Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thinking about our yesterdays today

Here's an interesting military exercise whose hypothetical setting is Baghdad. Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service describes exercise Urban Resolve 2015, designed to test solutions for combat in cities. "Dave Ozolek, executive director of the Joint Futures Lab at the command, said the experiment is designed to examine solutions for current and future gaps in warfighting capabilities."


He said the experiment is enabling the command to get inside two concepts. First, how does the U.S. military operate in the new urban environment? "Ten years ago, we saw the (military) operating space as the great plains of Europe and the deserts, and we basically avoided operating in the urban environment," Ozolek said. "That's no longer possible. That's where the fight is, that's where the enemy is, that where the center of gravity for the whole operation is."

This is more than the old military operations in urban terrain that the armed forces practiced for years. "We need a new approach, because the environment is not only terrain, it's infrastructure, it's culture, it's governance, it's rule of law, it's legality, food, water, fire and safety and all of those things that make up a complex environment of a city," he said.

The military must make the urban environment "toxic" to the enemy and achieve success in ways other than trying to hunt them down one at a time and kill them, he said.

The second concept is stabilization operations. How does the military stabilize the situation in a city, transition to local control and rebuild a shattered economy? "How do we bring safety and security to the city without destroying it?" Ozolek asked.

Commentary

This exercise is interesting because it illustrates just how long it takes for an institution as large and complex as the US military to reorient itself from an old mission to a new one. For purposes of historical comparison it wasn't until the mid-1950s that the US adopted a coherent strategy on the use nuclear weapons — weapons which had been developed ten years earlier. Although the tank saw use in the middle of the Great War, it wasn't until 1927 that the British created the Experimental Mechanized Force, and not until 1940 when mainstream strategists became convinced armor and mechanized warfare was more than a fad. The French Army, which was the victor of the Great War, took entirely the wrong lesson from its experience and built the Maginot Line.

The same type of phenomenon attended the development of air warfare. While it was clear to everyone that the beginning of a revolution in military affairs had taken place during 1914-1918 even the leading theorists often got it wrong. "In his book The Command of the Air (1921), Douhet argued that future military leaders could avoid falling into bloody World War I-style trench stalemates by using aviation to strike past the enemy's forces directly at their vulnerable civilian population. Douhet believed that such strikes would cause these populations to rise up in revolt and overthrow their governments to stop the bombing." Shock and awe anyone?

One tacit assumption to Urban Resolve 2015 is that the fighting will take place in "enemy" cities. However there is the possibility that some of the urban fighting in the coming decades will take place in Western European cities, such as Paris. In that environment the intelligence, culture, governance and legal aspects of the problem may dominate the purely military. Maybe Belfast would be a better laboratory model than Baghdad. At any rate, it's nice to see the US military trying to think about the problem, which is likely to yield a better result than asserting, as some legislative leaders who may soon lead Congress have asserted, that Baghdad can be controlled from Okinawa.

13 Comments:

Blogger Quig said...

"Douhet believed that such strikes would cause these populations to rise up in revolt and overthrow their governments to stop the bombing.""

And it has never yet produced that outcome. The only demonstrable weapon that produces this outcome is that highly secret weappon, the west's MSM! A true WMD!

The planning problem results from not having enough little wars between the big ones. There are too few left in active service that have tasted powder. And they are too often out of the general staff planning loop.

10/25/2006 03:10:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

If they can find a usable strategy that keeps "resistors" so busy staying alive they have little time for mischief, the $15M will have been well spent.

10/25/2006 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

At any rate, it's nice to see the US military trying to think about the problem, which is likely to yield a better result than asserting, as some legislative leaders who may soon lead Congress have asserted, that Baghdad can be controlled from Okinawa.

Baghdad can't even be controlled from Baghdad, even the President is starting to lay the groundwork for backing out, claiming, unbelievably, that he never said, "And, yet, we must stay the course, because the end result is in our nation's interest."

10/25/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jack Wayne said...

Isn't this really an example of over-intellectualizing the problem? And is it also a sign of weakness? If the army of the future is expected to fight a war and not kill anyone except clearly defined combatants and not destroy any infrastucture at all...then what is the meaning of warfare? This is simply a sign that all wars of the future will never be fought to a conclusion - i.e., surrender. I consider this to be a complete waste of money and a clear sign of the wussification of the West.

10/25/2006 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Jack Wayne's comment is right to the point. As long as a cicvilan population supports and shelters guerrillas they should be treated just like combatants.

