Troop levels – just right

More troops in theater are not needed to destroy any assault the insurgents can mount, their sole purpose if they were sent would be to patrol, support, and suppress. That would create inescapable dependencies from the Iraqi army, and make the standing up of those units take much longer.

At some time in the future we will be at peace, and sometime later in the future we will be at war again. Wars will come and wars will go as evil rises and falls again — in all of history there have been few years without war or conflict of some level in some part of the world. 

Against this backdrop we still inexorably progress, and life gets better on average for most peoples of the earth. Wars dim and fade, and as we progress the conflicts become more violent at their fronts, but overall war itself becomes less consuming and fewer people die.

In the battle of El Alemain aproximately 50,000 82,500 troops died became casualties in 12 days of fighting, while in the two wars for Iraq and Afghanistan our troops have suffered far less and have conquered far greater numbers than the Afrika Corps troops who lost. Many have argued for an increase in troop levels with the idea that masses of troops will make it all end faster. It’s just not that simple and it never will be again.

Update: someone was kind enough to point out the difference between casualties and dead so the update below to clarify:

Bernard Montgomery Erwin Rommel
250,000 men
1,030 tanks
900 guns
530 aircraft
90,000 men
500 tanks
500 guns
350 aircraft
23,500 dead or wounded
500 tanks
13,000 dead
46,000 wounded or captured
450 tanks

Sorry for the mistake above. I should have second sourced, I quoted from a documentary on TV for the original number. Regardless of the mistatement above it doesn’t negate the point. Our troops have conquered far more with far fewer casualties in Iraq.

The retired generals critical of our methods have a fundamental mis-understanding of how all future US wars will be fought. Five hundred years from now students in military academies will still be studying these conficts, these engagements, these strategies, and these tactics for they will all certainly still be relevant.

This is a jumping off point, a strange transition in military tactics, range, accuracy, firepower, and most of all methods of attack and defense. Our methods are an amalgam of blitzkrieg and ancient fast attack calvary tactics — blitzkrieg for the massive firepower available, fast attack calvary for the amazing mobility.

These methods combine with technology to make us the supreme military power on the planet through use of a near omniscient command and control infrastructure. The seminal paper on this was written long ago by Stefan Possony, Jerry Pournelle, and Francis X. Kane specifically to address the cold-war and SDI.

Out of that initiative sprang new doctrines across all fields of military technology endeavors, from C3 concepts to guidance technology that eventually permeated all branches of the miltary and all levels down to the individual soldier.

An example of the power of the combined concepts was an engagement early in the Iraq invasion — a group of 19 US infantry men engaged an armored  Iraqi column of 23 vehicles and won. It would have been unthinkable in past conflicts, and they would at best have called in armored, artillery, or air support.

In this case they did not need to because they could fire their weapons undetected and move before the weapon hit. The victory could be classed as partly phsycological since the weapons hit from above and the armored units thought they were being attacked from air and bailed. To call it that however belies the truth behind the psychological fear: the troops didn’t call air, but they certainly could have vectored them in speedily, they just didn’t need to.

Old-style bliztkrieg took massed armor and air firepower concentrated to punch through the enemies defenses, running past entrenched postions and cutting them off to take them down piecemeal from the air and from range while taking strategic positions well past the front. Ancient calvary technique took brilliant charges timed and directed to take out leaders and strategic units of the opposing force, or end-run forays to the opponent’s rear to interdict battle trains and supplies.

Blitzkrieg was the hammer’s blow and Calvary was the rapier’s thrust. Military technology today allows the hammer blow to fall with the accuracy and speed of a rapier without requiring the massed armor and battle trains of the past. Our forces can stay light, and strike with a power and accuracy unsurpassed, and they can do this from extreme range while mobile.

In the modern fluid battlefield entrenched positions are meat for the combined range armaments. With the superior networked command and control infrastructure, varied dispersed units acoss the theater can hit one spot even when none see it. A mobile gun, a helicopter, tanks, missles and guided JDAMS can all be concentrated accurately to the same target, and even the same time (TOT.)

Those tactics combined with superior communication, command, and control (C-Cubed & network centric warfare) create a situation where the old methods of concentrating firepower actually create vulnerability, massive losses, and defeat. So the retired generals carping from the sidelines are fighting wars from the past, and are entirely out of touch with the military as it exists today.

More troops in theater are not needed to destroy any assault the insurgents can mount, their sole purpose if they were sent would be to patrol, support, and suppress. That would create inescapable dependencies from the Iraqi army, and make the standing up of those units take much longer.

The method we are using today forces the issue — if the government and the army wants to survive they must stand up quickly and really do the job now. Consider it accelerated on-the-job training, and you will see why it would be stupid to send more force. As with any occupational training, no training beats actually doing the job, it’s a harsh lesson, but one which much be learned quickly if Iraq would truly be free.

Above and beyond that sending more force makes for more US targets, more anti-US sentiment, and our casualties would undeniably increase. Haditha-like incidents, whether it’s a propaganda ploy or real, would increase as more American troops entered theater.

To sum up, Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush are using the best possible strateqy to create a real army and police force in Iraq and get us out of the theater fast.

For more on one of the ex-military blowhards who just doesn’t get it, see Gateway Pundit.