AirSea Battle and The Futue of Western Warfare


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Oct 6, 2008
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Brooklyn, NY
At a time that the United States is facing enormous political domestic quests, the world, it seems, refuses to wait until we sort things out...

The following contains a link which, if one has the time, should be read:

"Andrew Krepinevich has a new report out this week for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments titled Why AirSea Battle?

The report discusses the critical role that the US military’s power-projection operations have played in providing for the security of the United States and its allies since World War II. The report then goes on to describe military modernization efforts by China and Iran designed to deny the United States the ability to sustain military forces in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf. It concludes by arguing that a new Air Force-Navy AirSea Battle concept is needed to preserve a stable military balance in these two primarily aerospace and maritime domains.

"The US must adapt its power projection forces—along with corresponding changes in its military capabilities and force structure—or face the prospect of losing military access in these two key regions," concludes Krepinevich. "The importance and urgency of finding a new approach is reinforced by the priority afforded to AirSea battle in the Quadrennial Defense Review released on February 1st.

And, in a related article, the following on "The Future of Western War."

1. "Just as this [Western] system afforded more prosperity in times of peace, it led to a superior fighting and defense capability in times of war, associating Western war with advanced technology.
a. Constitutional government was conducive to civilian input. In ancient Athens, civilians oversaw a board of generals, similar to civilian control of the military in the United States. This has enriched military planning.
b. The ideas of Western culture helped redefine ‘courage.’ No longer was courage based on the number of enemy killed or heads on a pole. Medals of Honor are awarded for deeds such as staying in ranks, advancing or retreating on orders, or rescuing a comrade.
c. Applying reason, and capitalism to the battlefield, powerful innovations come about, from flints, to rifle barrels to mini balls, etc. And Western armies, going back to Alexander at the Indus, have had better logistics. We saw this aspect in the American’s who invaded Iraq being better supplied with water than the native Iraqis: the application of capitalism to military affairs, the marriage of private self-interest and patriotism, to provide armies with food, supplies, and munitions in a manner far more efficient than state-run command-and-control alternatives.
d. But add to considerations the fact that Western armies aere impatient. They want to quickly seek out and destroy the enemy and go home! Advantage, or disadvantage? The tradition of the enemy in Afghanistan is to avoid the decisive battle.
e. Western armies have been known to behave as they in civil society, rather than exhibiting beehive-like military discipline. Consider Xenophon’s ten thousand, who marched form Northern Iraq to the Black Sea and behaved like a traveling city-state, voting and arguing in a constitutional manner, in combination with their traditional discipline.

2. In addition to these new developments, there are five traditional checks on the Western way of war that are intensified today.
a. . One of these checks is the Western tendency to limit the ferocity of war through rules and regulations. The Greeks tried to outlaw arrows and catapults. Romans had restrictions on the export of breast plates. In World War II, we had regulations against poison gas. Continuing this tradition today, we are trying to achieve nuclear non-proliferation. Unfortunately, the idea that Western countries can adjudicate how the rest of the world makes war isn't applicable anymore.

b. The second check on the Western way of war is the fact that there is no monolithic West. For one thing, Western countries have frequently fought one another. Most people killed in war have been Europeans killing other Europeans, due to religious differences and political rivalries. And consider, in this light, how fractured the West is today. The U.S. and its allies can't even agree on sanctions against Iran

c. The third check is what I call "parasitism." It is very difficult to invent and fabricate weapons, but it is very easy to use them. Looking back in history, we have examples of Aztecs killing Conquistadors using steel breast plates and crossbows and of Native Americans using rifles against the U.S. Cavalry. Similarly today, nobody in Hezbollah can manufacture an AK-47—which is built by Russians and made possible by Western design principles—but its members can make deadly use of them. Nor is there anything in the tradition of Shiite Islam that would allow a Shiite nation to create centrifuges, which require Western physics. Yet centrifuges are hard at work in Iran.

d. A fourth check is the ever-present anti-war movement in the West, stemming from the fact that Westerners are free to dissent. And by "ever-present" I mean that long before Michael Moore appeared on the scene, we had Euripides' Trojan Women and Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Of course, today's anti-war movement is much more virulent than in Euripides' and Aristophanes' time.

e. Finally and most seriously, I think, there is what I call, for want of a better term, "asymmetry." Western culture creates citizens who are affluent, leisured, free, and protected. Human nature being what it is, we citizens of the West often want to enjoy our bounty and retreat into private lives—to go home, eat pizza, and watch television. This is nothing new. I would refer you to Petronius's Satyricon, a banquet scene written around 60 A.D. about affluent Romans who make fun of the soldiers who are up on the Rhine protecting them. This is what Rome had become. And it's not easy to convince someone who has the good life to fight against someone who doesn't.

Lecture @ Hillsdale College, 10/1/09

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