The principle is simple, yet conducting it can be incredibly complex. Fire and maneuver is a term utilized in the military to represent the chief concept for the US military combat training. It is comprised of two parts, indicative in its name. The first part is establishing a base of fire to keep the enemy’s head down. The second is another element: attacks towards the enemy to close with and destroy them.
Combat was never intended to be without risks. People die. There are ways that one can mitigate this – body armor, armored vehicles, drone attacks – but the reality is that these do not eliminate that risk. After three deployments and more than a decade of war, an interesting question was presented – why don’t we train like we fight?
In Iraq and Afghanistan, US forces have been fighting an untraditional conflict. Counter-Insurgency, nation-building, advisor teams, and economic-based finance projects have taken a front seat to simple concepts of movement to contact, clear, and seize. Traditional battle drills are trained as requirements for certification prior to deployment, but attack to destroy mission sets are limited in their application.
The conflict with ISIS has demonstrated that, once again, these core concepts are needed. Whereas counter insurgency demonstrated a practical application of drone strikes to remove key figures, ISIS shows that manpower and material attrition are more important. This cannot be accomplished from across the world. It requires people on the ground to turn the tide.
Should the US be the world’s police officer? We have shouldered more than our share of the burden for the coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan and, politics aside, our effectiveness is without question. Militarily, our force projection capabilities are substantial and decisive. Politically, our service members are out of their depth trying to inspire a nation to self-govern.
As the world watches the events transpiring in the Middle East, from the Arab Springs to the seizing of land by ISIS, we are made to wonder what the future will hold. As a service member and a combat infantryman, no amount of technology will remove the need for determined, qualified service members to be on the ground making the difference. The counter insurgency era of the military is transitioning again. While it would be foolhardy to forget the lessons learned, it is time to recognize the need for simplicity. It is time to identify the threat, provide an accomplishable goal, and to embrace that which the military is best at – fire and maneuver.
Politicians need to understand that, while a military has many capabilities, it should not be confused with the Department of State. We have allowed ourselves to fight a conflict against an adversary that employs terror as a primary weapon. Terror is countered with force, not hearts and minds. No amount of propaganda or teachings will convince ISIS to place their weapons on the ground. It will require swift and effective strikes, attacks to destroy, and fire and maneuver to make those weapons fall from their hands.
The world is waiting to see what we as a country will do. Like it or not, we are in a position to solve this problem – if we have the will and desire. Failing to do so will allow the problem to grow and continue into the future.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.