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  • NATIONAL DEFENCE COLLEGE

    THE QUEST FOR MANOEUVRE THE ENGLISH MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES AND BRITISH MILITARY

    THOUGHT 1920–1991.

    Thesis Major Juha Mälkki General Staff Officer Course 49 Army June 2002

  • ii

    THE QUEST FOR MANOEUVRE

    THE ENGLISH MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES AND BRITISH MILITARY THOUGHT 1920–1991.

    1 MODERN INTERPRETATION OF HISTORICAL THEORIES 1

    1.1 Definition of Concepts 5

    1.2 Sources, Hypotheses and Questions 9

    1.3 The Duality Within the Western Military Thought 16 2 THE EVOLUTION OF MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES

    DURING THE INTERWAR PERIOD 20

    2.1 Two Apostles of Armoured Warfare 25

    2.2 The Tactical Level Thoughts 33

    2.3 The Strategic Level Ideas 38

    2.4 Psychological Factors Inside the Tactical and Strategic

    Level Considerations 42

    3 THE PROCESS OF THE BRITISH ARMY MECHANISATION AND

    ITS FOREIGN “COMPETITORS” UNTIL THE SECOND WORLD WAR 45

    3.1 The Triumph of Mobile Firepower during the 1920s 48

    3.2 The Prospering Tactical Ideas and the Mechanisation

    Process during the 1930s 53

    3.3 The Simultaneous Development of Armoured Warfare

    Ideas in Other Countries: Some Observations 59

    4 THE SECOND WORLD WAR – THE FOCAL TRAITS OF THE

    BRITISH WAY IN WARFARE 64

    4.1 The Policy of Limited Liability – The Way to Dunkirk? 67

    4.2 British Army Implications of Manoeuvre Warfare During

    The First Years of War 71

    4.3 British Respond to the Threat of Deutsches Africa Korps –

    Montgomery of Alamein 77

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    4.3 Operation Market-Garden – An Application of Indirect

    Approach? 84

    4.4 The Features of the “British Fashion of War” During the

    Second World War 88

    4 THE NUCLEAR ERA AND THE CHALLENGED OF THE NATO

    DEFENCE 93

    5.1 The Final Form of Liddell Hart’s Ideas 98

    5.2 Nuclear Weapons and New Demands on Mobility 103

    5.3 New Ideas in Conventional Warfare 112

    6 THE REBIRTH OF MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES 118

    6.1 The Concept of Air Land Battle Doctrine – The American

    Way in Warfare? 121

    6.2 NATO’s Doctrine of Follow-On-Forces Attack 126

    6.3 The First British Army Doctrine During the Year 1989 131

    6.4 The Gulf War - Land Campaign and the Need of

    Adaptability 134

    6.5 Manoeuvre Warfare Ideas and the Weight of History 140

    7 CONCLUSIONS: MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES AND

    THE BRITISH WAY IN WARFARE 142

    BIBLIOGRAPHY 148

    APPENDICES 162

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    GLOSSARY BAOR British Army of the Rhine

    CBAA Cavalry Brigade, Air Attack

    CENTAG Central Army Group (NATO)

    CIGS Chief of the Imperial General Staff

    CINC Commander-in-Chief

    FEBA Forward Edge of the Battle Area

    FLOT Forward Line of Troops

    JRUSI Journal of the Royal United Service Institution (From June 1971,

    Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence

    Studies).

    NBC Nuclear Biological Chemical

    NORTHAG Nothern Army Group (NATO)

    RAF the Royal Air Forces

    RTC the Royal Tank Corps

    RUSI or R. U. S. I., Royal United Service Institution (From June 1971,

    Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies).

