanted to be ready for an offensive war and planned
on both mechanized formations and non-mechanized.  They lacked
close air support creditability.  So as 1939 approached, Germany
had two advantages the other powers lacked: a primitive but develop-
ing close air support system and a command and control system that
allowed for rapid maneuver.
Probably the most famous Blitzkrieg attack was the German attack
on France in 1940. Blitzkrieg means "lightning war", and Hitler was
hoping for a short decisive campaign to reduce the negative impact
upon his economy and his people. He couldn't possibly have received
better results; Holland over-ran in 5 days, Belgium surrendered in
18 days and France succumbed in 6 weeks. He accomplished this
through speed, surprise, deception and combat power. The speed in-
volved his mechanized panzer divisions that crossed France and
reached the North Sea coast in just 10 days.53  He was able to ac-
complish this so quickly because of his speed of execution, and
the surprise of how it happened. The French were caught off-guard,
52. IBID., Page 64
53. R. Wernick, "Blitzkreig", Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Va.
     1977, Page 117
were in a state of shock, and because of their centralized control
just couldn't put together a cohesive defense. Even General Rommel
leading the 7th Panzer Division in Army Group "A" across France to
the coast remarked that they were moving so fast that the Franch
didn't have time to destroy the bridges in their path.54
    The French were deceived because they believed the main attack
was coming from Army Group "B"( the northern most group), through
Holland and Belgium, with a supporting attack along the Maginot
Line by Army Group "C"(the southern most group). They ware surprised
because the German main attack came from Army Group "A"(the center
group), through the supposedly untrafficable (to large armor forma-
tions) Ardennes forest. Plus, it had a great deal of combat power.
This attack by Group "B" did not occur until the French premier
fighting units, and the British were up north in Belgium trying to
stop Group "B".55
    Then you must consider that the French and British outnumbered
the Germans, they were prepared for fighting the last war. The
French still believed that the defense was supreme. They had the
Maginot line and a linear defense, rather than an elastic in-depth
defense. Their military was still slow and centralized, and their
tanks were all farmed out somewhat equally to the front. On top of
that , there was little training between the infantry and armor or
54. J. Macdonald, "Great Battles of World War II", Macmillan Pub.Co.
     NY, 1986, Page 9
55. Brigadier P. Young, "Atlas of the Second World War", Berkley Pub
     Co., NY, 1977, Page 24
56. B. Bond, "Liddell Hart- A Study OF His Military Thought", Rutger
     Univ. Press, N. Brunswick, NJ, 1977, Page 132
     So the main thrust would come through the Ardennes where the Ger-
mans would have a much better chance of success, being the line of
least expectation (indirect approach). They exploited surprise and
showed appreciation for the oft taught lesson that natural obstacles
are inherently less formidable than human resistance in strong de-
fenses. They used a baited  offense by attacking into Holland/Bel-
gium, and drawing the allies up north to respond to the threat. Then
the Germans sprung the trap, and split the allied army, and menaced
half of it with encirclement and annihilation.57  The Germans were
bold and took risks,but it paid off. They could of bagged a great
many more prisoners if they hadn't of dragged their feet crossing to
the coast, and closing in on Dunkirk. Liddell Hart alludes to the
fact that the Germans were good maneuverist because they presented
the French with dilemma's. For example: the Germans rapid progress
beyond Sedan benefited much from the fact that it successively
threatened alternative objectives, and kept the French in doubt as
to the real direction they were heading to. The first dilemma, was
the objective to be Paris or the rear of the allied forces in Bel-
gium, then later was the objective Amiens or Lille?
     This German blitzkrieg campaign was extremely successful. At a
cost of less than 30,000 dead Germany had conquered three countries,
inflicted 400,000 casualties, and captured nearly two million sol-
     Now for a British application of blitzkrieg tactics in this war
we'll look to North Africa in December 1940. The Italians under Mar-
shal Graziani had over 250,000 men in Libya, but they were only foot
57.  L. Hart, Page 217
mobile. The allied forces under Major General O'Connor numbered
36,000 and they were mechanized. Italy wanted to push the English
out of Egypt, and made an advance into the northern coastal area of
Sidi Barrani (Egypt), and set up some fortified camps there waiting
for extra men. O'Conner planned to conduct a spoiling attack on the
Italians. He made  maximum use of security by approaching at night
and staggering departure times and dates. While conducting a diver-
sionary attack on the coastal city of Maktila, his mechanized forces
were passing through a gag in Graziani's defenses to attack other
camps from the rear. Plus, another mechanized force headed for the
coastal road at BuQ Buq, to cut the water pipeline, and isolate the
objective area.58
    Graziani's camps formed somewhat of a linear defense. The camps
did have minefields and obstacles around them. The marshal dissipat-
ed his armored forces among his infantry positions, instead of col-
lecting them as an arm to be used for decisive action.59
    The allies eliminated the long artillery registration, and pre-
paration fires, and used artillery and mortar fire to demoralize the
enemy, pin him down, and distract him from the unexpected assault.
