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14 August 2006

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Patrick Henry

This sounds pretty much right on to me..
My Impression nowis that Both Major political Partys in the united states have been "Hijacked" by Our own "Extremist" Special interest Groups who Gain Power so they can Use the resources of the american (And British) Governments so they can achieve thier Own Political Objectives..

Then they use Propaganda and Spin to sell thier Product ..to the Average American or British Citizen..and then Waste Our Resources to carry Out Policys that keep putting america in a Worst position..

As I have said before...we need to take Our Country Back...See the TRUTH..which is only really exposed on Web sites like this..

And understand the CAUSE and EFFECT..On all Sides of World Affairs and Foreign annd Domestics policys and Actions..

which Cause REACTIONS..

dano

- The MBT has always been vulnerable to well equipped infantry. That is why it must also be supported by its own well equipped infantry, which in turn help suppress the infantry adversary. However, the main battle tank is not very useful in a small battle space which is dotted with well prepared fortifications manned by trained and equipped infantry and possibly protected as well by mines.

- The cancellation of the RAH-66 is not evidence of the increasing superiority of infantry tactics and advanced weaponry over modern helos. It is only evidence of the failure to transform cubic meters and tons of surveillance electronics into a package that is small enough and lightweight enough to put into a vehicle the size of an attack helicopter. Helos are still effective against tanks that have no air defense. They are not very effective (and are rather vulnerable) against infantry.

- "the power of 'Air Power' is vastly overrated..." depends on what your definition of "power" is. Or more accurately it depends on what one's definition of "target" is. There is no doubt that any modern air force can deliver tens of thousands of pounds of high explosive on an area (target). The problem comes in delivering a small or medium package of explosive to a target that may be from one to a few square meters in size.* "Air Power" is dependent on the promises of salesmen from defense contractors who assert that their smart weapon can fly in the window of a bad guy and kill him but not his wife and two year old child. Yes that is an exaggeration but I hope you get the point. "Smart" bombs and missiles are as much a promise as a reality, and even in the reality they are simply too indiscriminate and frequently inaccurate. I will agree that Air Power from heavy bombers to attack bombers is pretty useless in the modern MOUT space, or even in the suburban/rural Israeli campaign in Lebanon. But that 60 year old doctrine will work in the cases for which it was devised. (Setting aside the moral arguments, it is especially effective against soft civilian infrastructure.) So I would agree with the premise that "strategic bombing" as it came out of WW2 and went into the Cold War is a concept that must be retired and not used in modern urban warfare against mostly civilian populations.

- "popular" movements are, for the sake of this argument, more accurately described as insurgencies or armed uprisings by indigenous populations. And they are more effectively countered with good intelligence (sigint and humint) that feeds into good policing. (And I agree with you that in some cases they can also dealt with by alleviating the factors that cause them. Which includes defining "good" policing.)

*There is still huge argument about whether "area" or "strategic" bombing is effective in persuading an enemy to concede defeat. (I personally believe it is only effective in reducing the resistance of structures, but not people, though it did seem to work in Serbia.)

Matthew

The author highlights the reason our foreign policy in the ME is a disaster: We don't ever talk to the Arabs about what they want. We just want to tell them what's wrong with them. Imagine you had a relative like that. Would you invite him over after a while?

Homefries

Maybe it's not completely impossible that some long term good can come out of this conflict.

It's been a long time since the Arabs have had a legitimate Pan-Arab Leader. Assuming Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah avoids assassination, he will have assumed considerable prestige in the eyes of the most intractable foes of Israel. Is it too much of a stretch to assume that Nasrallah will have gained sufficient credibility to potentially help broker a peace agreement with Israel on behalf of both the Syrians and the Palestinians?

Is it not fair to say that, in their day, both Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin were considered giants on the Middle Eastern stage--in large part because of their military accomplishments?

Perhaps we should at least consider the possibility.

akjwltjslker

The post says: "-popular movements like Hezbollah can not be defeated by any kind of military force...they may be suppressed, but they will rise again unless the geo-political reasons for their having come into existence are not addressed"

Many "popular movements" disappeared after the cold war when soviet support was no longer available. Without Iranian and Syrian support Hezbullah would not be any more significant than any other militia in Lebanon.


