COMBAT POWER: AN ONTOLOGICAL APPROACH
CHAPTER VII - CONCLUSION
The purpose of this paper was to examine the concept of combat power with an aim toward understanding it as an instrument of policy. Combat power, as an instrument in the hands of our political leadership, can be an effective means for gaining our national objectives. However, it must be understood by those employing it. We live in a violent world which often requires a violent response. Combat power as actualized force is the violent response by which we may gain control. A point made here which must not be forgotten is that military power is merely potential until actualized as combat power against a specific opponent at a point of contact. Crucial to this point is that relative combat power is measured at the point of contact. Furthermore, since our perceptions are greatly affected by what we can actually see and measure, mass as an element of combat power plays a more important role in shaping perceptions than does the potential of fire. Therefore, if we intend to limit the escalation of violence at a point of contact, we must be capable of creating a mass of sufficient size to influence the perception of our opponent. On the other hand, it has become clear that the relationship between mass and fire has been significantly altered by the technological advances made in recent years. The introduction of high value fire in the form of nuclear munitions has greatly increased the large concentrations of mass in a nuclear environment may be an intolerable liability in future conflicts. In addition, the advent of large quantities of PGM's has greatly increased the vulnerability of high value mass. Overall, the increased effectiveness of fire greatly reduces the effect an imbalance of mass may have on relative combat power. By way of analogy, just as the Colt 45. was considered the "great equalizer" of the Frontier West, so today effective fire (in the form of nuclear munitions and PGM's) may be seen as the great equalizer between opposing masses.
This, of course, is a gross oversimplification of a complex issue. However, I believe the assertions made here are important to our understanding of the true nature of combat power. We are caught in a dilemma. If we rely strictly on effective fire in order to strike a balance of combat power with an opponent, we may be able to significantly reduce the size of our mass. However, we are more likely to be required to actualize fire in order to gain control than if we had a large mass. On the other hand, if we rely on a large mass, we may suffer heavy losses to an opponent who relies on effective fire to strike a balance. There is a way, however, to increase the effectiveness of a relatively small mass, and that is by being more mobile than an opponent's mass. Thus, relative mobility may be the crucial issue in determining relative combat power. Mass which cannot be brought to the point of contact may have little effect on the outcome of the combat. By way of analogy, it is similar to the liquidity problem faced by many of our financial institutions. One may have large financial reserves but may miss excellent opportunities simply because cash is not immediately available.
In terms of combat power, I have attempted to demonstrate that we can have superior mobility in land combat. Our huge helicopter fleet can be the means of insuring superior mobility in central Europe if we have them, in sufficient quantity, when and where they are needed. In light of the difficulty we anticipate in introducing any additional mass at the point of contact once hostilities have begun, I argue here that a larger portion of our helicopter mass should be deployed to central Europe than is currently envisioned. This does not mean that all of these aircraft remain operational or that they be necessarily located in the Federal Republic of Germany. Alternative staging areas, such as Great Britain, may serve satisfactorily, since helicopters could be easily and quickly flown from these locations to the central front. Furthermore, I believe, greater emphasis must be placed on utility helicopters than on attack aircraft, such as the Cobra. While I am not denying the importance of the helicopter aerial weapons platform, I am asserting that superior mobility of mass will be more dependent on utility aircraft than on weapons platforms.