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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

4th Generation Warfare Handbook

Written by the author of Maneuver Warfare Handbook and an active-duty USMC officer with experience in Iraq, 4th Generation Warfare Handbook is the doctrine for a new generation of war. Over the last 40 years, the world has gradually entered into a post-Clausewitzian state where the wars are undeclared, the battlefields can be anywhere, the uniforms are optional, and the combatants as well as the targets are often "civilian". Conventional militaries have repeatedly attempted to utilize technology to meet the new challenges posed, but even the most advanced technology has provided little more than meaningless short-term victories rendered futile in months, if not weeks.
 

The inability of Western governments and militaries to come to terms with the changing nature of modern warfare has led to failed interventions, failed occupations, and now even failed states everywhere from Eastern Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. And with the recent mass movement of peoples around the world, 4th Generation Warfare can be safely expected to appear in Western Europe and the United States before long.
 

Drawing on their decades of experience of military strategy, military history, and military action, the authors have distilled 4GW theory into a short, concise, easily accessible handbook that provides the soldier, the military analyst, and the civilian observer with a guide to understanding and responding to the changing realities of this challenging new form of war.

We're handling this book launch a little differently than we have in the past. The handbook is now available in preorder for release on 23 November and will only be available from Amazon as a result. Those who preorder should hold onto your digital receipts as those who preorder will be invited to attend a special Brainstorm later this year featuring both Mr. Lind as well as the lieutenant colonel discussing the new handbook. (Registration will be limited to preorders and Annual members.) If you require an epub version, buy it from Amazon, send us the receipt AFTER the book comes out, and we will send you an epub.

This is a handbook intended for soldiers, not a book of new and expanded theory, so don't be surprised that much of the base doctrine will be familiar to those of you who have read On War, The Four Generations of Modern War, and Victoria. What is new are some of the practical aspects and applications, particularly the focus on developing and utilizing the light infantry required to meet the challenge posed by 4GW. But given the course of recent events, there can be little doubt that 4th Generation Warfare Handbook will prove every bit as influential as Maneuver Warfare Handbook did in the 1980s.

A paperback version will be published in Q1 2016.

Labels:

70 Comments:

Blogger James Dixon November 03, 2015 8:20 AM  

> This is a handbook intended for soldiers, not a book of new and expanded theory,

I hope you've arranged for your various military contacts to receive copies. Of there was ever a timely book, this is it.

Anonymous Tom November 03, 2015 8:21 AM  

Sooo, if you were planning on becoming a post-collapse local area warlord, would this be a good book to purchase?

Blogger Cail Corishev November 03, 2015 8:25 AM  

Sooo, if you were planning on becoming a post-collapse local area warlord, would this be a good book to purchase?

Just asking for a friend, right?

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 8:26 AM  

This is a guide to COUNTERINSURGENCY, Tom and stabilizing State order in periods of chaos. So, yeah.



Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 8:27 AM  

The light infantry aspect is interesting given how Russia is fighting in syria. Very different from the us methods.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 8:28 AM  

Martin van Creveld says Hezbollah currently has the best light infantry in the world.

Blogger dc.sunsets November 03, 2015 8:32 AM  

If I were to Cliff's Notes this book, I suspect the only solution is to geographically isolate potentially antagonistic people(s).

It doesn't seem difficult to see the final scene of this vast drama, but there's little doubt that it will be much longer and more violent than most critics will later believe was necessary.

Blogger Stilicho #0066 November 03, 2015 8:34 AM  

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Hezbollah does have excellent light infantry. It developed somewhat organically as a result of long experience fighting a technologically superior enemy. They learned the hard way what works... so you don't have to. Who says mohammedans can't contribute to the defense of western civilization?

OpenID RambleAround November 03, 2015 8:37 AM  

Part of what makes western tech, tactics, etc, futile, I think, is the mistaken assumption that the women, the children, and the infirm, are somehow innocent or noncombatants.

Blogger Jeff Y November 03, 2015 8:51 AM  

Preordered. On infantry tactics: short range infiltration. Build everything around that.

Anonymous Nxx November 03, 2015 9:00 AM  

Really looking forward to this one.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 03, 2015 9:04 AM  

Warlord ditto

Blogger Sam vfm #111 November 03, 2015 9:19 AM  

@6 VD
Martin van Creveld says Hezbollah currently has the best light infantry in the world.