The attacks were quick, unexpected and followed  the unmined path
that led into the rear of each camp. The enemies tanks were quickly
destroyed with some tank crews never making it inside their tanks.
The Italians didn't get their aircraft up until that aftennoon,and
once they did arrive they couldn't tell who was occupying which camp.
The allies made good use of their air during these attacks. Though
58. Perrett, Page 108
59. Lt Gen Sir F. Tuker, "The Patterns OF War", Cassel & CO.,
       London, 1948, Page 55
the Italians had air superiority , it had little adverse effect on
the allies. The shocked, disorganized Italians became dispirited and
4,000 surrendered.60
    The next day the assualt on Sidi Barrani was carried out. In
four days it was over. The allies captured 4 generals, 38,000 men,
237 guns and 73 tanks. Next in the British plan was Bardia (right in
side Libya). This camp was ringed with an anti-tank ditch, minefield
deep barbed wire entanglements and concrete strong joints. It was ca
captured on 3 January 1941 with 40,000 enemy prisoners. Equally
strong Tobruk fell on 22 january with 25,000 captured. Then while
pursuing the remaining parts of Graziani's army past Benghazi toward
Tripoli, O'Connors units had intercepted them by cutting across the
desert, and set up an ambush at Beda Fomm on 6 January 1941. Two
forces of 3,000 men (total) by their tactics and audacity captured
21,000 prisoners.61
    O'Connor was a very bold commander, in fact due to transporta-
tion stringencies he had to establish forward dumps of water and am-
munition right under the enemies nose. He had enough supplies for 48
hours. If not successful in that time he had to retreat. He had to
plan on the same type logistics at Beda Fomm. The blitzkrieg tactics
of armor with mechanized infantry, mobile artillery and close air
support worked for O'Connor. In fact he destroyed 10 divisons, took
170,000 prisoners, 400 tanks and 850 guns.62
     Liddell hart's theories had a big impact on the Israeli leader-
ship and was studied before 1948. His strategy was viewed as vital
60. House, Page 90
61. Hart, Page 260
62. IBID., Page 372
to help overcome Israel's inferiority in arms and numbers, and the
vulnerability of her people and territory. Part of the foundation of
Harts theory and maneuver warfare is the use of initiative. Initia-
tive is part of the Israeli Palmach tradition and their training en-
courages initiative as exemplified in their slogan "The smallest un-
it is the single man with his rifle." It is also stressed that offic-
ers should lead by personnallexample from the front rather than by
detailed orders.63
    Early Isreali success is noted in Operation Horev (22December
1948-7 January 1949), that was designed to expel the Egyptians from
the southern Negev. The Egyptians commanded all the important roads
and were prepared for a conventional attack. Yigael Yadin, the Isrea-
li Chief of Staff found the trace of a Roman road on an archaeologi-
cal map running from Beersheba to Auja (near the southern border).
He asked Rabin, Chief of Staff Southern Front to see if it was usu-
able. Rabin reported "difficult but passable". With engineering im-
provements the route was made passable for half tracks and medium
tanks, and as a result complete strategic surprise was achieved. The
operation was a brilliant success, with the Egyptians expelled from
the whole of Palestine except the Gaza Strip by a force barely super-
ior in numbers, and inferior in equipment.64
     In the 1956 campaign Egypts defense in the Sinai occuppied pos-
itions at key terrain points that lacked depth and flank security.
They were vulnerable to outflanking movements and lacked a large
counterattack force to support them.65  The Egyptians believed in cen-
tralized command and control, and did not encourage initiative.
