... and the War won't end for at least two years;
But we've got stacks of men.
... I'm blind with tears,
- Siegfied Sassoon, "To Any Dead Officer"1
Attrition is not appreciated. This is true both in the sense of it being not well understood, and in the sense of it being not well liked. At least since the first day of the Somme, when Great Britain famously lost 60,000 men to no apparent gain2, attrition in warfare has been seen as failure. Yet is that entirely fair?
This paper alleges that -- in point of fact -- historically, attrition has been central to settling the outcome of virtually all major wars. Military historians may choose to decry this, but the pattern is strong enough that if we are to learn anything from history then we ought not ignore it. Yet virtually all have. The only thoughtful analysis of attrition as a strategy ever written was produced by a turn of the century German -- Hans Delbrück. Unfortunately, his work seems to be not much quoted nowadays; attrition is almost never discussed except as a failure. The noted English historian David French notes how even the very word "attrition" has become a pejorative3. Indeed, from the harsh criticisms of J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Liddell-Hart, down to the present, most military theory has been a search for a "better way": a way to avoid the horrors of attrition.
In the 1920s and 1930s, this led to the development of both armoured warfare and the concept of the war-winning bomber offensive. More recently it has led to something of a renaissance of thought devoted to "manoeuvre warfare", and an infatuation with so-called precision guided munitions (PGMs). In any event, dislike of attrition remains strong. The noted US historian David Palmer has even gone so far as to write:
Attrition is not a strategy. It is, in fact, irrefutable proof of the absence of any strategy. A commander who resorts to attrition admits his failure to conceive of any alternative.4
Any recent perusal of military journals reveals the same attitude. This is not necessarily bad -- it would be hard, after all, to argue in favour of attrition -- but it is at best incomplete. Incomplete, because, as this paper will endeavour to show, in the end it has been attrition which has determined the outcome of virtually all major wars. This need not mean that the tactics of an attritional war must necessarily be wasteful of lives and material. Indeed, the actual fighting of an attritional war can and should draw upon as many clever and artful stratagems as possible -- but that cannot gloss over the fact that it is almost always the exhaustion of attrition which eventually brings the loser down. It would be disingenuous to conclude otherwise.
The first issue to be addressed is to consider what, exactly, we mean by "attritional warfare." Significantly, the only definitions of this have been advanced by those wishing to set it up as a straw man and then argue against it. Typical of these is the "manoeuvre warfare" theorist Robert Leonhard, a US soldier scholar, who defines attritional theory as an approach that seeks "to defeat an enemy through the destruction of the enemy's mass."5 "Manoeuvrists", as we shall see shortly, would rather destroy something else -- usually the enemy's morale, or at least their command and control. "Attritionists" on the other hand, seek merely to grind down the enemy's fighting forces -- in other words their main strength.
However, "manoeuvrists" such as Leonhard freight the term "attrition" with more pejorative connotations then this simple definition might imply. Leonhard goes on to say that:
Attrition theory is a "bottoms-up" approach to war, because it focuses first upon bringing the enemy to battle and then seeks to defeat him in that battle or in follow-on battles... "Addicts of attrition" ... generally cannot think beyond the battle.6
Another manoeuvre theorist (and another soldier scholar), Richard Simpkin, adds a further dimension to his definition of attrition theory -- he equates it explicitly with "positional warfare:"
attrition theory (also known as "position theory") is about fighting and primarily about casualties ... An adherent of this approach to war simply seeks to achieve a shift of relative strengths in his favour ... To achieve the shift of relative strength, the addict of attrition seizes and holds a piece of ground ... The process is repeated until one side has gained overwhelming strength (Second World War) or becomes exhausted (First World War).7
As Leonhard's remarks about attrition theory being a "bottoms-up approach", and Simpkin's assertion that attrition theory is really just "positional warfare" indicate, there is a tendency to assume that attritional warfare is characterized by the tactically inept throwing of soldiers and material at the enemy, in the hope of eventually grinding him down. While that may well have been the approach of the British Army in the First World War8, it need not necessarily be so. In order to realize why, we need to consider the various "levels of war": tactical, operational and strategic.9
Thinking in these terms, this paper alleges that virtually all major wars have been attritional at the strategic level. The fighting at the lower operational and tactical levels may or may not be so. For instance, the Napoleonic wars involved many campaigns and climatic battles which -- at least for a time -- were victorious for France. Yet ultimately, France was decisively defeated in Napoleonic wars. Despite many brilliant tactical and operational victories, France was eventually exhausted strategically.
