Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Other Interesting Reading:

New American Way of War

In case you missed this over at Belmont Club, he linked to this interesting piece by Max Boot on the New American Way of War, that goes along with my original post about Clausewitz and the changing face of war:

Paradoxically, increasing precision makes U.S. firepower both more effective and less destructive. Because U.S. bombs can hit within a meter or two of their aim point, they can carry a lighter load of explosives. U.S. war planners tried hard to minimize collateral damage by employing the smallest possible munitions to get the job done, on occasion going so far as to drop bombs filled with nothing but concrete. Saddam's regime sought to take advantage of U.S. sensitivities by locating military installations among schools, hospitals, and mosques. But even with such dire provocations, U.S. forces still took great care to spare civilians

Clausewitz, right or wrong:

If the wars of civilised people are less cruel and destructive than those of savages, the difference arises from the social condition both of states in themselves and in their relations to each other. Out of this social condition and its relations war arises, and by it war is subjected to conditions, is controlled and modified. But these things do not belong to war itself; they are only given conditions; and to introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.

I think that Max Boot leans a little towards the Thomas P. Barnett model and does reflect Clausewitz's point that increasingly, politicized war will mean a different model for armies of the future. 170 years later, Max Boot reminds us, in nearly prescient prose, that the changing model is not just about technology and the idealic use of air power in place of "ground pounders", but is increasingly about "new" and flexible roles for these services:

It may make sense to transform some heavy armored units into lighter, more deployable formations. It makes no sense to reduce the size of the army as whole, an idea that Rumsfeld once toyed with. The army has already shrunk from 18 active-duty divisions in 1990 to 10 today -- a force that is not adequate for all its responsibilities, which include deployments in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sinai, South Korea, and now Iraq. The army is overstretched and having to lean more heavily on the reserves and the National Guard for vital functions such as policing and civil affairs. These part-time soldiers are not happy about becoming full-timers. The marines should pick up some of the slack by shouldering occupation duties in Iraq and elsewhere. But the active-duty army still needs to be increased in size. Airpower, no matter how awesome, cannot police newly liberated countries -- or build democratic governments.

The army needs to tackle the task of "imperial" policing -- not a popular duty, but one that is as vital to safeguarding U.S. interests in the long run as are the more conventional war-fighting skills on display during the second Gulf War. The Army War College's decision to shut down its Peacekeeping Institute is not a good sign; it means that the army still wants to avoid focusing on noncombat missions. The army brass should realize that battlefield victories in places like Afghanistan and Iraq can easily be squandered if they do not do enough to win the peace.

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