63. Bond, Page 241
64. IBID., Page 250
65. House, Page 174
    Though he was never a disciple of L. Hart, General Dayans strate-
gy in the 1956 Sinai campaign was very much in accord with the spir-
it of Hart's doctrine. Rather than a direct attack on the enemy
fortified perimeter to destroy the enemy, Dayan believed that the en-
emies forces would disintegrate by becoming disorganized and col-
lapse if the Israeli's could rapidly penetrate deep into the Sinai
and cut the enemies communications.
    Isreal began the war with a paratroop drop behind Egypts front
lines (in the Sinai) near the eastern entrance to the Milta Pass.
Colonel Sharons brigade was to follow the line of least expectation
and drive to reinforce the paratroopers. Meanwhile, General H. Las-
kov, as a follower of L. Hart, and the armored corps commander in-
tended to make the tanks play a key part. He wanted the tanks con-
centrated in a few all-armored units which would be sufficiently
powerful to break through the enemies defended zone, thrust deep in-
to his rear areas, and then fan out to threaten several objectives.
While supporting the infantry in the Abu Agheila- Umm Katef cross-
roads attack, the infantry was held up and Ben Ari's tanks infiltrat-
ed into the rear at Abu Agheila and then, with hardly a pause, drove
on westward in blitzkrieg style to take control of most of the Sinai
by the end of the second day (October 31). This was in direct contra-
diction to Dayan's orders.66
    Another notable exploit in this war was pulled off by Colonel
A. Yoffe and his 9th Infantry brigade. He made a cross country march
to Sharm el Sheikh(at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula). He remark-
ed that no one expected a whole brigade with a convoy of more than
200 vehicles to attempt a route only fit for camels. Sharons brigade
66. Bond, Page 255
was simultaneaously advancing down the east bank of the canal, and
the two forces took the objective with minimal opposition. Yoffe's
brigade was said to have made the impossible across the impassable.
In less than 8 days fighting the Israeli's had routed the equivalent
of two Egyptian divisions and conquered an area about three times 
the size of their own territory and at a cost of less than 200 troops
    The Arab-Israeli Six Day War in 1967 was initiated by Israel
conducting pre-emptive air strikes against the Arab air forces to
guarantee Israel against air attacks. 5/6 June, the Israeli Air 
Force (IAF) with its 250 combat aircraft destroyed 309 Egyptian, 60
Syrian, 29 Jordanian and 17 Iraqi aircraft, most of them on the
ground, against a loss of 26 of their own aircraft. They also knock-
ed out several radar and surface to air missile (SAM) sites.68
    Three Israeli divisional tasks forces were to attack into the
Sinai. In the north General Tal's division with the objective  of
Rafah and El Arish, in the center Yoffe's division was detailed to
advance  through difficult terrain and shield Tal's flank. Sharons
division to the south was to attack Abu Agheila/Umm Katef. Tanks of
Tal's leading battalion broke through the Egyptian lines and led to
early capture of El Arish. Yoffe demonstrated indirect approach in
taking the line of least expectation . He sought to achieve surprise
by overcoming natural rather than human resistance. Yoffe preferred
a day long struggle through soft sand rather than risk a frontal at-
tack. His route took him behind the main enemy defenses and enabled
him to cut off their reinforcements to the front.
67. IBID., Page 257
68. M. Carter, "War Since 1945",Putnam Press, NY, 1981, Page 246
     Sharon's victory was brillant. He operated at night against a  
well organized defense in depth. A paratrooper battalion landed in
the rear and cleared a way through a minefield, while two tank forces
after infiltrating the defense, converged from east and west.69
Defense Minister  Dayan though greatly out-numbered estimated they
could push the Egyptians back to passes (Milta,Gidi) in three weeks.
Israel's victory was achieved at a cost of 778 dead and 21 prisoners
while the Egyptians had 10,000-15,000 killed, 11,500 prisoners and
loss 700 tanks. The IAF made very significant contributions.  After
initial victory, it switched its efforts to ground support role, and
speeded up the ground attacks with close air support and air super-
     In the 1973 Arab-Israeli War the Egyptians initiated a masterful
river crossing of the canal on 6 October and totally surprised the
Israeli's. The Bar Lev line couldn't hold and the Egyptians took
their limited objectives penetrating only a few kilometers from the
canal. They had built up their radar and SAM site  concentrations in
the area to make it almost impossible for the IAF to operate there
and survive. The forces that crossed the canal  were supported with
three times their normal complement of anti-tank guided missiles
(ATGM) and anti-tank rockets (RPG-7), plus tanks. The Israeli's
counterattacked without support of infantry, artillery or air support.
