The View From Olympus: Maneuver Warfare and What Comes Next

The September 2020 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette announced a series of articles titled The Maneuverist Papers and offers the first, “Marine Corps Maneuver Warfare: The Historical Context,” by “Marinus”, whose initials I suspect are J.S.  The history it discusses and its analysis of the maneuver warfare movement’s “success” is generally accurate and thoughtful.  I put “success” in quotes because, while maneuver warfare was adopted as official Marine Corps doctrine, the Corps left its personnel system, education, and training largely unchanged, which means it can talk about maneuver warfare but not do it.  The Italian Army did the same thing in the late 1930s; hopefully, the Marine Corps’ results will be happier.

Marinus’s article concludes by asking,

Will there need to emerge another Gray, Boyd, Wyly, or Lind?  Should or how should maneuver warfare adapt to recent and emerging changes in warfare?  Or, more fundamentally, has warfare changed sufficiently that the Marine Corps should reconsider its basic doctrine?  Most Marines would instinctively and emphatically say, “No!”–but does that mean the question should not be asked?

I appreciate his acknowledgement–I did after all start the debate over maneuver warfare with a piece I wrote in 1976- and I would also note that with the exception of John Boyd, the rest of us (including Jeff Grelson, whom the article forgot) are still alive, functioning, and probably have one last campaign in us.

But war is evolving in such a way that the situation is wholly different.  In the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Marine Corps could choose whether to stick with Second Generation (firepower/attrition) warfare or shift to the Third Generation (maneuver warfare).  Fourth Generation war offers no such choice, because it moves in next door.

The essence of Fourth Generation war, to quote Martin van Creveld, is that what changes is not how war is fought (although that does change) but who fights and what they fight for.  In the First, Second, and Third Generations of modern war, states primarily fight other states and the fighting is done by soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen.  In the Fourth Generation, many different kinds of entities fight wars, and wars are fought by anyone who wants to fight.  War therefore turns up in many guises.

We are seeing one aspect of 4GW being fought on the streets of American cities.  Groups of young people, primarily men, who want to fight, are fighting the state’s forces, in this case police, on behalf of many “causes” that represent their primary loyalties: anarchy, black supremacy (and sometimes white supremacy, although the Right is generally fighting defensively as it should), feminism, hatred for President Trump, and just out of boredom and desire to fight.  They are wrecking, looting, and burning businesses (many of them small businesses whose owners are ruined) and any building that is a symbol of the state.  Our primary force for 4GW, the National Guard, is already engaged.  Do Marines think this is going to stop before it reaches their doors?

Beyond our southern border, three drug cartels are already stronger than the Mexican state, and Marines have been deployed to that border in the past.  Do Marines think the cartels respect borders and will stop at ours?

Wise 4GW entities fight the state’s forces by taking them from within.  Do Marines not know that gangs have penetrated the Marine Corps, in part to learn combat skills they can use against the Marines?

I have been writing and speaking about war to Marines and others since the mid-1970s.  I, and others who played central roles in the maneuver warfare movement in the Marine Corps in the 1970s through 1990s, are still able and willing to help the Corps get off its eternal sine wave and make the institutional changes needed so its maneuver doctrine is real.  But while the Marine Corps has either vegetated or steamed in circles since General Gray retired, which is almost thirty years ago, war has not stood still.  As 4GW spreads on our own soil, the Marine Corps will either learn how to win it or disappear along with the state it will have failed to defend.  This time, it has no other option.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

Understanding the Left’s Tactics

The Left is wrong, but it is not stupid.  If we are to defeat it, we must study and understand its tactics.  Three are of special importance.

  • From other totalitarian ideologies the American Left has adopted the tactic of telling a big lie fast, immediately after or during an event, and figuring the truth, which usually comes out more slowly, will never catch up.  We’ve seen this both in Minneapolis and in Kenosha.  In Minneapolis, the lie is that a cop killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck so he could not breathe.  The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported the facts: Floyd was on drugs, he was deliberately injuring himself while saying “I can’t breathe”–before the cops put him on the ground–and they took him down to stop him from further hurting himself, calling at the same time for an ambulance.  The coroner found Floyd did not die of asphyxiation.  The police were trying to help him, not hurt him.

In Kenosha, we still do not know the details.  But it seems as if, from the cops’ perspective, Jacob Blake was acting irrationally, in a way that could have meant he was on drugs such as PCP.  He ignored the cops’ orders and seemed to be unaffected by two tasings.  According to the August 29 Wall Street Journal, quoting the Kenosha Professional Police Association, Blake “forcefully fought with the officers, including putting one of the officers in a headlock.”  He was either carrying a knife or had one in the car he was trying to enter–a car with three young children in it.  Would it have been reasonable for a police officer to think those children were in mortal danger under those circumstances?  Remember, police are authorized to use deadly force not only to protect themselves, but to protect citizens as well.

