Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Modern Battlefield

Oyster asks in comments: When you say the "modern battlefield", what do you mean, precisely? Does that include batttlefields in WWI and WWII, for example?

Good question, oyster. I might have better said "today's battlefield".

The concept of a modern battlefield is something that warriors talk about. It describes a mix of things that come into play in warfare, and includes such things as MOUT, the Air-Land-Sea battle, unconventional warfare, logistics and economies. It is much more than the tactical fight between opposing commanders.

Some might consider the US Civil War the first modern battlefield because it included for the first time, many of the parameters we usually set for a modern conflict. US Grant saw the war as a battle between economies and he focused his fight on destroying the enemy's ability to sustain a force in the field. Lee was defeated as much by his country's inability to sustain him as he was by tactical considerations.

In the European theater during WWII, our strategic forces concentrated on such things as ball-bearing factories, fuel supplies, and railroad stock as targets to bring the German army to heel. Patton rightly decided after the Ardennes campaign that the Germans were on their last leg because they were using horse-drawn carts to transport supplies.

During the Viet Nam war, we saw that an enemy in the field could be woefully smitten by our forces, but that political considerations at home would create the environment for an enemy victory. Vietnamese General Giap has said that he was nearly defeated in the field, but that the anti-war protests in the United States made military victory impossible for US forces.

All of these considerations enter into the concept of the Modern Battlefield.

My concern for Israeli forces is that the political will matches the military determination to finish the fight. Pressure is being exerted in international circles for a cease fire. Hizbollah is being beaten logistically and any army in the field that can't get beans to the soldiers will soon be defeated. I'm seeing concerns about "proportionality" for a conflict Israel didn't start. Yet, Fox news reports that Zawahiri understands the modern battlefield
"We cannot just watch these shells as they burn our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and stand by idly, humiliated," al-Zawahiri said, adding that "all the world is a battlefield open in front of us."

"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires. ... It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," he said. "We will attack everywhere."
We and our allies are beating back the forces of terrorism, yet I see calls in the media for a cease fire. If the international community will allow the IDF to do what they set out to do, they'll win this thing and Hizbollah will be utterly destroyed. The question is not now so much the military victory as it is the political victory. The IDF might see tactical reverses on the ground, they are going to suffer casualties, they are going to be entering into a hard fight, but if the politicos demonstrate steadfast resolve, the Israelis will be victorious.

The question is the same here in the United States.

3 comments:

oyster said...

I appreciate the reply and the explanation.

As for the analysis about "steadfast resolve" and "political victory", that's a debate I'll defer for another post.

Have a good weekend, and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

US Grant saw the war as a battle between economies and he focused his fight on destroying the enemy's ability to sustain a force in the field. Lee was defeated as much by his country's inability to sustain him as he was by tactical considerations


Hmmm, that sounds VERY similar to what's going on with NAFTA, FTAA, and the WTO. Coincidence? I think not!

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