The IAF main priority at this time was the Golan Heights area. These
attacks took a horrendous beating, whereupon the Israeli Defense
Forces (IDF) took up positions to defend the passes in the Sinai.
    Why did Israel take such an initial beating?
       After her victories in 1948, 1956, and 1967 she could afford
       to be a little complacent. Nurtured on L. Harts strategy of
69.  Bond, Page 255
70.  Carter, Page 254
       the indirect approach, which experiance had shown was best
       achieved on the ground by fast moving armored columns, and 
       the fact that their Centurions and Pattons with superior crews,
       outmatched the Arabs Warsaw Pact armor. They became convinced
       that the tank on its own was a battle winner. They put great
       emphasis on tank crew training. They found that the tank that
       gets off the first shot in a tank battle has the best chance
       of winning. They strived to get off the first shot in 5-7 se-
       conds vice the normal 15 seconds.71
    So the IDF relied largely on the tank-fighter-bomber team for
its victories. The IAF made artilery seem unimportant because it 
could arrive more quickly than artillery could deploy.72
    As Sryia was taking a beating from Israel, it requested that
Egypt take some pressure off by renewing their attack. Egypt did so
on 14 October with the passes as objectives. The Egyptians left
behind them the security of their SAM and ATGM defenses, to meet
the IDF in well prepared defenses with hull down fighting positions
for the tanks. The IDF tanks, infantry (with ATGM) and the IAF des-
troyed 264 tanks and approximately 300 armored personnel carriers
(APC), for a loss of six tanks.73 The IDF was now ready to counterat-
tack  and exploit the gap discovered by Sharons forces on the 9th,
to cross the canal. Showing they learned their lesson from their
earlier attacks in this war, they raised the proportion of APC's to
tanks from 1:3 to 1:1, and increasing the amount of artillery to
support these formations. They would now fight as an all arms battle
group, infantry in advance of armor and APC's. The APC's would pro-
vide fire on areas from where ATGM could be or were fired. The unit
could now operate whether they had close air support or not. In
71.  LT COL J.A. English, "The Mechanized Battlefield, A Tactical
     Analysis", Peryamon-Brassey'sPub., Mclean,Va, 1985 Page 34
72.  House, Page 176
73.  Perret, Page 73
effect the infantry were crumbling the front to allow the passage of
armor for exploitation.74
    The IDF was now ready to change this war from one of attrition
to one of maneuver. On the 15th Sharon had 200 paratroopers across (Canal)
and rafted seven tanks. The next day he had two armored brigades a-
cross by ferries and had started eradicating SAM sites which allowed greater
support by the IAF. The IAF was also now using, shrike missiles a-
gainst enemy radar. On the 17th they had one pontoon bridge across,
and the next day two more bridges were completed. IDF had three
divisons across the canal. They pushed south and completely isolated
the Egyptian 3rd Army of 45,00 men and 250 tanks who were ttreatened
with dying of thirst. They had turned the tables by carrying out a
most daring operation against tremendous odds and in the face of 
great adversity. They achieved a great tactical victory by maneuver-
ing themselves into a position to destroy the 3rd ARMY. The Arabs
fought bravely (USUALLY), but weren't trained to think on their feet
and take action- no one wanted to make decisions. The Arabs would
become demoralized easily if bypassed, because they lacked unit
cohesion and unit trust. The ISraeli small unit leaders could take
charge, improvise and make decisions. Battles can easily be won
or lost because of that big differance in leadership.75
     Results; out of 2,000 IDF tanks, 400 were destroyed, although
many had been repaired and returned to the war. The Syrians had
1,200 out of 1,820 destroyed and the Egyptians 1,100 out of 2,200.