And in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, far from being an intended “mass shooter”, he was being attacked by a hostile mob and he thought, with reason, his life was endangered.  We all have a right to defend ourselves.

To counter this tactic, we have to get the facts out fast.  Our OODA Loop must be faster than the Left’s, or at least as fast.  That is difficult because we care about the truth and they don’t.  The mainstream media, which are in the Left’s pocket, quickly report the Left’s version of events but then ignore the facts as they slowly come out.  Someone with more resources than I possess needs to create some sort of bulletin board anyone can access that withholds conclusions until the facts are available, corrects the Left’s lies, and can be relied on for accuracy across the political spectrum.  I suspect it would quickly attain widespread popularity.

  • The Left is embedding vandals, arsonists, and looters in larger “peaceful demonstrations”, then pretending the police and the Right are attacking the latter as the former run wild, smashing, looting, and burning.  The tactic of embedding can work well.  In a Marine Corps war game at Quantico some years ago, where I commanded Blue, I embedded a regiment-sized Operational Maneuver Group in a (division-size) MEF landing.  Once I had beached the whale, I popped the OMG straight for Red’s capital and thereby quickly won the war.  Red’s response was too late because they could not find the OMG among the MEF until it was on its way. 

To counter embedding, we need people on the Right who document on video, just the way the Left does, what the other side is doing and get that video out fast.  We also need to inform the cops, the local press, and the public about the embedding tactic before the game starts.  If they are all looking for it, that tactic will lose its effectiveness.  Pre-emption defeats embedding.

  • Third, the Left plays endless and seemingly purposeless word games.  But those games do have a purpose: over time, they condition the public to allow the Left to dictate everyone’s language and thereby their thoughts.  Worse, ordinary Americans come to accept being conditioned by the Left as the normal and proper state of affairs.  A recent example is the Left’s order that the word “black” begin with a capital B when referring to colored people (which in my view remains the most polite term, as it always was).  Even some media on the Right are bowing before this decree from our self-appointed censors.

Our answer should be, “Sorry, but I speak English, not Newspeak.”  In English, proper names are capitalized, most other nouns are not.  That rule extends to proper adjectives.  Therefore “Hispanics” is capitalized because Hispania is the Latin word for the country of Spain.  “Indians” is capitalized when referring to people from India, but not for American indians.  The word “whites” is not capitalized because there is no country called “Whitey,” nor is “black” because there is no country called “Blackey.”  There is the country of Niger, pronounced with a soft g, and niger is the Latin word for the color black, pronounced in classical Latin with a hard g.  I’m not sure American blacks want us to go there. . .

On the Right, the response to those tactics of the Left should be to present the facts quickly, warn beforehand what the game is and aggressively assert proper English.  Our voice must be as loud as the Left’s, but far more reliable.  Eventually, in the marketplace of ideas, that will give us the victory–assuming we can keep the marketplace open.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: A Marine Experiment

By a “Marine experiment”, I do not mean crossing airline stewardesses with manatees in hope of producing a mermaid.  That would result only in fat stewardesses and manatees with an attitude.  My proposed experiment would have as its subject the United States Marine Corps.  Its purpose would be to find a way to make what the Marine Corps says in its doctrine consistent with what it does.

In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, when General Al Gray was Commandant, the Marine Corps adopted maneuver warfare as its doctrine.  Also known as Third Generation war, it is the Prussian/German approach to war as it developed from 1807 to 1945, with the key years being 1914-1918.  The Marine Corps remains the only American armed service to have made this important move.  The Army, the Navy, and the Air Force remain Second Generation, which is to say doctrinally obsolete.

However, what the Marine Corps actually does, in terms of its tactics, life in garrison, and institutional culture, is still mostly Second Generation.  Ever since the FMFM-1 Warfighting field manual, which remains one of the best ever written, came out, Marines have told me,”What the Marine Corps says is great, but it’s not what it does.”

Changing that so the Marine Corps’ actions match its doctrine has been the Corps’ greatest challenge for almost thirty years.  Although islands of maneuver warfare appear here and there, the products of individual commanders, those islands vanish again into the Second Generation sea as personalities change–which they do at a dysfunctionally rapid rate due to our surplus of field grade and senior officers, each of whom wants his lick at the ice cream cone of command.  The Corps has failed, and continues to fail, at meeting its main challenge.

