Break resolve, keep neutrals neutral, survive

In "Break resolve, not things" I had the focus on will in warfare.
It was focused on a point, and of course not comprehensive.

To excel at breaking your foes' will (and things) is not enough - several empires fell under extreme pressure when they had too many enemies at once. Germany was a perfect example in the 20th century when its society was still authoritarian. Germany was overwhelmed by sheer quantity of enemies in both World Wars, exhausting itself (and most of all its infantry) both physical and psychical.
The principal mistake was to have too many enemies at once. Even at times when the war didn't go too terrible it alienated other nations that declared war - and in WW2 it even attacked further nations during the war.

That was a clear failure of politics. Politics/diplomacy should have prevented such stupidity (I don't regret it, though), as was always one of the primary tasks for politicians at times of war.

That's an example about nation-state conflicts. It's a bit different in small wars that include significant non-state forces.
This is where the "hearts and minds" theory has its place - all troops down to NCO are representatives of their nation. Their behavior is the most important variable for generating additional allies or foes. It's not enough if officers attend some local meetings and do some diplomacy. Disrespectful or even violent behavior of their troops towards neutrals ruins the chances for higher-level diplomacy. I mentioned this last year, without specifying the exact reasons.

A) Break the enemy's resolve according to the mission

B) Avoid to alienate neutrals if the mission permits that.

C) Keep losses down if the mission permits that.

At first sight conflicts seem to exist between all three objectives - it's ultimately the job of superiors in the military and political system ranks to set priorities by formulating the mission.

Again, it's clearly visible that unless you act really, really drastic and break the resolve of the enemy by (today) unacceptable brutality (the ancient method of COIN) you need to emphasize "B" a lot in small wars.
It's quite obvious that this is important (the "Hearts and minds" theory is right on this), but not the ultimate challenge.

The ultimate challenge in COIN is to set the priorities right. This begins on top, at the political leadership.

Sven Ortmann

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