United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College
MASTER OF MILITARY STUDIES
From Air Force Fighter Pilot to Marine Corps Warfighting:
Major Jeffrey L. Cowan, U.S. Air Force
SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
Academic Year 1999-2000
Mentor: Dr. Donald F. Bittner, Professor of History
Mentor: A. Kerry Strong, Director, MCU Research Archives
THE OPINIONS AND CONCLUSIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENT AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF EITHER THE MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY. REFERENCES TO THIS STUDY SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOREGOING STATEMENT.
QUOTATION FROM, ABSTRACTION FROM, OR REPRODUCTION OF ALL OR ANY PART OF THIS DOCUMENT IS PERMITTED PROVIDED PROPER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IS MADE.
Title: From Air Force Fighter Pilot to Marine Corps Warfighting: Colonel John R. Boyd, His Theories on War, and Their Unexpected Legacy.
Author: Major Jeffrey L. Cowan, United States Air Force
Thesis: An assessment of the life and career of Air Force Colonel John R. Boyd. Colonel Boyd was an officer who contributed much to the Air Force during a long and productive career, but was not recognized as such. Boyd's most important contribution has been his lasting legacy of maneuver warfare that he helped develop for the Marine Corps.
Discussion: Colonel John Boyd's career began as an Air Force fighter pilot in the closing months of the Korean War. He never forgot his combat experiences, especially the incredible success rate that American pilots had in the F-86 against the Mig-15. Though the Mig-15 was superior to the F-86 in almost all performance categories, the American pilots had an 11-1 kill ratio. While most attributed this success primarily to superior training, Boyd thought it might have had something to do with the aircraft. This experience led him directly or subtly into many of the contributions he made to the Air Force. This includes the first comprehensive text on air combat maneuvers, Aerial Attack Study; the discovery of Energy Maneuverability theory, vitally important to the aircraft design and procurement process; and finally, as a central member of the 'Pentagon Reformers' a group dedicated to changing the Department of Defense ways of procurement.
The Marine Corps, however, has arguably gained the most from his contributions. As a retired Colonel, Boyd began studying warfare, to include the study of hundreds of sources. Colonel Boyd synthesized his studies into a fresh assessment of warfare, combining ideas from maneuver warfare and moral warfare. These ideas on maneuver warfare were seized by a few in the Marine Corps who recognized them as an evolutionary step in the way that service would fight in the future.
This paper consists of seven chapters. The first two are a chronology of Colonel Boyd's significant accomplishments while in the Air Force. The next five examine the development of his theory on maneuver warfare, its genesis within the Marine Corps, and its lasting unintended legacy.
Conclusion: Colonel Boyd had a successful career by any measurement and made tremendous contributions to the Air Force. However, his primary legacy will be the warfighting philosophy adopted by one of the proudest institutions of the United States armed services, the Marine Corps.
In 1997, my father-in-law, a retired Captain, United States Navy Reserve, handed me the tribute article from The United States Naval Institute, Proceedings. This piece, written by Franklin 'Chuck' Spinney, appeared on the occasion of Colonel John R. Boyd's death. I was astounded at the accomplishments of this Air Force Colonel. As a United States Air Force attack pilot, I was well aware of the contributions Boyd made to the Air Force, but I did not know the man. This paper is an attempt to tell part of the story of an ideal American officer, a combination warrior and scholar; it assesses not only his contributions to the Air Force, but the legacy he left to one of America's proudest military institutions, the United States Marine Corps.
Completion of this MMS paper, including the research was made much easier with the help of several individuals. First, I would like to thank two of Colonel Boyd's close friends, Franklin 'Chuck' Spinney for inviting me to join the Washington D.C. version of the 'Algonquin Roundtable' at the Fort Myer's Officer's Club, where Colonel Boyd's ideas continue; and Colonel Michael Wyly, USMC (Ret.), who was invaluable in understanding Colonel Boyd's relationship with the Corps.
I would also like to thank Robert Coram and Dr. Grant Hammond, both biographers of Colonel Boyd. Additionally, the U.S. Marine Corps University Research Archives, especially the Boyd Collection, were vital to my research. I would like to thank my mentors, A. Kerry Strong, and her staff at the Archives for their patience and help in this project. And, finally, I would like to thank my other mentor, Dr. Donald Bittner, on faculty at the U.S. Marine Command and Staff College. Dr. Bittner's hard work and patience was invaluable to the completion of this paper.
The sun that glinted on a dozen metallic objects off in the distance made the fighter pilot's heart race. Lieutenant John Boyd and his flight leader saw the tiny MiGs takeoff from the airfield North of the Yalu. Boyd and his flight leader were going to chase and shoot down the MiGs in an easy victory. To Boyd this was certain, because he had already gained a reputation as a great fighter pilot, even as a wingman. However, Boyd would never be a flight leader; it was 1953 and the war would be over in a few months. Boyd had only 22 of the necessary 30 required combat missions to qualify as a flight leader. A wingman was always at the mercy of a flight leader, and Boyd was better than most.
The MiGs continued to climb and the flight leader led the two of them across the Yalu to meet the MiGs. Boyd stayed close to his leader, ensuring that he covered his 'six.' The two pilots chased the flight of tiny MiGs. The silver enemies eventually saw the hunters and began to react. One of the enemy planes maneuvered expertly and gained an advantage on Lt. Boyd. But, due to a keen sense and an early 'tallyho,' Boyd executed a series of quick maneuvers forcing the MiG to overshoot his aircraft. The MiG, as was well known, could out climb, out turn, and out accelerate the American darling, the F-86 Sabre Jet. Boyd could not leave his flight leader to pursue the MiG; he had to maintain mutual support with his flight leader.
Boyd concentrated on his flight leader and the MiG they were chasing. Lt. Boyd could not understand why his flight leader was not firing on the MiG only 200 feet in front of the flight. On this occasion, the flight leader had an electrical failure and his guns would not fire nor could he talk to his wingman. Boyd, unable to communicate with him, could not implore his flight leader to move out of the way; Boyd needed a clear field of fire. The flight lead broke off the attack because they were both low on fuel and they headed back south. After they landed, the two fighter pilots exchanged stories that seemed much funnier than while up North. However, they knew this would be the last time the fighter pilot would have a chance at the prize, shooting down an enemy aircraft.
The disappointment of returning empty-handed lit a fire under the great fighter pilot. How could the Americans at a rate of 10 to 1 slaughter the MiG-15, which could clearly out perform the F-86? Boyd knew our training was better, but could training alone accomplish this? What the F-86 could do better was transition between maneuvers more quickly than the MiG. This was because of the hydraulic boost to the flight control surfaces on the Sabre, which allowed the F-86 to quickly transition in the roll, pitch, and yaw axes. The ideas of fast transients, switching quickly between maneuvers, and energy maneuverability, the ability to quickly lose and gain energy, stuck with Boyd and led to some of his most important conceptual ideas in both fighter combat and maneuver warfare.
The most widely known contribution Boyd made was the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act-Cycle, more commonly known as the OODA Loop. Boyd, intuitively, understood this while flying air combat, but, like the rest of his works, the concept would be developed later when reflecting upon his combat experiences in Korea.
The current tactics manuals, for those flying fighters, have adjusted Boyd's OODA Loop to a new verbiage, using the acronym OPAM: Observe, Predict, Assess, and Maneuver. Despite the different words, the cycle is identical to Boyd's OODA Loop. A pilot employing an aircraft during Basic Fighter Maneuvers (BFM) first observes the adversary with onboard sensors, preferably the pilot's own vision. Then the pilot predicts a course of maneuver for the enemy based upon an assessment of the enemy's energy state, knowledge of the enemy's tactics, aircraft, and relative advantage in position. Next, the pilot assesses a maneuver needed for himself in order to defeat an adversary's attack or countering an adversary's defensive move while on the offensive. Finally, a maneuver is accomplished with great speed, which is designed to be unpredictable and asymmetrical. The cycle is then repeated. If a series of maneuvers can be accomplished with enough quickness that the adversary cannot react with appropriate counter-maneuvers, then victory is certain.
