• Technology vs. Ideology in Warfare

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    America is the home for the mother of invention. We are a nation
    of inventors, tinkerers, and mechanics. From the humble locales
    of basements, garages, kitchens, and living rooms have sprung cars,
    airplanes, computers, and other innovative technology. Mark Twain's
    character Hank Morgan from "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's
    Court" captures the essence of the "can do" spirit
    of America by attempting to literally drag the dark ages of Camelot
    into an enlightened Yankee industrial one.

    This is one of the many dividends of a free society, where the
    market encourages new products, profits the inventor, and benefits
    the consumer with choices and comforts.

    We are, as Sting once sang, spirits in a material world. Therein
    lies the rub. As the Apostle Paul once wrote:

    "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
    principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
    of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high."

    ~ Eph 6:12.

    Some enemies cannot be defeated by physical means. Subjugating
    a nation or people by destroying their infrastructure and killing
    large numbers of them does not always defeat their spirit, or ensure
    the peace will be permanently won. That World War II resulted from
    the victory of World War I, "The War to end all Wars,"
    bears this out.

    The US Armed Forces enjoys the most modern and cutting-edge military
    equipment in the world. We have an American tradition to trade treasure
    for blood, relying on hardware in warfare to spare the lives of
    our troops. There is nothing inherently wrong with this — it shows
    the value we put on human life to spare and save as many of our
    troops from the death and hazards of combat as possible.

    But the danger begins when we equate the effectiveness of advanced
    weapon systems dominating the enemy in the battlefield with obtaining
    the objectives of victory. Lasting victory and peace cannot be attained
    by high kill-ratio body counts alone — Unless the goal is outright
    genocide instead of subduing a nation. In his book "Street
    without Joy," an account of the French war in Vietnam, Bernard
    Fall makes the argument that the biggest strategic error in the
    war against the Communist North Vietnamese was the concept that
    technology could defeat ideology. By 1952, 80% of
    the French military effort in Vietnam was subsidized by the US under
    Eisenhower. The French enjoyed complete air superiority and air
    transport for the quick deployment of their elite paratroop battalions.
    They had tanks, half-tracks, armored cars, and transport vehicles,
    while the Viet Minh had virtually nothing except bicycles and the
    occasional truck. The French even had an armed navy to patrol the
    rivers. Yet the French lost. Following another eight years of military
    intervention in Vietnam, with a ten-fold increase in the amount
    of troops, equipment, and cutting edge hardware, the US lost too.
    The same result occurred in the Korea War, with the French colony
    in Algiers, and the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    Apologists for these defeats will usually cite the lack of willingness
    of the losing side to exercise total warfare by using all military
    means necessary to defeat the opposition, including the deployment
    of nuclear weapons. This is often referred to as the euphemism "All
    options are on the table."

    The point they miss in recommending escalation of force is that
    it leads to a Pandora's box of unforeseeable consequences and outcomes.
    In the case of the Korean and Vietnam wars, escalation would have
    led to a disastrous war with China. In Afghanistan and Algiers,
    it led to political outcry of protest at home and worldwide, because
    while the people in both of those countries the Soviets and the
    French sought to subdue could be killed, they could not be defeated.
    And if you have to kill your enemy to the last man, woman,
    and child to win, it no longer becomes a war of conquest, but of
    annihilation. Total war cuts both ways, especially when the defenders
    are willing to sacrifice as much as the invaders are willing
    to do whatever it takes. It becomes a case of game one-upmanship,
    and history has long proven that the invaded country has the home
    field advantage. Advanced military technology is superb for winning
    conventional tactical battles in the short term. But were the defender
    engages in total warfare with the entire citizenry of its country,
    willing to trade bodies and blood to blunt expensive hardware over
    an indefinite time, technology becomes the loser of the exchange.

    Occupying armies never rest. They expend tremendous amount of
    effort maintaining supply lines, projecting force through patrols
    and convoys, and keeping up the faade of control over the inhabitants.
    Over time, their morale degrades from fighting and dying in a strange
    land, against a people that are often consider sub-human to the
    occupying soldier, who refer to them in slang terms such as Ragheads,
    Hajjis, Gooks, Slopes, Krauts, or Nips. These troops look forward
    to the day when they will be rotated back home, and leave the forsaken
    warzone behind.

