Military history and modern conflicts

There's an anecdote about General George S. Patton:
He had read so much on military history that little in then-modern warfare (of WW2) was really new to him.  He even told admirers that hardly anything he did was original, it had all been done before.

My observation is that indeed there's very little truly new in modern warfare.* Mistakes done in ongoing wars are usually easily perceptible to a student of military history, and the widespread disappointment with the results of warfare that afflicts the public after a few years or months of warfare is utterly predictable, too: It was already known to the ancient Romans:

"The outcome corresponds less to expectations in war than in any other case whatsoever."

I find it much more challenging to be constructive in regard to future trends. They don't surprise a student of military history ex post, but an accurate prediction is a very different challenge.

Knowledge of the status quo and of military history alone isn't enough to find answers to changing circumstances. Extrapolation from the status quo based on historical trends is not reliable, for occasionally things do change. 
The new things usually resemble old things, such as tanks resemble clibanarii (and their line of descendants that ended with cuirassiers) in some ways. It's difficult to predict the exact path, for the theoretical knowledge doesn't suffice to predict the results of new experiments.

It's thus difficult to predict, and one can only develop scenarios; options that might actually work well as a reaction to changing circumstances.
Sadly, the usual quality of discourse is a very different one: It's still difficult to collectively break with obsolete concepts until they've proved to be disastrous under modern circumstances. Trends developed during long periods of peace among great powers that are demonstrably in violation of military history lessons and almost certainly going to prove disastrous in a war among great powers linger on. Often times there's institutional self-interest by the armed services as well as economic self-interest by the arms industries providing life support to such obsolete approaches.

Attempts to develop concepts for future warfare (or strategy) often take a very, very bad turn because either the fascination with (supposedly) new technology becomes too powerful or (often related) a lack of military history or military theory knowledge keeps them from understanding the consequences of new technologies.
Another common pattern is that senior and retired officers have been indoctrinated with their armed service's doctrine so much (and often have become so extremely partisan in favour of their armed service's self-interest) that they cannot possibly form any original thought. They often pretend to do so and some get attention because they mastered the style, but their musings are utterly predictable to someone who knows the doctrine and patterns that ruled during their last decade in active service.

The reader likely understood that I've got little confidence in the competence of senior leadership in regard to changing environments or in regard to serving the nation first instead of serving the own armed bureaucracy first.
This lack of confidence in them made me question the wisdom of their decisions, and it motivated me to try to add possible scenarios to the discussion. I know, I'm not being read much (less than 1,000 times per day if you subtract the bots) and my guest writing on other blogs doesn't change this. It's still providing me some satisfaction to know that I did at least try, even though it took a non-negligible part of my lifetime.

I still have hope that sometime in the near future (or maybe even right now, unknown to me) more influential people bring together knowledge of military history, military technology and military theory to get things right without us paying a horrible price in the next big war.
Even better; maybe we can avoid that war altogether, and reduce the benefits from getting military affairs right to keeping the peace with no much greater economic burden than necessary.


*: Even the hardware and seemingly brand-new gadgets of modern warfare are usually merely refined successors of what had been developed 30-100 years ago already.

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