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
- Winston Churchill 1899

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 9:21 AM  

"Martin van Creveld says Hezbollah currently has the best light infantry in the world."

MvC's opinion is a hell of a lot more important than mine... but aren't these Shoot-and-Scooters?

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey November 03, 2015 9:23 AM  

Outstanding. I'll wait for the pb version.

We're building a local network of WNs, so this is perfect. Aspiring warlords take note.

The Alt-Right really needs something like this.

Anonymous Nxx November 03, 2015 9:24 AM  

OT:

How do I get an SFWA supporting membership ?

I followed the link in this page which took me to the Sasquan registration page.

Supporting memberships are not available. It says they were available until Aug 12, 2015 but doesn't say when they will be available in the future or whether they are currently available elsewhere. Does anyone here know?

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey November 03, 2015 9:27 AM  

Required reading for the European Volunteer Guard (EVG).

Anonymous Incurvatus November 03, 2015 9:27 AM  

I'm assuming German and Swedish translations will be big sellers.

Anonymous roo_ster November 03, 2015 9:29 AM  

Pre-ordered. Will use this also as a way to see what the brainstorms are all about.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 9:30 AM  

MvC's opinion is a hell of a lot more important than mine... but aren't these Shoot-and-Scooters?

Light infantry, yes. They are in the skirmish tradition, not the line tradition. Which Lind and Thiele argue is the correct approach to counterinsurgency, contra the "Technology and Airpower", COIN, and "Flush-and-FFE" approaches presently in vogue.

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 9:40 AM  

" COIN, and "Flush-and-FFE" approaches presently in vogue."

Yeah... seeing russia using infantry supported by tanks against ISIS is educational. I have a personal bias against the whole scoot-and-shoot thing. I have a hard time appreciating a light infantry that can't actually take and hold a position.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 9:42 AM  

I have a personal bias against the whole scoot-and-shoot thing.

You and pretty much the entire US military. That's why this book is significant. The US doesn't even have a light infantry anymore.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 03, 2015 9:46 AM  

You guys are killing it. I am in awe of your combined efforts and strategic vision.

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 9:55 AM  

"You and pretty much the entire US military. That's why this book is significant. The US doesn't even have a light infantry anymore."

it reminds me of mounted infantry and how Forrest used his men. but they did more than shoot and scoot... at least as far as my own limited understanding of shoot-and-scoot allows.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 10:08 AM  

Mounted works. Mechanized, not so much.

Blogger luagha November 03, 2015 10:13 AM  

Light infantry. They take what you don't hold and make you pay to get it back.

Skirmish fighting being, coincidentally, the main type of warfare that Arabs are good at. Generally the only one too but there it is.

Blogger Matamoros November 03, 2015 10:14 AM  

This may be of interest as a source of Putin's hybrid war -

White Russian Officer and Vlasovite Source of Putin’s ‘Hybrid War’ Strategy, Former KGB Psychoanalyst Says

http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/11/white-russian-officer-and-vlasovite.html

Anonymous BigGaySteve November 03, 2015 10:38 AM  

Maybe David the Good can put out a guide of poisonous plants and their care.

Sooo, if you were planning on becoming a post-collapse local area warlord, would this be a good book to purchase?...Just asking for a friend, right?

Maybe he just wants to collect blue helmets.

That's why this book is significant. The US doesn't even have a light infantry anymore.

400lbs Shawnene brings the strength of diversity, to the ultra heavy light infantry.

Blogger Durandel Almiras November 03, 2015 10:43 AM  


Maybe he just wants to collect blue helmets
- BGS

More like blue-died scalps.

Blogger Sam vfm #111 November 03, 2015 10:43 AM  

@24
Nate
Are you talking about Mounted Infantry or Cavalry?

OpenID Jack Amok November 03, 2015 10:53 AM  

Pre-ordered. Will Milo be offering wardrobe advice for future local warloards?

If I were to Cliff's Notes this book, I suspect the only solution is to geographically isolate potentially antagonistic people(s).

There is a certain type of geographical isolation provided by six feet of dirt.

Blogger Zach November 03, 2015 11:32 AM  

"Is very strange. I have been in the software business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."


"Have you ever considered despotism? You'd make a wonderful Dread Warlord Roberts."

Anonymous Giuseppe The Kurgan November 03, 2015 11:35 AM  

Nate,
"I have a personal bias against the whole scoot-and-shoot thing."
You filthy moderate!

