In 1985, I published the Maneuver Warfare Handbook. It is still in print almost forty years later and it has been translated into more than ten other languages, most recently in Russian and Ukrainian. I now have the pleasure of announcing, not its replacement, but a supplement: The New Maneuver Warfare Handbook.
Why a new book when the old one is still useful? Because in the years since 1985 we have learned a few things – enough that a new book is necessary. Again, the new book does not replace the old, but augments it. To “get” maneuver warfare in all you need to read both books (the older one first).
Like the old book, the new book is addressed directly to the Marines. But the new book talks directly to the Army as well, especially to its Special Operations Forces. The forward is written by an Army general, Jim Dubik, who I have known since he was a major. And following the core of the book are appendices that speak to the Army, several written by LTG Dubik.
As in the original book, the new one has a section devoted to looking at key maneuver warfare concepts in some detail. This section parallels Marine Colonel Mike Wyly’s tactical problems in the earlier book. Addressed once again to small unit leaders, the concepts studied are Surfaces and Gaps, Mission Tactics, the Main Effort or Schwerpunkt, the Objective, and the Reserve. The discussions include tactical exercises.
The new book goes beyond the old in several respects. I added a discussion of maneuver warfare culture, without which an armed service can talk about maneuver warfare but it can’t do it. An army or Marine Corps that can do it is focused outward, on the situation, the enemy, and the result the situation requires, not inward on rules, processes, procedures, even orders. The reader can decide for himself where the U.S. armed services stand today in this respect.
The new book also devotes more space to training, not only to what is trained but how it is trained. The memorize / spit back / brain dump method is useless. Here, the new book offers a discussion by retired Army Major Don Vandergriff, who has written by far the best material on how to train under the heading of Outcomes Based Learning. One key to OBL is that procedures and techniques are taught in a tactical context, not in a stand-alone manner.
A target of this new material is all U.S. Special Operations Forces. Why? Because for the most part, they do the fighting. The bulk of our armed services are seldom if ever employed. While Washington pretends to focus on war with Russia or China, in reality nuclear-armed countries do not fight conventional wars with each other. The real fighting is with non-state entities such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Shabab. That fighting is done by our SOF. The new Handbook will be useful to them.
A final point: the new book is a lot less expensive than the old one. So get it, read it, and apply it to your own situation. America needs to start winning.