Boyd's theory of the OODA Loop was only part of his life-long work. His culminating treatise, A Discourse on Winning and Losing, was never officially published; however, it has been reproduced thousands of times. Boyd never sought to publish it, for he intended it to remain as an academic work in progress. He never sought proprietorship on his ideas, either. Rather, as Grant T. Hammond, Colonel Boyd's biographer said, "He wanted to give things away-especially ideas."
John Richard Boyd (1927-1997), born in Erie, PA, was at one time considered the best fighter pilot in the Air Force. His military career started in 1945, when he enlisted in the Army and served in the occupation of Japan. Shortly after getting out of the Army, Boyd attended the University of Iowa on the GI Bill and enrolled in Air Force ROTC. In 1952, after graduating from college, Boyd attended Air Force pilot training at Williams AFB in Arizona. He was selected to fly bomber aircraft upon completion of training, but refused to accept that assignment. Boyd wanted to be a fighter pilot and convinced his commander of this.
The young officer was eventually sent to the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea to fly the F-86 Sabre. While there, Boyd built a reputation as an excellent fighter pilot and was soon teaching those around him the fine art of air combat. Because of this talent, his next assignment was to the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
Upon graduation from the Fighter Weapons School in 1954, he remained as an instructor. At this point, his reputation began to soar and many considered him the finest fighter pilot in the Air Force. Boyd continued teaching at the Fighter Weapons School until 1960, when he left to attend Georgia Tech University.
Boyd received a degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech and then went to Eglin AFB, Florida. While at Eglin, the now Major Boyd formulated his theory on Energy Maneuverability. Energy Maneuverability would be invaluable to the Air Force in terms of aircraft design and procurement. Boyd received several awards for his work, including the Air Force Systems Command Scientific Achievement Award. In 1966, Boyd reported for duty at the Pentagon.
While at the Pentagon, Boyd saved the FX fighter program, which became the F-15 Eagle. In the process, he also tried to revamp the Pentagon process of aircraft design and procurement. Dissatisfied with the final results of the F-15, Boyd and several colleagues were intent on designing an aircraft based on the principals adopted by this small group. The result of this endeavor was the F-16, an aircraft that met their expectations. Later, Colonel Boyd would be a key member in the Pentagon Reform movement. Until this point, Boyd had contributed much to the Air Force. But it was his work and analysis in warfare, which has left his enduring legacy.
Boyd eventually attained the rank of Colonel. One of his closest friends, Chuck Spinney, divided the distinguished pilot's life and career into four distinct periods. He called these the '40-second Boyd,' the 'Mad Major,' the 'Ghetto Colonel,' and finally, 'Genghis John.' Each part of his life seemed separate and distinct, but the thread of personality that defined Colonel Boyd connected them all. Spinney's description of Boyd's traits says it best: "He personified the romantic image of a fighter jock--- tall, lanky, wildly gesticulating, loud and irrepressible, an in-your-face type of guy, who smoked long thin stogies and blew smoke in your face, while he shouted and sprayed saliva at you in a head-on attack, from two inches, nose to nose." The evolution to 'Genghis John' was the culmination of his academic pursuits, for he studied many disciplines, which included: mathematical logic, physics, thermodynamics, biology, psychology, anthropology and human conflict. Fortunately for the U.S. military, Colonel Boyd also studied warfare. By the end of his career some considered him a "scholar of Sun Tzu."
His ideas on conflict and warfare culminated in a briefing designed to change the way America fought wars. Several young Marine officers, including Colonel Mike Wyly, and a civilian military theorist, Bill Lind, picked up on Boyd's thesis. This small group would undertake a huge but worthy challenge in changing the way the American armed forces thought about warfare. The result was that the Marine Corps attempted, and in many ways succeeded, in shedding its former doctrine of attrition warfare for a new and untested doctrine called 'maneuver warfare.' The Marine Corps was initially reluctant to make this transition, but now has fully integrated it into its doctrine, with the foundational publication titled MCPD-1, Warfighting,
The Marine Corps' 15-year doctrinal battle over maneuver warfare is in many ways now over. The other services, most notably the U. S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, have continued to struggle over meaningful doctrine. The Marine Corps doctrine of Warfighting embraced Colonel Boyd's ideals. His warfighting notions were certainly not ground centric, as the basic concepts of maneuver warfare were born of air combat. Though the U.S. Air Force arguably gained the most from Boyd's ideas on air combat and aircraft design, as a warfighting institution they have conspicuously ignored their own theorist's ideas on warfare.
This leads to the topic of this paper, "From Air Force Fighter Pilot to Marine Corps Warfighting: Colonel John Boyd, His Theories on War, and Their Unexpected Legacy."
It is then truly fitting that General Krulak, then Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, the commander of the service that gained so much from Boyd, wrote the following stirring eulogy after Colonel Boyd's death:
The USAF Fighter Weapons School was a fledgling institution in the post-Korean War, unlike the premier institution it is today. Established in 1949, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, it was primarily used to teach air-to-ground and air-to-air gunnery. The institution had not changed much prior to the arrival of John Boyd in 1954.
The result of his legacy is felt today. The school is the acknowledged repository of all fighter weapons and tactics expertise in the U.S. Air Force.
Since the school was mostly concerned with gunnery, little time was devoted to the 'meat' of the profession, air combat tactics. Even as a student attending the Fighter Weapons School course, 1st Lt. Boyd was concerned about the lack of instruction. Much of what Boyd learned at the school was instinctual or due to OJT, i.e. on the job training.
Immediately after graduation, Boyd was retained to teach at the school (an honor still reserved for few immediate graduates). Boyd, now a part of the instructor cadre, was on the inside and could now start adding the 'meat' of air combat into the training program. His ideas, like any radical ideas, met with some early inertia, which was overcome. Still, this would be a foreshadowing of the many battles he had to face in the future. Boyd revamped the entire methodology of instruction. He changed the curriculum to emphasize air-to-air combat tactics, vice gunnery. He wrote the syllabus and all of the required mission cards that corresponded to the training sorties.
The most important change he instituted was in instruction. While still in Korea, following the war, he had taught other new pilots. This gave him a sense of which types of air combat instruction worked and which did not work. Boyd prided himself on being an excellent instructor able to temper the instruction based on the student. The Fighter Weapons School sorely lacked this approach. At the time most instruction prior to any sortie dealt with the administrative portion of the flight called the 'motherhood.' The administrative portion included procedures concerning takeoff and landing, instrument departure, and the traffic pattern. An experienced pilot did not need to be overly concerned with these simple procedures. As a professional, the pilot needed to be concerned with accomplishing the mission.
Boyd took the Fighter Weapons School by storm and was well on his way to becoming the '40 Second Boyd.'
The 40-second Boyd name epitomized his capabilities in air-to-air combat. While stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Boyd had a standing bet that he could maneuver from a position of disadvantage (the adversary to his rear or 'six' in a firing position) to a position of advantage (Boyd on the opponent's tail in a position to fire) in less than 40 seconds. If the adversary could hold Boyd off for more than 40 seconds, the instructor would pay them 40 dollars. This was no easy task on Boyd's part, as Nellis was and is the home of the fighter pilot and the Fighter Weapons School, the Air Force's School of advanced fighter combat training. A friend of Boyd's recalls an anecdote that furthered his legendary status.