    To make up the numerical disadvantage of fighting the enemy on
    his home ground, the occupiers rely on technological superiority.
    Maintaining these sophisticated tools require modern mechanized
    armies to become road bound for their supply lines — lines that
    can stretch for hundreds to thousand of miles over land and sea.
    As a visual metaphor, think of the length of the shaft on a spear
    compared to that of the spear tip. The shaft represents the proportion
    in size of supply needed for the spear tip to be effective. The
    expense and the effort of maintaining these supply lines is enormous.
    It takes more gas to transport the gas that is actually required
    in the field. Supply lines can tie up as many troops to guard the
    supply bases and patrolling the supply lanes as the troops that
    actually do the fighting.

    A familiar military cliché goes; "Amateurs talk
    tactics, professionals talk logistics." A perfect example
    of the importance of logistics and supply occurred recently to the
    NATO forces in Afghanistan. In response to an infringement of its
    sovereignty, Pakistan
    threatened to close the supply lines to NATO forces in Afghanistan

    BARA: In a major development, the federal government on Friday
    announced disconnection of supply lines to the allied forces stationed
    in Afghanistan through Pakistan in an apparent reaction to a ground
    attack on a border village in South Waziristan agency by the Nato

    Political authorities of the Khyber Agency claimed to have received
    verbal directives to immediately halt transportation of all kinds
    of goods meant for the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan for an
    indefinite period.

    Notwithstanding being equipped with Predator drones, night optics,
    body armor, computer communication systems, sophisticated air, armor,
    and artillery support, nothing sends more fear up the spine of a
    military force than to be cut off from its umbilical supply cord
    in hostile country. In this same manner the German Sixth Army at
    Stalingrad, the Russians in the Finnish mottis, and the French
    at Dien Bien Phu all met their end. State-of-the-art military hardware
    becomes so much useless junk without fuel, ammunition, and spare
    parts to maintain them in the harsh environment of war. Not to mention
    that an Army marches on its stomach, and needs food and medical
    supplies besides.

    This is nothing new under the sun. The ancient Israelites were
    once intimidated by their enemies, the Canaanites and Philistines,
    who rode iron chariots. Notwithstanding the advanced military technology
    their enemies possessed, the Lord said to Israel:

    "But the hill country shall be yours. For though it is
    a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall
    be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though
    they have chariots of iron and though they are strong.”

    ~ Joshua 17:18

    In one epic battle, 900 of the fearsome iron chariots were mired
    in mud after a sudden storm via divine providence caused a nearby
    river to overflow, flooding the plains. The Israelites, led by resistance
    fighters Barak and Deborah, defeated their nemesis Sisera and his
    immobilized chariot army. In another Biblical example of low tech
    beating high tech, we have the young David, a mere boy with a shepherd's
    sling, eschewing to wear Saul's armor, defeating an superior opponent
    equipped with the finest military armor at the time.

    Faith in military technology begets a dangerous shortsightedness
    and trust in the arm of flesh. It replaces ethnics and sound strategy
    with short-term convenience and tactical advantages that will win
    battles, but not a war. A million dollar, sophisticated guided missile
    may have "fire and forget" capability, but
    the survivors of the innocents it kills will never forget who
    fired it. So-called "Smart" weapon systems are
    not yet intelligent enough to discern the difference between a terrorist
    packing an AK and a woman carrying an infant before final impact.
    Thus impersonal technology creates new enemies out of the deaths
    of others — and a self-perpetuating cycle of war.

    The growing cost of military technology will break our country's
    financial ability to fight as much as troop casualties breaks our
    hearts and morale. The USSR went broke trying to keep up with the
    US during the Cold War Arms race. Thanks to the technological advantage
    we hold, the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer more combat
    losses in proportion to our troops, but in return for high body
    counts, they succeed in exhausting our economy in maintaining an
    expensive, technological-gadget army. What the terrorists cannot
    do by physically assaulting Americans and property on US soil, they
    are accomplishing by bringing our financial ruin by baiting us to
    empty our national treasure and to go into debt with foreign banks
    to buy expensive "Wunder weapons" to defeat them.
    This same false hope for salvation via technology led the Germans
    believe they could still turn the tide late in War II against the
    advancing Allies. Instead, it prolonged a losing war, leading to
    a Gtterdmmerung that left their country in ashes. We need
    to stop being enamored by our "technological terrors"
    as our nation's savior. Military technology is a two-edge sword,
    bleeding us of our livelihood, our freedom, and our souls, as much
    as it cuts the enemies we employ it against.

    27, 2008

    Shirtz [send him mail] is
    a transplanted Californian teaching Graphic Communications in Northern
    (Not “Upstate”) New York. His hobbies include arranging deck chairs
    on sinking ships, tilting at windmills, and being fashionably late.

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