Military Quality Institute

Quality Leadership as Maneuver Warfare


A Brief History
Maneuver Warfare Doctrine was synthesized over a period of over a hundred years, starting in Prussia, following the destruction of its army at the hands of Napoleon in 1806.  It was developed by Prussia/Germany and adopted by Israel because both countries realized that they were surrounded by enemies, each of which was stronger than they were.  They realized that, due to adverse objective circumstances, if they were to be competitive with their adversaries (militarily viable) they could not afford battles of attrition.  They would have to be faster and smarter (more efficient and more effective) than their enemies.  They would have to render their enemies' materiel superiority irrelevant through the application of superior doctrine. They would have to "fight outnumbered and win".  More-over, they realized that while the occurrence of individual military genius is always to be hoped-for, it can never be relied-upon.  Accordingly, they sought (as the Romans did before them) to institutionalize excellence through the adoption of a system (culture) that was inherently superior in battle.  The most spectacular examples of the success of this approach can be found in the fall of a militarily superior France to German arms in six weeks in 19401 and the collapse of the combined (and vastly superior) Arab forces in the face of Israeli arms after six days of combat in 1967.  Empirical data derived from countless battles, campaigns, and wars fought throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, demonstrate conclusively that Quality Leadership (as Maneuver Warfare) is the most effective means of addressing the challenges of the warfighter on the modern battlefield.

Not Broken, But Room for Improvement
None of this is meant to imply criticism of the way we do things now.  We have expert armed forces that employ a proven and effective doctrine (indeed AirLand Battle Doctrine was a partial adaptation of the principles of Maneuver to the existing Methodical Warfare Doctrine).  But Maneuver, like Quality, is a complete culture; it cannot be effectively adopted piecemeal, and without the dislocations that necessarily accompany true paradigm shifts.  Our current doctrine is not "broken", but even "whole", it may still be improved (better supported by our military cul ture).  Ours is an effective doctrine, but it is not as fully supported by our current "Methodical" culture as it could be.  A Quality (as Maneuver) culture could provide advantages in training, administration, logistics, and operations that would enable current doctrine to achieve its full potential on the battlefield. In the competitive world of tomorrow's battlefields, we would not want to be like France was in 1940 (objectively superior, yet still defeated).

Countries have two very different military forces: one for peacetime, and one for war.  These forces differ in size, structure, and most important of all, culture.  For all of our talk of "train the way you fight" and "Battle-Focus", we invariably train using "peacetime" techniques and standards.  During mobilization and the early phases of war, we usually waste time and blood struggling to reorient ourselves to the inevitably different demands of war.  This expensive process is, at its root, a cultural transformation.  Wars often end before this transformation is completed.

One of the principal objectives and benefits of the Maneuver Warfare culture is that it is successfully designed to eliminate the need for this change by already being thoroughly attuned to the real demands of war (just as Quality is attuned to the real demands of the market).  In the Maneuver culture, all considerations that do not pertain to war-fighting are ruthlessly suppressed.  The successful adoption of Maneuver culture therefore eliminates the peacetime culture, and the costs entailed in transitioning that culture to the needs of war.  Maneuver employs the precepts of Quality Leadership to be truly prepared for the "come as you are" war (witness armies of Israeli reservists routinely crushing much larger armies of Arab regulars in days or weeks, after only 24 hours of mobilization).

Military Services Must Recognize the Need for Training
The discovery of the relationship between Quality Leadership and Maneuver Warfare has direct and dramatic implications for both military Quality and leadership-training programs; and through these, for everything else in the armed forces.  In order to facilitate the realization of the potential of the existing Quality Leadership programs with-in the armed forces, and to maximize the benefit to be derived from the lessons learned by other countries in successfully adapting these principles to their armed forces, the various services should offer lectures, seminars, and work-shops in the relationship between Quality Leadership and Maneuver Warfare, each as an analog of the other; essentially the same but designed for different environments (Quality Leadership for business and industry, and Maneuver Warfare specifically for the military).  They should conduct in-depth studies to document this relationship, and thereby introduce a vocabulary and a method of teaching designed to make the precepts of Quality fully comprehensible in a military context.  It can then be demonstrated, through the use of empirical data derived from historical records (and some excellent analytical works that are already available), that Quality Leadership (in the form of Maneuver Warfare) is not only "soldierly", but also hugely effective in combat.  They can use the results of these studies to create "Quality Leadership as Maneuver Warfare" curricula, with complete lesson plans, to supplement and complement (not replace) existing Quality Leadership curricula, and to offer courses based upon these curricula and plans.  This will provide a foundation for subsequent studies, curricula, and courses in the effective implementation of the culture of "Quality Leadership as Maneuver Warfare" in military units, particularly in combat arms units.

A Product Much Greater Than the Sum of its Parts
Quality Leadership and Maneuver Warfare both already exist.  This proposal however, relates and combines these two heretofore distinct disciplines in such a way that each may act as a catalyst that makes the other viable in a symbiotic synergy that will result in a product much greater than the sum of its parts.  The fate of Quality Leadership in the armed forces is at stake, and inasmuch as even a small increase in productivity/combat-effectiveness can easily spell the difference between victory and defeat (Quality Leadership and Maneuver Warfare theories both suggest that increases of 20% or greater should be confidently expected), and great empires are sometimes lost in single battles, the fate of the armed forces, and of the nation, could ultimately hang in the balance.

The following references are recommended:

  • Marine Corps’ FMFMs (MCDPs) 1 “Warfighting”, 1-1 “Strategy”, 1-2 “Campaigning”, and 1-3 “Tactics”;  and 6 "Command and Control"
  • William Lind’s “Maneuver Warfare Handbook”
  • Richard Hooker’s “Maneuver Warfare, an Anthology”
  • Martin Van Creveld’s “Fighting Power” and (with Steven Canby and Kenneth Brower) "Air Power and Maneuver Warfare"
  • Robert Leonhard’s “The Art of Maneuver”
  • Martin Samuel’s “Doctrine and Dogma” and "Command or Control"
  • Charles White’s “The Enlightened Soldier”
  • Any of several books by Colonel Trevor Dupuy, starting with “A Genius for War”, “Understanding War”, and “Numbers, Prediction, & War”
  • Any of several books by Richard Simpkin, starting with "Race to the Swift"
  • W. Edward Deming's "Out of the Crisis" and "The New Economics"
  • Any of several books by Joseph Juran, starting with "Managerial Breakthrough"; and (only) then, the works of Peter Senge, Peter Drucker, Peter Scholtes, Tom Peters, Brian Joiner, William Sherkenbach, et al.

1This campaign was the 3rd application of the German technique of "Blitzkrieg" or "Lightning War". It entailed the synchronization of artillery and air support assets to support the deep maneuver of concentrated armored and mechanized units spearheading the attack of larger infantry armies. In fact, the blitzkrieg was the application of 1930's technology (in the form of tanks, aircraft, and radios) to the German WWI doctrine of "Stormtroop Tactics". Blitzkrieg is therefore a manifestation of Maneuver Warfare on the battlefield. It is dependent upon both technology and Maneuver culture to achieve its maximum effect (by 1945, in the absence of Maneuver culture, none of the allies were able to employ the same techniques with more than 80% of the effectiveness enjoyed by the Germans - they were able to mimic its form (technology, synchronization, concentration, etc.), but not its substance (Quality)).

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