2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: dickboyd@aol.com
Date: 28 Apr 2003 13:47:11 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Generals Fight the Last War

In a message dated 4/25/2003 3:53:43 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Charles
Jeff Douglas at cpeo-military@igc.topica.com writes:

Now, bringing the debate back to my original posting regarding
training for our military
forces, Im simply saying that it is important that the military train
the way it fights.  I didnt
intend to start a debate about traffic, or the technology of GPS, or
France's trade, or the
vulnerability of petroleum or electrical distribution systems to
terrorism, or spotted owls, or even
the morality of war.
With full respect for everyone's opinions, and our right to openly
Charles Jeff Douglas
This is a continuing discussion of how the military trains.

Generals train to fight the last war. I feel we should train to prevent

Do we know how to prevent war or do we give up on peace as too hard and
concentrate on battle? Do we need an occasional show of power as a
deterrent to large war? How do we make known that power and the
willingness to use it?

Do we invite the bad guys to witness our war games, or do we indirectly
show our might by letting the arms merchants sell their wares? Or do we
find ways to convert the bad guys? Or do we demonstrate our might by not
using it?

Do we need to understand the rest of the world better? Do we need better
understanding of ourselves? Do we need a better understanding of how the
res of the world sees us? Are we seen as a bunch of power hungry savages
bent on air conditioning and large cars at any cost? Does that story of
the United States as a "Great Satan" make it easy for a dictator to sway

What are our vulnerabilities?

There is an aversion to change. Machiavelli advised the Prince not to
change anything as he would only have lukewarm support from those to
benefit and much opposition from the incumbent.

Pyrrhus of Eprius defeated the Romans in two battles with very heavy
losses. The victory may have been more costly than defeat or not waging
war in the first place.

Mr. Rumsfield advocates a lighter army. Something patterned more after
the Marines. Live off the land, move rapidly, know the enemy. Would a
smaller armed force motivate the State Department to highlight problem
areas sooner? Or are we complacent in fortress America, content that a
large military will save the day?

My gut feel is that friendly fire casualties in Iraq were greater than
losses to the bad guys. But I also feel that lingering on that point or
even investigating the truth of the statement is counterproductive. I
feel that the coalition forces had the best training and the best
leadership. But I contend that they were still training to fight the
last war. Yes, the coalition forces prevented the torching of the oil
wells. Yes, the coalition forces preserved the infrastructure. Yes, the
coalition forces had excellent intelligence. But still there were
mistakes. How well did identification friend or foe (IFF) work? Were the
troops skilled in navigation? What was the weak item in the supply
chain? Were Patriot test firings really that successful? Were the forces
trained how to treat civilians? Will analysis be done with the emphasis
to fix the blame, or to fix the problem?

My sense is that if environmental constraints are blamed, the problems
will still be there. Remove the environmental constraints and the
military will grow lax on developing work arounds or identifying
problems. Don't force it, use a bigger hammer.

I do feel we should discuss any missed training opportunities due to
environmental constraints. A Navy Admiral wants wider latitude in
geographic selection and fewer environmental constraints in the field.
But isn't that the point of training for future wars? To develop the
discipline to be constrained. Said another way, we aren't at war with
the environment.

Our strength is in "surgical" strikes, limited engagement, demonstration
of ability to find the bad guy, knowing when to stop fighting and
commence statesmanship.

Or do we send Sgt. Tackleberry to get the cat out of the tree?

Walk quietly, but carry a big stick. Teddy also said something about
being bloodied in the arena. Trust your neighbor, but tie up your camel.

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