Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strategies Against the Taliban

In Gerald's Internet Anthropologist he asserts that the true threat to the Taliban control over the region comes not in the form of human-piloted craft, such as the F-22 or F-117, but from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), such as the MQ-9 Reaper. These hunter-destroyer surveillance craft utilizes a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb and the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles. Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles and GBU-38 JDAM bombs.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on the United States to stop using drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper against Taliban fighters on Pakistani territory.
"I want to put on record that we do not have any agreement between the government of the United States and the government of Pakistan,"
Gilani said.

Gilani's statement was in response to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, part of the Obama Administration. Gates said both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama had made clear they would continue to pursue the course of action leading to the Taliban crossing the boarder into Pakistan.
"Has that decision been transmitted to the Pakistan government?"
asked Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"Yes, sir,"
Gates said. In parallel, Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan, is urging Washington to send more money and equipment to fight extremists. In an opinion piece in today's Washington Post, he chided critics in the United States for questioning Pakistan's commitment to the war on terrorism.
"With all due respect, we need no lectures on our commitment," he wrote. "This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying."
In this comment it is clear that although the new administration has taken over the bureacratic military apparatus of the United States pressing "change," it seems that change has not come in the military operations of Pakistan. According to the official foreign policies of the Obama administration,
"Obama and Biden will increase nonmilitary aid to Pakistan and hold them accountable for security in the border region with Afghanistan."
It seems then that while the administrative policies including economics, business management, energy, and the environment, military strategy and tactics remain at the forefront of any administration regards of ideology.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Profile of the Blogosphere: The Eagle Standard

In my attempts to profile the mire that is the Blogosphere I came across an interesting article posted by Americus Maximus of the Eagle Standard in late October of last year. I am particularly interested in the conclusions that Americus has come to regarding the military efforts in Afghanistan, asserting that it is in the best interest of the United States armed forces to utilize the bulk of its army to
"engage an entrenched enemy in a vast and complexed mountainous region where no large military force has ever truly been successful in conquering (Soviets -1980's)."
Furthermore, Americus disagrees with the contention that eliminating Osama Bin Ladin will result in a collapse
"the threat of terrorism from around the free world will immediately come to an end"
Americus' audience is surely geared towards historians, military professionals, and worldly individuals. I say this because the mention of Sun Tzu and the assessment of five military tactics attributed to him are quite incomprehensible without some knowledge of previous historical military action. Furthermore, to understand the current situation in Afghanistan somewhat requires the understanding of the Soviet mire in the 1980s and the historical notion of the "grave of nations" that have faltered in Afghanistan including the Macedonians and the British Empire. Because his audience is geared towards these individuals it is certainly a blog centered on an scholarly purpose.

Additionally, Americus' posting is quite important to the greater arena of military strategy in that the literature and analysis of military strategy is quite limited concerning the amount of importance military strategy has on historical analysis and on the understanding of current issues. In my exploration of the Blogosphere I could find very few examples of scholarly, updated blogs concerning military strategy. I have a few theories behind why this exploration yielded very few results in such an important topic. One, it seems that in the field of history today there is a revitalization of cultural and social history aimed at movements such as nationalism and concepts such as class and identity. The 'traditional' sense of history, including political, military, and economic dimensions, seems to be somewhat lost in the excitement of the recent developments in cultural and social history. Second, the assessment of military strategy requires a solid foundation in a variety of fields including history, political science, economics, and leadership development. Unlike other blogs that often reference to current political or economic news, which are often easily commented on by the public at large because of the ease of comprehension, military strategy requires a niche and a moderate understanding of historical and political contexts.

However, my blog will be different than any other in that it will include a variety of historical analysis of military strategy coalesced with predictions and assessments of modern political and military conditions concerning the military mind.

I must agree with Americus that the military struggle in Afghanistan will not be won by the elimination of Osama Bin Ladin; however, it is imperative to eliminate him as it would do a great justice to the American people and those that have lost their lives in the War on Terrorism.

"Many Gentlemen did not content themselves with the most immediate task of attacking the enemy where he happens to be and where he happens to be found...through such considerations they came to one of the worst errors that can be committed in operations: awaiting the effect of the envelopment before advancing against the front."
The German military strategist Alfred von Schlieffen remarked that in strategy and tactics the rule applies that when the enemy has been located it is imperative that current operations reflect the need to strike immediately, instead of waiting for the enemy to make any movement. The point of an attacking force is to enable it to be effective; without immediacy in decision making strategy becomes immobilized.

While new theories of strategy and tactics evolve during every confrontation, continental theory of organized warfare is still the best policy. To conclude a word by Clausewitz:
"Destruction of an enemy's force...only by means of the engagement...only great and general engagements will produce great results...results will be one great battle."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hello World

As a loyal historian I chose a topic to discuss in this blog that is both relevant to historiography and to the understanding of present international conditions. Military strategy, as Sun Tzu remarks, is "of ritual importance to the state" and must be studied to understand the dimensions of international relations, economic development, and political motivations. The literature of warfare and its strategies is poverty-stricken. Of all the men who have written on the subject of warfare, I think that only seven have contributed significantly to the understanding of it and have by force of idea, influenced the course of it. Chronologically, the ones I have in mind are Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Mahan, Corbett, Douhet, and Liddell Hart. I intend in this discussion to examine some of the patterns of thought that the military mind does use, and to speculate on some that perhaps it might use. A better understanding of the military mind and decision making of why a general thinks like a soldier and an admiral like a sailor have not yet been clearly posed, much less been clearly answered.

The discussion will be centered on obtaining the answer to these questions, "What can military strategy and the decision making processes of commanders teach us about history?" "What is the relationship between history theory and history practice?" By understanding these central tenets of historical knowledge the discussion will allow for further inquiries and awareness of military strategy and its influence on historical development.

In order to address these questions one must first establish the commonly accepted basic principles that underlie military strategy. The establishment of these principles of military strategy is essential in the development of understanding military decision making as well as the comprehension of later comparative historical views in order to further the awareness of the complexities of military practice. From the understanding and application of the principles, I will focus on the development of understanding military decision making.

I look forward to an exploratory understanding with you, posing questions and seeking answers along the way. It goes without saying, that the opinions or assertions in this discussion are mine and are not full proof. However, like all intellectual discourse, I know that my speculations, whether valid or not, provide an introduction for others to propose something different and better. If this occurs my discussion will have served its purpose.