The (quite time-consuming) discussions in the comments of the last weeks have pointed something out to me that wasn't obvious (to me). I'm *sometimes* not good at anticipating such things because they're alien to me.
|I wanted to use this GIF for a long time, and it makes the text a bit less bitter.|
(1) The fascination of symmetry
There's no need to view things in symmetry all the time.
Back in antiquity archers didn't necessarily fight hostile archers more often than other troops. Cavalry didn't necessarily fight cavalry more often than other troops. Spearmen didn't necessarily fight spearmen more often than others.
Modern infantry shouldn't be compared to other modern infantry with a focus on infantry vs. infantry combat. Remember, in conventional warfare infantry gets killed >80% by artillery and mortars! Their main purpose is evidently NOT in shooting at other infantry.
Likewise, tanks won't be understood if one focuses on their ability to defeat other tanks. This kind of thinking has buggered IFVs more than any other category of tanks; they were even equipped with ATGMs at the expense of one dismount seat and at great risk of secondary fires or explosions inside the squad compartment. Later on during the 90's, frontal protection against 30mm AP(FS)DS became a strange focus, even though poor protection against shaped charges was the elephant in the room.
The art of war isn't about clashing same against same nearly as often as it is about being unfair or using rock-paper-scissors mechanics to advantage.
(2) The overemphasis on killing
I tried to convey this back when I wrote about tactical repertoires and functions in warfare, but evidently even among my readers the overemphasis on killing is terribly intact. The vast majority of troops doesn't kill in a year of even in the fiercest of conflicts, but they're still of great use usually. There's so much more that needs be done than mere killing and destruction. The typical military exercise with its ludicrously high attrition rates never teaches this, but almost everything that armies do is not about killing. The killing part is the tip of the iceberg. An army that neglects to pay attention to all those non-killing jobs will be a sucker at the killing part every single time.
Now most of us are not paid to devise the military of the future, but we're citizens who can vote and express opinions, also shape opinions - and we don't serve our society well if we perpetuate the overemphasis on killing.
An infantry company may very well be of extremely great use by overseeing and if need be blocking some forestry roads - this may together with similar such efforts restrict the movement of a mechanised force such that it runs into a trap. Said infantry company may have shot at and disabled some armoured recce vehicle on its route reconnaissance, but nevertheless it would be its presence and ability that shaped the battlefield and constitutes its utility, not the kill count.
It's typically not possible to win a campaign by artful manoeuvring alone, even though this would be great. The second best option is to win/end a campaign by artful tactics that make the advantageous outcome of all major combat events predictable. I think this is what we should strive for; develop forces and if need be use them in a way that achieves the political purpose without resorting to primitive attrition bets. Instead, we should determine outcomes of combat before the major combat occurs (which keeps friendly casualties low), and logically this requires excellence at the activities that are no about killing and destruction.
(3) Clarity of thought
9th grade and higher match classes include theory of sets, logic et cetera among all the formula stuff. Pupils and many parents don't have much respect for this seemingly arcane stuff, but I have grown a deep respect for its importance. Many people simply cannot think logically. Everybody gets carried away sooner or later, and nobody is good at discussions if his or her main motive is plain hostility.
Yet there's also a problem (and this is mostly from observations beyond this blog) with people simply not thinking logically. The conclusions drawn from such fuzzy thinking may be creative, but usually they're plain nonsense.
One example; the topic of an article was whether certain components in food are causing cancer or not. A commenter accused the author of some things I won't repeat here, and his only line of reasoning in support was that in other countries people don't even have enough food.
This was utterly irrelevant, of course. Other countries have other problems, their severity doesn't mean that we shouldn't address our smaller problems. No doubt his employer ceasing to pay him is not nearly as bad as people in Afghanistan dying to mines and duds, but I'm sure the commenter wouldn't feel that this was a good reason not to be bothered about the lack of pay.
Other examples are the very common 'misunderstandings' where comments assert that I am proposing or denying things when I did nothing of the sort. I clearly don't like to discuss against wild and unfounded interpretations of what I wrote for real. Feel free to pin me on whatever I wrote - no doubt sooner or later you can find some inconsistency, lacking evidence or falsifying evidence. There should be no need for wild (if not hostile) interpretations.
I look around the internet, I read newspapers, I listen to political discussions on TV (rarely) and what I see is a world full of people with flawed logic. Maybe I sound a bit Vulcanian here, but I think it's overdue that everyone begins to try hard to check his or her own writings for logical inconsistencies.