Monday, January 21, 2008

Features common to all warfare

1) ALL wars are unique. Like fingerprints. The most common mistake (Generals are just as guilty of this as everyone else) is to fight the prior war again. A classic example: The French building the Maginot line in the 1930’s.

2) Violence goes up as a war progresses. You get better at it. Weapons and tactics get better as well. New allies join the fray. People become more desperate. The loser in wars either cannot or will not match the new level of violence.

3) The three levels of viewing war:
a) Strategic
b) Operational
c) Tactical

4) Two basic type of warfare:
War of conquest – take care of population you occupy.
Punitive warfare – Wipe everyone and everything out. (Nuclear warfare would be a modern example)

5) Political considerations are generally counterproductive in warfare. Many examples of entire armies being wiped out because of political considerations.

6) Occupation: The occupiers are not the worst enemy of the occupied. The worst enemy is the population of the occupied who are working with the occupier.

7) Wars ALWAYS create new enemies.

8) Atrocities occur in ALL wars. The vast majority goes unreported, for obvious reasons. One of the cleanest wars in modern history was the German – Western Allies (England and United States) war 1940-1945. Many atrocities occurred even then. A direct relationship exists between atrocities and the training a unit has undergone. The more training a unit obtains before combat, the less atrocities committed by that unit. This applies to armies as well.

9) Cultural wars are the worst. What happened to the Native Americans is a classic example. Not only is language a difference, but the very habits a population have. In war, it is necessary to de-humanize the enemy. For example, if you shoot down an enemy airplane, or sink an enemy ship, you tell yourself that it was a machine. You attempt to deny that it contained people. This is a natural self-defense mechanism. After all, you are killing people. Cultural differences make this much easier. "A good Jap is a dead Jap". For a number of reasons, when you found a wounded Japanese, you put a bullet in his head. Just to be sure. One potential side-effect from allowing suspected terrorists the same legal rights that United States citizens enjoy could be an increase in soldiers killing of potential prisoners. Many of the same motivations for ‘A good Jap is a dead Jap’ exist today in the war in Iraq. Vietnam had many examples of these motivations as well.

10) The longer a siege lasts, the more brutal the outcome. In general, this applies to wars as well.

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