Maneuver warfare is a war tactic that focuses on catching the enemy by
surprise, making it impossible to organize a defense or seek out
reinforcements. The maneuver warfare tactic has been used throughout history.
The war tactic contrasts the much older attrition tactic where wars were won
based on which army incurred the least losses.
The main factor dictating the success or failure of the tactic is the
availability of credible intelligence. In the traditional implementation of the
war tactic, spies played an integral role, but in the modern setting,
technology has taken up the role of the spy, with sensitive information being
tracked down using technology. When implemented effectively, maneuver warfare
can bring victory to a small army fighting against a stronger enemy. Origin The
war strategy goes back to the very beginnings of human civilization and
coincidentally, with the origin of war itself. The traditional strategy
employed during prehistoric battles was the attrition warfare where the speed
of the marching armies dictated victory, maneuver warfare began in earnest
after the horses domestication and later, the construction of the first
chariots. These two prehistoric milestones gave birth to a new way of engaging
in warfare; cavalry which employed speed to catch enemy armies off guard. There
have been several documented cases when the maneuver war tactic was employed by
some of historys best-known war generals to great success.
7th-century Islamic general, Khalid ibn al-Walid is fondly remembered for his
surprising victory against the stronger Byzantine army, in 634 AD. The
Byzantine army had captured southern Syria from Islamic forces and was sternly
vigilant in all strategic entry-points to the region, except the Syrian Desert.
Khalid knew the Byzantines could not expect an invasion from the desert and
employed the maneuver tactic to catch the Byzantine army by surprise, resulting
in a resounding victory.
Napoleon I was also known for successfully using the military tactic to win
battles against more powerful opponents. The source of Napoleons success
is seen in his military wit, where he focused more on moving armies at great
speed to the battlefield. The general relied not only on his cavalry but also
in a fast infantry. In application, the tactic involved striking enemy armies
at great speed, so that they would have no time to organize themselves or seek
out for reinforcements. Using the maneuver warfare tactic, Napoleon I had
numerous successful military campaigns all over Europe against stronger and
larger armies. The French general was indeed so successful even against way
more superior armies, that many thought he was undefeatable.
The Industrial Revolution saw the mechanization of the war tactic, with
machines replacing horses. The introduction of steam engine trains in warfare
meant that invasions were made faster than ever before, allowing
technologically-advanced armies to encircle and subsequently crash their
enemies quickly. The maneuver was technologically implemented during the
American Civil War, with trains transporting armies to battlefields and
surprising their opponents. However, the advancements in weapons, such as the
introduction of the machine gun in the early 20th century, hindered the success
of the approach. Nonetheless, the tactic was employed in the two World Wars,
especially after the introduction of war tanks.