the IDF had 2,800 deaths compared to 8100 for the Arabs. IDF
captured 8531 prisoners vice 508 for the Arabs.76
74.  English, Page 80
75.  C. Herzog, "The Arab-Israeli Wars", Vintage Books of Random
      House, NY, 1982
76.  Carter, Page 271
Israeli victories in all three wars seemed to be a vindication of
the theories of the apostles of mobility - Fuller and Hart.  Hart
regarded the six day war as the best demonstration yet of the
theory of the indirect approach.  They had shown that a small,
highly trained and skilled army, equipped for mobile operations and
commanded from the front by men of high intellegence and speed of
thought, could defeat much larger armies that are more ponderous
in thought and action.  They had also shown that the combination of
speed and surprise produced its own momentum.  operations aimed to
upset the enemy's equilibrium, psychologically as well as physically,
were more fruitful than direct assault.77
    Maneuver warfare has evolved from Blitzkrieg, which evolved
from infiltration tactics.  Maneuver warfare is not synonomous with
Blitzkrieg because it is not necessary to always have tanks, air
support and mobile infantry to achieve results.  maneuver warfare is
similiar to Blitzkrieg because of the emphasis in shifting from
place as in Liddell-Harts indirect approach to time as in Colonel
Boyd's OODA loop.  Maneuver warfare works on the premise of knowing
the commander's intent and trusting subordinates to use their initiative
to make decisions to accomplish the mission.
     What can be noticed from the battles discussed is that victory
was achieved with minimum casualties to the side employing it, plus
many captured prisoners.  Americans and Marines are result oriented.
The two most important results to Marines are accomplishment of the
mission and the welfare of our Marines.  This paper has shown that
maneuver warfare can accomplish both.  We all need to learn about
maneuver warfare and employ it, if for no other reason than that
77.  IBID., Page 271
provided by Winston Churchill, "Battles are won by slaughter and
maneuver, the greater the general the more he contributes in
Antal, J. F. Capt., "Mission Tactics", Armor Magazine, May-June 1987.
Bond, B., Liddel Hart - A Study of His Military Thought.  New
     Brunswick, N.J., Rutger University Press, 1977.
Boyd. J. R., "A Discourse on Winning and Losing", August 1987.
Carter, M., War Since 1945, N.Y., Putnam, 1981.
English, J. A. LtCol. The Mechanized Battlefield, A Tactical
     Analysis, McLean, Va., Peryamon-Brassey Publishing, 1985.
Glenn, R. W. Maj., "The Commanders Intent: Keep It Short", Military
     Review Magazine, August 1987.
Gudmunasson, B. I. Capt., USMC, Stormtroop Tactics Innovation in
     the German Army, 1914-1918, N.Y., Praeger Press, 1989.
Hart, B. H. L., Strategy, N.Y., Signet, 1967.
Herzog, C. The Arab-Israeli Wars, N.Y., Vintage Gooks of Random
     House, 1982.
House, J. M. Capt, USA, "Towards Combined Aims Warfare: A Survey
     of 20th Century Tactics, Doctrine and Organization", USA
     Command & Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS. August 1984.
Lind, W. S., Maneuver Warfare Handbook. Boulder, CO, Westview Press,
Lind, W. S., "Misconceptions of Maneuver Warfare", Marine Corps
     Gazette, January 1988.
Livesey, A., Great Battles of World War I, N.Y., Macmillan Press,
Lupfer, T. T. Maj. USA, "The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in
     German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War:, USA
     Command & Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, July 1981.
Macdonald, J., Great Battles of World War II, N.Y., Macmillan
     Press, 1986.
Meyer, B. J. , "Operational Art and the German Command System in
    World War I", Dissertation for Ohio State University, 1988.
Perrett, B., A History of Blitzrieg, N.Y., Stein and Day, 1983.
Rommel, E. , Attacks, Vienna, VA, Athena Press, 1979.
Tuker, F. Sir LtGen., The Patterns of War, London, Cassel & Co.,
US Marine Corps, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Ground
     Combat Operations. OH 6-1. Quantico, 1988.
US Marine Corps, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Command
     & Staff College Handant. "The Theory and Nature of War Maneuver
     Warfare Theory Fundamentals", Quantico.
Wernick, R., Blitzkrieg, Alexandria, VA, Time-Life Books, 1977.
Wilson, C.I. & Woods, W. A.  Maj., USMC, "The Controversy: Attrition
     or Maneuver?", Marine Corps Gazette, Quantico.
Young, P. Brigadier, Atlas of the Second World War, N.Y., Berkley
     Publishing Corporation, 1977.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list