His reputation for being a member of a breed of hard-charging and aggressive fighter pilots only drove him to work harder at perfecting his craft. He wrote articles on tactics for the Fighter Weapons Newsletter, the professional journal of the Fighter Weapons School. He especially focused on fluid separation between aircraft (producing significantly more maneuver space within a formation of aircraft) instead of the rigid formations he was forced to fly in Korea. Even with all this previous work, his first major contribution to the Air Force and its fighter aviation community was his opus on air-to-air combat written in 1960, Aerial Attack Study.
This treatise on fighter tactics was and still is considered the encyclopedia on this subject. Boyd researched fighter aircraft tactics from the beginnings of pursuit aviation in World War I through his experiences in the Korean War. He concluded that there has to be a finite set of 'moves' that could be made and then countered in any air-to-air engagement. Because Boyd was so thorough, the early beginnings for the book did not bode well. Boyd's boss threatened to, and then did, classify the volume. Boyd was outraged. "I got madder than hell and said, 'I don't want to classify it, I want it unclassified.' [His Boss] said, 'No, you have to have it classified because you are talking about the damn tactics we are going to use in combat.' I said, 'Hell, if you classify it, then nobody is going to use it. So, what good is it?'"
Eventually, Boyd removed some diagrams and changed some wording so as to declassify it. This book of 150 pages, including precise descriptions of all imaginable maneuvers and intricate diagrams of those maneuvers, is not issued to today's fighter pilots; however, it does not need to be. The entirety of its contents has been devoured and inculcated into the trade of the world's tactical air forces. Major Barry Watts, a graduate of the Fighter Weapons School, wrote this about Boyd's treatise in 1979: "This detailed enumeration would appear to leave little doubt as to the soundness of his kinematical argument that the fundamental fighter maneuvers constituted a finite set especially in light of the fact that, since 1960 [the first publication of Aerial Attack Study] not even one truly new move has been uncovered." His reputation continued to soar, and when Boyd departed Nellis AFB, he was considered by many to be the best fighter pilot in the Air Force.
The 'Mad Major' transition began as his fighter career at Nellis Air Force Base came to a close and he was ordered to Georgia Tech University for study in industrial engineering. There, Boyd began a quest for knowledge that never stopped. In 1962, after graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering, Boyd was sent to Eglin Air Force Base. While there, he and fellow engineer Tom Christie developed the enduring work on Energy Maneuverability. Project: TR-66-4 Energy Maneuverability, Vol. I and II or E-M, explained that a fighter aircraft's (or any aircraft) energy characteristics and performance could be quantitatively measured in terms of kinetic and potential energy throughout its flight envelope (flight regime). More importantly, the characteristics of energy, turn rate, turn radius, and 'G' forces could be used to compare the relative performance of any aircraft against another one.
For the Department of Defense, this discovery would change the way that aircraft would be procured. To the fighter pilot, especially the ones in Vietnam, he could discern in which portions of the flight envelope he was superior relative to an adversary. The work also had enduring consequences in developing anti-SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) tactics, another contribution Boyd made to the pilots fighting in Vietnam.
The discovery of EM led Boyd to compare capabilities of U.S. and Soviet aircraft. In fact, Boyd's analysis of the existing USAF fighter aircraft showed that they were inferior to the Soviet aircraft, sometimes by a significant margin. Boyd knew this discovery would not please the 'higher-ups' and this proclamation to the aircraft procurement bureaucracy became another test of Boyd's resolve. This discovery had two consequences: it did not ingratiate Boyd with the Air Force leadership, and it established an adversarial relationship upon which he thrived. Colonel Boyd understood the one importance of adversarial relationships; they allowed him to get more work done! The EM discovery would change the way the U.S. designed and procured aircraft; under EM, bigger and heavier couldn't beat smaller and lighter. "In order to get Energy Maneuverability, I had to set up some adversaries to get the damn thing going It was necessary to get some people pissed off so they could fight me and I could get down to work I really don't mind it once I am in it; in fact, I love it."
Boyd's courage and conviction in fighting for the Energy Maneuverability theory paid off. In 1965, Boyd won the Air Force Systems Command Scientific Achievement Award for his work on Energy Maneuverability. Boyd still wanted to go back to flying fighters in combat. In 1966, Boyd volunteered to go to Vietnam and fly F-4's, but the folks at the Pentagon had other plans for the 'Mad Major.' "Major Boyd and his theories were well known to many senior Air Force officials and he was a highly sought after lecturer on fighter tactics." The Pentagon was having difficulties with their new FX fighter program and John Boyd was the man they needed to fix it. Boyd never saw combat again. That would be the last chance for the Air Force's best fighter pilot.
The work on the FX led to the F-15 air superiority fighter. The evolution of the three current top-of-the-line fighter aircraft, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18, are of the same brain trust, the 'fighter-mafia.' The 'fighter-mafia' was a " small group of individuals dedicated to breaking the traditional post-1945 dogmas that had afflicted fighter development particularly after the Korean War." This group, with representatives from each of the services, fought against the established thinking in the aerospace industry. The engineering community, post-1945, was more interested in faster and heavier, but less maneuverable, aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons and/or shooting down Soviet bombers. This view of fighter aviation was certainly consistent with a strategic, nuclear Air Force, in which bombers reigned supreme and supporting that mission in some way was the only reason for a fighter aircraft's existence. This was the thinking for the Century Series of fighters.
The 'fighter mafia' was instrumental in changing this way of thinking. Boyd thought it paramount to design fighter aircraft with maneuverability as the key performance indicator. This again was drawn from his experiences in the Korean War where 'fast transients,' or the ability to transition from one maneuver to another more quickly, was more important than how high or how fast an aircraft flew. The quicker aircraft allowed the pilot to cycle through the OODA Loop faster, giving him an edge. To solve the FX's problems, the team had to reduce the weight of the behemoth while increasing its maneuverability. Much of the weight was due to companies worming their pet technologies into the design process. Boyd wanted to eliminate these unwarranted technologies and thus the weight. Still, too many compromises were made and not enough weight was eliminated. In the end the 'fighter mafia' was disappointed with its final product, the F-15. "The airplane's size was too big, its dogfight performance fell significantly short of what could have been achieved with greater design discipline, and the cost was so high as to preclude achieving an adequate fighter force size."
This disappointment reinvigorated the reformers to immediately start designing a low-cost, lightweight, highly maneuverable fighter. Their pursuit resulted in the development of the YF-16 (F-16) / YF-17 (F/A-18). Even though the U.S. Air Force fully backed the F-15 as its air superiority fighter, Boyd and the reformers felt that a lightweight, inexpensive fighter could supplement the F-15. The U.S. Air Force adamantly opposed the 'lightweight fighter' concept. This put Boyd opposing Air Force policy.
He was becoming more than just a thorn in the side of the U.S. Air Force. To Boyd this was another instance of where it was more important to do than to be. Boyd forced a showdown between the Air Force and the Department of Defense. Boyd and the 'fighter mafia' sought a competition between the two lightweight fighter designs. The 'fighter mafia' took advantage of the change in leadership at the Department of Defense. "Just as the fly off was taking place, James Schlesinger became Secretary of Defense and, convinced by the 'fighter reformers' case for a hotter fighter whose affordability would permit sizable increases in force structure, undertook a successful personal campaign to put the F-16 into large-scale production, despite the opposition of sizable portions of the USAF hierarchy."
In the 1970's, Colonel Boyd made the transition to 'Ghetto Colonel.' He and the group of fighter reformers were ostensibly in the business of changing the way the U.S. Air Force designed and procured aircraft. This group, however, grew and began to take-on the military-industrial establishment as a whole. Their personal edict was to reform and streamline the procurement processes in the Department of Defense. This period of time, well documented in James Burton's book Pentagon Wars, continued several years after Colonel Boyd's retirement in 1975. This group, well supported outside of the Pentagon, found many critics from within the system. In a review of James Fallow's book National Defense, then U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kross explains the common critique of the reformers.