So here’s my proposed experiment to make maneuver warfare real.  The people who seem to take maneuver warfare most seriously are the NCOs and Staff NCOs, as the pages of the Marine Corps Gazette show.  The Corps’ failure is not their failure; it is thirty years of failure by Marine Corps officers, especially the field and senior grades (lieutenants and captains, like the enlisted Marines, often make serious efforts to follow maneuver warfare doctrine).  So why don’t we put them in charge with a simple order: “make it happen!”?

All officers from the Commandant on down would take between six and twelve weeks of leave.  They would not be permitted on base during those weeks, nor could they contact the Staff NCOs who would be in charge of everything.  At the end of their prolonged period of leave (paid, of course), the officers could come back, but only as observers for another six to twelve weeks.  They could offer advice if asked, but not otherwise interfere.  At the conclusion of this second “all enlisted” period, the NCOs and Staff NCOs would turn over to the officers a Marine Corps that actually does what Warfighting says.

Could enlisted Marines succeed where Marine officers have failed for 30 years? Since we know the officers can’t do it, it’s worth a try.  If that too fails, well, the Marine Corps will join the Army, Navy, and Air Force on their ballistic courses into history’s wastebasket.  As Mark Twain said of the male teat, they are neither useful nor ornamental.  They also cost what is effectively a bankrupt country a boatload of money.  We should be able to buy defeats for less than a trillion dollars a year.

My bet is the NCOs and Staff NCOs can do it.  They did it on a small scale a year or so ago at 29 Palms, when an officerless unit had each Marine read Warfighting and then just do it.  They took on and handily beat a normal Marine unit of much larger size.  No surprise there: we’ve known the Third Generation beats the Second since May, 1940.

In the end, if Fourth Generation war sweeps over America, as looks more and more likely, it will be the people now serving as NCOs and Staff NCOs who emerge as the leaders, at least on the political Right.  Few officers will be able to adjust as their comfortable upper-middle-class world falls apart.  Enlisted Marines still come from families where people work with their hands.  They are much more in tune with the real world than those who rank above them.  If they are not given a chance to save the Marine Corps now, they will be in charge later of building new Marine Corps–one if we’re lucky, one hundred if we’re not.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Core Election Issue: Fear vs. Anger

The way the Presidential election is shaping up, most of the big issues will not be openly stated.  They include race, with the Republicans the White party and the Democrats the black and immigrant party; socialism, with the Democrats in favor and the Republicans against; and freedom of thought and expression, with President Trump not only an advocate but a practitioner as he says things deemed politically incorrect while the Democrats hope people do not notice what the Left is doing on college campuses, where students and professors who dissent from cultural Marxism do so at their peril.  But behind these largely unstated issues lies another: the Democrats are the party of fear while the Republicans, and especially President Trump, are the party of anger.

It is obvious how the media, which are almost wholly in the Democrats’ camp, pump up the fear.  The corona panic is exhibit A: most people have figured out it isn’t very dangerous unless you’re lying in a bed in a nursing home, while the media talks as if the Black Death were again upon us.  The Left puts more and more restrictions on daily life, all justified by COVID-19, but they fail to see how they are thereby stoking public anger.  The latest example is widespread cancellation of fall college and high school sports, including football.  That might seem a small matter in the great scheme of things, but it is not to the thousands of players and millions of fans.  Their anger will turn into many votes for President Trump, because he is the angry man’s candidate.  Some of his votes will be black votes, because sports, especially football, are young black men’s road out of the ghetto.

Fear is the Democrats’ underlying theme on almost every issue.  Global warming and climate change, job losses (most of them lost to the over-reaction to COVID-19, which the Democrats continue to push), “black rage” as the Left urges young blacks to riot, loot, and burn, these and many other issues reflect the Dems’ main message: it’s a terribly dangerous world out there, but if you’ll give us all your money and your liberties, we’ll protect you.  They won’t, but so long as they get your money and freedoms they will have won.  Of course, the day after the Democrats win, if they do, the media will turn off the fear machine and become Pollyanna.

On the other side, President Trump benefits from every voter who gets angry.  He is an angry man, and that resonates with other people’s anger.  The ongoing violence in our cities and their rapidly rising crime rates, an inevitable product of the Left’s assault on police, are an example.  The Left thinks people will be afraid of what’s happening.  But instead, they are getting angry.  They want the traditional “whiff of grape” to answer the rioters, not more government programs to keep them happy.  They are angry towards the blacks, they are angry about being flooded by immigrants who do not acculturate, they are angry about the COVID-19 shut-downs that have killed their jobs, their social lives, and their football games.

So what happens in November?  My bet is that anger wins big, which is to say President Trump is re-elected in a landslide and the Republicans take back the House and keep the Senate.  But there is a larger issue here that will play out after the election.  Does a Republican win satisfy angry Americans, or will their anger continue to build until it overflows the political system into the streets?