Shoot and skoot is the only way to go when the enemy has more firepower.

Blogger Red Jack November 03, 2015 11:50 AM  

Nate, it depends on what the goals are.

Shoot and scoot has been working in that part of the world for literally forever. Let the other guys build the targets, and you just harass them till they die or leave.

The Parthians did it to Rome, Saladin did it to the Crusaders, and Hezbollah is doing it to Israel. It has worked for most of history. The idea of taking an area, building it up, and then moving forward a bit is pretty new. It only works if the population allows it to. If they are committed to fighting, you have to either kill enough of them to get them to stop, or force the population out of the area. Again possible, but a quick way to get you into court for war crimes.

4th generation warfare isn't new, it is the application of an old strategy with modern tactics.

Anonymous Hognose @ Weaponsman.com November 03, 2015 12:00 PM  

Pre-ordered, despite doubts about Lind and his gang going back to when he was the military expert for Gary Hart. His stuff is always interesting, but in many ways he is the typical Beltway armchair expert, with zero time under rucksack and an ill-concealed contempt for those of us who spent decades there.

Blogger Stilicho #0066 November 03, 2015 12:46 PM  

Shoot-n-scoot is an excellent tactic when faced with overwhelmingly superior firepower, when you can scoot to an area that the enemy cannot or will not obliterate, or when you want to goad an enemy into an action where you can ambush or otherwise inflict significant damage.

Blogger Stilicho #0066 November 03, 2015 12:47 PM  

p.s. Hezbollah is doing a very good job of holding a large part of Lebanon.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 12:50 PM  

His stuff is always interesting, but in many ways he is the typical Beltway armchair expert, with zero time under rucksack and an ill-concealed contempt for those of us who spent decades there.

You misjudge him. He has no contempt for the soldiers. He has great contempt for the politician-generals. Furthermore, "time under rucksack" is totally irrelevant with regards to understanding strategy. Having experience of tactics is no more significant with regards to strategy than having a sound grasp of logistics.

It's rather like claiming that no one can be a coach or general manager in the NFL without having played football professionally. The reality is that most of the best coaches never played at a high level.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 12:51 PM  

4th generation warfare isn't new, it is the application of an old strategy with modern tactics.

Lind has said that 0GW would also be a reasonable term, but we don't know yet how it will all play out.

Blogger pdwalker November 03, 2015 12:56 PM  

VD,

Will you send a copy to Jerry Pournelle?

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 1:14 PM  

Will you send a copy to Jerry Pournelle?

Yes. He's familiar with it. A selection from the book is featured in THERE WILL BE WAR Vol. X.

Blogger Cataline Sergius November 03, 2015 2:16 PM  

His stuff is always interesting, but in many ways he is the typical Beltway armchair expert, with zero time under rucksack and an ill-concealed contempt for those of us who spent decades there.

I understand the complaint. I tasted plenty of dirt during my career, so I get the suspicion of the outsider. I've certainly disagreed with Lind on some things. And those are mostly at the low level, small unit stuff.

However, having served at company grade level is of limited use when you are talking big strategic picture. Yes, it's nice if someone has a complete picture. And troops aren't going to be to cool about following a general with zero combat experience.

However...Lind. Is. Not. A. General.

He is a grand strategic thinker and bluntly we desperately need one.

The entire military is desperate to unlearn the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan before those wars are even over. The Army is training to fight the battle of Fulda Gap. The Marine Corps is teaching Marines to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima and the Air Force wants to shoot down the Red Barron.

We are still effectively stuck with the default concept of Erich Ludendorf's Total War strategy, despite the fact that it is impossible to implement today.

We need a new big picture strategy and we need it now.

."Every now and then, warfare reaches a point where it begins to resemble an elaborate game with elaborate rules...And then, inevitably someone is going to come along to show you it's not. Oh no, it's not."

Blogger James Dixon November 03, 2015 2:33 PM  

> We are still effectively stuck with the default concept of Erich Ludendorf's Total War strategy, despite the fact that it is impossible to implement today.

I wouldn't go so far as to say impossible. But I'll admit that the repercussions of doing so would be significant.

Anonymous Hognose @ Weaponsman.com November 03, 2015 2:42 PM  

You misjudge him. He has no contempt for the soldiers.
Well, I've preordered his latest, and will give it a fair reading. He spent the 1980s and 90s wearing that contempt as a badge of honor, along with his peers in the soi-disant "Reform" movement.

