There is no progress without criticism. Every improvement is born of criticism that resulted in a discard. The process seems to run in this wise: Curiosity leads to investigation, which opens discussion, which gives rise to opinion, which breeds criticism, which results in improvement. Therefore we must cultivate curiosity, encourage investigation, stimulate discussion, and inspire criticism that will result in improvement…The military mind should not accept things for no better reason than that they are so stated…
– Colonel John C. Breckenridge, USMC, 1929
What is a Maneuverist ?
Warriors who practice maneuver warfare against their enemies. Maneuverists are dedicated to the study of their profession and trust their subordinates to carry out their intent without their supervision.
Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Kahn, Saladin, George Washington, Napoleon, Erwin Rommel, 1st Viscount William Slim, Israel Tal, Jim Mattis: all of these great captains of warfare were maneuverists, utilizing shock, speed, and deception to unhinge their opponents and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Often commanding outnumbered forces, they relied on trust and simple orders to empower their subordinates, allowing junior commanders to take the fight to the enemy without fear of failure. Finally, all these leaders were professionals in the art and science of warfare, dedicating their lives to the study of their enemies so that they could be relied upon to succeed against impossible odds.
Maneuverists are not just generals, nor officers. The World War I German stormtrooper NCO, the lone Vietnamese sapper, and the Afghan mujahadeen all demonstrated these same qualities against their opponents, striking the enemy where he least expected, at his most vulnerable point, utilizing creativity, military judgement, and trust in their comrades.
Maneuverists today in the Marine Corps come from all different backgrounds: the Marine infantry sergeant practicing infiltration techniques against a prepared enemy position, the rifle company commander utilizing commander’s intent to allow his or her platoons to advance rapidly in a mountainous environment, the forward air controller harmonizing air strikes with a battalion’s breach of an obstacle belt, and the division commander that allows an enemy force to penetrate deeply into his or her area of operations before counterattacking to cut it off. All of these individuals seek the same thing: to shatter the enemy’s will to fight, to have the freedom of action to carry out their missions as they see fit and be masters at the profession of arms.
To foster progress within the US Marine Corps and develop military minds of investigative curiosity, analysis, and synthesis, this document formally establishes the Warfighting Society and provides a unifying vision for its chapters.
We seek to create a Marine Corps-wide network of voluntary communities of practice focused on solving the problems of today’s warfighters, anticipating the challenges of tomorrow, and advancing the profession of arms.
The Society aims to do this in three ways:
1) Provide a forum for the frank and open exchange of ideas pertaining to the art and science of war.
2) Encourage and develop decision-making, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills among its members.
3) Produce works, both of a practical and theoretical value, that enrich the canon of the profession of arms.
The Society’s motto is acta non-verba – “deeds, not words.” Ours is a “doing” organization. Each chapter will periodically produce some work of value to the profession of arms. Chapters may choose whatever form this takes. Examples include: decision-forcing cases, articles, podcasts, point papers, instructional videos, briefings, etc. Chapters will also decide what “periodically produce” means for them. (We suggest once a month.) Products will be shared with the rest of the society through www.themaneuverist.org, the online home of the society, and social media. They may contain open source information only.
Finally, to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, we wish to be clear on what the society is not: It is not a means to advance one’s career. It does not exist to reinforce the views of any institution. It does not exist to debate the political, cultural, or social trends of the day. And it certainly does not exist to admire problems. Rather, it exists to solve them.
The Warfighting Society Leadership Team
The Society is in no way officially associated with, representative of, or answerable to, the US Marine Corps, the Department of Defense, or any parts thereof.