Maneuver / manoeuvre - an elegant military theory framework - Part IV: Applications and consequencs of the new definition


Maneuver/manoeuvre is movement to exploit superior readiness.

  1. This definition is not limited to the age of firearms.
  2. It's giving manoeuvre a purpose, which helps guiding the mind to what's important.
  3. Manoeuvre does by this  definition not include almost all retrograde movements (withdrawal, delay, retreat), regardless of whether fighting goes on or not.
  4. As per the additional remarks in the last post, the movement may create the readiness advantage. Encirclement gives readiness advantage by cutting the enemy's supply lines (+ morale effects). A flank attack may generate surprise and may overstretch the defences. 
  5. The superior readiness may also exist prior to the manoeuvre, and the movement means immediate exploitation of superior readiness.
  6. Classic manoeuvre such as the oblique order attack at Leuthen or Washington's sneak night attack across the Delaware river would not qualify as manoeuvre under some definitions. They do qualify as manoeuvre under my definition.
  7. The definition is applicable at all levels from individual soldier to an entire corps moving as part of a theatre commander's plan.
  8. The definition includes a one-size-fits-all definition of relative fitness for the fight ("readiness"), which directs attention to creating an advantage in this.
  9. "to exploit" implies that manoeuvre is a voluntary leadership decision. Some other definitions pretend that it's also maneuver (manoeuvre) when a driver is running away from enemy infantry and occasionally firing at burst at their general direction.
  10. This definition does not render the "attritionist" vs. "maneuver warfare" discussion moot. Discussions are fine to attract people to military theory and to educate them. A discussion such as the aforementioned one may even make sense when the conclusion should have been obvious 40 years ago.
  11. The definition makes it almost trivially easy to recognise that manoeuvre will never be entirely obsolete or out of fashion. It made sense even in 1915, when trench raids with limited objectives were conducted with planning and surprise advantage with the limited objective of snatching some POWs for interrogation.
  12. It's also almost trivially easy to recognise  that manoeuvre cannot be the correct tactical answer at all times. You do not always have (or can create) superior readiness that could be exploited by movement.
  13. The definition does not show that manoeuvre is typically leading to a quicker conclusion of a battle than attrition by firepower without movement. A definition doesn't need to include the information about this fact, though.
  14. Regrettably, the definition required additional remarks to assist in the correct (as per the author) interpretation. "The movement can create or improve the superior readiness, for example by encirclement, by shock or by the morale effect of arriving reinforcements. The exploitation can happen in the near future, enabled by the movement." To avoid this would have complicated the definition too much IMO.
  15. Another downside is that it requires an understanding of the term "readiness" as defined by me.
  16. The definition appreciates the value of "shaping the battlefield", as it's an activity to create superior readiness.
  17. Definitions that tie movement to firepower emphasise firepower/lethality more, and thus lead thoughts astray. My definition emphasised movement and readiness. The emphasis on movement  (regardless of firepower) helps with recognizing the importance of rapidity for exploiting or creating opportunities. An ordinary definition would rather lead to thoughts about how much suppressive fires are needed.
  18. The Boyd apostles will likely not find this definition to be incompatible to their faith, but they'd likely want to add their 'quicker cycling' fixation to it. They might add (at the end of the definition) "by running the OODA loop quicker" or something similar.
  19. The definition can be applied to naval, air and space just as to land warfare. Americans may (as they're much more militaristic than Europeans) also apply it to business, as they did before with Sun Tzu and some other military theory.



This definition will not be used by armies in their field manuals. It's meant to advance & provoke military theory discussions, not as copy&paste content for a field manual revision.

 S O


  1. Last Dingo:

    >>>Regrettably, the definition required additional remarks to assist in the correct (as per the author) interpretation. ......To avoid this would have complicated the definition too much IMO.>>>

    I do not agree with that. The definition would not be much longer, and just as clear and it would be even more precise and sharp.

    Despite that I particularly like that the question of fire is removed from the usual definition of maneuvre. As you rightly put it, it all steers too much towards the issue of firepower.

    Focusing on readiness instead corresponds exactly to my ideas, especially in relation to the fight for information superiority as the basis from which everything starts.

    In a broader understanding, this definition also fits very well to all other areas of war and not only to units that move on the battlefield on the ground. One can therefore also speak of maneuver warfare in time, in information space, and so on.

    Very interesting work. Should be continued !

    1. The "readiness" concept as I defined it (I could have called it "fitness for a fight" as well) is worthwhile in itself. It should burn into the practitioners' heads as well, so it's not a bad thing to define it separately.

      I'd obsess about a manoeuvre definition that explains everything by itself without requiring any other terminology knowledge if I was a one trick pony and would spend years writing mostly about manoeuvre like Lind et al.