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Saturday, February 10, 2018

EXCERPT: A History of Strategy

This passage about the beginning of the Age of Air Power seemed relevant in light of my earlier musings on the possibility that we are beginning to see the signs of its end. From the excellent A History of Strategy by Martin van Creveld, a true must-read for any student of war.

Throughout history, all too often the end of an armed conflict has served as a prelude to the next one. Never was this more true than at the end of World War I. Though it was sometimes described as “the war to end all wars,” all it did was provide a temporary respite. Scarcely had the guns fallen silent when people started looking into the future on the assumption that the Great Powers had not yet finished fighting each other. This naturally gave rise to the question, how would the next war be waged?

To virtually all of those who tried, the point of departure was the need to minimize casualties. True to its name, the Great War had been fought with greater ferocity, and resulted in more dead and injured, than many of its predecessors put together. Confirming the predictions of some pre-war writers, such as the Jewish-Polish banker Ivan Bloch, this was the direct result of the superiority of the defense as brought about by modern firepower. Hence the most pressing problem was to find ways to bypass, or overcome, that firepower and that defense. Failure to do so might render the next war as unprofitable as the struggle of 1914–1918 had been (to say nothing of the possibility that the dreadful losses and destruction suffered), and might cause it to end in revolution, as had already occurred in Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany.

In any event, the first serious theoretical treatise designed to solve the problem was written by an Italian general, Giulio Douhet. An engineer by trade, during the early years of the century Douhet had become fascinated with the military possibilities of the internal combustion engine. A little later he was also found dabbling in futurist ideas concerning the spiritual qualities allegedly springing from those two speedy new vehicles, the motor car and the aircraft, claiming that they had the ability to rejuvenate the world and Italy in particular. As a staff officer in 1915–18, he was in a position to observe no fewer than twelve Italian offensives directed against the Austrians across the river Isonzo. All twelve failed, producing hundreds of thousands of casualties for little or no territorial gain. He imagined there had to be a better way of doing things. One of those, which he had already promoted during the war itself, was the creation of a massive bomber force to be used against the enemy. Douhet’s masterpiece, Il dominio del aereo (Command of the Air) was published in 1921. Though it took time to be translated, a survey of the interwar military literature shows that its leading ideas were widely studied and debated.

To Douhet, then, “the form of any war … depends upon the technical means of war available.” In the past, firearms had revolutionized war. Next it was the turn of small caliber rapid fire guns, barbed wire and, at sea, the submarine. The most recent additions were the air arm and poison gas, both of them still in their infancy but with the potential to “completely upset all forms of war so far known.” In particular, so long as war was fought only on the surface of the earth it was necessary for one side to break through the other’s defenses in order to win. Those defenses, however, tended to become stronger and stronger until, in the conflict that had just ended, they had extended over practically the entire battlefield and barred the troops of both sides from moving forward. Behind the hard crusts presented by the fronts the populations of the various states carried on civilian life almost undisturbed. Mobilizing those populations, the states in question were able to produce the wherewithal of total war and sustain the struggle for years on end.

The advent of the aircraft was bringing this situation to an end. Capable of overflying both fronts and natural obstacles, and possessing a comparatively long range, aircraft would be used to attack civilian centers of population and industry. The air could be traversed in all directions with equal ease, nor was there a way to predict which target would be hit next. That was why no effective defense against such attacks was possible. Each attacking aircraft would have to be countered by twenty defensive ones; or else, if the job were entrusted to guns, hundreds if not thousands of them.

Extrapolating from the raids that had taken place in 1916–1918, Douhet showed that forty aircraft dropping eighty tons of bombs might have “completely destroyed” a city the size of Treviso, leaving alive “very few” of its 17,000 inhabitants. A mere three aircraft could deliver as much firepower as could a modern battleship in a single broadside, whereas a thousand aircraft could deliver ten times as much firepower as could the entire British Navy—counting 30 battleships—in ten. Yet the price-tag of a single battleship was said to be about equal to that of a thousand aircraft. To use modern terminology, the differential in cost/effectiveness between the two arms was little less than phenomenal. As Douhet pointed out, moreover, even these calculations failed to take account of the fact that the career of military aviation had just begun and that aircraft capable of lifting as much as ten tons each might soon be constructed.