The post says: "the power of "Air Power" is vastly over-rated by western militaries, and they will no doubt continue to rely on it more and more, which is why any campaign in Iran is doomed to failure before it starts (also because bombing infrastructure only angers the population and stiffens resistance)"

Air power when used as support for special forces is still the most powerful weapon on the battle field. When a guy on the ground can pull a "trigger" and the result is a 500-2000 pound bomb, that is hard to defend against. Gps guided artillary and rockets will soon be as powerful.

The post says: "-the leading cause of modern Islamic terrorism is 60 years of bad foreign policy by USA/UK...or to put it more bluntly, when you go into other peoples countries at will to interfere, you only make more people angry at you "

Islamic terror is a continuation of Islamic agression that has been going on since the inception of that religion. Islamists want to convert the world and they will not stop until they are successful. This predates US and UK foreign policy and has nothing to do with it.

This philosophy you have that terrorism is caused by victimization of poor people by evil imperialists is wrong. When Israel gave up terroritoy in Gaza and left Lebanon they did not get peace they got missile attacks. How do you explalin that?

billmon

"the power of "Air Power" is vastly over-rated by western militaries, and they will no doubt continue to rely on it more and more"

What happens if somebody finally develops a cheap, effective surface-to-air missile defense? Will F16s become the Merkavas of the sky?

wtofd

A friend sent this article from the Guardian which backs up GaW on occupation as a driving force in suicide bombings.

Montag

Tanks are becoming like the old joke about LSTs--instead of being the abbreviation for, "Landing Ship, Tank," their nervous crews called them, "Large, Slow Target!"

Brian Forester

Is it really only 60 years of bad policy? Can't you trace some of the bad policy all the way back to the division of the Ottoman Empire by the British?

A Peace to End All Peace : The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805068848/sr=1-13/qid=1155584690/ref=sr_1_13/102-5846652-0734530?ie=UTF8&s=books

KissMyChaddis

You know Pat, it's an indictment of just how out of touch Americans and their Govt is with the people they've been crushing under their boot heels for the last 50 odd years, that the last two points you've made above count as some sort of revelation.

(B-B-But they hate us for our *freedoms*!)

confusedponderer

The US would have been well advised not to dissolve the 6th and 7th LID's. Ah well, evil Clinton ... no, that's unfair - all of DC colluded for that. They were dissolved because they couldn't be justified by bringing high tech pork to bipartisan Senator's districts.

Whatever, these units would serve the US very well in today's environment, better than, say, a squadron of F-22 fighters, probably at a lower price.

Light infantry is what the US currently lacks especially for counterinsurgency operations. And as Hezbollah has ably demonstrated they can be highly effective against much heavier mechanised forces when used with sound tactics and when terrain and armament are skillfully utilised. Not to mention their utility as a leadership pool for the rest of the army.

But sell that as transformation: 'The soldier of the future will be moving by march, with his rifle and bayonet!' The RMA folks would be shattered.

Paratroopers aside, large formations of light infantry is what the IDF is lacking, too. They are focused on mechanised maneuver warefare, and have to fight in difficult terrain that woud require light infantry. Lebanon isn't the Sinai.

In Lebanon terrain favours the defender, and Hezbollah had ample time to learn by heart their sectors of fire, their tank traps, obstacles, mine fields, kill zones etc. So the tank is suddenly obsolete? Again, or still? I have heared the swan song of the tank so often that I wonder why militaries are still using them. How again went that joke? "I don't believe in missiles, said the tank."

However, the US Army seems to have put them to use effectively in Iraq. I think the Israeli problems aren't about tanks being obsolete, but about using them stupidly in unfavourable terrain. In earlier wars the IDF demonstrated that combined arms teams of infantry, fire support and tanks are effective in countering ATGM. Industry slogans nonwithstanding, it isn't exactly as if a quantum leap in missile technology changed everything.

Green Zone Cafe

On the issue of the future importance of infantry in a world where missiles make armored vehicles and aircraft unsurvivable, there's a pretty good book, Invasion by Eric Harry. Invasion is set around 2020 during a Chinese invasion of the US. Harry's thesis is the same - infantry defend the US all the way to the Potomac. It's a very credible scenario and a good read despite some potboiler plot elements (a soldier who's the daughter of US president and a cousin of a Chinese leader).

I often think how our current incompetent leadership's mistakes will weaken us vis 'a vis China into the future.

