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Saturday, May 30, 2015

A History of Strategy chapter 3

The chapter 3 quiz is now available for the taking.

In not entirely unrelated news, there are 34 seats left for tomorrow's Brainstorm event with Martin van Creveld. If you want to be guaranteed a place, you should consider acquiring either an Annual membership or a monthly one.

If those seats are not taken by tomorrow, they'll be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis at 1:55 PM EST.

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21 Comments:

Blogger Blume May 30, 2015 1:12 PM  

Reading through once is just terrible. I failed both this week and last.

Blogger Manuel May 30, 2015 3:04 PM  

9/10. I missed the one about who wrote the complications of war in his time. I went with Puysegur instead of Saxe. So far the history of strategy reminds me of economics. no one figured out how to write about it until the 17-18th centuries.

Anonymous zen0 May 30, 2015 3:25 PM  

I remembered Saxe, but couldn't recall the details, so guessed and got monkeyhammered.

Note to self: don't study when impaired, no matter how much fun it may be.

Anonymous Passinthough May 30, 2015 4:34 PM  

I have found this book to be very interesting. I have no background in military matters history or otherwise. Van Creveld writing is easy to understand.

Blogger maniacprovost May 30, 2015 4:35 PM  

I'm surprised he didn't spend more time on Maurice de Saxe. Just based on this chapter, de Saxe appears to have been a proponent of combined arms (in the sense of cavalry, infantry and artillery) as well as anticipating the moral level of warfare.

Blogger Rantor May 30, 2015 5:25 PM  

10/10. I am looking forward to reviewing some of these tomes when the study is over with. Should make for a more complete education.

Anonymous Roundtine May 30, 2015 5:25 PM  

8/10

Missed Vauban and Frederick the Great's preference.

Blogger pyrrhus May 30, 2015 6:16 PM  

Question 2 is incorrect--Machiavelli showed by his failures that citizens did NOT make good soldiers.

Blogger VD May 30, 2015 6:24 PM  

Question 2 is incorrect--Machiavelli showed by his failures that citizens did NOT make good soldiers.

No, it's not. First, re-read the question. Second, he didn't fail. He won the war against the Pisans he commanded. Also, Napoleon. That's something I plan to discuss with Martin tomorrow.

Blogger SirThermite May 30, 2015 6:24 PM  

Just purchased a monthly membership after reading this blog post, and have received my email receipt. Will I also be receiving instructions on how to connect to tomorrow's event, and if necessary, what conf. software to download? Thanks in advance

Blogger VD May 30, 2015 6:28 PM  

Yes. No download required.

Anonymous zen0 May 30, 2015 7:43 PM  

First, re-read the question.

I had to read it a few times, bcz van Creveld said all his 3 key propisitions were dead wrong, one of them being using citizen soldiers instead of professionals ( which were previously presented as mercenaries) The group that took Piza had mercenaries supplemented with citizens.

I decided the question rested on the term "successful".

The common opinion was that "citizens could not be successful soldiers". This was proven technically incorrect, because they could be.

Machiavelli "proved to his satisfaction" (according to MvC) that roman conscripts were SUPERIOR soldiers, so there would be no reason the same thing could not take place in his time.

Therefore, using citizen soldiers exclusively INSTEAD of professionals was the dead wrong part.

Similarly, MvC proved to his own satisfaction that Fred the Great had no particular preference between Niederwerfung and ermattung, but the more direct answer to the question remains that FtheG did not actually state a preference.

Blogger maniacprovost May 30, 2015 8:35 PM  

The conventional arguments for professional soldiers versus conscripts seem to boil down to:
Conscripts have better motivation, such as patriotism, and greater numbers.
Professionals are selected for physical ability and develop greater skills.

Obviously there's more to it. But I think that neither group truly selects for the natural killers who make good soldiers. A particular type of aesthetic sense, that places honor and victory far ahead of pain, comfort, or life; A talent for recognizing worthy objectives or the "bottom line"; and various minutiae like the ability to release adrenaline, enter a flow state, or experience time dilation are not necessarily associated with either professionals or conscripts.

Anonymous zen0 May 30, 2015 9:34 PM  

Obviously there's more to it. But I think that neither group truly selects for the natural killers who make good soldiers. A particular type of aesthetic sense, that places honor and victory far ahead of pain, comfort, or life; ......

How does one select for that? It sounds difficult, and fraught with danger.

Anonymous zen0 May 30, 2015 9:42 PM  

@ Roundtine

> Missed Vauban

I bet you did not look up Vallation, did you.
Vauban/Vallation

Blogger maniacprovost May 31, 2015 12:59 AM  

Idk how you select for it. I just remembered another trait, which I have observed on multiple occasions: Men who enjoy challenge and hardship. Make them march all night in the rain and crawl under machine gun tracers, and at the end you can pick out the ones that are grinning ear to ear.

Anonymous jSinSaTx May 31, 2015 6:17 AM  

Appreciated the brief look at citizen-soldiers vs professional soldiers as well as the look at 'just war'.

Professional soldiers may not be involved in a strategy that is effective, but historically they have performed far superior tactically to cobbled forces of locals or part timers.

Anonymous Rusty.Fife May 31, 2015 12:45 PM  

"maniacprovost May 30, 2015 8:35 PM

The conventional arguments for professional soldiers versus conscripts seem to boil down to:
Conscripts have better motivation, such as patriotism, and greater numbers.
Professionals are selected for physical ability and develop greater skills."

I believe the problems with conscript or professional formations are largely related to morale; which according to Col Boyd is decisive.

Note Frederick the Greats' importance of fear as a motivating influence and then also "Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve." - Sun Tzu

The history of the use professional formations generally includes not only their improved physical selection/skill/exposure to danger but also that they are isolated from the local populace in such a way that they CAN'T fade away into the woods when battle has been brought. An example is the Roman auxiliaries; which were rarely stationed in their home country. Every battle was desperate ground for them.

On the intellectual level, professional formations were better trained and could generally operate without as many orders as the conscript formations.

On the physical level conscripts allowed you to put more bodies in front of the guns than the enemy could slay; "Quantity has a quality all its own." - Joseph Stalin Think of a bum rush. The Okinawan peasants developed Karate for that exact purpose against the Samaria.

However in modern warfare, military formations cannot stand sustained exposure and survive; no matter how great their morale. They will be physically devastated. There are still possibilities of overwhelming the defensive systems; Riding the Red Horse showed that LASERs will probably overcome that limitation.

This is also where 4GW attacks come into their own. The attacker only has to screw up enough courage for minutes or seconds of action where he is target-able. If the conscript is defending his home, that faces physical/intellectual/morale devastation, such that he has no place to retreat; then even a cornered rabbit will fight and "there is nothing they may not achieve."

Regards,

Rusty Fife

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Cavalry June 01, 2015 8:11 PM  

As to question number 10, about Frederick the Great and the use of the Nobel class because honor would enable them to march into cannon fire. I was just thinking how upside down that thinking would be today. It is our Nobel class (bankers, politicians ect.) who have the least honor.

Anonymous JRL June 09, 2015 11:20 PM  

9/10 _ interesting how Machiavelli's writing on this subject don't add up to much...

Blogger MendoScot July 11, 2015 6:39 PM  

9/10

Catching up, after a fraught month.

Picked Frederick over Maurice, because what I remembered of Maurice was his knowledge of all levels - having worked his way up through the ranks. I didn't associate that with complexity, although it's there in the book.

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