on July 8, 2005
I'm a former Marine who studied FMFM-1 "Warfighting" back in the early 1990's during my service in the Infantry. It is one of the best books out there on strategy and is directly applicable to the business world.
One thing I'd like to point out is this book (like most non-confidential documents published by the US Govt) is freely available on the Internet. Search under FMFM-1 (the first edition) or MCDP-1 (the 1997 re-write) on Google for the PDFs. This printed version does have a small introduction by F. Lee Bailey and a few other famous people who are also Marines.
Also, unlike a previous reviewer, don't discount the philosophy of Sun Tzu. "Warfighting" is a derivative of Clausewitz and Tzu. By reading these older philosophies you will become a better strategic thinker -- in all ways of life, not just war or business.
on August 21, 2000
A veritable classic book about discipline, teamwork and leadership. Clear, concise and to the point, the book boldly explains the code of conduct and moral quality of a Marine. Whether you are in the military, a business person, project manager or a mother of three, this book will help you achieve your goals without toiling more than necessary. No recipes, just attitude. The message delivered, if taken as a how-to-book, empowers the reader to plan, fearlessly expect the unexpected and, finally, "get things done". It views man (here meaning the "human being") as the most valuable element and views "mistakes or imperfections" as virtues when properly harnessed. It is a book of strategy and one that will point out the value of each and every one of us. Not a book to be read once, but to be cherished and re-read many times and to be passed on to generations to come.
on November 19, 2006
Warfighting was written for the Marine unfamiliar with maneuver warfare to pick up, flip through, memorize the axioms, and apply in battle. As such, like most other field manuals issued to soldiers, it is a distillation of a large swath of ideas from Sun Tzu to Liddell-Hart. That said, it packs a good punch for such a small work. If, however, you're looking for a more detailed illustration of the principles outlined here, you might take a look at B.H. Liddell-Hart's "Strategy" as well as Thomas Cleary's translation of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."
Additionally, those westerners who enjoy axioms focusing on the flux of life, war, or what have you might also like to take a look at Heraclitus' "Fragments." The basic tenets of Taoism that permeate Sun Tzu (and, by proxy, "Warfighting") can be equally well found in Heraclitus. His primary "thesis" if you will, "nothing is stationary, life is flux," is the axiom upon which maneuver warfare strategy is founded.
on December 11, 2003
This is not a how to manual; it isn't even a doctrine guideline. Instead it is a philosophy book. This book lays out simple, fundamental and critical facts about any conflict situation. The value of flexibility, of planning, of taking advantage of opportunities and maintaining the initiative are layout in a quick and easy read.
These truths are valid for the warfighting philosophy of the Marine Corp just as they are for meetings, debates, or presentations or critical reviews. The value of acting on a good plan quickly instead of waiting for the perfect plan later rang especially true. How many times are businesses caught flatfooted by competitors not because they didn't see the trend coming but because they were frozen by indecision?
I highly recommend this book to anybody who is curious about attack, defense, feint, and parry in any situation. The best defense is said to be a good offense, but perhaps the best offense is simply understanding and acting according to the simple principles in Warfighting.
I read extensively, or excessively, depending on who you talk to. Dozens of (mostly dense, mostly nonfiction) books a year, with extra read-y years clearing a hundred.
Very simply, Warfighting may be the best (nonfiction) book I've ever read. It is more concise, to the point, correct, profound, unconventional, easy to read, and concept-dense than anything else on my bookshelf. Wow. For a moderately fast reader, the 100 pages of the book should take about 20 minutes to read. Large type, short sentences, clear meanings. But it is incredibly well thought through.
If you are overeducated in the ways of the Academy/Cathedral, and you want to learn additional ways to think, the military strategists/military historians are the best anti-academic thinkers around. But this book just blew me away. I thought I had learned to simplify, and say clearly (in in person presentations, not on the blog -- the blog is for complex thinking that I need to share with someone). I am thoroughly impressed.
on November 18, 2001
While speaking from a military perspective, this book is essentially a manual for victory in campaigns of all kinds, whether military, commercial, or political. The core philosophy of "ruthless opportunism" is supported through a diligent exposition of the nature, theory, training, and conduct of war. Gray's approach is unremittingly demanding in every dimension of human capacity, and nothing less could be the price of triumph.
on July 30, 2016
As former Marine, and now operations manager in the private sector, I recently re-read this book. When I first read it, I was an active duty Marine and it's great to re-read and frame the narrative from a business perspective. Focus, initiative, intent - they all apply to business operations. I would recommend this book to all who are able to keep an open mind in order to study human nature.
on December 31, 2014
This version written by General A. M. Gray with Captain Schmidt is the best version of the Warfighting series of books. Subsequent versions are not as good. They took the original and tweaked it. Why I don't know. The original was the best. It is brilliantly written.
on October 10, 2014
Excellent read! Military or not, this is a book that everyone should read. I started this book during my flight to Hawaii and was able to finish it the next day. Everyone I tell about Warfighting wants me to loan it to them but they will have to wait until I'm finished with my second time reading it.
on January 9, 2013
"Warfighting" is not about tactics, so anyone looking for private sector applications at that level ("personal defense"??) better keep on looking.
For the uninitiated, "War" has three levels - the Strategic, the Operational, and the Tactical. Tactics win engagements or battles, not wars. Operations win campaigns. Strategy wins wars.
This book deals most effectively with the top two levels of war, because that's where Marine Corps generals fight. Division and Brigade commanders wage campaigns. "Field grade" officers (regimental and battalion commanders) fight battles.
If you are responsible for leading a large organization in pursuit of a common vision, you can use this book - whether military, public sector, non-profit or business. Sure, there's some amount of Marine Corps "Oooh-Rahh" in it, but that's just the way Marines are. If you let the way it's written obscure what it says, then you'll get nothing out of it. I don't think Al Gray had any concerns about that - he wrote this for Marines, and Marines understand it.
As has already been said however, the current edition of this publication (now called MCDP-1) is freely available from the Marine Corps website.
THIS particular edition (purportedly written by the 29th Commandant himself) is no longer available free, though. In my opinion, the original is better.