Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Hydra

Lernaean Hydra
... for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow one or multiple heads
I mention this in response to...
'Omar The Chechen,' ISIS' Minister Of War, Likely Killed In U.S. Airstrike
An Islamic State commander described by the Pentagon as the group's "minister of war" was likely killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, in what would be a major victory in the United States' efforts to strike the militant group's leadership.
We keep killing "leaders" of IS and al-Qaeda.

Somehow the organizations survive.
For every "head" we kill, MANY grow back.

At some point we need to recognize that waging war means winning the peace.
It's not enough to kill bad guys.
There really is a "hold territory & control populations" aspect to this.

Air power? Great for blowing stuff - and people - up.
Not so good at holding territory & controlling populations.

ISIS & al-Qaeda are pretty good at the "controlling populations" bit.
They terrorize the locals, making resistance difficult.

... T.E. Lawrence was right:
This is from a fellow blogger:
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) figured it out and wrote it down in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Wonderfully available on the web free of charge. (Public domain is soooo nice.)
Then I figured out how many men they (Turks) would need to sit on all this ground, to save it from our attack-in-depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one off those hundred thousand square miles. I knew the Turkish Army exactly, and even allowing for their recent extension of faculty by aeroplanes and guns and armoured trains (which made the earth a smaller battlefield) still it seemed they would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and post could not be less than twenty men. If so they would need six hundred thousand men to meet the ill-wills of all the Arab peoples, combined with all the active hostility of a few zealots.
My friend Pat then quotes me:
FYI: using the "20 men every 4 square miles" rule equates to a force in Afghanistan of about 1.25Mn! Given modern communication systems, improved war-making technology, etc., suppose Lawrence's estimate could be halved: that's still more than 600K troops. ... and this seems close to the troop/area ratio Shinseki had in mind for Iraq when he proposed a force of "several hundred thousand" needed to pacify the country following the invasion (taking "several" to mean 3-5... middle = 400K).
Bottom line:
Simply killing the bad guys is NOT going to win this war!

How do we win the peace?

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