Attrition's History in Warfare
France's eventual defeat in the Napoleonic wars hints at a larger historical pattern. Quite simply, with only very rare exceptions, it has been attrition that has decided the outcome of all major wars. Consider the record.
The modern military era is often dated from the Revolutionary/Napoleonic wars, and so too is Napoleon generally considered one of the greatest commanders of history. The British historian Robert Epstein notes that the early French victories of 1805-1807 "dazzled Jomini, Clausewitz, and others ... All believed that the short decisive victory was an attainable goal."10
Yet all those who admire the genius of Napoleon's brilliant victories seem to forget that in the end it was cruel attrition that brought the French down.11 Epstein goes on to note that starting with Wagram in 1809, "victory was a product of successive battles and engagements."12
The War of 1809 became the model for the future. Warfare became protracted. Victory was won by first mobilizing greater resources and then crushing an opponent in a series of battles.13
In other words, ultimately Napoleonic warfare was attritional. Furthermore, this was true despite a long series of dramatic French victories all of which at the time had seemed brilliantly decisive. As we shall see this is a recurrent pattern -- apparently decisive victories based on superior military art which are ultimately reversed by attrition.
The middle of the nineteenth century saw three major wars: the Crimean war, the US Civil War, and the wars of German unification. The Crimean War was a bitter campaign, mostly centred around a protracted seige of Sevastopol. Few would challenge its attritional nature; after all, it was the Crimean War that gave us Tennyson's immortal lines about the charge of the Light Brigade.14 Similarly, the US Civil War is famous for the way superior Northern numbers and industrial might slowly ground down a more gifted and deft Southern military effort. Indeed, in the US Civil War we once again see the pattern of early military success based upon manoeuvre and craft (in this case the early Confederate victories such as First Bull Run) reversed by slow grinding attrition.15
In the mid-nineteenth century, it is the case of the German wars of unification that are so interesting, because they are so different. In a series of wars, each of which was measured in mere months, Bismark's Prussia managed to decisively defeat the Austrians and then the French and establish a new German Reich. It was this brilliantly dazzling success that so captivated the turn of the century German military mind and led to what the military historian Jehuda Wallach calls the "dogma of the battle of annihilation."16
This dogma, of course, got its come-uppance in World War I, famously a contest of attrition.17 What is less often appreciated is that World War II was equally attritional. As the American military historian Earl Ziemke noted:
Paradoxically, the restoration of manoeuver [during World War II] to the battlefield ... did not eliminate the problem that had been thought of as peculiar to trench warfare -- attrition.18
More recently, the American historian John Ellis has devoted an entire book to demonstrating that the Allied victory in World War II was won by the sheer, attritional weight of numbers.19
Since the Second World War too, most major conflicts have been attritional in nature: consider the Revolutionary War in China, the Korean War, Vietnam's several wars, or the Iran-Iraq war. The one exception is the Israeli success over the Arabs, particularly in the 1967 Six Day War.20 In all the Arab-Israeli wars smaller Israeli forces have used manoeuvre warfare to repeatedly defeat larger Arab armies. Indeed, they have no choice -- if the Arab-Israeli conflict had ever become attritional the Israelis would certainly have ceased to exist.
This has been a quick overview of two centuries worth of military history -- and the examples selected to illustrate the point can be debated -- but the overall pattern should be clear. With only rare exceptions it has been attrition which ultimately decides the outcome of major wars. And one of the notable exceptions -- the Israeli successes in the Arab-Israeli wars -- is instructive. Despite repeated Israeli victories over the Arabs, Israel has been chronically unable to decisively secure her security in the Middle East. The dramatic Israeli victory in the Six Day War was followed only seven years later by the Yom Kippur war -- an Arab attack that once again almost succeeded into wiping Israel from the map. Those rare non-attritional victories may be less costly, but they often seem to be less decisive. Does this make attrition an attractive strategy?