The answer will depend in part how the Left reacts to defeat.  If it pumps up the fear campaign and the urban violence, the Right will at some point respond.  Hopefully, that response will take the form of supporting the police and National Guard as they move to restore order–which even Democratic mayors will want, to save their own political skins–but it may go further.  If checkpoints manned by armed locals start going up in the countryside, watch out: Fourth Generation war is here.

If the Democrats scare enough voters (mostly women) into giving them a victory, the anger of the angry public will boil over.  Its numbers will include most cops and Guardsmen, so Democratic governments may not have the tools they rely on (while at the same time despising them).  Where do the Democrats turn then?  Power ceases to be power when no one obeys it.  The scenario in Thomas Hobbes’ Victoria plays out, which again means 4GW on our own soil.

In terms of the core issue, fear vs. anger, the 2020 election will be an important one–so important that there may not be another, at least for a long time.

A Campaign Theme for the President

Thus far in the 2020 Presidential campaign, neither President Trump nor Mr. Biden has found a campaign theme that resonates with the public.  I don’t know that any single theme would be sufficient to address that lack.  But for President Trump, I think there is one theme with widespread appeal that could make a difference: what is at stake in November is your right to think, say, and write what you want to.  If the Democrats win and you are not a cultural Marxist, you may lose your freedom of thought and expression.

The evidence for this is rich and getting richer, thanks to the cultural Marxists’s premature celebration of victory.  On campuses across the country, professors and students find themselves facing expulsion, firing, harassment, and sometimes physical violence if they challenge any of the cultural Marxists’ ideological claptrap.  They may even be sentenced to “re-education” in the form of “sensitivity training,” which is psychological conditioning to mouth cultural Marxism’s lies.  One does not have to be an historian to see the parallels with what happened in Marxist states like the Soviet Union.

Nor is the aspirational totalitarianism of cultural Marxism only to be found on campuses.  We now see it in the streets of Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and elsewhere, as Marxist youth trash and burn small businesses the owners (sometimes minority members themselves) have put their lives into.

And we see it in rising urban and suburban crime rates as young black males calculate that police are now afraid to arrest them since the cop, rather than the criminal, may get in trouble. “Support your local police” is not just a nice idea; it is essential if order is to be preserved.

It is not hard to see how this theme could translate into powerful television advertising for President Trump’s re-election.  Show scenes of Left-wing youth rioting, destroying property and burning books (yes, they are doing that too) coupled with Democrats defending the rioters.  Interview small business owners, men and women, White and minority, who have lost everything to the arson and looting.  Get black inner-city residents to talk on camera about how crime ruins their lives.

President Trump has talked in several recent speeches about the fact that many of the demonstrators are Marxists.  It might go over some of the audience’s head, but he should consider using the term “cultural Marxism”.  That way the Democrats, especially Mr. Biden, could not defend themselves by pointing to past foreign policy positions that opposed the Soviet Union.  That was Marxism-Leninism, this is cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School, of Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse.  They are different, but they are both forms of Marxism. 

As every good propagandist has always known, the most effective propaganda is propaganda that is true.  The truth is that many Americans already feel restrained from saying what they think on a wide variety of topics.  If a social media post or casual remark in the workplace is deemed “politically incorrect”, their job and even their whole career may be on the line.  How did we get to a point where any American is afraid to say what they think?  It’s not a case of “this could happen here;” it already has happened here.  We have already lost a substantial part of our freedom of speech.

If President Trump received the vote of all American citizens who are now afraid to say what they think on any topic, in any place, he would win in a landslide.  Freedom of thought and expression have been fundamental to defining America ever since the Constitution was ratified.  The average American knows it is under threat because he is under threat himself.  One wrong word, one “politically incorrect” post, and his life may be overturned.  He will be told the only way to save himself is to grovel in the dirt before the “woke” youth who are cultural Marxism’s storm troopers.

People are angry about this.  All the President has to do is make the vote in November a referendum on freedom of thought and expression.  The Left has created the situation; Mr. Trump merely has to point it out.  It won’t hurt if people also get the message that a vote for President Trump is the third-finger salute to cultural Marxism and the looting, burning minions it has spawned.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Oppressed Majority

The cultural Marxists prate endlessly about “oppressed minorities”. A cynic might reply that it is in the nature of minorities to be oppressed.  In reality, this country’s “oppressed” minorities profit mightily from their “victim” status.  They get preferential treatment in hiring, boatloads of free money, and rules that allow them to behave badly while paying no penalty.  It’s a pretty good racket.