Kross tempers his criticism though with this: "Their motivation is simple: they are patriots who believe the United States will lose the next war unless their ideas are adopted."
Colonel Boyd's career in the Air Force began as a fighter pilot, the '40-Second Boyd'; he evolved into the 'Mad Major,' and ended his career as the 'Ghetto Colonel.' As much as he gave to the U.S. Air Force, it would be the U.S. Marine Corps that would benefit from 'Genghis John.'
John Boyd never intended to postulate a new theory of warfare. Boyd would have rather continued working on aircraft design and procurement. According to Boyd,
In 1974, NASA asked Boyd to work on some of the early flight simulators prior to his retirement. He knew it would be a huge undertaking, but Boyd had been working on some new ideas about air-to-air combat and thought it could be relevant to flight simulator development. "That new idea in air-to-air combat led to warfare when I expanded on it. Now when I saw that at first, I said, 'Oh, God, I don't want to do this. I will have to read history books and everything else.' But the more I looked at it, there was no escape from it." The result of Boyd's research was Patterns of Conflict, the cornerstone of A Discourse on Winning and Losing.
According to Boyd, "Patterns of Conflict represents a compendium of ideas and actions for winning and losing in a highly competitive world." This statement suggests why Boyd's work has equal applicability in warfare as it does in business and inter-personal relationships. Boyd's first work on conflict and warfare was wholly derived from both historical research and his combat experiences in Korea. In a generalization of his work, on page four, Boyd states: "[We] need a fighter that can both lose energy and gain energy more quickly while out-turning an adversary. In other words, suggest a fighter that can pick and choose engagement opportunities-yet has fast transients ('button hook') characteristics that can be used to either force an overshoot by an attacker or stay inside a hard turning defender." Boyd further derives this need into what has become the enduring classic, the OODA Loop. "Idea of fast transients suggests that, in order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries-or, better yet, get inside the adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop." This is the first mention of the OODA Loop in the discourse.
The OODA Loop has been used to describe the very human process of decision-making and can run the gamut from business negotiations to combat. Aside from its humble beginnings in air-to-air combat, it has been used to describe or quantify the minute differences in tempo that can be discerned between two adversaries in any endeavor. However, it is particularly germane to warfare. Why is there a concern with operating at a tempo faster than an adversary? As Boyd commented, "Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries-since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against."
Important to comprehending the OODA loop is an understanding of its components. The first element, (O) bservation, is the process of taking in and absorbing one's environment. This view would be entirely empirical if the observer could guarantee the reliability and objectivity of the sensors viewing the environment. The second element, (O) rientation, is the most important step in the loop. It is the most easily corruptible of the four steps. Orientation requires the observer to yield to frail human qualities, such as culture, heritage, and, most importantly, previous experience. This is one place in the cycle where there is feedback from previous evolutions. Orientation may be drastically altered based on the experience of success or failure from a proceeding evolution. The third element, (D) eciding, is the cognitive process of selecting a course of action among the options that present themselves from the observation and orientation portions. As Boyd wrote, "In short we engage in a complex process of analysis and synthesis before selecting a course of action We assess a variety of competing, independent channels of information from a variety of domains to cope with the particular circumstance which confronts us." The final element, (A) ction, is simply doing the course of action selected in the decision portion of the cycle; however, in some instances it is the most difficult to implement.
Colonel Boyd described the ultimate objective of using a superior tempo driven system as the break down of the enemy. To do this one must "exploit operations and weapons that: generate a rapidly changing environment and inhibit an adversary's capacity to adapt to such an environment." Utilizing those actions paralyzes the adversary's mechanism for dealing with his foe's increased tempo. The goal of the process can be easily stated: "simultaneously compress own time and stretch-out adversary time to generate a favorable mismatch in time/ability to shape and adapt to change."
Early into his research, Boyd was still seeking solutions to problems in aerial combat. The synthesis of the OODA loop came in the form of an answer that stated the needs of the next generation of fighter aircraft. In Boyd's solution, Observation and Action are the two deciding non-human capabilities of fighter aircraft that needed improvement. Orientation and Decision are the deciding human characteristics of aerial combat. The solutions that could change the characteristics of Observation were quick/clear scanning sensors (simple radar) and suppressed/distorted signatures (visual, heat, radar, sound). The Action requirements were a quick-shoot fire control system and high-speed weapons; high-speed aircraft (super cruise), rapid energy gain and loss, high pitch, yaw and roll rates. Boyd continued an historical analysis and eventually synthesized fresh ideas on warfare born from ideas on air combat.
In his historical research, Boyd tried to find examples from warfare that supported his theories. Maneuver warfare was not a new concept, but the way Boyd articulated it was. Hundreds of sources were used, including copies of Clausewitz's On War and Sun Tzu's Art of War; these two classic volumes were so thoroughly marked by Boyd that they can hardly be read. As Boyd developed into more of a scholar, his ideas on warfare became more rich yet hardly more rigid. On the contrary, his thoughts on warfare demanded the utmost flexibility. No technical solutions could ease or take away the responsibility of the 'man' involved. Unlike many technocrats of yesterday and today, Boyd thought technology could never change the true nature of warfare, with its uniquely human qualities that made warfare ultimately a human-only event.
In April 1991, Boyd outlined his basic ideas on warfare in testimony he gave before Congress, ostensibly to discuss the recent U.S. victory in the Persian Gulf War.
Boyd recognized that his work was never going to be complete. Many critics have maintained that his work lacks the shape and detail of a complete theory, commonly forgetting that Clausewitz's On War is an incomplete classic. Boyd would counter those would be proponents of the 'Principles of War,' every country has them, but not all have the same principles. Boyd postulates his own critique of the 'principles.'
In Patterns of Conflict, Boyd desired to give a coherent conclusion that satisfied the reader, a cogent list that simplifies Boyd's thoughts on conflict. In his view, however, this was not a checklist of principles. "Boyd would be the first to discourage the use of doctrinal templates, principles, or a single unified theory of warfare."
In Patterns of Conflict, Colonel Boyd introduced the OODA Loop. Patterns of Conflict was also the genesis of Boyd's work on maneuver warfare. They come next in the development of his concepts on maneuver warfare.
In the mid-1970's, Boyd had a growing concern about the U.S. military: its willingness to continue attrition warfare. Each of the services had been baptized in this bloody type of warfare. As an industrial giant with a large population, it became too easy for the U.S. to sacrifice men and treasure to win the battles of the 19th and 20th centuries. Attrition warfare did not require superior mental capacity, strategy or great generalship as long as one side had the firepower and manpower to overwhelm an enemy. When one side pitted its superior strength against an enemy's strength, only time and superior resources determined victory. So Colonel Boyd paid special attention to the military commanders of the Eastern philosophies. He also studied the German infiltration tactics of World War I and Blitzkrieg tactics of World War II. Especially important was the ability to consistently win while being outnumbered and outgunned. How long could the U.S. count on having industrial, technical, and numerical superiority on every battlefield, and how long could Americans sacrifice their sons and daughters in the name of attrition warfare? Boyd questioned this. Maneuver warfare was not a new concept, but the way Boyd presented it was.
Boyd thought it was relevant to first identify the differences between the three major types of warfare. Only then could a decision be made to change the warfighting culture. He postulated three types of warfare:
Because warfare sometimes is an amalgamation of all three aspects, Boyd generalized on the characteristics of these types of warfare.
