A proper ground forces display for visitors


I suppose most of my readers have experienced military demonstrations in front of top brass, politicians, foreign officers and/or mere business people as well, probably so from both perspectives.

Such events are always scripted in detail, rehearsed and often commented by someone with a microphone and a whole arrangement of loudspeakers. Everything that's supposed to be displayed gets its (usually boringly long) share of the demo and afterwards the visitors have seen soldiers moving and using hardware.

I've never liked these displays. They're a systematic disinformation tradition.

Here's what I would like to have as a ground forces display:

The whole parliamentary armed services committee gets invited, all senior civilian ministry of defence folks get invited including the new minister (they always seem to be new). They take their seats and pick up the binos, expecting the display.

Over the course of the next thirty minutes they'll hear some sudden noises and see some mortar smoke pop up. Nothing else.
After said half hour, the most senior officer of the army steps up in front of the audience and summarises;

"This is modern warfare as done by a modern, competent army".

The tank attack happened before you arrived because tanks are quick and they're best when they get to execute their mission before anyone not cooperating with them is ready for them.
The infantry seeking and destroying stragglers of the brigade overrun and shattered by our mechanised forces rested their survivability first and foremost on being almost never seen by said enemies. As a by-product, we didn't see much of them either.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is competent modern warfare as it should be against a competent and respected opposition. It's what we would strive to do in the event of getting called up to defend the alliance.
This is the "empty battlefield" as military history reports it about wars for more than a hundred years, almost precisely since the introduction of smokeless gunpowder. This is why you see very rarely if ever an enemy in video footage even of warfare against rag tag militias.
This was - for once - no theatre, but an information event. Thank you for your interest and attention.

Just once, please.



  1. Your idea has merit, but it will not sell. You need to make the audience understand the hiding issue.
    Practice a bit more screenwriting:

    Give them all binoculars, drive them to a convenient place and let them spot soldiers and stuff. As part of the display you have the group, that will actually do something, line up at a visible spot in the distance, so everyone knows where they are. Afterwards the "actors" disappear, and do all the sound and unexpectedly reappear next to the spectators.
    Third step is showing the spectators around and have them realize that all/most of the stuff they spotted were imitations and nothing real.

    The point here is that these people are first made to believe that they have recognized everything. Secondly, that they understand what is going on. Thirdly, that they have been fooled from the start. It's quite helpful if the "explainer" deliberately uses a way open to misinterpretation.

    To get everyone happy, you make afterwards a small workshop for everyone to build hiding and fooling devices for the next group of spectators. - you make the victims of fooling part of the fooling crew.

    1. I meant it more intellectually - the mind needs to understand first and foremost. Everybody knows there's camouflage and concealment, but not all get what this really means from the other perspective. The visitors would be the kind of people who pay much attention tot eh range spec of an ATGM even though many tanks will be first spotted at less than 500 m.

      It was meant to be unusual enough to make sure the spectators don't forget it.

      Besides, these kinds of people aren't into building devices. That's what you do when a group of pupils visits a farm.

  2. You suggestion will basically be experience as an unexplained wait for half an hour while listening to noises and then a short speech... I'm unsure if it fullfills the requirements of a demonstration given that (it appears) nothing is supposed to be shown. To demonstrate camouflage you need to show the contrast between hidden and visible.

    I think that, as a demonstration, a skirmish between a COIN type formation and your typical "competent foe" formation will be more illuminating.

    The spectators can watch and recognice the COIN units from tv before the fighting stars, and can count how many got through the fight aftarwards. Hopefully they will also be surprised by the "competent" attacks, and see how effective they are.

    1. I agree, Sven, your show misses the point of educating anyone, it's "frogs and fogs".


  3. Besides, on parades you happen to see equipment that is either indirect (radar stations) or very long-range(missiles).

    One has to get into the psychology of people who have collections of things, and keep them in closed cabinets just to look at them, all nicely ordered and shiny.

    Pragamatic people are an abomination to these guys because they remind them that at the core of their obsession there is a mental disease.