Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stephen Biddle: Military Power; Michael O'Hanlon, The Science of War, and his Sleeping Giants books.

The "modern system" of battle and strategy is meant to prevent offenses from destroying too many of your troops and materiel, to make it difficult for them to advance, to make it hard for them to locate their concealed and covered and dispersed opponents. And if you are an offender, you want to penetrate the defense to cut off the defense's supportive troops and logistical support so starving them in place. And in any case suppress fire, or make it much less effective if there is enough dispersion of defenders or focus of offense.

So roughly argues Stephen  Biddle in Military Power (2004), through case studies, statistical analysis, and gaming simulation. There's lots more, and I won't even try to systematically review its main points. I am not an expert, but when I read Biddle (including his analysis of the 2003 Iraq and of the 2006 Lebanon) he strikes me as concrete and systematic. His main point is that force deployment (the "modern system") matters and close battle happens much more often than most acknowledge nowadays. He is seen as attacking RMA/transformation, but I see him as carefully assessing the arguments.

I also like Michael O'Hanlon's work, The Science of War and his Sleeping Giant books. They are concrete and specific. No speeches, no ideologizing, just this is the what you can do with what people and materiel.