The three distinct and requisite qualities of attrition warfare are: firepower, mobility and protection. It is imperative to keep these qualities in balance, yet force an adversary's out of balance. In this type of warfare, the truism is "firepower is the king of the battlefield." Firepower attempts to destroy or kill the adversary. Firepower is supreme because it drives the balance of the other two. With overwhelming firepower, a force must either seek protection or move. Boyd defines protection as, "the ability to minimize the concentrated and explosive expression of destructive force by taking cover behind natural or manmade obstacles, by dispersion of people and resources to weaken or dilute the effects of enemy firepower." Mobility on the battlefield should not be confused with maneuver. An army seeks mobility to evade enemy fire or to bring firepower to bear upon the enemy. This mobility implies that when firepower hits the foe, it is important to synchronize movement over the ground to increase its devastating effects. Using mobility to employ firepower is the norm. Firepower is the means of attrition and is continued so as to inflict destruction upon the enemy until his will to resist is overcome. Inherent in this strategy of warfare is seizing and holding key terrain as an objective. The effectiveness of firepower is measured not by the enemy's reaction, but through body counts and number of targets destroyed.
In Boyd's observations on maneuver warfare, he uses adjectives such as ambiguity, deception, novelty, mobility, and violence. These are words that are not as quantifiable as body counts and targets destroyed that are the norm in attrition warfare. He described, "Indications of success tend to be qualitative and are related to the widespread onset of confusion and disorder, frequent envelopment, high prisoner counts, or any other phenomena that suggests inability to adapt to change." Unlike attrition warfare, fire and maneuver are used in concert "to tie-up, divert, or drain-away adversary attention and strength in order to expose as well as menace and exploit vulnerabilities or weaknesses elsewhere." Since maneuver warfare plays on the intangibles of conflict, Boyd further defined the results of using the tools of maneuver warfare.
The tools Boyd described and used to conduct maneuver warfare are "ambiguity," "deception," "novelty," "fast transient maneuvers," and "effort." Fast transient maneuvers are the result of being able to cycle through the OODA loop faster than an adversary. This produces ambiguities and competing impressions of events to an enemy. The enemy is left with a deception, or a false view, of the events unfolding before him, a novelty of events that appear new because of the generating tempo. The final mechanism Boyd considered was effort. The German word for this is Schwerpunkt. Effort is a cornerstone of maneuver warfare. The effort implies the effort of an entire force and it must be focused on the weakness of the enemy and by nature will change as the enemy's vulnerabilities change.
If these tools or mechanisms are managed correctly, a series of devastating events will happen to the enemy and cause him to "fold back on himself." Boyd listed three results: " disorientation was a result of a mismatch between events one observes or imagines and events he must react or adapt to; disruption was a state of being split-apart, broken-up or torn asunder; and overload was a welter of threatening events/efforts beyond one's mental or physical capacity to adapt or endure." Maneuver warfare does not imply that attrition warfare will not be used.
Boyd contended that maneuver warfare could be used at all three levels of war: strategic, operational and tactical, but in reality it is largely applied operationally. Boyd did not imply that maneuver warfare was a substitute for attrition warfare on the tactical level, because at the tactical level there will be a significant amount of attrition warfare encountered. Boyd explained that attrition would be the result of maneuver, and so would " uncover, create, and exploit many vulnerabilities and weaknesses, hence many opportunities, to pull an adversary apart and isolate remnants for mop-up or absorption."
The final type of warfare Boyd analyzed was moral conflict. This was relevant to Boyd's work because it would have significant impact on how intrinsic Boyd thought command and control was to maneuver warfare. Boyd attacked the complex problems involved in moral conflict and broke them down into three dilemmas a person or army faces. The dilemmas include: "menace, which are the impressions of danger to one's well being and survival; uncertainty or the impressions, or atmosphere generated by events that appear ambiguous, erratic, contradictory, unfamiliar, and chaotic; and, mistrust as an atmosphere of doubt and suspicion that loosens human bonds among members of an organic whole." These dilemmas leave an army faced with loss of cohesion, fear, anxiety, and alienation; render an army incapable of functioning as a whole; and raise internal friction to an unbearable point. Colonel Boyd recognized, that a force employing the concepts of maneuver warfare would face these negatives. Boyd's task was to find how to ameliorate menace, uncertainty, and mistrust facing a maneuver force so that they became positives.
Boyd attempted to find the positive counters to the negative dilemmas one faced in this form of warfare. Boyd thought it possible to train a unit to inculcate positives vice the naturally occurring negative counters. Boyd concluded there were three positive counters: initiative or the internal drive to think and take action without being urged; adaptability or the power to adjust or change in order to cope with new or unforeseen circumstances; and harmony (synchronization is often misrepresented in this case) or the interaction of apparently disconnected events or entities in a connected way. The result of training and adhering to these positive attributes is a more cohesive unit far more resilient to friction exerted by it or an adversary.
Figure 2. Elements of Moral Conflict
Boyd carefully packaged the final two types of warfare, maneuver and moral, into a system or pattern for success. Three things stand out in Boyd's pattern. The first is Schwerpunkt, without which a force lacks focus or insight. The second is the importance to seek and strike at the enemy's critical vulnerabilities. Finally, a force must be able to command and control by means of 'implied communication,' a way that belies normal human communication. Boyd's pattern was this:
This pattern of success was the synthesis of years of study and analysis of the successes and failures in the history of warfare. In Patterns of Conflict, Boyd coins the term 'Counter-Blitz' to describe this combination of moral and maneuver warfare. Boyd studied several battles to develop the 'Counter-Blitz,' including: Leuctra and Leuthen, Canne, and the successes and defeats of the German Army during World War II. 'Counter-Blitz' would simply be called maneuver warfare and leave its unexpected legacy on the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Vietnam War had a significant impact on the way the Marine Corps would prepare to fight in future wars. Unlike the other services, the Corps' experience on the battlefields of Vietnam led to a conclusion that the American way of attrition warfare was not a successful means of warfighting. While the other services were embroiled in preparing for the imminent battle that was going to take place in the sky and the ground of the Fulda Gap and on the high seas, the Marine Corps realized that it had neither the numbers nor the equipment to compete in this environment. The Germans were equally as skeptical of the Marine Corps' ability to counter the Warsaw Pact forces on the plains of Germany, hence the Marine Corps role in the defense of Norway. Additionally, according to a Brookings Institute study in 1976, the Marine Corps faced two dilemmas following the Vietnam War. The first was the chronic difficulty meeting recruiting goals required to fill a 196,000 member Corps. This led to discussions in the Pentagon on mission changes that would reduce the numbers required by the Marine Corps. The second was a belief by many that there was no utility for future large force amphibious operations, the Marine Corps' expertise. According to the Brookings Institute,
The Marine Corps assumed a mission in Europe, as part of the NATO Alliance force, protecting NATO's northern flank in Norway and like the other services, the Marine Corps was preparing for the big battle in Europe, but many in the Corps were serious about changing the way they thought it should prepare and fight in future wars. The small size and cohesiveness of the Marine Corps made it ideal to implement the concepts of Boyd's maneuver warfare in place of the American way of war, attrition warfare.
Colonel Boyd's ideas on warfare could be categorized according to William S. Lind and et al. in their article, "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation," as the 3rd generation of warfare. The context of Boyd's maneuver warfare is explained well in Lind's article. The article divides modern warfare into three generations, with the piece laying the foundation for a fourth generation. According to Lind, technological advances drove the first two generations while the last two were and are driven primarily by ideas. Lind explains the 1st and 2nd generation warfare.