Perhaps the first prominent theorist to consider the role of attrition -- and advance it as a coherent strategic theory -- was Hans Delbrück, a German military historian of the turn of the century. The German officer corps of the time was strongly wedded to the concept of the "battle of annihilation", which they believed Clausewitz had explained and the German wars of unification had conclusively proved. This view held that the aim of strategy was to rapidly concentrate an overwhelming force at the decisive point, and there crush the enemy in a single battle of annihilation.21 Succinctly expressing this view, one of its major proponents -- Chief of the Greater General Staff von Schlieffen -- once wrote of the importance of:
emphatic accentuation of the annihilation-idea.... the destruction of the hostile forces is the most commanding purpose among those which may be pursued by war. This is the doctrine which led us to Königgrätz and Sedan.22
Delbrück challenged this dogma, arguing that there was not merely one correct approach to war, or "strategy," as he put it, but two. The first of these two possible strategies he called, with typical German penchant for long words, the Niederwerfungsstrategie or strategy of annihilation. This, of course, was the conventional approach to warfare so prominent in Wilhemine Germany.
However, Delbrück's exhaustive study of military history convinced him that the strategy of annihilation was not the only possible approach to war, and that it had not always been appropriate to circumstances. Delbrück believed that he had discerned another approach -- the Ermattungsstrategie or strategy of exhaustion.
Delbrück saw history as comprised of differing eras; each era with different fundamental characteristics. In particular, he believed that the French Revolution marked a transition from one era to another. For a variety of reasons, he argued, after the French Revolution armies were able -- as Napoleon showed everyone -- to force battles of annihilation upon their foes. However, Delbrück continued, this was most expressly not the case prior to the French Revolution. The nature of armies of that time -- their mercenary character and dependence on magazines for supply for instance -- meant that for practical reasons it was simply not possible for their commanders to launch them on campaigns of annihilation. This did not mean, Delbrück concluded, that there was no art of strategy in that time period. It merely meant that the strategy was different, that commanders sought victory not be annihilating the enemy, but by advantage in manoeuvre and attrition. This alternative to the strategy of annihilation -- the strategy of exhaustion -- was not, Delbrück emphasized, derivative from the strategy of annihilation or inferior to it. It was merely different and appropriate for different circumstances. It too had had its great masters, and into this category Delbrück nominated Frederick the Great.
It was this which embroiled Delbrück in a fierce and long lived debate with the German officer corps. Frederick the Great was revered as the saviour of Prussia and a greater commander than Napoleon. Unshakeably imbued with the dogma of the strategy of annihilation, the German officer corps interpreted Delbrück's assertion that Frederick had been a master of the strategy of exhaustion as an unforgivable slight upon the Prussian king, and reaction was fierce and unforgiving.
Whatever the truth of the dispute between Delbrück and the German officers23, Delbrück's theorizing upon limited war has limitations of its own. He seemed to see history as sharply divided into eras -- some eras in which material circumstances made the strategy of exhaustion the only workable strategy, and some eras in which material circumstances allowed for a strategy of annihilation. Delbrück did not dispute that the nineteenth century had been a time of the strategy of annihilation, just as the Schlieffen school maintained it was. This would seem to imply that a state can only fight either a war of annihilation, or a war of exhaustion, depending upon what sort of era it is living in. It would appear, from Delbrück's analysis, that if a state is living in a time of wars of annihilation, it cannot choose to avoid them. Is this necessarily true?
Attrition versus Annihilation or Attrition versus Manoeuvre?
It may or may not be true that Frederick the Great's era did not permit for a strategy of annihilation, but Delbrück's theorizing puts two "poles" (as he put it) to strategic theory -- annihilation on the one hand and attrition on the other. However, the great annihilations of history -- the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II -- have all been the products of years of attritional fighting. Those rare non-attritional victories -- the Prussians at Könnigrätz and Sedan, the Germans in France in 1940, the Israelis over the Arabs -- have often been described (lauded even) as decisive "battles of annihilation", but in point of fact the casualties and destruction they each produced were trivial compared to attritional wars. So maybe attrition and annihilation are not the "poles" that Delbrück saw them as.
The modern trend has been to take a somewhat different tack. Rather tongue in cheek, the irreverent American military commentator James Dunnigan remarked in his book How to Make War that there are fundamentally "two ways to fight a war: plain (attrition) and fancy (manoeuvre)."24 Indeed, in recent years a considerable body of literature has developed touting the concept of "manoeuvre warfare."
