Firepower Vs. Maneuver

This won’t be an extended treatise on on doctrine, but I came across a brief passage in a paper (that I’ll expound on in a later post) that I wanted to share with you:

Further the tension between firepower and maneuver-based doctrines
often appears as more of a false dichotomy than self-styled maneuver theorists might allow. As DePuy stated in partial response to critics who accused him of being an attritionist, “maneuver warfare is not a doctrinal choice, it is an earned benefit.”

Put aside the COIN vs. Full Spectrum Operations (or whatever the hell the Army is calling it this week) argument, for decades, there’s been the tension between the advocates of attritional firepower versus the advocates of maneuver warfare.

To which I say-

You need firepower to give you freedom of maneuver, and maneuver to effectively place firepower.

Big Army, especially the armored and mech infantry side of the house, are frequently castigated as the attritionists. That’s fairly odd, because DePuy, supposedly the head attritionist in chief, was the guy that strongly encouraged the revisions to the ‘76 version of FM 100-5, inviting input that eventually lead to a far more “maneuverista” approach, eventually enshrined in 1982 as AirLand Battle Doctrine.

On the flip side, the Marines, famous for frontal assaults throughout history, are currently seen as a hotbed of maneuveristas, holding it as the high holy grail of doctrinal thought. Heck, they named their doctrine Operational Maneuver From The Sea. Maneuver is great, but at some point, you need firepower. You can dance all around put eventually, if you gotta land some punches.

By the way, let me get definitional here for a second- maneuver is not movement. It usually involves movement, but is more than that. One dictionary definition of maneuver, as a verb, is:

carefully guide or manipulate (someone or something) in order to achieve an end.

“they were maneuvering him into a betrayal of his countryman”

synonyms:
intrigue, plot, scheme, plan, lay plans, conspire, pull strings

“he began maneuvering for the party leadership”

Movement simply implies the effect on your own force. Maneuver is intended to have an effect on the enemy force. Indeed, every action our forces take should remember that. The goal of operations is to induce an effect on the enemy towards achieving our desired end state. The flip side of the coin, firepower, well, it too must be harnessed. But as LeMay once said, if you kill enough of them, they quit fighting.