As the other services were still mired in 2nd generation warfare (attrition warfare), a few in the Marine Corps recognized the need to progress to the next generation of warfare, commonly referred to as the 3rd generation of warfare or maneuver warfare. The third generation of warfare can be traced to the battlefields of Europe in 1918. According to Lind,
Maneuver warfare is normally associated with conventional combat, but that is not necessarily so. According to Spinney's briefing, "Aviation from the Sea," the emergence or a reemergence of 4th generation warfare (state, non-state, and trans-national players) requires a significantly different approach. Two significant factors emerge from analyzing 4th generation warfare. The first factor arose as a lesson from the Gulf War, "if you fight the West, don't mass conventional forces in the open or in static defensive positions, where it is easy to separate friend from foe." Secondly, 4th generation warfare will be characterized by an "increased reliance on irregular/urban combat, with intermingling of friendly, hostile and neutral parties." According to Spinney, "the rise of 4th generation warfare implies an increased need for irregular warfighting skills with decreased reliance on firepower/attrition in ground warfare [And] decreased reliance on deep strike/strategic bombardment in air warfare." Though the ideas of maneuver warfare are only some 80 years old, the emergence of a fourth generation of warfare will require new ideas in warfighting. Lind identified four elements that carry over from the third to the fourth generation of warfare:
Boyd's ideas are the basis of the Marine Corps' current warfighting philosophy. According to Lind his ideas should have a lasting impact on subsequent generations of warfare. It took nearly ten years for Boyd's ideas to become the basis for the Marine Corps way of warfighting - an ironic and unintended consequence of one retired Air Force Colonel's work.
Many senior ranking military officers in the Pentagon were fortunate to hear Boyd's four-to-five hour briefing on 'Patterns of Conflict.' Several of these officers later spent a significant amount of time with Boyd; two of these were then Marine Commandant General Robert H. Barrow and future Commandant Lieutenant General P. X. Kelley. Senior officers from the other services also heard his briefings, as did many younger field grade officers. Some received Boyd's ideas with enthusiasm, since much of his brief was founded in military history, which in theory is considered the bedrock of study for future conflict by most services. Though many had high regard for Boyd and his ideas, it would take years for the Marine Corps to adopt and articulate a method of warfare akin to Boyd's. A few select individuals in the Marine Corps accomplished this monumental undertaking. The concepts of maneuver warfare as the Marine Corps adopted them had their roots in two individuals, one a civilian military theorist and the other a Marine: William Lind and Colonel Michael Wyly.
In 1979, Colonel Mike Wyly was head of tactics at the Amphibious Warfare School (AWS). He was mandated by his boss, Major General Bernard Trainor, to develop a course of tactics that was out on the fringes of existing doctrine.
Vietnam had a great influence on Colonel Wyly. As a company commander and a platoon commander, Wyly experienced the futility of attrition warfare. He gained permission to change the way tactics were being instructed at AWS and commenced teaching free-playing war games in lieu of lecture. Unfortunately, this new curriculum would make five hours of planned lectures irrelevant. This hole in the course would have to be filled with something.
In 1979, contemporary to Colonel Wyly's free-playing wargames, William Lind was working on a version of maneuver warfare. Lind, unlike Wyly, was familiar with Boyd's work. Lind, as well as Lt. Col. Wass de Czege, U. S. Army (founder of the School of Advanced Military Studies [SAMS] at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and a Boyd protιgι) was instrumental in initiating the Army's doctrinal debate regarding active defense for the European theater. Lind ran into Wyly while observing one of the battalion exercises at the AWS. Wyly approached Lind and stated, "I know what I am against-attrition warfare-but I have yet to really formulate a program I am in favor of, so I am experimenting, and teaching from history and real experience-instead of from manuals." This exchange would be the start of many years of debate and controversy in the Marine Corps. It was during this exchange that Lind told Wyly about a retired Air Force Colonel that was doing the same type of work. That would be the beginning of an 18-year relationship between Boyd and Wyly.
In 1979 Boyd began his relationship with the professional development and training of Marine Corps officers. That year was the first of many times he was invited to speak at the Amphibious Warfare School. The first occasion was momentous for a small group of officers who stayed to hear Colonel Boyd talk late into the evening. However, Boyd's ideas on maneuver warfare were not immediately accepted. Like many evolutionary changes, " his ideas were generally shunned by the hierarchy and embraced by a slowly growing number of junior officers, mostly captains Today those captains are colonels and generals or civilians." The Marine Corps would not embrace Boyd's ideas and maneuver warfare until another individual came on scene.
The senior Marine Corps officer who did the most to foster and bring about acceptance of these maneuver warfare concepts was General Alfred Gray. General Gray, at the time a Brigadier General and head of the Marine Corps Development Center, which was responsible for generating doctrine for the Corps. Though General Gray had heard Colonel Boyd's briefing and was receptive to it, there was no immediate change in the way the Marine Corps was going to fight. It was not until General Gray became Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division that maneuver warfare concepts began to be established. By the early 1980's, Wyly, Lind and a small coterie of junior officers began developing concepts for what would become the Marine model of maneuver warfare.
A small group of these captains cornered their boss one night in the officer's club and implored him that the Marine Corps should change to this mode of warfare. General Gray began inviting both Lind and Boyd to evaluate and teach maneuver warfare concepts at the 2nd Marine Division. The foothold was gained but it would be many years until the debate was put to rest.
Between 1979 and 1993, over 50 articles concerning maneuver warfare were published in the Marine Corps Gazette. Both Colonel Wyly and Mr. Lind set the stage for the debate amongst the Corps. The openness of the debate was critical. The Marine Corps of the early 1980's, was concerned, as the other services were, with facing the Soviets. The Marine Corps was outnumbered and outgunned for wherever this conflict might occur. According to Colonel Wyly, "John's ideas gave us something realistic we could do toward surviving and winning. We needed something we could believe in, and John's ideas gave it to us."
The first of these articles in the Marine Corps Gazette was an article published in March 1980, by William Lind titled, "Defining Maneuver Warfare for the Marine Corps." This article states exactly what it intended to do. This is the largely disseminated introduction of the concept of Maneuver Warfare to the Corps. Lind carefully laid out the fallacy of firepower-attrition type of warfare. According to him, " the conflict is more physical than mental. Efforts focus on the tactical level with goals set in terms of terrain. Defenses tend to be linear, attacks frontal, battles set-piece and the movement pre-planned and slow." Then Lind attempts to show the stark differences between attrition and maneuver warfare. "The goal [of maneuver warfare at the operational level] is destruction of the enemy's vital cohesion---disruption---not by piece-by-piece physical destruction. The objective is the enemy's mind not his body. The principal tool is moving forces into unexpected places at surprisingly high speeds." The other notable difference that Lind cites is in the use of firepower. These early aspects of maneuver warfare saw firepower as merely a facilitator to maneuver. In this respect firepower is used to exploit enemy weakness enabling a force to maneuver and then later destroy the bypassed enemy forces. Since firepower was 'king' of the attrition battlefield, it was necessary as an early proponent of maneuver to hail maneuver as the new 'king'. A fair balance between fire and maneuver still had to be argued.
Mr. Lind's article was the first published piece in the Marine Corps Gazette that referenced Colonel Boyd's ideas. Boyd's analysis of warfare and the introduction of the OODA Loop are both mentioned. Lind also says, "The Boyd Theory is the theory of maneuver warfare." Maneuver warfare is not only the action on the battlefield giving it identity, but also the result or objective of breaking down the opponent mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. As Lind wrote, " the real defeat is when he becomes aware that the situation is beyond his control, which is in turn a product of our ability consistently to cut inside the time of his OODA." The conclusion of Lind's article emphasizes the relevance of maneuver warfare, especially to the Marine Corps. "It is relevant, because maneuver warfare is the most promising tool for the side with fewer numbers and less weight of metal an attrition contest is not promising for the outnumbered forces, maneuver makes quantitative factors less important by striking at the enemy's mind."
