The minimalist approach of Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication (MCDP) 1, Warfighting, is quite different from historical doctrines that sought to tackle contemporary challenges. In his Proceedings article, “To Innovate, Doctrine Is More Important Than Technology,” Marine Corps Major Scott Humr tried to wed MCDP-1 and Major Earl Ellis’s 1930s island-hopping strategy formulated for war against Imperial Japan.1 These two approaches to doctrine, however, are poles apart.
Three Waves of Doctrine
Ellis’s island-hopping concept sought to create a plan for a potential threat in a theater that would pose unique problems. He focused on problem-specific solutions, not institution-level guidance. In fact, with the exception of early Cold War nuclear strategy, the concept of organization-wide doctrine is a relatively recent phenomenon.2
1. MAJ Scott Humr, USMC, “To Innovate, Doctrine Is More Important than Technology,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 144, no. 12 (December 2018).
2. Austin G. Long, The Soul of Armies: Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Military Culture in the US and UK. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs (Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 2016), 7, 13.
3. Long, The Soul of Armies, 14
4. Long, 173.
5. Long, 174.
6. Long, 7.
7. Department of the Navy, MCDP-1, Warfighting (1997), 39–41.
8. Long, The Soul of Armies, 15.