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Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Philosophy on Warfare

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." — Sun Tzu.

No human being in his or her right mind wants war. The point of it all is to not look for war, but to be ready for when war comes looking for you. Whatever those reasons might be: economical, religious or political.

To live one's life thinking that by ignoring the problem it will not come your way is also a mistake and an opening sought by those who would like to gain a military victory against you. Therefore one needs to be prepared for war, but not looking forward to it. When that day does arrive a total onslaught against your enemy is needed. 

Better said than done when one has not been engaged in any armed conflict and your enemy has. Of course such a setback can be greatly diminished with a "we train as we fight" philosophy. The more realistic the training the smaller will be the initiative the enemy has on you. His initiative may also be further diminished by having applied the Principles of War as stated in your doctrine, but any above average commander will also have studied Von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Napoleon, Saladin, etc. 

One's preparedness for and ability to fight a war I think can best be illustrated by a pyramid. The base of the pyramid and the most crucial factor is "Willingness to fight", followed by "Training", then above that is "Morale" and right at the top and constituting the smallest, yet still an important part is "Equipment". 

Lastly, the primary aim of the military should not be to neutralise or to destroy the enemy, but rather to gain the initiative and then to maintain it, because for as long as you have the initiative you have a much easier task killing your enemy. Killing the enemy is left to the soldiers on the lowest level, who have already trained to do that. One also finds this thought process in the "Cycle for winning of the battle" as proposed by Colonel Roland de Vries.

So, to sum it all up, this is the philosophy I propose for commanders from Combat Team and Battalion level and up: 

"Maintain a professional and dynamic military focused on supremely realistic training with the aim of obtaining and maintaining the initiative on the enemy."

Such a philosophy should ensure that you do not even have to fight a war in the first place.

Any comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

In general quite good. I might switch Morale and Training around. Some thing of interest though is the adage "we train as we fight" because of course we also "fight as we train" ... ostensibly. I have noticed that when we train we do not train realistically. We train only the highlights, the adrenaline parts .. i.e. the fun stuff. Lost is the long hours of routine like patrolling or lying in ambush for hours and nothing happens.

Yea patrolling for days with no action is boring but it is also realistic. Unless we are used to that we will become lax or overly aggressive looking for that next rush. I know in Officer training here in the US Army it is all "actions on the objective" ... they get a very videogamesque idea of war and I believe that this contributes to battlefield problems.

Your blog is always a joy to read.


Werner K said...

Thanks for the input, Justinian.

I tend to agree with you.

Sandra Dickson said...

xzsInteresting. Does innitiative mean that one has to attack first? What I do notice in this phylosophy is that it is very similar to how a corporation and a business is run. The trained (note: not educated) pawns are at the bottom. They are trained to kill on reflex just like bottom feeders in a business carries out orders without ever questioning it.

What dawns on me reading your writing is that humans have this pyramid organisation structure everywhere. There is always a few at the top with the knowledge and the trump cards. That one has to be prepared to fight seems like human nature too. After all a human's basic instings is fight or flee. It is better to fight - and even better to be prepared to fight. It goes against my gut, but being ready and prepared for the unexpected is probably the outcome of the "survival of the fittest"

Sandra Dickson (LannersPub)

Werner K said...

Initiative means being able to do with your enemy what you like. An example is destroying his will to fight or destroying his command and control. The enemy can thus do very little effectively and you can pick him off at leisure.

War is not about a fair fight. You seek to call the shots as quickly as possible.

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