Maneuver Self Study Program

Introduction to the Maneuver Self Study Program

As the Army comes out of a decade of war, we all have a duty to examine the tenets that underpin our profession and to make the lasting changes in the profession necessary to strengthen the Army's enduring culture.

~Army Profession (AP) Campaign Annual Report CY2012

This self study program consists of books, articles, doctrine, films, lectures, and practical application exercises to help educate maneuver leaders about the nature and character of war, as well as their responsibilities to prepare their Soldiers for combat, lead them in battle, and accomplish the mission. The intent is to enhance understanding of the complex interaction between war and politics and to improve the effectiveness of maneuver leaders in complex environments and in combat against determined, adaptive enemies. Our Army must be prepared to fight and win our nation's wars and accomplish missions across the range of military operations.[i] A commitment to learning across your career is critical to ensuring that you continue to grow as a leader and are prepared for increased responsibility.

This series supplements the formal education you receive in our Army with a guide for self-study. ADRP 6-22 states, "Lifelong learning involves study and reflection to acquire new knowledge and to learn how to apply it when needed." Leaders do not have the time or opportunity to learn every lesson in a classroom. Soldiers must take it upon themselves to seek self improvement and gain knowledge through self study. Our Army values education and Self Study has been an important aspect of leadership development since its founding.

Generals from George Washington, to Winfield Scott, to Dwight D. Eisenhower supplemented their formal learning through active reading, study, and reflection. In 1901, the father of the Army War College, Secretary of War Elihu Root, commented on "the great importance of a thorough and broad education for military officers," due to the "rapid advance of military science; changes of tactics required by the changes in weapons; our own experience in the difficulty of working out problems of transportation, supply, and hygiene; the wide range of responsibilities which we have seen devolving upon officers charged with the civil government of occupied territory; the delicate relations which constantly arise between military and civil authority." Thus, Root wrote, there was a "manifest necessity that the soldier, above all others, should be familiar with history."[ii]

Historical perspective allows leaders to understand the character of a particular conflict, informs grounded projections of how armed conflict in general is likely to evolve, and helps leaders understand the complex interactions between military, political, and social factors that influence the situation in war. Because leaders cannot turn back time once war occurs; they must develop an understanding of war and warfare before they enter the field of battle. As Carl von Clausewitz observed, the study of war and warfare "is meant to educate the mind of the future commander, or, more accurately, to guide him in his self education, not to accompany him to the battlefield; just as a wise teacher guides and stimulates a young man's intellectual development, but is careful not to lead him by the hand for the rest of his life."[iii] Clausewitz continued, that leaders should use their knowledge of war and warfare to "to analyze the constituent elements of war, to distinguish precisely what at first sight seems fused, to explain in full the properties of the means employed and to show their probable effects, to define clearly the nature of the ends in view, and to illuminate all phases of warfare in a thorough critical inquiry."[iv]

The best approach to studying war and warfare is found in historian Sir Michael Howard's 1961 seminal essay on how military professionals should develop what Clausewitz described as their own "theory" of war. First, to study in width: To observe how warfare has developed over a long historical period. Next to study in depth: To study campaigns and explore them thoroughly, consulting original sources and applying various theories and interdisciplinary approaches. This is important, he observed, because as the "tidy outline dissolves," we "catch a glimpse of the confusion and horror of real experience." And lastly to study in context. Wars and warfare must be understood in context of their social, cultural, economic, human, moral, political, and psychological contexts because as Sir Michael observed "the roots of victory and defeat often have to be sought far from the battlefield."

To develop understanding in "width, depth, and context" we must be active learners, dedicated to self study. Self study is a critical element in the Self-Development Domain of the Army's overall approach to leader development. The Self Development Domain is just as important as the Operational Domain (unit training) and Institutional Domain (Army schools) in developing leaders able to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. The themes and readings that will follow in the coming year are meant to help prepare you for your responsibilities as a Soldier and leader in our Army. Studying the topics, listed below, in addition to helping you develop your understanding of war and warfare, will also help you understand better our military profession, our military's role under the Constitution, the dynamics of civil-military relations that shape policy and strategy.[v] These topics are meant to help maneuver leaders develop an appreciation for leadership at the strategic level so they can place the actions of small units in context of war aims as well as develop their ability to, later in their careers, provide analysis and advice to senior military and civilian leaders on matters of policy and strategy. While developing an appreciation for the strategic level of war, maneuver leaders might consider change and continuities in war. And it is often the neglect of continuities in war, such as its political nature; its cultural, psychological and social dimensions; its uncertainty; and its contest of wills.

Self study does not mean that you should read and think about our profession on your own. Discussion with others deepens our understanding of the material presented through different perspectives and interpretations. Discussing ideas with fellow students and leaders also helps us consider how what we learn applies to our responsibilities.

Each self study topic contains a brief summary of the chosen topic, its relevance to your responsibilities as a maneuver leader, and several questions to consider as you engage the material. Topics contain annotated bibliographies that include doctrine, films, lectures, and in some cases, practical application exercises.

Self study is not a formal or directed requirement. This program is designed to help you, on your own, and with your comrades in arms, develop the expertise that is a pillar of our Army profession. As General Albert C. Wedemeyer noted while a student at the German staff college between the World Wars of the twentieth century, "An indomitable will and broad military knowledge, combined with a strong character, are attributes of the successful leader. He must have a clear conception of tactical principles and their application. Only by continual study of military history and of the conduct of war with careful attention to current developments can the officer acquire the above stated attributes of leadership."[vi]

[i] "The range of military operations is another fundamental construct that provides context. Military operations vary in scope, purpose, and conflict intensity across a range that extends from military engagement, security cooperation, and deterrence activities to crisis response and limited contingency operations and, if necessary, to major operations and campaigns." JP 3-0, Joint Operations, section V, paragraph 1a.

[ii] Elihu Root, General Correspondence to the United States Congress, 1901 (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress), Washington D.C., 2011, available at

[iii] Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, Edited and Translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, Princeton University Press, 1989. pg. 141

[iv] Ibid.

[v] MG H.R. McMaster, The Need for a Coherent Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of War and Warfare at West Point August 10, 2012

[vi] GEN Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer on War and Peace, Edited by Keith E. Eiler, Hoover Press, 1987. pg.5

Gen. Robert W. Cone at the Army Learning Summit: May 10, 2011