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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oh Those Professors Who Think They Actually Know Something

I just read an analysis by professor Nolan of Boston University which explains that wars are won by "grinding" not by battles.  There may be battles fought, but the key is not short term strategy or valor on the field of battle, but the ability to endure losses and to continue to fight.  Basically, Nolan says that one side wins by grinding down the other side to defeat.

The problem with Nolan's theory of war is that it's wrong.  Modern war can be about grinding down the other side, but only in certain circumstances.  Consider the Gulf War.  The Iraqis had a huge army inside Kuwait.  They had modern weapons.  They were a formidable adversary.  The coalition led by the USA defeated the Iraqis in a 100 hour ground campaign which ended with the annihilation of the Iraqi army.  Either that was the fastest grinding down of an adversary in history, or it was a great counter example to Nolan's theory.  And how about the Six Day War?  Israel faced a much larger group of Arab armies which were better armed than the Israelis.  Nevertheless, it was the Israeli air force strategy of attacking the Egyptian air bases from the north west rather than from the east (as expected) that gave Israel total surprise and the ability to wipe out the bulk of Egypt's air power in the first minutes of conflict.  In six days, Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan despite the odds.  On the other hand, we have Afghanistan.  There, America has had forces for 15 years or so.  It is a never ending grind, principally because the USA has chosen to make it so.  If there is a village that supports the Taliban, we do not take it out.  We try instead to root out the Taliban fighters into battles that can happen without civilian casualties.  Of course, there is no such thing as modern war without civilian casualties.  The concept itself is a creature of faculty lounges populated by people like professor Nolan.


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