This is a perfect moment to deploy this photograph that I took in the Mill Road in Cambridge three weeks ago. Over at Belmont Club there’s an entry pointing at an amusing idea for a war simulation game:
“I want a War Sim where I spend two hours pushing across a map to destroy a ‘nuclear missile silo’, only to find out after the fact that it was just a missile-themed orphanage. I want little celebrities to show up on the scene and do interviews over video of charred teddy bears, decrying my unilateral attack.”
Next, it moves on to quote Army Magazine‘s piece, Sun Tzu’s Bad Advice: Urban Warfare in the Information Age, thusly:
“We do not live in Sun Tzu’s world, nor even in that of Clausewitz, Fuller or Liddell Hart. The modern world has urbanized to an unprecedented degree, and it is inconceivable that future military contingencies will not involve urban operations. Sun Tzu lived and wrote (if indeed he was a real person) in the agrarian age, when most of the land was either wilderness or cultivated. Large segments of the population lived outside cities, and warfare typically occurred in flat, open terrain. Such battlefields–the stomping grounds of warriors from Sun Tzu to Napoleon–are becoming scarcer each day. Furthermore, the very success of American joint operations–and joint fires in particular–guarantee that a clever opponent will move into cities for protection. The modern battlefield is urban.”
I am now counting down to the first rebuttal comment from Timbeaux or Duff.
This item formally launches a new PooterGeek subject category…
It merely refutes the accepted adaptations. You must now add politics and media coverage to your terrain analysis, but in reality that has been true for ages. Rumors have always been a useful tool. The principles are universal, tactics are situational. The principles can be applied to aerial warfare, which was also unknown, as well as naval warfare, which was scarce in the East. It shows nothing more than the Army is rigid in its worldview, as if that was news. They think this is new, but the only thing new is that we now limit our own commander’s options through “opinion polls”. We demand that they can’t be ruthless, it’s really rather dibilitating if you want to win. That is certainly something I don’t think Sun Tzu anticipated, but he never had an inkling for democracy, neither pros nor its cons.
To give an example, the Russians never fought an urban battle in taking Budapest. The Russian people did not – well in fact weren’t allowed to even if they had desired to – demand that civilian casualties be limited. The Red Army shelled the city for weeks, until it was practically flattened, and little resistance was offered once they entered. The urgency to take Berlin before the Allies required them to enter the city without any such “softening up”, and they paid Hell for it in casualties despite the defense being made up of 15-yo boys and grandfathers.
The point being, domestic politics becomes a strategic factor in relation to the type of government a nation has, part of its ‘terrain’. Authoritarian systems have little compunction to include it, yet democratic systems have plenty. That is why the Islamists can get a virtual media pass for Nick Berg (and the UN for Rwanda), but captive murders with underwear on their heads may bring down an effective administration.
Timbeaux says it better than me. I can only add this. Civilians in democracies will learn to harden their hearts. They *will* do this because the terrorist soldiers that hate us and our system will continue to up the ante. Memories of 9/11 are fading already, but be sure, there will be others and gradually the public will grant their leaders the means to fight the good fight.
I have always believed that the war against terrorism can be described (rather fancifully, I admit) as a war fought with ‘knives up dark alleys’; by which I mean, blanket security intelligence (which will infringe civil liberties), fierce interrogation of suspects, followed by ruthless extermination of the leadership. The recent follow up operation by the Spanish security services was a model, except for the fact that it should have happened before the terrorists struck, not after.
But first, the people must face the harsh realities. They will, the enemy will see to it!