One of the strangest things about early-21st century America is that not minorities, but the White, Christian majority is oppressed–and puts up with it.  “Affirmative action” gives places in high-prestige universities,  as well as cushy jobs, to blacks and women instead of better-qualified White males.  Bakers, florists, and photographers are sued out of business by gays for refusing to violate their religious beliefs and help celebrate gay “weddings”, which are an impossibility.  The entertainment industry portrays White Christians in ways that, were blacks so type-cast, would bring howls of outrage.  Yet the oppressed White majority just sits there and takes it.  Why?

To answer that question, we need a bit of history.  The Frankfurt School created cultural Marxism in part by crossing Marx with Freud.  From psychology they took the idea of psychological conditioning: repeating messages so often in so many different ways that people absorbed them without conscious reflection.  If you presented logical arguments that Whites were somehow to blame for all the problems of blacks, men for all the problems of women, and Europeans for all the problems of North American Indians, those arguments could and would be demolished by facts and reason.  So instead the cultural Marxists repeat these messages endlessly in every available medium, bypassing the reasoning mind and planting their absurdities in the public’s sub-conscious.  Want to normalize homosexuality?  Make every competent, intelligent White male on television gay (and every monster or buffoon straight).  Put out movie after movie in which petite, beautiful women beat up big men, something that rarely happens in real life.  Make muggers White and heroic cops black, despite crime statistics that show blacks have a rate of violent crimes twelve times that of Whites.  It’s as if, through endless repetition, people can be brought to believe Jack Benny really is 39.  Poor Jack missed his era–today, thanks to psychological conditioning, he could be.

The result is that, across our society, the good, the true, and the beautiful are ripped down and the evil, the false, and the ugly are raised up and put in charge.  Cultural Marxism has invented a whole new form of government: cacastocracy, rule by excrement.

What should we do about it?  First, tell the truth.  This country was created by White Christians.  White Christians, not blacks, not Mohammedans, not gays, not women pretending to be men, turned a vast wilderness into what was the greatest country on earth.  Bach, Handel, and Hayden were White Christians, whose music is enjoyed by every race and culture on earth.  Just who was the Mozart of the Masai or the Da Vinci of the Hausa?  Only one culture can compete with White, Christian Western culture, and that is Chinese culture.  There is no Parthenon of sub-Saharan Africa or pre-Columbian North America.  The rest of the world has copied the West and is better off for it–we men of the West are happy to have our culture “appropriated” because it affirms we got it right.

Second, get the conditioning mechanisms out of our lives.  Turn off the TV, home-school the kids, and read good old books, not lying new ones.  White Christian families should secede from the surrounding society shaped by cultural Marxism.  It takes some effort but it can be done.

Third and most important, fight back.  Fly flags and put up signs the cultural Marxists condemn.  Vote out politicians who agree to tear down statues of our ancestors and heroes.  If they call you a “thisist” or “thatist”, reply that they are cultural Marxists and you reject their totalitarian ideology.  Send your kids to colleges that still have freedom of thought and expression, and demand state schools do so or lose their state funding. 

It is absurd for the majority to be oppressed in a country they created.  Our ancestors had the guts to fight to build this place.  Do we lack the courage even to defend it?

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Some Prussian Advice for the Commandant

In my last column, I noted that the Commandant’s letter in the June Marine Corps Gazette rightly argued that large-scale amphibious operations are probably a thing of the past, but then offered as a replacement preparing for a highly unlikely conventional war with China and some force structure changes that share no connecting logic.  Since the Commandant, General David H. Berger, seems to need competent staff work he’s not getting, I sent his article off to Berlin by z-mail with a request that Max Hoffman, our best operational brain, take a look at it.  Zeppelin L-70 brought his prompt answer back to me, which I set out below:

Mein lieber Wilhelm!

Our airship brought me your letter and that of your Marine Corps’ Commandant, with your request that I give him our assistance.  I hope you will forgive me for not attending to it personally; I’m somewhat deeply into a challenging planning effort, namely how Prussia might best assist the Baltic states, Finland, and Sweden in case of a Russian attack.  As your problem was a relatively simple one, I took the liberty of sending it to the junior class at the Kriegsakademie as an exercise in strategic planning.  I enclose their proposed solution, which has a twist at the end I did not expect. 

Sehr Geehrter Herr Generalfeldmarschall!

Were we to draft a new letter for the American Marine Corps Commandant, we would begin with his (in our view correct) statement that, as their 37th Commandant said, “the (U.S.) Marine Corps is not organized, trained, equipped, or postured to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving future operating environment.”  We would follow this with his (again, in our view, correct) discussion of why large-scale amphibious landings against strong opposition are not likely in the future.

