The neglect of the defense

The offense has correctly been characterized as the only form of combat that can bring a decision on its own. To be on the offense is usually related to having the initiative and considered to be a rather good thing - generals choose the offense whenever they feel that they are strong enough.
The defense is correctly being considered to be the stronger form of combat, though (this holds true up to the operational level if counter-attacks are included in the defense).

Today, we consider most opponents that we face as vastly inferior and disregard the "defense is stronger" detail. That's possible because all our "Western" wars were wars of our choice since 1945 - we simply picked only weak opponents (like half of NATO vs. tiny Yugoslavia, USA vs. ragtag Taliban/Iraq/strange Asians in the forests).

The standard procedure - especially in conventional combat - is the offense for us. Defense - that's only for outposts, right?

Germany had a offense vs. defense philosophy discussion in the 1920's, and the offense-favoring Generals won that debate (unlike in France). The result was an army of almost a hundred slow infantry divisions ( most of them capable of slow offensives) and few "Schnelle Truppen" - fast troops; armored and motorized divisions which formed the spearhead of the pincer offensives.
The Wehrmacht neglected the defense and had only marginal defensive experiences in 1939 and 1940 - it wasn't forced to major retrograde movement of whole divisions till late 1941. That as the time when a certain lack of training in the defense - especially in recovering after unsuccessful defense of positions - was revealed.

There's 'some' relevance of this example for today; our armies aren't exactly well-prepared for the defense. Cold War defensive art was probably not the most daring one, but there was a potential opponent strong enough to force us to think about the defense at least.
The Iraqi insurgents were also able to point at some gaps in our defensive preparations: Hard body armor / wheeled vehicle armor / C-RAM were mostly neglected technologies. They weren't incorporated on a large scale when they became feasible - they were only adopted on large scale when the lack of preparation began to hurt.

It's not very different on the operational scale. Published exercises are mostly about a 'blue' offense, and the 'red' defenders are expected to lose.
Take the Iraq/Iran example; what if there was really an Iran war in 2009, if Iranian troops would infiltrate and wreak havoc inside of Iraq? Imagine a general uprising in Iraq at the same time - are the U.S. generals confident that their troops could fight their way back to Turkey and Kuwait orderly and with few losses? I doubt that.

Another weak spot in our preparations seems to be the fight after serious losses. Our infantry is high-quality infantry, but what happens if it experiences serious losses nevertheless? What if our few counter-artillery radars were taken out? What if the enemy attacks with waves of thousands of killer drones like Taifun? Our air defense is certainly not prepared for this, and F-22's ruling the skies won't help much in such a situation.

Our armies aren't even close to "full spectrum" - there's a noticeable neglect of the defense, and this might hurt us in the future.

Sven Ortmann

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