the quest for manoeuvre

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NATIONAL DEFENCE COLLEGE

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

THOUGHT 19201991.

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

ii

THE QUEST FOR MANOEUVRE

THE ENGLISH MANOEUVRE WARFARE THEORIES AND BRITISH MILITARY THOUGHT 19201991.

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

iii

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 Harts 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 NATOs 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 Harts and Fullers

New Model Division

Appendix 3 The Experiments with the Organisation of Armoured

Division

Appendix 4 Two Applications of Liddell Harts 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. Montgomerys 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

1

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.

2

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. Holleys 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 the whole twentieth century. Therefore, I

decided to use the word doctrine very carefully, because it might cause some unnecessary

misunderstanding.

Doctrines can be based upon different laws or theories. Nevertheless, no theory can or should

reach the standards of hard mathematical science, but it c