The Commandant in his 2010 Planning Guidance explicitly states his goals for the Marine Corps University. He wants to: “develop [the] Marine Corps university (MCU) into a World Class institution.”
If our MCU is to be world class, then we must recognize the excellence of those who teach at our University. To accomplish this we need to place books written by the MCU faculty on the Commandant’s reading list. This was done recently for a short period of time in 2012, several books from one particular faculty member did appear on the list: Dr. Bruce Gudmundsson’s Stormtroop Tactics and his updated edition of John English’s On Infantry. Neither, however, made the cut on 2 January, 2013, and that is an absolute travesty.
Though I have not read On Infantry , I have read Stormtroop Tactics. A fascinating read! You must read it in conjunction with Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel, and Rommel’s Attacks. Both Junger’s and Rommel’s books are on the CMC’s Reading list, and are incredibly engaging personal accounts of their experiences in WWI. They describe experiences of battles where good ol’ Ernst & Erwin used the Stormtroop tactics that would provide the basis for the blitzkrieg in WWII. Dr. Gudmundsson’s book contextualizes and explains the details of these Stormtroop, or “assault,” tactics described by the two German Officers. Without Dr. G’s book to frame the narratives of Junger & Rommel, Storm of Steel, and Attacks are merely good yarns that provide little more than a suggestion of the attitude one might take toward war.
Stormtroop Tactics provides a professional account of the practical beginnings of our maneuver warfare heritage. It details the initial movements toward a more mobile mindset in the German Army, a mindset that ultimately created the conditions that allowed them to sweep through Europe like a knife cuts through butter. The Germans accomplished in six weeks (much thanks to aggressive Generals like Rommel) a land grab that the Allies took five years to reverse. The underpinnings of this significant feat are well worth understanding. Stormtroop Tactics paints the picture, describing the practical application of their lessons. It is the answer key to what are otherwise a handful of anecdotes, free to be misinterpreted or misapplied at will.
As LtGen Breckenridge, USMC, said in 1934, “I want our officers to be original, and to confidently assert themselves by speech and pen. To stand up and speak, and to sit down and write; and in between times to read and reason. As a result of that activity they will speak and write. Someday a Mahan will emerge from the [Marine Corps] crowd.” Am I saying Dr. G is the next Mahan? Maybe not, but what I am saying is that by supporting our own, marketing our thinkers to both the Marine Corps and the world, we are getting ever closer to creating an environment that can and will produce that next Clausewitz, that next Mahan, that next Boyd.