In conventional warfare of a few generations back anyone who said support or non-combatant troops should not be harmed in the course of battle, would have been quietly incarcerated in a loony-bin. Same thing, they are just using the civilans as support troops.

10/25/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger DoomBurger said...

The Maginot Line was not a technological failure; it was a political and diplomatic failure. The Germans outflanked the Maginot Line because it wasn't contiguous from the upper Alps to the Channel. Fortifying the Franco-German border was easily justified after the Great War. Fencing off the peacable Belgians, especially when they protested about being left out in the cold to face the Germans alone like in 1914, was harder to justify politically and diplomatically. Nothing about Germany's relatively feeble armor in 1940 guaranteed that they could have lauched deep incursions into France if they hadn't had unfortified gaps like the Ardennes to pull a Guderian sneak in.

There is nothing intrinsic to modern-day cities that makes them any less susceptible to being pounded into rubble than their ancestors. Grozny II shows that this urban warfare option still exists when the political climate allows. Whether the American political climate allows it in the near future is another question. Given the dialectic at play between irregular "asymmetric" warfare capacity and Western weakness it may happen sooner rather than later.

10/25/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Back in the 80's the military developed the neutron bomb that could clean out a whole city while leaving the structures intact.

Its only a matter of time before such or similiar technology will be available which will clean out --or stun a room or building or block of living beings while leaving the infrastructure intact.

10/25/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Roderick said...

If the army of the future is expected to fight a war and not kill anyone except clearly defined combatants and not destroy any infrastucture at all...then what is the meaning of warfare? This is simply a sign that all wars of the future will never be fought to a conclusion - i.e., surrender.

I didn't see anywhere an implication that civilian casualties were to be avoided. Still, it is a good point that wars these days are not fought to any satisfactory conclusion by Western powers, meaning that even relatively modest casualties as in Iraq are perceived as too costly.

10/25/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Back in the 80's the military developed the neutron bomb that could clean out a whole city while leaving the structures intact.

And Bush 41 dismantled all of them because with the fall of the Soviet Union, history was over.

10/25/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

A little truth on neutron bombs...They are essentially a failed hydrogen bomb where the A-bomb inside goes off with a yield of 2-20 kilotons but puts out high energy fusion neutrons to kill armor crews that would be shielded from the atomic bomb blast. The scientifically illiterate charge that they "Kill People, but Leave Cities Intact" was one of the great Soviet disinformation successes that is still parrotted back as truth by many in the West.

What is true is that if one was set off over a city, it would be a Hiroshima, but one in which tank crews inside the blast area that ordinarily would sacrifice the heat and blast would be dead in a short period from neutron and scattering gamma rads. And outside the blast zone, some people in fortified buildings might die of rads before the firestorm effects killed them.

Neutron bombs are a foolish dream of the "high tech" crowd thinking the answer to Jihad lies in a circuit board enhancement or golly gee new wizbang device.

That said, our current "Jenin practice" of sending our elite soldiers in to hand-to-hand combat because Lefties believe enemy civilian lives are more valuable than our guys lives is stupid and unsustainable.

We cannot wish for a new status quo of "Stalingrad Plus" outcomes where instead of being bled out as the Germans were with a 3:1 KIA advantage over the resistors we "achieve" 9 peasant Jihadis dead for each special ops or Marine KIA. With 10 high-paid soldiers employed in the suport and logistical tail for each combat operative to mount an enormously expensive attack on just one of tens of thousands of towns and cities..Even if we "take" the city - unlike Stalingrad - only to abandon it to the enemy because all the civilians we "died to protect to gain goodwill" shift over and begin attritting us through snipers and IEDs.

The "laws" of warfare are not cast in stone. They may have to shift if Islamic Jihad and urban warfare takes off not just in Iraq, but Paris, Manchester, Dearborn, Colkuta, Istanbul...

Back to traditional warfare where notions of collective responsibility are meted out to enemy populations. Back to days of seige and offers to evacuate non-combatants in a certain time period - then the city is an unrestricted free fire zone where it is a given no true civilian exists exept those held against their will - which is on the enemy, not us...

It will take many years to dismantle the post-WWII pile-on of enemy rights and protections - all the "laws" the Euroleft and secular Jewish lawyer-activists crafted in it's aftermath that strive to make enemy civilian life more valuable than the lives of people on Our side..and who hold that Geneva is not reciprocal but a one-sided obligation to hold to against terrorists or insurgents who don't - to make the odds "fairer" - in the eyes of Lefties and secular Jewish lawyer-activists who of course believe they are at no personal risk to ever be going house-to-house in Fallujah.