Best read this week on what is being promoted as 4GW in recent years, has been Braddock's Defeat, a new look at the Battle of the Monongahela by David Preston. Preston found new and overlooked sources, and the French and Indian War and other early colonial wars are very, very interesting insurgency/COIN studies. (Preston's most interesting finds are, in my opinion, on the French side, explaining how they worked with their Indian allies. For example, they had French officers learn the native languages, rather than use interpreters. Any linguist ought to grasp instantly the advantage in that).

Of course, Hognose's Law still holds: a true War of Identity can only have one of three outcomes:
1. One side defeats and annihilates the other.
2. One side defeats and assimilates the other.
3. The war reaches an equilibrium of violence at a level that is acceptable to both sides.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 03, 2015 2:42 PM  

It's America and we will never leave the year 1945, and when America forgets 1945 there will be no more America. Maybe a few rump states holding cargo cult parades but that will be it

Blogger Red Jack November 03, 2015 3:17 PM  

@42 It is beyond even the Military class. Why is the so called State Department so confused in dealing with anyone not like its own Beltway mindset? Why is Merckel so shocked people are very angry about millions of people invading Germany?

It isn't that have a different strategy, it is that they don't have one at all. Mr Lind actually confronts this.

Going back to what Nate said about "Shoot and Scoot" tactics being distasteful. There is a reason for that. Since WWII US military tactics have been about taking and holding territory. With the exception of the rumored Glaudio operation, few realized that "Holding" a territory in 4GW is part of the problem. It makes you a target. When the other side refuses to put up masses of armor and open infantry to be blown up, but starts hitting you on the edges, it takes a different type of solution. To many US Generals want to be Patton, Grant, or Ike. They need to learn how to be Sheridan and Sherman instead. Rather than set up infrastructure such as the $40 million dollar gas station, attack the edges of the other guy. Rather than build schools that make the students as good as dead once we leave, disrupt their media.

Stop trying to win WWII. Start trying to win the war we are in.

Blogger bill November 03, 2015 3:49 PM  

Hezbollah has gotten its’ ass kicked (and putative fighters killed) every single time its popped out of whatever rabbit hole or hospital basement they hide in. They’re little better than a extraordinarily well-funded (by other state actors) gang held together only by a vicious ideology.

Not for me the countercultural admiration of vietnamese peasants, iraqi insurgents or afghan goat-herders- Give me the US Military any day and twice on Sundays.

The only reason any of the 4GW rabble survive in any fashion is lack of political will on the part of the US. American politicians have consistently failed to do what it takes to ‘win’ because they lack clear goals, enforce restrictive ROE and refuse to culturally (at minimum) colonize our foes countries.

Hognose's Law seems succinctly correct, to me-

I agree entirely with "...inability of western governments..."

And yes- I did read ‘Boyd’ by Coram but I offer as counterpoint something weaponsman.com lead me to:

https://etd.auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/10415/595/MICHEL_III_55.pdf

While the two books aren’t entirely dispositive regarding overarching principles of land warfare they DO offer contrasts on how the US Military is configured. There's a argument to be made that The Military isn't the problem.

Anonymous nordicthunder November 03, 2015 4:05 PM  

ohhh no,

@46 "To many US Generals want to be Patton, Grant, or Ike. They need to learn how to be Sheridan and Sherman instead."

that second line may just have set of a trigger or two

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau November 03, 2015 4:13 PM  

Sherman knew how to wage War. He burned down my Hometown of Jackson, MS, 3 times never stopping to occupy it for very long. His protege Sheridan burned down all the farms in the Shenandoah Valley that had been supplying the Army of Northern Virginia for three years.

I think the Russians will be more sucessful in Syria than they were in Afghanistan. They are no longer contrained by party doctrine and the Commissars no longer control the Military officers.

Blogger Red Jack November 03, 2015 4:19 PM  

@48 It was meant to.

Sherman and Sheridan did horrible things, but they decided to win. Sheridan then went out to command the Army of the West, and ended the insurgency called the Indian wars.

They won what is now called 4GW by making the other side hurt more and longer than they could hurt the US military. When you turn the US Calvary into something more like the raiders of the Golden Horde than standard US military units, it makes an impression.