Under such circumstances, investments in armies and navies would come to a gradual halt. The resources freed in this way should be diverted to the air arm, regarded as the decisive one in any future conflict. Properly used, it could bring about a quick decision—so quick, indeed, that there might scarcely be sufficient time for the two remaining ones to be mobilized and deployed. Given that the character of the new weapon was inherently offensive, most of the aircraft ought to be not fighters but bombers. Instead of forming part of the army and navy, as was then the case in all major armed forces except those of Britain, they should be assembled in an independent air force.

At the outbreak of the next war that air force should be launched like a shell from a cannon, mounting an all-out attack against the enemy’s air bases with the objective of gaining “command of the air.” Once command of the air had been attained—meaning that the enemy, his bases destroyed, was no longer able to interfere with operations—the attackers should switch from military objectives to civilian ones, knocking them out one by one. Industrial plants as well as population centers ought to be attacked; the attackers’ principal weapon ought to be gas, the aim not merely to kill but to demoralize. Leaping over and ignoring the usual forces that defend a country, a war waged by such means might be over almost before it had begun. In so far as it would minimize the casualties of both the attacker and the defender (whose population, driven to the point of madness, would force the government to surrender) it also represented a more humane modus operandi than an endless struggle of attrition.

Like Mahan, to whom he owed much, Douhet has been accused of overstating his case. When the test came in World War II it was found that his calculations, made in terms of a uniform bomb pattern dropping on an area of 500 by 500 meters, did not allow for the practical difficulties of accurately landing ordnance on target. As a result, far more bombs and aircraft would be needed to obliterate a given objective than he thought. Perhaps because gas was not used, by and large the populations which found themselves at the receiving end of those bombs proved much more resilient than he had expected. This caused one critic to quip that Douhet could not be blamed for the fact that the people whom he used as the basis for his calculations were, after all, Italians, whom everyone knew to be lousy soldiers. Finally, once radar had been introduced the air-weapon turned out to be much better adapted for defensive purposes than its original prophet—he died in 1930—had foreseen. In the air, as on land, World War II developed into a prolonged and extremely deadly struggle of attrition.

Nevertheless, given that it is with the evolution of military thought that we are dealing here, it should be said at once that no other treatise written on the subject of air warfare has ever presented nearly as coherent a picture as did Il dominio del aereo, nor has any other treatise been nearly as influential. In part, this was for institutional reasons. Engaging in close air support (CAS) and interdicting enemy lines of communication were missions which might conceivably be undertaken by an army air force. But gaining command of the air and attacking the other side’s homeland were clearly independent missions which called for an equally independent air force. Be this as it may, the mirage of dealing a rapid and all-powerful blow from the air—so rapid and so powerful that the need for the remaining armed forces would be all but obviated—has continued to fascinate airmen. It did so right through World War II and into the nuclear age when, but for the fact that nuclear weapons were too powerful to use, it might have been realized.

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56 Comments:

Blogger Longtime Lurker February 10, 2018 7:52 PM  

Wow. Today's earlier discussion prompted me to reread the chapter on Contemporary War in Van Creveld's Transformation of War. A seminal work.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 7:55 PM  

everyone talks about how the american system of war is just modern blitzkrieg... but that is shallow. The key component for american warfare is air superiority. Air Superiority is something that really only applies to american war because we are largely the only country that's every been able to consistently achieve it. Once our troops are the only ones who can call in air support... the fight is lost.

The blitzkrieg is a lot easier when the tanks are backed up by freely roaming A-10s.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 8:04 PM  

Yeah...but.....there are now two types of conflict. Blitzkrieg (for lack of a better term), and commando. Blitzkrieg is the easiest to address. It is the application of an unstoppable focused pulse of power by a nation state against a strategic target (say Poland, or. the Japanese fleet at Midway.)

