Manpower & Position Warfare vs Material & Mobile Warfare

“In this assault we lost more than 1,200 men killed, wounded and missing. This shows sharply how the curve of casualties rises when one reverts from mobile to position warfare.

In mobile action, what counts is material, as the essential complement to the soldier. The finest fighting man has no value in mobile warfare without tanks, guns and vehicles. Thus a mobile force can be rendered unfit for action by the destruction of its tanks, without having suffered any serious casualties in man-power.

This is not the case with position warfare, where the infantryman with rifle and hand grenade has lost little of his value, provided, of course, he is protected by anti-tank guns or obstacles against the enemy’s armour. For him enemy number one is the attacking infantryman.

Hence position warfare is always a struggle for the destruction of men – in contrast to mobile warfare, where everything turns on the destruction of enemy material.” (Rommel, 1953, p133).

Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox), World War I junior officer and World War II General, considered a brilliant military commander; adored by his troops and feared by his enemies.


Rommel, E., Liddel Hart, B.H. (ed) & Findlay, P. (trans) (1953) The Rommel Papers. St James’s Palace, London: Collins.


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