Here's a link to the book:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0515128422/sr=1-1/qid=1155585955/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-4083727-9868710?ie=UTF8&s=books

Bernie

It seems to me that the US has, through some curious devolution, developed a foreign policy that in many respects can best be described as ‘juvenile’. To no small extent it seems to resemble the maturity of its chief executive. Its excessive reliance on belligerence, refusal to engage with its perceived enemies, simplified and unsophisticated view of the world, all resemble the actions of a person confused by almost everything other than his own physical strength.

Hal

Got a Watch writes:

"the power of "Air Power" is vastly over-rated by western militaries, and they will no doubt continue to rely on it more and more, which is why any campaign in Iran is doomed to failure before it starts (also because bombing infrastructure only angers the population and stiffens resistance)."

Wasn't this clear by late 1945? I once saw a documentary about the Allied bombing of Berlin, which far exceeded anything that a country could get away with today. The city functioned right up to the end, and the population never turned against Hitler. Indeed, the rumor in Berlin towards the end was that Hitler would return from the Alps to do something for Berlin.

So why does the belief in air power persist?

meletius

God, I have learned a lot on this blog in the past month!

I felt like I had a chance of understanding what was going on because of SST-06.

Thanks, Col. Lang, you're a national treasure!

sonic

From Amos Harel

"Reference to the battle in the Wadi Salouki area is relevant here. In the early morning hours the battle ended successfully: A tank force crossed the river and climbed the steep hills to join an advanced infantry force in the push toward the Litani.... The first tank to cross the wadi was destroyed by a massive mine, and its crew was killed. Eight other tanks suffered anti-tank missile hits. Among the two dead are two company commanders. A battalion commander was seriously injured. The division describes this as "a historic achievement.""

I would not say the MBT is obsolete, just that Israel has forgotten that the role of armour is not to protect infantry but instead to break through the enemy line and then exploit in his rear.

In a war like Lebanon, with no front line to break through, the traditional "shock" value of heavy armour is irrelevent.

Steve Kimbrough

Sounds about right. Well put. Next question: What are the strategic moves available to the main players? Obviously, the underdogs learn the lesson of Lebanon and invest in soldiers, dispersed bunkers, tank killing missiles, etc. And the overdogs try to figure out a response. Obviously. But let us think boldly. Here's a try. If Israel is willing to live in peace with the 1967 borders (and loss of water rights, etc.), here's an interesting move. Build the fence on the legitimate borders, bring in the UN as a policeman with power to parol and to prevent missiles, with the promise to empower the Palestinians defensively: let them have (supervised) military forces with bunkers and anti-tank and anti-helicopter weapons.
At the same time, Israel makes clear it can and will do a Lebanon again, and worse, on the Palestineans if attacks are not stopped. Tying itself to the mast, Israel gives the Palestineans something they don't want to lose, retains the ability to destroy it, and so provides conditions for peace. Too bold, probably. Other ideas?

Reginald Jones

This point of view is unassailable in its logic; why any credible power broker at the national level can't understand this(here I include the so called "Chicken Hawks")is beyound my ability to comprehend.

It is equally frustrating to hear over and over again the POTUS and other senior officials promise the American people that we will "stay the course" to win a war waged on a tactic (terrorism). How will we ascertain the time of our victory? Will it be after we've killed all those we mistrust and fear? Is this within our American values, not to mention plausibility.

Keep up the good work!

Colonel (Ret) graduate of the Air War College

Cloned Poster

Billmon, attack helicopters were made redundant in this stage of conflict with Hezbollah, I expect if the ceasefire breaks and the IDF continue their cowardly strikes,,,,,,manpads will deploy.

arbogast

The French appear to be saying that Hezbollah will have to retreat to North of the Litani and begin disarming before anything else happens following 1701, such as Israel withdrawing its troops or FINUL coming in.

Huh? What on earth can prompt them to think that that is remotely possible?

There is a large measure of never-never land in 1701.

I don't think the discussion of battle tanks should stop any time soon.

Duncan Kinder

If GaW's thesis is correct, and if we may assume that the FARC guerrillas in Columbia have been studying; the Lebanon situation, we may predict that they will be deploying these tactics successfully in the near future.

zanzibar

"God, I have learned a lot on this blog in the past month!

I felt like I had a chance of understanding what was going on because of SST-06.