The second option is more nuanced and would require a paper to develop (no doubt already done). It would range from commando attacks (elite/focused) against strategic assets (power plants, yadayada ya) by a highly trained few: up to and including mass attacks against populations and assets.

A strategically weak player would favor the latter (attacks against targets of opportunity be they led by elite commando or mob), the downside to this is, you are sooner or later identified as a bad boy and destruction rains down upon you.

Regarding the first scenario, there is no counter to a Blitzkrieg by a First Rate power by a second or third world power. The idea there is exists only because blitzkrieg has not been applied since WWII.

Also, consider, one of the greatest military triumphs of Vietnam Era(the Tet Offensive), a defensive/offensive scenario, is to this day seen as a defeat/setback because of the iliterate/compromised coverage of the media.

Put it all together and you soon learn to read, develop your reasoning and discernment faculties, and seek out other like minds.

Ignore the trolls

Hence, many underestimate the power of America (even second rate powers like England and Germany).

Bad move.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 8:13 PM  

@2 The Modern American System of War is not Blitzkrieg, if it were every war would of been like the First Gulf War.....but worse. From a Blitzkrieg perspective we should of killed everyone trying to escape Q8.

We should of destroyed the equipment at the head of the exodus, then the rear of the exodus, then everything in the middle.

Likewise, every other battle in the Near East.

50 cals in a Toyota is not an insurmountable military conundrum. It's pathetic.

The political, not the military class, dictates how wars are fought in America. The political class then blames the military for the political classes failures.

The Modern American System of War is the political class playing dress up.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 8:18 PM  

Joe. Stop. You don't understand blitzkrieg. And you don't understand the difference between war and occupation.

Blogger RobertDWood February 10, 2018 8:54 PM  

It's almost like blowback is a concept the Hawks have never considered.

Blogger Tamaqua February 10, 2018 9:03 PM  

Check out Richard Overy’s “The Bombing War” for a great study of how strategic bombing in the entirety of the European theater in WWII was conducted, including a fantastic introduction to the interwar development of the theory.

Strategic bombing, for all the reams of paper expended on it, has only really occurred once, by the USAAF and the RAF in 1942-1945. Everything else since has been operational or tactical with a hoped for political result. The modern iteration we see today isn’t focused on the ability of the enemy to make or sustain war physically, but to force them to come to the negotiating table in limited wars. American politicians and self interested Air Force “strategists” still haven’t figured out that more firepower applied from 10,000 feet isn’t a winning strategy in a civil war.

Blogger VD February 10, 2018 9:05 PM  

Joe, settle down. Nate is right. Blitzkrieg has a specific meaning in military history and it is not what you described. You're describing something more akin to what Lind would call a strategic schwerpunkt.

And you appear to significantly overrate US military capabilities, to say nothing of the UK's. Keep in mind that no major power has won a 4th generation war, which is why the militaries of the world are so interested in studying it. I recommend reading more Lind and van Creveld, starting with van Creveld's The Transformation of War.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 9:22 PM  

I would point out that things are not as dire as they seem though. Taking down an Israeli fighter and challenging american air superiority is a very different thing. We have tricks to play yet. For example... our GPS satellites are jammable right? That's one of the ways Russia is appearing to edge ahead. But how are they doing it?

once you get into the nuts and bolts tactics we find we are still two steps ahead. Because we can alter the broadcast shape and power. For example when we know a target is in a spot and jamming... we can crank up the power on the GPS signal and focus it in a tight beam that will punch through that jammer.. allowing the ordinance to track properly.

Now there are other areas where Russia is eating our lunch. But this is an important one where we are holding serve.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 9:28 PM  

@6 How about this.......how about the Hawks don't care about blowback (they understand the concept), but they just don't care?

That is, blowback advances their cause. They want war. They either have small dicks, no pubic hair, and no skin in the game, or, big dicks, and massive psychological baggage.

