Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Old Generals never die. They just talk away.

After the tragedy of 9-11 a host of generals and lesser military lights have been all over the media analyzing what is going on, what should be going on, and how they would fight the war. They speak with the authority of been senior military commanders and that gets them attention.

There is an old military axiom, “Generals are prepared to fight the last war.” and that applies to those retired officers who regularly pontificate on television and in newspapers.

Each war is different from the last and requires a new set of skills. When the Commanders fail to acquire these skills, you end up with a bloodbath like the Civil War or World War One. If the Commanders on one side adapt and the other side fails to adapt you have France in World War Two. The German Blitzkrieg cut through the French Army, organized to fight World War One again, like a hot knife through butter.

Today we have retired officers who learned their craft during the Gulf War. That was a war of manouevre with large heavy armored formations rushing across the desert in a replay of Rommel verses Montgomery. Today the war in Iraq is vastly different. Instead of Divisions of Armored Fighting Vehicles facing each other, we have the lone Jihadist with a car bomb or IED. Officers trained in large scale armored warfare have no experience to draw upon under these circumstances. Their opinion is little better than the man on the street.

Since the second World War we have developed a military designed to stop a Soviet attack through Germany. We have developed magnificent weapons designed to destroy hoards of Soviet armor. Unfortunately the Soviet Union is no more and the weapons designed to be used against it virtually useless in the urban fighting in Iraq.

Our officer corps is just transforming to a new form of warfare. Light vehicles, small units, individual initiative, are the keys now. This is the kind of warfare retired officers have little or no experience with. Their opinions just add to the hot air produced by politicians, pundits and activists.

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