Selections from Parameters - US Army War College Quarterly
July 22, 2004 11:43 PM   Subscribe

How To Win a Battle and Lose the War
the PNAC and your local neocon Likudniks.

The real military men knew what would happen and how to plan for war, Rumsfailed wouldn't listen. Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it (at other's expense.)
posted by nofundy at 5:04 AM on July 23, 2004

Both US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have previously said they have not seen enough evidence to convince them there is a genocide in Darfur.

but there was enough 'evidence' to invade iraq.
Change the word 'evidence' for 'oil' and it reads very clearly.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:37 AM on July 23, 2004

Politics filter, done well.
posted by caddis at 6:38 AM on July 23, 2004

posted by troutfishing at 6:49 AM on July 23, 2004

That's one of today's NYT web ads, BTW
posted by troutfishing at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2004

Yeah! Let's bomb the rest of the fucking world, just to keep the idiot in office.
posted by acrobat at 7:01 AM on July 23, 2004

I can never read all the text in the title tags because they only display for a few her it all is in case others are interested..

1. More removed in time and context, the Indian Wars of the 19th century nonetheless provide some lessons for counterinsurgency. These lessons also demonstrate that the overarching fundamentals for fighting small wars are indeed timeless. With little preserved institutional memory and less codified doctrine for counterinsurgency, the late-19th-century US Army had to adapt on the fly to Indian tactics. A loose body of principles emerged from the Indian Wars: to ensure the close civil-military coordination of the pacification effort, to provide firm but fair and paternalistic governance, and to reform the economic and educational spheres. Good treatment of prisoners, attention to the Indians’ grievances, and the avoidance of killing woman and children (learned by error) were also regarded as fundamental to any long-term solution. Additionally, General George Crook developed the tactic of inserting small teams from friendly Apache tribes into the sanctuaries of insurgent Apaches to neutralize them, to psychologically unhinge them, and to sap their will. This technique subsequently emerged in one form or another in the Philippines, during the Banana Wars, and during the Vietnam War

2. Since the US Army and its coalition partners are currently prosecuting counter-guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is useful to revisit the lessons from Vietnam and other counterinsurgencies because they are germane to the wars of today and tomorrow

3. In an eerily prescient book written right after the Gulf War, Robert Tucker and David Hendrickson warned against the lack of political follow-up. ''We have fastened upon a formula for going to war--in which American casualties are minimized and protracted engagements are avoided--that requires the massive use of American firepower and a speedy withdrawal from the scenes of destruction,'' they wrote in The Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America’s Purpose. They continued: ''The formula is a very popular one, but it is not for that reason to be approved. It’s peculiar vice is that it enables us to go to war with far greater precipitancy than we otherwise might while simultaneously allowing us to walk away from the ruin we create without feeling a commensurate sense of responsibility. It creates an anarchy and calls it peace. In the name of order it wreaks havoc. It allows us to assume an imperial role without discharging the classic duties of imperial rule

4. It is always easier to get into a conflict than to get out of one. In 1956, for example, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden with French Premier Guy Mollet planned to unseat President Nasser of Egypt and reduce his influence in the region by a combined and coordinated British, French, and Israeli military operation. The French and British leadership conducted detailed, thorough planning to ensure that the costs and risks were reduced to an acceptable minimum. In violation of Clausewitz’s guidance above, however, the operation was launched without a good idea about termination and what the post-conflict situation would look like. What if landing on the Suez Canal at Port Said and Port Fuad did not force Nasser to step down? Were France and Britain then willing to march on Cairo? Would they have international support for such a move? If they seized Cairo, what would the new Egyptian government look like? Could it stay in power without keeping British and French troops in Egypt for years to come? Would the British and French have world opinion on their side for such an occupation? In the event, Israel launched the attack and British and French forces landed on the Suez Canal. But the operation did not turn out as planned. The United States and Soviets, along with world opinion, forced the British and French to withdraw. President Nasser, rather than being defeated, became the victor and the leader of the Arab cause, while the British and the French lost prestige and influence. How could rational decisionmakers get it so wrong

5. The problem with optimism in any endeavor, but with especially profound consequences in war, is that it ''restricts anticipation of error, minimizes its probability, and leads to the concealment of both its occurrence and the severity of its effects.'' Under a regime of optimism, errors may accumulate without recognition to a level that ultimately negates our ability to respond effectively, or requires a cost we may be unwilling to pay. Given the long lead time in the development of weapon systems and force structures, compounded by the dual problems of sunk costs and opportunity costs, in the domain of armed conflict this may translate to an unnecessary loss of blood and treasure if not actually to losing the war.
posted by srboisvert at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2004

what a truly awesome discovery
posted by leotrotsky at 9:08 AM on July 23, 2004

"Callwell's most important observation was that that while tactics favored Western armies, strategy favored their indigenous opponent. This was because the adversary could win by playing for time, refusing battle, and drawing out the conflict. From this observation Callwell concluded that it was imperative that once conflict begins, Western forces act swiftly and decisively to achieve the rapid collapse of organized resistance.

Drawing on Callwell, the elements of the script are relatively easy to define. Good intelligence is absolutely necessary and sufficient time must be taken to acquire it and develop the best understanding possible of the field of battle and the opponent. The contest for information superiority must continue unabated throughout the campaign."
posted by clavdivs at 10:50 AM on July 23, 2004

"...strategy favored their indigenous opponent. This was because the adversary could win by playing for time, refusing battle, and drawing out the conflict."

Dare I point out that this is precisely how the Romans won the Second Punic War?

You know, the one where that guy with the elephants came down and stomped on every army the Romans threw at him for 10 years.... while, meanwhile, the Romans sent an army to hit the Carthaginians in their weak spot, until the Punic called Hannibal home to cover their asses.

Are we seeing any analogies?

And why do allegedly well-educated SOBs like Wolfie and Dick not think about shit like this? Could it be that they are blinkered by their own ideology?

I find it shameful that we spend so much money and effort to create the most well-educated senior general officer corps in the world, and then waste it by not listening to them....
posted by lodurr at 4:06 PM on July 23, 2004

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