There is no middle ground.

Blogger Koanic February 10, 2018 9:29 PM  

> Keep in mind that no major power has won a 4th generation war

If it's a 4th generation war, it means the major power isn't trying to win. Otherwise it's called a genocide.

Does the Russians beating the Chechens count? The muzzies are always up for 4GW.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 9:32 PM  

Correct koanic. 4gw dates back to old testament times with the zealots. Note that RomeRdidnt have a bigbproblem with it.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 9:41 PM  

@8 No need to settle down. And Blitzkrieg is as I described. It is Lightning Warfare, the application of a concentrated pulse of power by a nation state and its assets against a strategic assets of another nation state (or its proxy).

Be it a battle group (as at Midway), or a nation state (Poland). It does not matter.

Regardless, the assets of a respective nation state are turned against the assets of another nation state. This concentration of force is usually decisive.

Most moderns have not seen the application of decisive power by one nation state against another.

Anyone wanting to understand the idea of war should read the Iliad, not the shit that passes for analyses now.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 9:46 PM  

" the application of a concentrated pulse of power by a nation state and its assets against a strategic assets of another nation state (or its proxy). "

that is a terrible definition of Blitzkrieg. Joe the defining characteristic of Blitzkrieg is speed. Its an all out rush to the seat of power. The goal is to decapitate the other nation state before they can effectively organize their defenses. This means the tip of the spear is actually by passing enemy forces. Leaving them behind... and leaving yourself open to counter attack from the rear.

But in America's case... that's where those freely roaming A-10s come in.

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 9:52 PM  

@2 Nate

Once our troops are the only ones who can call in air support... the fight is lost.

I find it difficult to reconcile your statement with the reality of the Vietnam War. The fight(battle?) maybe, but not the war.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 10:00 PM  

4th generation war is bullshit.

How about this.

Let's play a game, I'll bring the military power and strategic vision of nearly 4000 years of human history against your vision of 4th generation warfare.

You, no doubt, will advance the ideal of the heretic against the existing social/miltary order. It has a certain appeal...no doubt.

But reality is a harsh mistress.

I would crush you. No problem.

The Spaniards (all 1500 of them) destroyed the Aztec Empire.

How did they do that?

Likewise, the Incas in Peru.

How did those people from the Iberian Peninsula defeat millions of indigenous peoples?

Ever wonder about that?

You should.

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 10:00 PM  

@13
If you simply looked up the definition of Blitzkrieg, you would not have to keep humiliating yourself.

(great Ongobongo! one of my spelling mistakes just self corrected! The Singularity approaches!)

Blogger Theproductofafineeduction February 10, 2018 10:05 PM  

It's impossible to win a war if you don't attack your enemies home base; i.e. North Vietnam. The US fought a war under parameters that ensured victory couldn't be achieved.

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 10:06 PM  

@16
How did they do that?

Likewise, the Incas in Peru.

How did those people from the Iberian Peninsula defeat millions of indigenous peoples?

Ever wonder about that?


They did not have to check with a lawyer about a drone strike on Bin Laden before they pulled the trigger, for one thing. Or worry about the current Rules of Engagement.

Get a friggin' update sometime.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 10:07 PM  

@14 Actually Nate......speed is not the defining characteristic of blitzkrieg. If it were, the Huns could of sprinted to Ireland and won the war.

Blitzkrieg the application of an concentrated and unstoppable pulse of power on a strategic objective.

Speed of execution is implied as there is no need, or advantage to dawdle.

Poland was an example of blitzkrieg

So was Pearl Harbor.

If you disagree, you are wrong.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 10:08 PM  

Jesus Christ...

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 10:09 PM  

@17 You're clueless.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 10:09 PM  

Joe... one more time...

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 10:09 PM  

18. Blogger Theproductofafineeduction February 10, 2018 10:05 PM
It's impossible to win a war if you don't attack your enemies home base; i.e. North Vietnam. The US fought a war under parameters that ensured victory couldn't be achieved.