    TRADOC Training and Doctrine Command

    OODA Observation-orientation-decision-action –cycle (OODA loop)

    ROAD Reorganization Objective, Army Divisions

    WW I First World War

    WW II Second World War

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    APPENDICES

    Appendix 1 Affecting Parametres to the British Army

    Organisations and the Art of War

    Appendix 2 The Comparison of Liddell Hart’s and Fuller’s

    New Model Division

    Appendix 3 The Experiments with the Organisation of Armoured

    Division

    Appendix 4 Two Applications of Liddell Hart’s Indirect Approach

    Appendix 5 Different Adaptations of Manoeuvre Warfare Theories in

    Norhern Africa from the Late 1940s Until the Late Late 1942

    Appendix 6 Main Lessons of the Battle of El Alamein

    Appendix 7 Field Marshal B. Montgomery’s Plan for Operation

    Market - Garden; September 1944

    Appendix 8 Extracts from the British Postwar Organisational Ideas

    Appendix 9 Major-General H. E. Pyman's Concept of the Future Methods of

    Nato Defence in Europe (1954)

    Appendix 10 The Idea of Deep Strikes Against Advanding Soviet

    Echelons (Air Land Battle -doctrine)

    Appendix 11 Ideas of NATO Defence During the 1980s

    Appendix 12 The Gulf War in the Early 1990s

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    1 MODERN INTERPRETATION OF HISTORICAL THEORIES

    “Still it is the task of military science in an age of peace to prevent the doctrines from being too badly wrong.”

    Michael Howard, 1974

    What is the actual reason in trying to gather information from such a wide sphere of military

    action, even thought each age has its own strategic thought and “a man must be judged by the

    conditions and tools of his time”. The strategies of 1806, 1914 and 1939 were products of

    their own time. They were amalgamated with a varying degree of success to use and respond

    to the economic, social, technological and political conditions.1 Naturally, the napoleonic era

    had in broad outlines specific battlefield conditions and armament technology. The muzzle-

    loading flintlock musket was the principal infantry weapon in the mid-nineteenth century. By

    1870, the breech-loading rifle had become the standard infantry weapon. In addition,

    significant alteration had occured within the areas of strategy and tactics. According to Paul

    Dyster, military innovations have inspired vigorous effects at counter-adaptation. There is no

    doubt that antitank weapons from guns to missiles have changed the methods of battle.

    Whether one single technological innovation constitutes a revolution in wafare, is a matter of

    disagreement. Rather perhaps, as suggested by Dyster, “the revolution comes to fruition only

    when complementary organisational and doctrinal forms evolve that allow maxium

    expression of the military virtues of the new technology.” And this naturally takes time.2

    The relationship between inspiration and influence, as evaluated by Peter Paret, is a matter of

    my interest. “Inspiration derives from the suggestive quality of the past”, which may stimulate

    and extend our thinking about the past. Influence, on the other hand, must “connote a degree

    of specifity”.3 According to Richard E. Simpkin, the twentieth century contained two intesive

    periods of military innovations in mobility and in military theories. The first period included

    the discoveries of the powered wheel, track and wing during the early twentieth century. The

    1 Paret, Peter (1990a): Napoleon and the Revolution in War. In Makers of Modern Strategy. From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Edited by Peter Paret. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1990, p. 141. 2 Dyster, Paul A.: In the Wake of the Tank: the twentieth-century evolution of the Theory of Armoured Warfare. A dessertation submitted to The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore 1984, p. 544. 3 Paret (1990a), p. 140.

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    second contained the discovery of the rotary wing aircraft during the early second half of the

    twentieth century.4 I consider any inspirations and influences within the area of the art of war

    interrelated, as they greatly depend on one other. The battles fought in history must be treated

    as a unique chain of events. Still, there is always influence, ideas and exceptional and

    inspirational brainwork, which have produced occurrences and new innovations. Naturally, I

    tried to avoid any quotations from the past, which should be kept strictly in their original

    context and where I could not find any coherent continuation of military thought.

    I understand the idea of doctrine according to modern British definition as “the function of the

    Military Doctrine is to establish the framework of understanding of the approach to warfare in

    order to provide the foundation for its practical application”.5 It is a substitute for thought and

    a common background for training. More detailed, but also viable determination is given by I.

    B. Holley’s definition. He specified that the doctrine is a generalization of intellectual

    process. This means the combination of recorded experiences and further analysed data.

    Therefore, doctrine is what is officially taught, and a combination of theory and practice. It is

    an authorative rule, a precept. Although I am investigating both military thinking and the

    doctrines, I do not consider them to be synonymous. Military thought has more to do with

    people, and the doctrines with institutional basis. It became clear to me that Britain lacked a

    clear and suitable doctrine almost throughout t