Utter pants. Theoretically and conceptually he is all over the shop, to the extent that I honestly don't know what he's on about most of the time.
The Triumph of the Wills, for want of a better expression, that he finally harps on about in the end (so I assume that it is his conclusion) is all well and good if you're into that sort of thing, but the logic of the rest of his article gives no clue as to how to operationalise this idea. For most of the article, he keeps on explaining how basically we're fcuked. Conventional warfare hasn't worked, public diplomacy and attempts at discourse haven't worked. If we can't stop the suicide bombers and we can't dissuade them, then what's left?
From an operational perspective there seems to be little more than "We know we're right, because we know we're always right- so lets just get down on our knees and pray that everything will be okay." Is his idea for victory against terrorism really based upon the need to make sure that Janet Jackson doesn't show the world her nipple clamp on national tv again?
This is a drum which Colonel Ralph has been banging for years, now. He's a retired US MI Lt Col, not a bad novelist - and an occasional commentator on military affairs. He has a particular thing about the Triumf des Willens and has read entirely too much Sun Tzu for his own peace of mind.
I looked in vain for some suggestions in the article as to what we should do, his having demonstrated thoroughly that what we are doing is not the right thing.
Maybe his point is that we should start looking for alternative ways to win rather than pouring huge amounts of money/effort/time into the latest military fad (NEC/NCW). I have to say I find his article a fairly eloquent position on why we radically need to change our defence thinking. Can I also recommend his paper In praise of attrition.
In the article you suggest, he singularly fails to define his terms of reference. It could be inferred from his argument that manoeuvre warfare only entails posturing and positioning. Of course manoeuvre warfare also involves the timely and accurate application of force as required to have the required level of shock to either decapitate an enemy or sap its will to fight.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, one of the most successful military campaigns in history, was intended to be a new kind of war of maneuver, in which aerial weapons would âshock and aweâ a humbled opponent into surrender while ground forces did a little light dusting in the house of war. But instead of being decided by maneuvered technologies, the three-week war was fought and wonâtriumphantlyâby soldiers and marines employing both aggressive operational maneuvers and devastating tactical firepower.
But, one could argue that an insurgency campaign is itself a form of manoeuvre warfare. As we are all now aware the three week campaign, did not signal an end to the war- no matter how pretty George W looked when he played dress-up on the aircraft carrier.
The point is not that maneuver is the stepbrother of firepower, but that there is no single answer to the battlefield, no formula. The commanderâs age-old need to balance incisive movements with the application of weaponry is unlikely to change even well beyond our lifetimes. Itâs not an either-or matter, but about getting the integration right in each specific case.
To use the parlance of my studes- "Well, like- D'uh!" Rule No.7 for how to succeed without talent- When asked for your opinion, pick out a platitude and defend it righteously.
No model is consistently applicable. That isâor should beâa given. Wars create exceptions, to the eternal chagrin of military commanders and the consistent embarrassment of theorists. One of our greatest national and military strengths is our adaptability. Unlike many other cultures, we have an almost-primal aversion to wearing the straitjacket of theory, and our independence of mind serves us very well, indeed. But the theorists are always there, like devils whispering in our ears, telling us that airpower will win this war, or that satellite âintelligenceâ obviates the need for human effort, or that a mortal enemy will be persuaded to surrender by a sound-and-light show.
The irony of the fact that he himself is theorising about warfare, is apparently lost on him.
I do generally agree with his assertion that the application of appropriate amounts of shiny kit to a given problem is not a panacea. However, the manner in which he approaches the issue leaves a lot to be desired. He offers no way of remedying the shortcomings and he fails to recognise that the establishment of theories and doctrine regarding the application of force provides a cognitive framework for commanders in the field that allows them to operate. Nobody is bright enough to co-ordinate a campaign while making everything up on the fly.
I could go on, but it's past 0200 where I am and I need to get my head down.