However, we view the possibility of a large-scale Chinese-American conventional war as equally unlikely, because both countries are nuclear powers.  The risk of escalation by whichever country were losing is simply too great.  The Commandant would do better to turn to an article by three gunnery sergeants and a staff sergeant in the July Gazette and pick up their “Where We’ve Been and Where We Are”, which in our view is on target.  These staff NCOs note that “for the last fifteen years of combat, Marines have not faced a single uniformed or ‘state’ enemy force on the battlefield.”  It is our opinion this will probably continue to be the case.  To prepare for this, as we call it, Fourth Generation war, the Marine Corps’ top challenge is to make maneuver warfare what it does, not just something it talks about.  This was General Berger’s Schwerpunkt in his initial Commandant’s guidance; we did not understand why he has altered it, especially since his direct jump to force structure changes suggests he may not have any Schwerpunkt, a certain guarantee of failure.  This impression is strengthened by the fact that, were the U.S. Marine Corps to focus on war with China, it would certainly want its own tanks and a large artillery park.  This disconnect suggests poor staff work, in our view.

If the American Marines were to prepare for more war with non-state opponents, it would need to address the reasons most state forces, including those of the United States, have been defeated in such conflicts.  In our view, this means reform, not reorganization; the two are not the same, and in fact, the latter is often used to disguise failure to do the former.  Reform in this case means making maneuver warfare real, forming a strategic alliance of all states in defense of the state system and doing serious intellectual work on the problem of Fourth Generation war.

As to force structure, for Fourth Generation war, what Marines need most is true light (Jaeger) infantry.  At present, all their infantry is Stellungsdivisionen, i.e., line infantry with little mobility.  Such forces largely serve as targets for their more mobile opponents.  Converting these line infantry battalions to light infantry should be the Commandant’s top priority.  This begins with assigning the brightest men to the infantry, not the dullest.  We would also eliminate all F-35s, which are useless for supporting troops in action, and instead either take the Air Force’s remaining A-10s or purchase our Stukas and/or Halberstadt CL-IIs.  The resources absorbed by the useless F-35 would buy many squadrons of the latter.  We concur with the Commandant’s plan to eliminate most current tube artillery, but would add new, lightweight 10.5 centimeter howitzers in some number, plus many more mortars, including large ones (up to 16 cm).  These could respond more quickly to the fleeting targets Fourth Generation opponents offer.  We would retain the three tank battalions, which can offer a useful presence in 4GW.

To complete this exercise, we add the following annex, which should remain classified.

STRENG GEHEIM!

As is the case with most other European states, the next real war the Americans face is likely to be fought on their own soil as 4GW rises from within.  This recently broke out in a number of American cities, initially on a small scale.  As the central government continues to lose its legitimacy, it will spread and intensify.  Were we advising the Commandant, we would propose he begin (secretly) planning to mobilize all Marine veterans who are willing to answer the call, forming on whatever active or reserve Marines are present (in many places that may be staff NCOs on recruiting duty).  They would arm themselves with whatever is available, and would place themselves under the orders of their individual state’s National Guard.  Their primary function would not be armed action, but giving legitimacy to their state’s government (not necessarily the federal government) by showing Marines support it.  U.S. Marines still have substantial moral credibility in the eyes of most Americans, and that will be the most important quality in the situation as we envision it.

PS:

I thought the class’s secret annex showed the sort of forward thinking the Kriegsakademie attempts to encourage.  I hope you find their exercise useful; perhaps it may encourage your Marine Corps’ Commandant to do some further thinking of his own.  As with the Austrians, Prussia always stands ready to come to the rescue.

Max

The View From Olympus: Why Did the Marines Stop Thinking?

Contrary to the stereotype of the “dumb Marine”, from the mid-1970s into the early 1990s the Marine Corps was intellectually the most lively of the U.S. armed services.  The intellectual ferment brought dramatic change to the Marine Corps in its adoption of maneuver warfare (aka 3rd Generation war) as doctrine.  But since that time, the Marine Corps’ intellectual light seems to have flickered out.

The June and July issues of the Marine Corps Gazette show the extent of the Corps’ downward slide.  Both month’s magazines feature a renewed focus on maneuver warfare.  Each contains one important article, in both cases written by Staff NCOs, the theme of which is that the Marine Corps does not actually do maneuver warfare, it just talks about it.  The Staff NCOs are correct; the changes to the personnel system, education, and training maneuver warfare required were never made.  The other articles on maneuver warfare, while generally sound, could all have been written thirty to forty years ago–and in fact were in terms of their content.  It is good the Corps is reviewing this material, but hardly counts as intellectual progress.