The debate over maneuver warfare would continue almost unabated for the next 15 years, often very heated. In the late 1980's, as maneuver warfare became more accepted as the means of warfighting for the Marine Corps, the arguments no longer centered around the mere existence of maneuver warfare, but on how to accomplish it as an organization. Questions of synchronization and the importance of firepower continued to inspire debate. The act that finally turned years of struggle into something concrete was the publishing of FMFM-1, Warfighting (Fleet Marine Force Manual). Marine Commandant, General Al Gray, pushed to have this warfighting philosophy published in a document that would be the cornerstone for all other Marine Corps doctrinal publications. A small group including, retired Colonel John Boyd were instrumental in producing this Marine Corps' seminal publication. For many, the publication did offer a radical departure from the ideas of attrition. FMFM-1, now MCDP-1, offered all Marines a common purpose and direction. "Maneuver warfare is a warfighting philosophy that seeks to shatter the enemy's cohesion through a variety of rapid, focused, and unexpected actions which create a turbulent and rapidly deteriorating situation with which the enemy cannot cope." With this point of departure, in hand, the Marine Corps was free to discuss how to accomplish this philosophy of warfighting, words spoken by a retired Air Force Colonel whose unintended legacy changed the way one of America's most important institutions fights.
Colonel John Boyd should be considered one of the most important military theorists of the United States. Though his ideas permeate through disparate disciplines such as business and the military art, only a few now know his name. Colonel Boyd would want it that way. His ideas had no proprietorship. This integrity, principle, and dedication to ideas, from publishing the Aerial Attack Study as the '40-second Boyd,' to the Energy Maneuverability Theory as 'the Mad Major,' to the Pentagon Reformer as the 'Ghetto Colonel,' to finally The Green Book as 'Genghis John,' was the thread of his life.
Boyd gave much to the Air Force, both in service and legacy. However it is in the U.S. Marine Corps that his ideas on warfare have had a major impact. This would not have bothered Colonel Boyd. The most important contribution Boyd made to the United States he lived to see. It was his work as 'Genghis John' that helped prepare the U.S. for its next war. Are Colonel Boyd's concepts of warfare going to be valid in the predictable uncertainty of future warfare? Only time will tell.
The first version of the Aerial Attack Study was classified. Boyd removed many of its diagrams to declassify the work. It was reproduced many times and republished in 1963 and 1964. The U.S. Marine Corps Research Center Archives has a 1964 copy.
The Aerial Attack Study was the culmination of Boyd's study of air combat. The work is over 150 pages in length. It includes hand drawn ribbon diagrams depicting the 'proper' maneuvers and flight paths accomplished during air combat, the desired formations to be flown, all combinations of attack geometry, and a detailed description of how to accomplish them. The Aerial Attack Study was written not only as a manual of instruction for the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, but for all U.S. fighter aviation.
A Discourse on Winning and Losing is often referred to as the 'Green Book.' This is the compilation of his works on conflict. The 'Green Book' includes: Destruction and Creation, Patterns of Conflict, Organic Design for Command and Control, and The Strategic Game of ?and ? A Discourse on Winning and Losing was written in reverse order. The sections that Boyd accomplished first are at the end of it. All of Boyd's subsequent work leads up to the last section, which is Destruction and Creation. The first section is Patterns of Conflict followed by Organic Design for Command and Control, then The Strategic Game of ? and ?, and finally, Destruction and Creation.
Destruction and Creation was one of Boyd's first writings on the subject of conflict. Boyd explains to the reader about the continuous process of destruction and creation in the universe. He uses complementary terms such as integration and differentiation. Boyd introduces three physical laws and theories to the reader that are important to understanding his thesis. His thesis was a combination of Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Most important to understanding this work is that as a system breaks down naturally, another system is building up.
Patterns of Conflict is the opus of Colonel Boyd's research on conflict and warfare. This first work in the 'Green Book' carefully takes the reader on a thorough historical analysis of warfare and conflict. It also contains the introduction of the OODA Loop. In Patterns of Conflict, Boyd analyzes attrition, maneuver, and moral warfare. He combines the latter two characteristics of warfare into understandable patterns of success that are not to be confused as 'principles of war' or doctrinal templates. At the end of Boyd's Patterns of Conflict, he lists several hundred sources he used to research his work. Many of his sources such as, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and Liddell Hart are located in at the U.S. Marine Corps Research Center Archives.
Flight leader. The designated leader of a group of aircraft; often 2, 4 or more aircraft in a flight. The designation of flight leader is reserved only for pilots who have reached the required experience level and demonstrate the skills to lead.
Six. The position directly behind an aircraft that an adversary will seek to gain. In reference to the clock position of six o'clock. The other directional terms are usually followed by the clock code, such as, 12 o'clock.
Tallyho. A radio brevity term used to announce to a flight member that the enemy has been positively identified by visual means.
Boyd's Personal Collection, U.S. Marine Corps University Research Archives, MCB Quantico, VA.
The Colonel John R. Boyd collection contains more than two-dozen boxes of personnel effects. The collection consists of books, excerpts from books, magazines, articles and staff papers, newspaper clippings, briefings by Boyd and others, notes and notebooks, course syllabi and seminars, technical material, correspondence and memoranda, yearbooks, and general. The books and articles of interest, to Boyd, are highlighted and underlined so much as to make them difficult to read. Colonel Boyd normally commented on what he read by writing in the margins.
Several items from the collection were extremely valuable for this paper. The most important item in the collection was the copy of Colonel Boyd's official oral history done in January 1977. Other invaluable items were Boyd's handwritten notes in preparation for testimony before Congressman Les Aspin's House Armed Services Committee, the videotape of Colonel Boyd's lecture on A Discourse on Winning and Losing, and copies of A Discourse on Winning and Losing and Aerial Attack Study.
Boyd, Col. John R. USAF (Ret). Aerial Attack Study, Personal Research, 1960.
Boyd, Col. John R. USAF (Ret). 12 Pages of handwritten notes in preparation for testimony before Congressman Les Aspin's House Armed Services Committee. The notes outline Boyd's concept of warfare and narrate the process the Marine Corps undertook to establish Maneuver Warfare Doctrine. Additionally, Boyd is championing Col. Michael Wyly, USMC, in front of the committee. Author researched C-SPAN website and emailed C-SPAN to acquire transcript of testimony. No response was received. Box 23, Folder 8.
Boyd, Col. John R. USAF (Ret). Videotaped Lecture of A Discourse on Winning and Losing. 4 Hours. Colonel Boyd refused to shorten the length of his lecture. Hence, in the 1980's he rarely spoke to the Marine Command and Staff College due to these time constraints.
Boyd, John R. Col. USAF (Ret). A Discourse on Winning and Losing. Personal Research, August 1987, includes: Patterns of Conflict, December 1986; Organic Design, May 1987; Strategic Game, June 1987; Destruction and Creation, September 1976.
Cary, Peter. "The fight to change how America fights." U.S. News and World Report, 6 May 1991, 30-31.
Dick, Lt. Col. John N., Jr. USAF. "Corona Ace Interview with Col. John R. Boyd." U.S. Air Force Oral History Interview, January 1977, 1-250.
Fialka, John J. "A Very Old General May Hit the Beach With the Marines." The Wall Street Journal, 9 January 1991, 1.
Gabriel, Maj. Richard A. USAR and Col. Reuven Gal, IDF (Ret). "The IDF Officer: Linchpin in Unit Cohesion." Army (January 1984): 42-49.
Getler, Michael. "Dogfight Tacks Can Win Big Wars, Preaches Pilot Turned Tactician." The Washington Post, 4 January 1981, Sec. A3.
Hammond, Grant T. PhD., On Winning and Losing: John Boyd and American Security. Unpublished Manuscript. April 1997.
Hart, The Honorable Gary, "The Need for Military Reform," Air University Review 36, no. 6 (September-October 1985): 41-46.
