hawkeye (hawkeye7) wrote,

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Military History

I must thank communicator for providing me with a link to a US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute document about the war in Iraq. These kind of reports are produced by the defence forces with the aim of drawing out the lessons of campaigns. They can be very frank and are not intended to be circulated outside the military.

In the first part of his lecture, Professor Black spoke about changes in the way that the Second World War has been analysed. If we go back 30 years ago or so, the prevailing theory of warfare was that the side that deploys the most resources wins.

This total war outlook differed greatly from the 19th Century approach, which concentrated almost entirely on the battle. The cost and indecisiveness of battles of the Great War led to a drift away from this approach.

During the 1970s and 80s, combat effectiveness was reckoned in terms of relative killing power of armies. If, to use my earlier entry on Saidor) as an example, the American force loses 40 and the Japanese force of the same size loses 119, then there is a 3:1 effectiveness ratio. Historians like Trevor DuPuy created mathematical models that took various factors such as weather, terrain and fortifications into account.

These models confirmed the effectiveness of the German Army in the Second World War. There were a few problems with this. The most obvious being that they lost the war. This was explained away by the resources approach, which boils down to their being overwhelmed by greater numbers, in line with the then prevailing theory of warfare.

The computerised armies had a disturbing aspect, a tendency to fight on to annihlation, when we know that real armies do not behave that way. Clearly, there are human factors at work here. And this leads us to what is called a Cultural Theory of Warfare.

Professor Black made this point forcefully: wars are not won by winning battles, although it certainly can help. They are won by convincing the other side to give up.
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