One of the leading writers of this school, the American soldier and military theorist Robert Leonhard, for instance, has written of what he calls "manoeuver theory" as the attempt "to defeat the enemy through means other than simple destruction of his mass."25 As that quote indicates, the term "manoeuvre" is actually a poor, or at least incomplete, description of the style of warfare that manoeuvrists are advocating. "Manoeuvre theory" is about more than manoeuvre; it actually describes an entire approach to fighting that is flexible and agile. Leonard writes that manoeuvre theory seeks, in descending order:
1. Preemption: defeating or neutralizing the enemy before the fight has begun
2. Dislocation: rendering the enemy's strength irrelevant by removing the enemy from the decisive point, or -- preferably -- by removing the decisive point from them
3. Disruption: neutralizing the enemy by successfully attacking or threatening his center of gravity26
In order to effect this, manoeuvrists stress a variety of cardinal precepts. The first of these is attacking enemy weakness rather than strength, and reinforcing success rather than failure. By these means, a breakthrough of the enemy's lines is to be achieved.27 Secondly, manoeuvrists stress tempo, that is, speed of operations.28 If a manoeuvre based force can act faster than a more ponderous enemy can react, it can seize and hold the initiative -- to considerable advantage. Furthermore, manoeuvrists generally advocate a command style that is "directive" rather than rigidly detailed, an approach that has come to be known as auftragstaktik in honour of the Germans who practiced it so well.29 This approach is held to be necessary in order to achieve the flexibility and tempo necessary for manoeuvre warfare.
Of course, when manoeuvrists write about these concepts they are not simply plucking ideas from the air -- they have historical precedents in mind. Indeed, while they may cite examples widely from the history of warfare30, they generally have one, very specific, example in mind: the German victory over France in 1940. The American strategist Edward Luttwak has even written an eight page description of an allegedly generic manoeuvre based attack, in which:
We might observe a long column of tanks, infantry carriers, and trucks moving in single file deep within enemy territory, advancing almost unresisted.31
This mobile column has broken into the enemy rear, Luttwak explains, through a "break" made in the defender's line:
by an infantry assault supported by both artillery and air strikes. But the breach is no more than a narrow passage. On either side of it, strong forces of the defensive front remain.32
... penetrations are segmenting the territory of the defense as so many slices in a cake. Then we see how the defense is reacting and we encounter the crucial and determining fact: those forces of the defense still so strong on either side of each breach are not converging one toward the other to close the gaps. Instead, they have been ordered to withdraw as rapidly as they can, in order to reconstitute an entirely new front ... clearly the [defenders'] intention is to cope with those advancing [attackers'] columns by confronting them with solid strength [in a new line much farther back].
This is clearly not a generic description at all, but a retelling of the manoeuvrists favourite story: the German victory over France in 1940. Yet there is a great irony in this -- eventually the Germans lost World War II. The serving American officer John Antal examined this in an article titled "Manoeuvre versus Attrition."
Fans of manoeuvre warfare theory argue that the Germans had the right idea in their concept of Auftragstaktik. "Manoeuverists" call opponents of manoeuvre theory "attritionists." A manoeuvre-oriented military analyst may argue that manoeuvre versus attrition is the primary argument in styles of warfare; that manoeuvre warfare offers cheap victories; and that Operation Desert Storm vindicated manoeuvre theory concepts. Others, who seldom call themselves "attritionists," argue that each military situation is unique; that Desert Storm vindicated the decisive, attrition role of firepower. In any case, the Germans lost World War II.33
"Manoeuverists" as Antal put it, promise rapid and decisive results without long attritional struggles. It is only manoeuvre, they argue, that can avoid the carnage of attrition. Indeed, most of the military reformers of the 1920s and 1930s (Fuller, Liddell Hart et al) took this as given -- their aim was to restore manoeuvre to warfare so that it could again be decisive. Yet, as Anatol sardonically notes, the Germans did ultimately lose the Second World War. And as we saw above, the historical record would seem to indicate that non-attritional victories are prone to reversal in the higher court of attrition. What does this say about the oft claimed "decisiveness" of manoeuvre warfare?
Decisiveness in War
Unfortunately, the very concept of "decisiveness" in war is somewhat slippery. Decisiveness would seem to have at least two very different aspects to it. The first is temporal: decisive wars are wars which are brought to a close quickly. The fighting in the First World War is often called "indecisive" because it dragged on and on, whereas the Arab-Israeli Six Day War is often called "decisive" because the Israelis so quickly smashed the Arab armies.