Which leaves a possible modern course of action in urban warfare:

1. A city is conquered and surrenders.
2. At some point, the people of the city renege on their surrender and some or all begin insurgent operations.
3. They are warned to desist and point out ringleaders. They refuse. (At that point, they would have been exterminated enmass by most past armies for negating their compact of surrender and mounting insurrection against rule - including the WWII Japanese and Soviets. And what the American General McCaffrey did to a whole Iraqi brigade that surrendered and then treacherously opened fire on us in the Gulf War - exterminated them to the last man with no survivor's surrender attempts honored.)
4. We withdraw from the city and call all non-combatants who wish to be saved to leave so their lives are spared. Those who remain, even unwillingly, are fair game.
5. With the city an unrestricted combat fire zone, the remnant population and the city itself can be destroyed by massed bombers or artillery fire. Survivors then detected with IR, dogs, acoustic monitors and picked off.
6. The people who left the city invited back to their rubble pile. Not offered a cent to rebuild it or help burying the dead. The press is then finally invited in for the 1st time to spread the message of what happens to a city that reneges on surrender.
7. The people are told that US troops will be walking around and setting up camp. Any further action, and the whole process repeats. But even more brutally. And possibly no male over 12 will be allowed to leave if a second action is required for reneging on surrender.

[For all the people that are still enamoured of "high tech toys" beating a strong ideology and an intelligent, thinking enemy...there is room at the margins..If laws on high tech war gases like non-persistant nerve gas are changed, there is no need to destroy a city to fumigate it. Or we can return to bioweapon experiments where -crudely - we employed hornets, starving rats to drive out Japs deep in caves so they could be machine-gunned. Nanotech devices with limited lifetime and range and with a fatal dose of botulin might be constructed to latch onto and inject any object that onboard sensors show are 97-99 Deg farenheit and not "hard objects" like a sunwarmed building and which move....Same with seeker robots - unmanned ground vehicles - that work at night and seacrch for IR signatures and allow their human controller 10s, hundreds, thousands of miles away to detonate them if they get in a kill zone of clustered, sleeping Jihadis... Same with genetically engineered "assassin wasps" or antipersonnel device bearing dogs, rodents trained to seek out and close with living humans not equipped with IFF chemical or electronic shields.

All that is very ugly stuff, reminiscent of "Terminator". But no more ugly that a B-52 strike or using our best soldiers as house-to-house gunfodder.]

10/25/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger bjbarron said...

There is nothing intrinsic to modern-day cities that makes them any less susceptible to being pounded into rubble than their ancestors.

Which brings us back to national will. There has probably never been a city so smashed to rubble as Stalingrad...but ask the Germans how that went.

Without a National Will to complete the job it doesn't matter what nice toys or genius strategies we have. All that matters is that people realize that the West is in a war to the knife - something the Moonbats will deny until the rope snaps taunt.

If it makes you feel any better, think of Baghdad as the Spainish Civil War of the current conflict. Perhaps what we learn will help in Paris, London, or New York.

10/25/2006 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

In WWII after the invasion of Normandy the US Army had to develop new urban combat techniques. The tank was held to be useless for urban combat and everyone knew that you had no choice but to proceed down the streets - especially the Germans who covered those avenues with overlapping fields of fire.

So the GIs instead went through the houses, cleaning each one out from the inside and using the Germans own cover to defeat them. And tanks were very useful for knocking the big holes in the houses.

At that time, the problem simply was to defeat the enemy - and after all, it wasn't OUR city. Even if it was French, who cares if we trashed it? Not even the French cared if the alternative was leaving the Germans in charge.

Now, we have to be able to fight in a city - even one that is not ours - and not trash it. It is not just urban combat - it is Politically Correct Urban Combat fought under the Pottery Barn Principle - and in which winning too well is considered to be a War Crime.

10/25/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Without a National Will to complete the job it doesn't matter what nice toys or genius strategies we have.

This is Bush's war. There's no national will to stay in Iraq because the President lost the urge to win his own war. He should be bombing the Sunni Triangle back to the 7th Century. But he wont, because there would be a dip in the polls and pictures of dead civilians on the evening news. All he's hoping for now is to keep from losing the war for at least two more years, so he can say it didn't happen on his watch.

10/25/2006 08:10:00 PM  

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