Thanks, Col. Lang, you're a national treasure!" - meletius

I second that sentiment. There's more discussion that informs and helps lay folks like me understand the military-political issues in the ME on this blog than definitely compared to our corporate media. Kudos to PL for providing a forum for "nuanced reality-based" discussions.

John Howley

I regularly see references to the Serbian air campaign as a counter to the inefficacy of strategic bombing.

Now, I remember reading "somewhere" that Slobo threw in the towel not because of infrastructure destruction but rather the following:
A large KLA force assembled and entered Serb-controlled territory. Serbs massed their armour in response which was promptly vaporized from the air. Slobo realized that repetition of this tactic would leave him with no army. However, discussion of this event was muted because the U.S. was not supposed to be coordinating with the KLA. So, we are left with the myth of Gen. Clark's non-casualty victory.

Can anyone clarify...with references?

James Pratt

I suppose when the US supported soldier is without the benefit of air support 10 to 20 meters below ground in a defensive tunnel equipped with blast doors, drop offs, segmented power ventilation and numerous side exits he just might realize he is there as an invader, not a liberator or defender. The lessons of Cu Chi have been learned.

Walrus

As someone who was trained not only to fight, but to teach counterinsurgency operations I have a few comments.

First, this is a great Blog!

Back to insurgents, terrorists or popular movements. Before you can deal with such people, you have to know what makes them tick and how they are supported.

A British ex policeman said it elsewhere in the context of the recent British terror plots "Only a community can stop terrorism" and he is right.

Mao said it in his little red book;- something like "the guerillas are like fish that swim in the sea of the peasants" or suchlike, meaning that geurillas are indistinguishable from the general population.

My point is that insurgents or terrorists cannot and will not operate in a vacuum. They require at least the tacit support of the general population of their region, and preferably active support.

The population provide everything the insurgents need; camouflage, intelligence, communications, logistics, cover, medical assistance and transport. Without a general population the insurgency cannot continue.

The mission, therefore, of a counterinsurgency campaign is to deny the insurgents the support of the population.

Against this test, the reasons for the successes and failures of military campaigns since WWII is blindingly obvious.

Look no further than Lebanon. The Israelis believed bombing would make Lebanese turn on Hezbollah, the reverse occurred.

On a tactical level. A successful campaign requires that you support the community (ie the general population) in a manner that gives them permission not to support insurgency.

In Malaya this was done by ensuring that each village was defended and that a curfew was in place each night (which automatically solves the rules of engagement problem, anyone moving at night is a bad guy)in this manner it was possible to isolate the insurgents from their potential supporters as well as deliver some of the benefits to them that western civilisations promise (medicine, security, jobs etc., all that hearts and minds stuff).

While this strategy was pushed very hard to America in Vietnam, they refused to adopt it, possibly for political reasons. The upshot was that the Army went home each night to their firebases or whatever, leaving the locals to the tender mercies of the VC.

In addition, the American propensity to see things as black or white was (and is)a huge handicap, they became totally frustrated when the village they had cleared and medicated by day became a source of VC at night.

Fast track to Iraq. It's obvious that nothing was remembered about Vietnam, or learned. American troops simply took over Saadams palaces in Baghdad, built armed camps away from the cities to which they retreat each night except when carrying out pointless "search and destroy" sweeps, which don't and can't work.

It is worth noting however that the Army is putting the finishing touches to a new counterinsurgency manual - the first in 25 years. It's on the web.

So back to tanks and airpower.

Can you win friends in the community with air power by area bombing and or taking down the homes of twenty families to kill one insurgent? No.

Can you win friends in the community with MBT's doing the same thing? No.

Can you win friends in the community by retreating to your base each night for cocktails, leaving the city to the tender mercies of the police and militias? No.

Can you win friends in the community by reviling their culture and calling them ragheads? No.

Can you torture or abuse them into liking what you stand for? No.

So what happens when insurgents are able to access fire and forget anti armor and anti air missiles? Israel just found out the hard way.

I would guess that somewhere, someone is working on an "open source" simple anti air missile, the aeronautical equivalent of a Katyusha, probably made with a CCD from a camera and a simple computer chip.

Once this technological "trickle down effect" occurs, the balance between armor, artillery, air and good old fashioned infantry is going to have to change radically in favor of more infantry - and not mechanised either.

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