The second aspect of "decisiveness" in war is very different: it is the "finality" of the result or the extent to which the war settles the issue at hand. For instance, the Battle of Waterloo was "decisive" because it finally ended Napoleon's career -- yet it came only at the end of a very long series of wars which could only be described as attritional. As this example makes clear, often wars are "decisive" in one of these two senses but not the other.
Russell Weigley in The Age of Battles, his masterful survey of conflict from the Thirty Years War to the Battle of Waterloo, comes to the ultimate conclusion that:
the possibility of waging a grand, climatic battle provided at least a hope [during the era he was studying] of deciding the outcome of war promptly and at a cost that might not appear exorbitant.34
This was certainly the hope of Napoleon and the outlook of Clausewitz and Jomini. Nevertheless, Weigley points out, in actual fact decisiveness was elusive. Even the great Napoleon's wars dragged on for years as one climatic victory after another proved unable to secure his continental system. In the end he lost after a decade and a half of gruelling attrition that left France exhausted.
The age of battles proved to be an age of prolonged, indecisive wars, wars sufficiently interminable that again and again the toll in lives, not to mention the costs in material resources, rose grotesquely out of proportion to anything their authors could hope to gain from them.35
It need scarcely be added that this pattern has persisted since Waterloo. The reason for this is probably simply that it is hard to force large states to do what they do not want to do -- which is precisely the classic aim of war. "An act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will," as Clausewitz put it. Yet for every action there is usually an equal and opposite counter-action. Napoleon's very successes drove the other states of Europe into alliance against him. So long as states are committed to the struggle they will continue to resist -- until finally exhausted and beaten down in a long attritional struggle. This explains why attritional wars are so common and why those rare non-attritional victories are of such transitory decisiveness. Speaking of this phenomena in the First World War, and the heavy criticism that that war's generals have come in for, the American theorist Colin S. Gray has pointed out:
Could it be that there was no clever way to win the war on the ground by inspired operational art? ... The central problem in 1914-18 was not, as too often alleged, with the incompetence of the military systems engaged, but rather with the character of the policy goals which governments obliged their generals and admirals to serve. The belligerents suffered as heavily as they did because they sought total victory in a great war between very mighty coalitions.36
It would be hard to argue in favour of attrition as an approach to war. However, we should admit that with only rare exceptions, in any major war between roughly evenly matched opponents, the final result has -- in the end -- been determined by attrition. But does this doom militaries to campaigns like the Somme, simply throwing men and material at the enemy until he is eventually swamped? Not necessarily. Major wars may be decided by attrition at the strategic level, but it does not necessarily follow that the battles and campaigns which make up the war at the tactical and operational levels need be attritional. If a great power (or coalition of great powers) can only be worn down over time, best that the wearing down be effected by a series of manoeuvre based campaigns that do not rely solely on the blunt instrument of sheer weight in numbers.
This -- in essence -- appears to have been Delbrück's argument. A smaller power such as Frederick the Great's Prussia can fight a nimble series of campaigns which are very much non-attritional and manoeuvre based in their actual execution, but which are meant to exhaust the enemy at the strategic level. Voilà: manoeuvre at the tactical and operational levels and attrition at the strategic level.
Britain's effort in the Napoleonic wars can be seen in that light -- a series of campaigns fought with relatively limited armies that capitalized on manoeuvre (particularly the mobility that came from the Royal Navy's command of the sea) to eventually wear the French down.37 Similarly, it was a series of campaigns which swept across continents that eventually wore Germany down in the Second World War.
Manoeuvre based fighting, the employment of PGMs, or any other stratagem designed to make fighting less costly is clearly something to be pursued at the tactical and operational levels of war. However, we should not allow ourselves or our statesmen to be deluded into thinking that these are panaceas which can bring difficult victories cheaply. When solid, evenly matched opponents are determined to have their way with each other, there is no easy way to victory; attritional warfare is virtually inevitable. As the Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said at Waterloo:
Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let us see who will pound longest.Back to my homepage.
1. Siegfried Sassoon, Counter-Attack and Other Poems (London: Heinemann) 1918, p 42.
2. Actually only some 20,000 of these were fatal casualties. See Martin Middlebrook The First Day of the Somme (London: Penguin Press) 1971, p 263.
3. David French, "The Meaning of Attrition, 1914-1916" pp 385-405, English Historical Review, No CCCCVII, April 1988, p 385.
4. D. Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet: U.S.-Vietnam in Perspective (Novato California: Presidio Press) 1978, p 117.