Anonymous nordicthunder November 03, 2015 5:04 PM  

@50 no, to my understanding, the civil war was largely 2GW, state sponsored, industrial fueled, large set piece battles. etc.. Sheridan's sacking of the west you could make a case for.
"deciding to win" is a factor in all warfare, (getting it done a different matter of course) 4GW is mostly small scale, decentralized control , cell like, etc...

my comment was to point out that when the names Of Sherman and Sheridan are mentioned here, it sometimes sets of a tic in some of the Southern US Ilk..

for the record...had I been around at the time of the "Civil War" I'd have rooted for the south

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 5:11 PM  

The only reason any of the 4GW rabble survive in any fashion is lack of political will on the part of the US.

"I didn't even try" doesn't fly for teenagers. It also doesn't explain repeated military failures for over 50 years. Do you know so little Clausewitz that you don't understand that politics is an intrinsic part of warmaking? The US keeps losing because it keeps fighting stupid wars with no support from the citizenry or the soldiers.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 5:13 PM  

We are still effectively stuck with the default concept of Erich Ludendorf's Total War strategy, despite the fact that it is impossible to implement today.

The service branches have failed to accept that nuclear weapons rendered them irrelevant with regards to Total War, which is what they were prepared for.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 5:13 PM  

They won what is now called 4GW by making the other side hurt more and longer than they could hurt the US military.

Not 4GW.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 5:15 PM  

I've preordered his latest, and will give it a fair reading.

It should be interesting to read the skeptic's take. Let us know what you think. And note that Lind wrote the book with an active-duty Marine officer.

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 5:19 PM  

"Are you talking about Mounted Infantry or Cavalry?"

Forrest is always listed as a Cavalry leader... but in fact he was not. He lead mounted infantry. His men rode to the fight then fought on foot.

Cavs fight from their mounts.

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 5:22 PM  

What we have today is mechanized mounted infantry. Ride to the fight in humvees... get out and fight on foot supported by air. But humvees make them mounted heavy infantry not light.

Blogger William Meisheid November 03, 2015 6:28 PM  

I wish this was available in hard copy and not only as a Kindle book. If you know the authors, could you suggest it. They can use Amazon to publish it on-demand and if they need help converting it to the proper format, there are many people who can do that.

Blogger bill November 03, 2015 7:12 PM  


Vox says:

“"I didn't even try" doesn't fly for teenagers. It also doesn't explain repeated military failures for over 50 years. Do you know so little Clausewitz that you don't understand that politics is an intrinsic part of warmaking? The US keeps losing because it keeps fighting stupid wars with no support from the citizenry or the soldiers.”

Repeated military failures for over 50 years? Name one.

Military objectives have been met within civilian political constraints. Foreign air forces and foreign tank corps don’t last long. Properly approached, I think we could likewise handle 4GW non-state insurgencies.

Regarding ‘losses’…

A weak President combined with a craven Democrat Congress abandoned Vietnamese allies facing a enemy supported by 2 other super powers.

A weak and corrupt Iraqi government overplayed its hand to a very different kind of American President. The Iraqi public got abandoned. Sucks to be them.

The fact that Iraq didn’t turn in to a Jeffersonian democracy overnight wasn’t the fault of the military. Might have been better if the US had sat on them for 30 or so years a la Japan/Germany. Guess we’ll never know, now. Oh- And we’d have started the sitting by translating our Constitution and Bill of Rights in to arabic. Impose same regardless how culturally insensitive because their culture sucks anyway.

Given the numbers of illegals voting with their feet I’m comfortable stating American culture is better and those other (problematic) cultures would do better, if not well, to be assimilated to the extent they can or could.

Back to your point(s)-

All wars conducted over the last 50 years have had support at the beginning. Iraq II polled better than Obamacare. Less support as time goes on; especially given that our politicians make awful choices. No support from the soldiers? I don’t understand your point.

Yep. I understand politics is intrinsic. How could it not be?

But my impression given your past 4GW writing is that not only are our policies wrong but also our tools. I disagree regarding the tools we have. I even think our imperfect military leadership is better than anybody else’s.

Granted that no tool is perfectly perfect but I myself could handle any post-Clausewitzian post-Westphalian insurgency with the military we have. Gonna’ see more bloodshed though. Single Pakistani factory builds 90% of detonators found in Afghanistan. That building would go away most-skosh. Likewise for the Iranian EFP factory. Ho-chi Minh Trail? Interdict regardless of borders.