Hout, Thomas M. and Mark F. Blaxhill. "Make Decisions Like a Fighter Pilot." The New York Times, 15 November 1987.
Kross, Walter, "Military Reform: Past and Present," Air University Review 36, no. 6 (September-October 1985): 101-108.
McKenzie, Capt. Kenneth A., Jr. USMC. "Maneuvering in Time," Marine Corps Gazette 75, no. 2 (February 1991): 73-79.
Peters, Tom. "Advice copies Jack: Be nimble and quick." Sun-Sentinel, 29 January 1989, Sec. D1.
Riccioni, Col. Everest E., USAF. An Evaluation of Lt. Col. John R. Boyd's Creative, Professional Contributions to the USAF. Unknown Date, Box 3, Folder 7.
Smith, The Honorable Denny, "The Roots and Future of Modern-Day Military Reform," Air University Review 36, no. 6 (September-October 1985): 33-40.
Spinney, Franklin C. "How Effective Was the Bombing of Iraq?" Long Island Newsday, 25 March 1991, 69.
Szafranski, Col. Richard USAF. Review of Fighting By Minutes: Time and the Art of War by Robert H. Leonhard. Air War College Newsletter, Date and page unknown.
Watts, Maj. Barry D. USAF. "Fire Movement and Tactics," Top Gun Journal, no. 2 (Winter 79/80): 4-24.
Interviews and Lecture
Two of the following interviews, Mr. Spinney's and Dr. Hammond's, were integral to gaining background on Colonel Boyd's career and life in the Air Force. The interview with Colonel Wyly was integral to Colonel Boyd's effect on the Marine Corps.
Brown, Col. Larry D. USMC "Doctrine Division Overview." Lecture presented at the U.S. Marine Command and Staff College. MCB Quantico, VA, 10 December 1999.
Gray, Gen. Alfred M. USMC Interview by author at the U.S. Marine Corps Research Center, 19 October 1999.
Hammond, Grant T. PhD. Faculty member at Air War College, Telephone interview by author, 15 December 1999.
Spinney, Franklin C. Close Friend of John Boyd. Interview by author at Fort Myer's Officer's Club, 15 December 1999.
Spinney, Franklin C. Close Friend of John Boyd. Telephone Interview by author, 14 December 1999.
Wyly, Col. Michael D. USMC (Ret). Close Friend of John Boyd and Past Vice-President of Marine Corps University. Email interviews by author on 11,13,14 December 1999.
James G. Burtons's book, Pentagon Wars gives an excellent background for Colonel Boyd's life and career, especially during the reformer years. The books on maneuver warfare were helpful to understanding the evolution of maneuver warfare theory in the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, as well as detailing the differences between them. The two books by Russell Weigley were important as a background, contrasting the American ways warfare to that of maneuver warfare.
Burton, James G. The Pentagon Wars. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993.
Binkin, Martin and Jeffrey Record. Where does the Marine Corps go from here? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1976.
Fadok, Lt. Col. David S. USAF. John Boyd and John Warden: Airpower's Quest for Strategic Paralysis, The Paths of Heaven The Evolution of Airpower Theory, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1997.
Fallows, James M. National Defense. New York, Random House, c1981.
Hayden, H. T. Warfighting: Maneuver Warfare in the U.S. Marine Corps. London, Greenhill Books, 1995.
Hooker, Richard D. Maneuver Warfare: An Anthology. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, c1993.
Jones, Lt. Col. Johnny USAF and others, Eds. Essays on Air and Space Power Vol. I. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: University Press, 1997.
Leonhard, Robert R. The Art of Maneuver: Maneuver Warfare Theory and Air Land Battle. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1991.
Lind, William S. Maneuver Warfare Handbook. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985.
Mann, Col. Edward C., III. USAF and others, Eds. Thunder and Lighting, Desert Storm and the Airpower Debates. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press, 1995.
Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1977.
Weigley, Russell F. Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany, 1944-1945. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990.
Service Doctrinal Publications
Marine Corps doctrine documents Warfighting and Command and Control were important in detailing how much of Colonel Boyd's work had been inculcated into official doctrine.
Air Force Doctrine Document 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine Department of the Air Force , Washington, D.C.: September 1997.
Air Force Doctrine Document 2, Organization and Employment of Aerospace Power Department of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.: September 1998.
Fleet Marine Force Manual 1, Warfighting Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.: 1989.
Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.: June 1997.
Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 6, Command and Control Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.: October 1996.
Journal Articles and Research Papers
The review of numerous Marine Corps Gazette articles on maneuver warfare was used to identify the scope and content of the professional debate that occurred from 1979-1993, as well as to denote how Marine Corps officers understood their own doctrine. Additionally, a review of selected Air Force articles from the Air Force's professional journals was done to compare and contrast the differences in service cultures when it comes to debating doctrinal issues.
Antal, Maj. John F. USA. "Maneuver versus Attrition: A Historical Perspective," Military Review 72, no. 10 (October 1992): 21-33.
Baner, Maj. Carl. USAF. Defining Air and Space Power. Unpublished research paper. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Command and Staff College, March 1999.
Bateman, Capt. Robert L., III. "Avoiding Information Overload." Military Review 78, no. 4 (July - August 1998): 52-58.
Drew, Lt. Col. Dennis M. USAF. "Beware of Simplistic Solutions," Air University Review 36, no.2 (January-February 1985): 102-104.
Drew, Lt. Col. Dennis M. USAF. "Informal Doctrine and the Doctrinal Process: A Response," Air University Review 35, no. 6 (September-October 1984): 96-97.
Faber, Lt. Col. Peter R. USAF. Competing Visions of Aerospace Power: A Language for the 21st Century. Unpublished research paper. DTIC ADA-325593. Newport, RI: Naval War College, February 1997.
Fischer, Maj. Michael E. USAF. Mission-Type Orders in Joint Air Operations: The Empowerment of Air Leadership. Thesis. Maxwell AFB, AL: School of Advanced Airpower Studies, May 1995.
Haley, Lt. Col. Stephen D. USMC. Maneuver Warfare and Marine Corps Aviation. Individual Study Project. DTIC ADA-222249. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, April 1990.
Hallion, Dr. Richard P. "A Troubling Past: Air Force Fighter Acquisition since 1945," Air Power Journal 4, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 4-23.
Johnson, Capt. Mark D. USMC. "Synchronization and the Corps," Marine Corps Gazette 78, no. 11 (November 1994): 28-29.
Knobel, Maj. Philip E. USMC. "Revise FMFM 1, Warfighting," Marine Corps Gazette 77, no. 10 (October 1993): 31-33.
Kohler, LCDR. Matthew J. USN. Maneuver by the U.S. Navy in 20th Century Blue-Water Operations: Selected Historical Examples. Thesis. DTIC ADA-312821. Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army command and General Staff College, June 1995.
Krieger, Col. Clifford R. "USAF Doctrine: An Enduring Challenge," Air University Review 35, no. 6 (September-October 1984): 16-25.
Lauer, Maj. Stephen G. USMC. Maneuver Warfare Theory and the Operational Level of War: Misguiding the Marine Corps? Monograph. DTIC ADA-240346. Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies, May 1991.
Lemelin, Capt. David J. USA. "Misunderstanding Synchronization: An Army Perspective," Marine Corps Gazette 78, no. 11 (November 1994): 26-28.
Lind, William S., Colonel Keith Nightengale USA, Captain John F. Schmitt USMC, Colonel Joseph W. Sutton USA, and Lieutenant Colonel Gary I. Wilson USMCR. "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation." Marine Corps Gazette 73 no. 10 (October 1989): 22-26.
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Four Star Investor: George Smith Patton, Jr. (1885-1945)