Dude, they DID attack North Vietnam. That is how McStain got shot down. People were saying they should NUKE NV, FFS.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 10:12 PM  

"I find it difficult to reconcile your statement with the reality of the Vietnam War. The fight(battle?) maybe, but not the war."

I would simply note that in defense of my statement... the gooks lost every battle.

They only won the war because there was no victory condition for America in that war.

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 10:12 PM  

@18 You are correct.

The Vietnam War was not conducted by military men, it was dictated by politicians (as all wars are).

These same politicians later explained how the military failed the nation....

Do you see the "humor?"

I don't

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 10:14 PM  

@18

I forgot to add....they attacked North Vietnam exclusively with airpower.

Airpower, Lahey. (trailer park boys reference.)

Blogger Joe Keenan February 10, 2018 10:15 PM  

@23

You need both C's.....confidence and competence. You lack one of these C's.

Can you guess which one?

Hint. It's not confidence.

Blogger DonReynolds February 10, 2018 10:17 PM  

Mahan was as totally committed to the vital role of a large navy, in the same way Douhet pitched for an overwhelming air force. We saw the same monomania with total reliance on nuclear weapons in the 1950s, which was reinforced with the development of the triad of nuclear power. There would be no need for puny conventional weapons in the future. Of course, that proved very wrong too.

What I find fascinating about the weapons of WWI is how each type impressed the enemy, more than anything. By the time of WWII, it was as if the major powers had swapped weapons with each other.

During WWI, the Germans had a low opinion of the potential of the tank in land warfare. They only built about twenty of their own, whereas the Allies built thousands and used them in battle. The Germans remained convinced that field artillery (properly trained) could wipe out the large slow tanks before they could engage. During WWII, the Germans were the masters of armored warfare on all fronts, until their own losses and overwhelming numbers of the enemy forced them to retreat.

Likewise, during WWI the Germans dominated the air war for nearly the entire conflict. Yet in WWII, it was the Allies who developed the machines and organization to dominate the skies over all of Europe. Again, it was as if the great powers had switched weapons by the time of WWII.

Blogger Nate February 10, 2018 10:33 PM  

Joe. I'm tired and I have the flu. So dealing with the willfully ignorant is really not something I'm interested in doing right now. Frankly its a miracle I've been this restrained.

Your level of understanding doesn't even rise to the level of the casual military channel viewer. Your description of blitzkreig can be applied to virtually every battle in every war ever fought.

Pearl Harbor?

Jesus Christ. You're making Alt-Retard look smart at this point.

Blogger DonReynolds February 10, 2018 10:34 PM  

Get Well Soon, Nate.

Blogger Lazarus February 10, 2018 10:37 PM  

@29

During WWII, the Germans were the masters of armored warfare on all fronts

Aided and abetted by all the new roads and bridges built to accomodate the horseless carriage.

Blogger Thucydides February 10, 2018 10:47 PM  

Interesting conversation here. I will offer an article from Australia which attempts to project airpower into the future: https://balloonstodrones.com/2018/02/06/contested-skies-australias-uncertain-air-superiority-future/

One takeaway from the article:

"The skies are increasingly contested. Emerging threats are making Australia’s tanker, and AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) aircraft more vulnerable and advanced surface-to-air missiles, stealth-fighter technology, long-range ballistic and cruise missiles and even hobbyist drones are proliferating. The US Air Force (USAF) recently studied what all this means in practice and determined that its ‘projected force structure in 2030 is not capable of fighting and winning against [the expected] array of potential adversary capabilities’.

Many of the world's air forces will only have finished receiving the last of their new F-35's in 2030, so we may be in for a very fluid period as the world's air forces seek new technologies, tactics and procedures to operate in the new environment.

Blogger Wynn Lloyd February 10, 2018 10:51 PM  

Lol. It's something else.

Blogger Skyler the Weird February 10, 2018 10:55 PM  

Was the British victory over the Communist Insurgency in Malaya not a victory of a Major power in a 4th generation warfare?

