Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh, yeah - we're still in 2 wars

Karzai says air strike kills 40 in Afghanistan
5 Nov 2008
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday an air strike by coalition forces earlier this week killed some 40 civilians and wounded about 28 in Kandahar province.

Once upon a time I routinely (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here) railed against the Pentagon's addiction to high-tech weapons systems in general, and to air-power in particular. Yes, air-power is great at blowing stuff up... but it is a poor tool for controlling territory or winning hearts & minds.

So long as we view 'success' in terms of 'bad guys killed', we'll rely on air-power. 'Bad guys killed' is a very poor measure of strategic success... particularly in 'unconventional', 'asymmetric' warfare.

This is NOT a new lesson: we bombed the hell out of Vietnam. We lost the war.

Yeah - high-tech weapons are really cool (they really are!)... but they don't win wars. To quote my favorite military philosopher:
"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and the man who leads that gains the victory."

"It is the unconquerable soul of man and not the nature of the weapon he uses which insures victory."

"Wars are fought with men, not weapons. It is the spirit of the men who fight, and the spirit of the men who lead, which gains the victory."

"So far as we know, few, if any, victories are traceable to weapons."

[Gen. George S. Patton; all quotations lifted from The Patton Society]
Even after the Pentagon began committing substantial resources to combat IEDs, USA TODAY found, its spending focused mostly on high-tech devices with limited utility. Some silver-bullet solutions, such as microwave beams designed to destroy IEDs before they blew up, never worked.
[USA Today, 18 Dec 2007]
Our military leaders' focus on high-tech solutions to every problem has been counterproductive... and VERY expensive!

Our continuing reliance on air-power in Afghanistan is difficult to understand.

Stop the madness!!!

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