One article in the June Gazette does include some new thinking, and surprisingly it is written not by a captain but by the Marine Corps’ Commandant, General David H. Berger.  In it, General Berger acknowledges that the day of large-scale amphibious landings like Tarawa and Iwo Jima is past, at least against serious opposition.  Boldly, the Commandant writes,

The force we have today, with the notable but operationally insufficient expectation of rotary-wing vertical envelopment, is an incrementally-advanced, higher-tech version of that same 1930s solution.  We now must recognize that time has flowed on.  Our problems today, in terms of threat, geography, and technology. . . are not those of the 1930s.

For a Corps that has hung its hat on large-scale amphibious operations for the better part of a century, this is daring.  I would add that the importance of the Marine Corps’ ship-borne strategic mobility remains.

But after this intrepid start, the Commandant’s article dribbles off into strategic irrelevance in the form of pretending we will fight a conventional war with China and a dog’s breakfast of force structure changes with no discernible logic to connect them.  This is not the Commandant’s fault; it reflects the reality that an organization that stopped thinking thirty years ago can’t suddenly do it again.

So why did the Marine Corps stop thinking?  The most important answer is: too much money.  When I began working with the Marine Corps in the 1970s, it prided itself on not spending much.  Marines knew they could not buy a future, they had to think one up for themselves.  This began to change in the mid-1990s, and I watched, sadly, as money and the quest for even more money swamped everything else.  The vaunted “Warfighting Lab” soon focused not on experiments to improve combat performance, but on inventing justifications for more programs and money.  A friend who was involved at the time in setting up the “Commandant’s War Room” said to me, “The only war discussed in it is the budget war.”  Poverty begets thinking, while a flood of money washes it away.  The Marine Corps’ senior leadership forgot that in the end, Midas starves.

A second reason for the Corps’ intellectual retreat is that the personnel system did not and does not reward intellectual achievement.  It makes no effort to identify Marine thinkers early in their careers, develop them carefully and place them in billets where they can use their talent to greatest effect.  On the contrary, it drives them out by misusing them in jobs the average cabbage could do.  A Marine officer’s PFT score is more important than his ability to think.  Perhaps our future enemies will challenge us to a Marathon (with us playing the Persians?).

Third, over the almost-fifty years I have observed the Marine Corps, I have watched bureaucracy grow like kudzu in July.  It now enmeshes everything, to the point where all the Marine Corps can produce is more bureaucracy, more and more elaborate processes and briefings with glitzy graphics and no intellectual content.  Process has been substituted for thinking, and the two are not the same.  Now, when a Commandant needs a new strategic role for the Marine Corps, all he gets is endless process.  No wonder the poor man seems lost. 

In my next column, I will suggest what the Commandant might have said if he had a Prussian general staff advising him.  I’m thinking Max Hoffman is exactly the right man for the job.

How to Strike Back

The Left’s seeming triumph is a momentary affair.  In fact, with idiocy such as abolishing the police it is discrediting itself massively.  But conservatives are frustrated.  They want to strike back but aren’t sure how.  Here are a few ideas that might help.

First, before we strike back at anyone we need to know who the enemy is.  It is not black people.  They are just tools being used by the real enemy.  Who are they?  The cultural Marxists, the purveyors of political correctness, multiculturalism, and white guilt.  Just like the economic Marxists who ruled the Soviet Union, they are ideologues who want to establish a totalitarian state based on their ideology.  They couldn’t care less about the blacks they use, damage, and then discard.

Second, we must always follow one rule: never initiate violence.  If they start it, then we have both a right and a duty to defend ourselves.  And at that point, we should fight to win.  But every time the Right starts a physical fight, it helps the cultural Marxists even if we do win in the end.  They become “victims” who, in a feminized culture, other Americans will have sympathy for and identify with.  At that point we lose on the moral level, which is the most powerful level of conflict.