That fraction of The Ilk noting Sherman and Sheridan likely agree with me. I’m a big fan of Kratman’s way of war and I’d think you would be too.

VD, one of the threads running through your writing is that The West has lost its will. I agree. We have the means and we have the implements; we don’t have the will.

I look forward to buying the book. I ask you to go read the Air Force piece I documented in comment 47 because, as I recall, you’re a fan of Boyd and Sprey.

Blogger Dave November 03, 2015 7:17 PM  

From the post:
A paperback version will be published in Q1 2016

Blogger Nate November 03, 2015 7:21 PM  

"Repeated military failures for over 50 years? Name one."

Pretending Nam and Iraq II weren't military failures makes you look blind.

Blogger Dave November 03, 2015 7:33 PM  

Ok pre-ordered and will be requesting epub. Can we expect anything in this book wrt cyber warfare or use and mis-use of social media?

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau November 03, 2015 7:33 PM  

Interesting take on the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan is The Bear Went Over The Mountain by Lester Grau. It is a translation of Platoon and Company Commander after action reports.

Blogger Lana J November 03, 2015 8:03 PM  

I even think our imperfect military leadership is better than anybody else’s.

The Taliban, the Iraqi insurgents and ISIS would like a word as they repeatedly have handed us our ass.

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 8:08 PM  

Can we expect anything in this book wrt cyber warfare or use and mis-use of social media?

No.

Repeated military failures for over 50 years? Name one.

Korea. Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq. Among others.

A weak President combined with a craven Democrat Congress abandoned Vietnamese allies facing a enemy supported by 2 other super powers.

They lost. Deal with it. Get over it. What matters is the score at the end of the game, not the fact that your coach was inept. They still lost. I'm sure there were Romans who insisted that Cannae was really a victory too, because they had more and better troops who just got outgeneraled.


I myself could handle any post-Clausewitzian post-Westphalian insurgency with the military we have.

(laughs)

Blogger VD November 03, 2015 8:11 PM  

VD, one of the threads running through your writing is that The West has lost its will. I agree. We have the means and we have the implements; we don’t have the will.

You don't seem to grasp that all of these things are related. You sound like an old football coach who tells his slow, overmatched kids "to just try harder!" It doesn't work like that.

You've got women and gays in the military, GIs marching in red heels, and you still think the USA has the best military in the world? Sure, it spends the most money, but that's about all you can say. Every top dog thinks it still has it right up until the time it gets shown up for a paper tiger.

OpenID Jack Amok November 04, 2015 12:41 AM  

that second line may just have set of a trigger or two

Actually the first sentence triggered me. Patton and Grant weren't about occupying territory - they were about annihilating the enemy troops. Different strategies appropriate to different circumstances (Patton pushed for relentless pursuit and encirclement, Grant realized he would win a meat-grinder war of attrition), but both prioritized destroying the enemy's army. (Grant in particular was very different in this regard from previous Union generals who kept trying to occupy territory, only to be out-maneuvered by Lee. Grant instead locked horns with Lee and didn't let go, steadily grinding Lee's army to pieces knowing that the North could make good the losses longer than the South could).

Blogger Akulkis November 04, 2015 9:11 PM  

Each of those (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) I would rate as political failures -- we win the engagements, only to have the politicians squander any and all gains in the most ridiculous of ways.

The only reason it works is, regardless of strategic outcome, NOBODY wants the U.S. military to come in and make a shambles of anything and anybody at will. The price of destruction of infrastructure and organizational structure (i.e. key personnel at all levels being killed) is what keeps most of our opponents civil, regardless of whether they have a better strategic outlook or not -- it's not good domestic politics to agitate the most agile expeditionary force on the planet.

A true military failure looks like the aborted rescue mission to recover the U.S. embassy personnel from Iran. We haven't had many of those.

Anonymous Nxx November 04, 2015 9:47 PM  

Each of those (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) I would rate as political failures -- we win the engagements, only to have the politicians squander any and all gains in the most ridiculous of ways.

War is multi dimensional and military activity occupies but one dimension. There's the propaganda war, diplomatic war, SIGINT war, HUMINT war, financial war, trade war, and so on.

Winning on the military plane does not win you the war. It does raise your odds considerably however.

OpenID Jack Amok November 05, 2015 12:06 AM  

Each of those (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) I would rate as political failures -- we win the engagements, only to have the politicians squander any and all gains in the most ridiculous of ways.


A failure of policy by other means.

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