Also the Soviet victory over the UPA insurgency in the Ukraine following WWII?

Major powers don't do well against 4th Generation warfare when the insurgents are funded and supplied by another major power.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 10, 2018 11:45 PM  

Joe Keenan wrote:

How did those people from the Iberian Peninsula defeat millions of indigenous peoples?


Iberians had indigenous allies who hated their indigenous imperial masters and were happy to work with the Iberians to destroy them. Read ``The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico.''

Blogger The Kurgan February 11, 2018 12:10 AM  

Except for Vietnam?

Blogger The Kurgan February 11, 2018 12:17 AM  

Yes. 4gw is beatable. It just means you have to be willing to permanently beat the 4gw fighters. Which means exterminate them completely.

The reason Rome didn’t have a problem with it is because they understood that bad PR really doesn’t matter if you’re willing to kill everyone.
Because when you’re done you can then look to the PR machine too and say “you want some too?”
Of course it’s a bit more complicated than that.
But not much.

Blogger The Kurgan February 11, 2018 12:23 AM  

The Spaniards also were conveniently thought to be the returning Gods. The Aztecs were never kings. Only stewards.

That aside, Joe has demonstrated a knowledge of military history that is on a par with the ability of the average chimp to do quadratic equations.

Anonymous Anonymous February 11, 2018 1:05 AM  

@8 No need to settle down. And Blitzkrieg is as I described. It is Lightning Warfare, the application of a concentrated pulse of power by a nation state and its assets against a strategic assets of another nation state (or its proxy).

Poppycock. What a concoction of pompous cliches!

There is not such thing as "Blitzkrieg", if you mean by this a systematic definition of strategy and tactics, perhaps applied specifically to the German conquest of France.

The word itself was originated by Time magazine (van Creveld pointed this out somewhere...). Because the fall of France was so surprisingly rapid, there had to be some explanation for the defeat of what was thought of as the foremost military power in the contemporary world. The word "Blitzkrieg" fit the situation--it had truly been a lightning conquest. Hitler liked the term so well he started using it.

If you want a lucid and detailed explanation of just what happened to bring down France so quickly, you might want to read The Blitzkrieg Legend, by Karl-Heinz Frieser. It is by far the best account of the 1940 conquest of France that I have ever read. Frieser points out what really won the campaign for the Germans: a superior general staff, officer corps, and superb non-coms. Above all, it was a masterful strategic deception perpetrated by the Germans that caused the Franco-British forces to fixate on a completely mistaken idea on where the main axis of the German attack would occur. Well, the book says it all much better than I can here.

The main point is that the German victory was achieved by a competent application of ancient military principles (and an equally incompetent performance by the French). There was really nothing new here.

Blogger Koanic February 11, 2018 2:12 AM  

In football, a blitz is the application of a concentrated pulse of power against the quarterback.

It happens on pretty much every play by the defense.

If you guys have any other questions about football, let me know.

Blogger tim February 11, 2018 3:31 AM  

How do we justify war anymore unless it's revolution against our diabolical fallen Deepstate citizens.

Blogger VD February 11, 2018 4:57 AM  

4th generation war is bullshit.

That's enough from you, Joe. You've said your piece. Repeatedly. Now drop it.

Blogger Teleros February 11, 2018 4:59 AM  

"Keep in mind that no major power has won a 4th generation war"

Best I can come up with is the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Who was it that said it was the 3:1 ratio death in the IRA's favour that helped so much?

Anonymous Anonymous February 11, 2018 5:27 AM  

"... Keep in mind that no major power has won a 4th generation war, which is why the militaries of the world are so interested in studying it. I recommend reading more Lind and van Creveld, ..."

I like to read Lind the most. To each his own.

From reading Lind I realized that the USA has mostly fought 4th generation wars for most of my lifetime and we have lost every one of them.

Think of all the life and money wasted on these destructive wars that we lose every time. When will we wake up to the reality of the situation?