So what can we do, beyond making sure in November that President Trump is re-elected in a landslide?  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Show our support for the police.  If the Left holds “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations, we should counter with “Blue Lives Matter” rallies.  The police represent one of conservatives’ highest values: order.  We need them and, especially now, they need us.  We should be there for them, publicly, every way we can.
  • Boycott the moral cowards.  Who are they?  The businessmen, newspaper editors, politicians (not all Democrats), sports team owners, etc. who are tripping over themselves in their rush to kiss the cultural Marxists’ feet.  We can refuse to go to their restaurant chains, buy their companies’ products, order tickets to their games and races, vote for them (including cowardly Republicans), or read their newspapers.  We can make them pay.
  • When the Left pulls down statues to our heroes and our ancestors, either with ropes or through cowardly politicians, we can put up new statues in areas we control.  There are lots of small towns and rural counties in the South where conservatives are in charge.  Offer to take the statues of Confederate generals they have pulled down and put them back up again.  If they refuse, have new ones made.  The same should happen in Italian neighborhoods with statues of Christopher Columbus.  And how about Marshal Balbo too?  He was very popular in America in the 1930s.
  • Rename streets, squares, and other geographic features.  They want to strip out all politically incorrect names, so we should add more.  Every Southern town and county should have a new President Jefferson Davis Avenue.  General Robert E. Lee, Longstreet (the South’s best general after Lee), Stonewall Jackson, all should get new places named for them.  Outside the South, we could adopt other names the cultural Marxists hate.  How about Adam Smith Avenue?  In towns with lots of German-Americans, I’d love to see the town square become Kaiser Wilhelm ll Platz (he’d love it too).  And why not some statues of real heroes on the re-named streets: the black Confederate soldier?  A significant number of Southern blacks fought for the Confederacy.
  • We need our own flag, in addition to our country’s flag.  Down South, the Confederate flag should fly everywhere outside big cities (where it may get torn down).  As the descendant of Sgt. Alfred G. Sturgiss, 177th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, I am reluctant to fly the Southern banner.  But what about a dark blue St. Andrews Cross on a white background?  Or the Pine Tree flag with its “Appeal to Heaven”?  Conservatives need something that says, “We are conservatives.”  Once we have one that works outside Dixie, it should turn up everywhere.

All of these are ways we can strike back at the real enemy, the Left.  I’m sure others can come up with more and better ones.  But the Right needs to launch a (non-violent) counter-offensive one way or another, and do it before election day.  That day should seal, not start, our victory.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: A Glimpse of Future War Among Great Powers

Several weeks ago, the world got a glimpse of what future war will look like among Great Powers.  The weapons were rocks and clubs.

Indian and Chinese troops battled each other over worthless ground along their undefined border high in the Himalayas.  It was a classic case of two bald men fighting over a comb.  But at least 20 Indian soldiers died, along with an unknown number of Chinese.

What is interesting about this skirmish is the weapons employed.  Both India and China have sizable arsenals of modern weapons.  They employed none of them.  Instead, they fought with rocks and clubs.

I find the deafening silence over this choice of weapons, including from the U.S. military, to be interesting.  It certainly should draw the attention of anyone who studies where war may be going.  Why did such a bizarre scenario unfold?  Because both countries have nuclear weapons.

It is probably true that neither India nor China wants a war at this point.  But what limited both countries’ soldiers to the weapons of cavemen was something with general import: so terrifying is the prospect of nuclear war to anyone threatened with it that governments are willing, even eager, to go to seemingly ridiculous lengths to prevent it.

Prevention begins with avoiding the escalatory ladder.  And that is what led to a fight with rocks and clubs.  Both countries rightly feared that if they went to the weapons of, let’s say Sung dynasty China or Moghul India, they would set foot on that ladder.  So rocks and clubs it had to be.  Even a battle with those so alarmed Beijing and New Delhi that they quickly sought to settle the dispute diplomatically.  Many weapons have claimed the title of “the Peacemaker”, but nuclear weapons actually deserve it.

This offers us a look at what war between other nuclear powers, let’s say the U.S. and China, might be like.  The driving consideration for both countries’ leadership would be avoiding escalation.  Since any confrontation would probably be a sea and air war, it might look something like the Cod Wars between Britain and Iceland.  Ships might ram each other (not too hard).  Water cannon might be employed.  Chinese sailors might throw bao at American crews, who would volley back hamburgers in return (the Americans would end up with the better lunch).  Fighter aircraft might engage, at least to the point of seeing who was better at staying on the other guy’s six.  Would they shoot?  If they did, both capitals would be frantic, trying to de-escalate.

Since both countries now have obesity problems among their youth, my proposal for an escalation-safe war would be vast eating and drinking matches between their respective ships’ and aircrafts’ crews.  Just imagine what the Navy PFT might look like!  It would do wonders for qualifying recruits.  Join the Navy and become the world!

The really funny thing here is that both the U.S. and China are spending vast sums buying weapons and generating forces for a conventional war.  That is not going to happen, barring outright insanity in both capitals at the same time.  Unless the inmates are running the asylum, both countries will seek to de-escalate rapidly from any accidental clash that might occur (things can happen; remember the War of Jenkins’ Ear).  Rules of engagement would quickly be established that would take both sides back to rocks and clubs, as India and China had already done.

The fact is, the whole China Scare is a sham, at least as far as a shooting war is concerned (our economic conflict is real, as President Trump understands).  It’s one more con job on the American people, intended to keep the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex rolling in dough.  When the massive defense budget cuts hit, which they soon will, remember my suggestion; let both countries’ navies roll in real dough.  That we may still be able to afford.