5. Robert Leonhard The Art of Manoeuvre (Novato California: Presidio Press) 1991, p 19.
7. Richard Simpkin Race to the Swift: Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare (London: Brassey's Defence Publishers) 1985, pp 21-22.
8. For instance, the British Expeditionary Force's Director of Military Operations, Brigadier F.B. Maurice, wrote in a letter in 1915: "We must keep hammering away and to do that we must have more and more men and more and more ammunition. If we can only keep our attacks going we shall wear Germany out." Quoted by David French "The Meaning of Attrition, 1914-1916" op. cit., p 396.
9. Consideration of the "levels of war" has often become hackneyed, but it is definitely a useful concept. Leonard gives it a good discussion in The Art of Manoeuver, pp 5-10.
10. Robert M. Epstein "Patterns of Change and Continuity in Nineteenth-Century Warfare" pp 372-388, The Journal of Military History, Vol 56, No 3, July 1992, p 377.
11. For something of a standard account of the Napoleonic wars, see David Chandler The Campaigns of Napoleon (New York) 1966.
12. Epstein "Patterns of Change and Continuity in Nineteenth-Century Warfare", op. cit. p 381.
14. On the general nature of the Crimean War, see Albert Seaton The Crimean War (New York: St Martin's Press) 1977. A more recent revisionist work opens with the bold claim that "The intention of this book is to demonstrate that the `Crimean War' so familiar to twentieth century historians has no factual reality," but even it does not challenge the ultimately attritional nature of the conflict. Andrew Lambert The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy 1853-56 (Manchester: Manchester University Press) 1990.
15. On this theme, see Richard Beringer, Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, and William Still Why the South Lost the Civil War (Athens Georgia: University of Georgia Press) 1986.
16. Jehuda Wallach The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation (Westport Connecticut: Greenwood Press) 1986.
17. No one seriously disputes the attritional nature of the First World War. The debate instead centres on when, precisely, it became attritional, and to what extent this may or may not have been avoidable. On the former issue, see for instance G.A.B. Dewar and J.H. Boraston Sir Douglas Haig's Command (London) 1922, or David French "The Meaning of Attrition, 1914-1916" op. cit. On the later, see any of J.F.C. Fuller's or B.H. Liddell-Hart's fulminations against the war, or more recent reassessments such as Denis Winter's Haig's Command (London: Viking) 1991.
18. Earl Ziemeke, "Annihilation, Attrition and the Short War" pp 23-31, Parameters Vol XII, No 1 March 1982, p 28.
19. John Ellis Brute Force (London: Andre Deutsh) 1990.
20. For an excellent overview of the various wars in general, and the Six Day War in particular, see Chiam Herzog The Arab-Israeli Wars (London: Arms and Armour Press) 1982.
21. See for example Jehuda Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation.
22. Quoted ibid., p 69.
23. History has been kind to Delbrück; the German obsession with the dogma of the battle of annihilation as the one and only true strategy of war is now almost universally excoriated.
24. James Dunnigan How to Make War (New York: William Morrow and Company) 1982, p 428.
25. Leonhard The Art of Manoeuver p 19.
26. Ibid., pp 79-80.
27. Perhaps the first writer to explicitly stress this idea was B.H. Liddell-Hart with his "expanding torrent" metaphor.
28. Simpkin discusses this at some length in Race to the Swift, pp 145-150.
29. See Leonard The Art of Manoeuver pp 113-121 or Simpkin Race to the Swift pp 226-255. It should be noted, however, that the Germans did not themselves initially call their approach auftragstaktik. Rather like the word "blitzkrieg", this is a term that has been applied to their modus operandi by others.
30. Ghangis Khan is popular for some reason.
31. Edward Luttwak, Strategy: The Logic of Peace and War (Cambridge Mass, Harvard University Press) 1987, p 99.
32. Ibid. pp 100-101.
33. John Antal "Manoeuvre versus Attrition" pp 19-23, Military Review, October 1992, p 21.
34. Russell Weigley, The Age of Battles. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 1991, p xiii.
35. Ibid., p xii.
36. Colin S. Gray, War, Peace and Victory. (New York: Simon & Schuster) 1990, p 176.
37. On this theme see B.H. Liddell-Hart's The British Way in Warfare (London: Faber and Faber) 1932, and the more recent reappraisal by David French The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000 (London: Unwin Hyman) 1990.Back to my homepage.