What is the "national interest" in fighting wars in the middle east for example. Why did we reject the democratic election in Iran and install the Shaw of Iran which has led to a state of hatred between their people and ours for decades?

My uncle was with a CIA front company teaching the Shaw' army how to fight. He told me way before the revolution that the Shaw would lose --- just as his brother, a high ranking member of the planning staff, told me we had lost Vietnam in '70.

For God's sake, why do the lower ranking men always seem to know the truth of the situation and our "leaders" are delusional?

Blogger Koanic February 11, 2018 5:31 AM  

> For God's sake, why do the lower ranking men always seem to know the truth of the situation and our "leaders" are delusional?

That those who have rejected God may fall before those who never knew Him.

Blogger VD February 11, 2018 5:54 AM  

For God's sake, why do the lower ranking men always seem to know the truth of the situation and our "leaders" are delusional?

The leaders choose to believe what they want to believe. And they have other lower-ranking men telling them what they want to believe. If you've never been in an executive position, you don't understand that people are ALWAYS telling you contradictory things for various reasons, most of which relate to trying to cover up their own failures.

Many, if not most, executive mistakes are the result of bad information from subordinates.

Blogger xavier February 11, 2018 8:08 AM  

Vox

Thanks very much for the reference to van Crevald's book.
I do have one quick question: if air superiority has been effectively neutralized for the forseeable future. What will take its place and how will wars be fought?
I assume the next frontier will be space weapon as the method to reestablish airspace supremacy. Or am I completely misinformed about their effectiveness?

Blogger pyrrhus February 11, 2018 8:26 AM  

@34 The British defeated the Malaysian rebels because they were primarily Chinese and the Malays hate the Chinese. It wasn't 4GW because the population didn't support the insurgency...

Blogger Manach February 11, 2018 8:36 AM  

The audio book version I found to be an excellent experience for the commute and well produced.

Anonymous Anonymous February 11, 2018 8:59 AM  

Back in 2011 I used a translated copy of The Command of the Air. It was one of two copies my university library had and therefore I couldn't leave the library with it. Handjamming notes was the only way to go.

Douhet was a man ahead of his time. Had the delayed fuse bombs or chemical weapons he envisioned had been used on a wide scale in WWII, things may have turned out differently.

Blogger justaguy February 11, 2018 12:09 PM  

#45: Why leaders are clueless and the men know so much???? War/battle is a process of discovery and a refinement of a bureaucracy. Reality can't simply be brought up on the screen of a computer via the internet. Add to this the large unknown the fact that armed forces are large organizations and large organizations always have inherent cultures that often go against their public purpose (bureaucratic politics and such) and it is any wonder that almost all wars have gone in ways different than most leaders and their men thought they would.

Blogger modsquad February 11, 2018 3:06 PM  

Vietnam wasn't about winning a war, it was about finding out where the offshore oil deposits were.

Blogger JaimeInTexas February 11, 2018 3:22 PM  

Air superiority will go through another adaptation phase. The most current one is the use of drones for ordnance delivery and/or observation.
The next phase will be an attempt to use remote controlled fighters and long range bomber. Especially with fighters, no G-forces to limit the craft. But, in modern air warfare, if the opposing pilots can see each other someone screwed up.

Blogger tim February 11, 2018 10:17 PM  

How do we justify war anymore unless it's revolution against our diabolical fallen Deepstate citizens.

Blogger ASH February 12, 2018 4:57 PM  

@9 Nate, you overestimate our GPS capabilities. I will not go into detail, but a GPS signal will never over power a terrestrial jammer. The GPS signal spits out about -140dbm, which equates to somewhere in the realm of 0.0000000000000001 Watts of power when the signal hits the earth's surface. See why I'm pessimistic? No amount of spot beaming (you mentioned that but it's not a GPS capability) or flex power will ever over come a terrestrial military jammer that can spit out 1000 Watts of power. A russian company has publicly announced that it created a mini 4 Watt jammer that can knock out GPS for 100 miles.

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