Re: Combat Power
Posted by Jack Heslin on 12:29:04 09/11/08
Tom - some thoughts on your comments --
"Wars should be entered on a last resort basis, (yes, but there are many levels of state sponsored violence ie war) but then fought with an eye towards overwhelming firepower and an annihilation of the enemy force. (at the point of contact) Then we need get out. Instead, we go in with fuzzy or unrealsitc goals and are inevitably drawn into a protracted pseudo-military operation with ridiculous ROE and missions unsuited to a force whose job it is to inflict violence on an enemy. (When violence is imminent or has occurred, th en actualized force--combat power--is used to achieve the degree of control desired. "Power must be recognized by others if it is to function, whereas force functions by itself."  In a violent environment the objective is still the opponent's perception of reality and, therefore, his mind. As always, the ultimate objective is control) After two or three years, we lose the will of the American people. We are a country that expects/demands quick results. So we need to fight in a way that produces that end."
While I agree that we must use our military power wisely it must be in the context of the broader political national objectives and what resources we actually have available.
Strategy is the comprehensive direction of all the elements of power to control situations and areas in order to attain objectives."  Furthermore, "The understanding of power and force and their effective use is critical to the understanding of strategy.  The formulation of strategy is extremely important in that it specifies the opponent and provides a purpose for using violence. Strategy, therefore, provides the definition of victory  --national survival (a state of balance), or domination of the opponent (a state of imbalance). By the same token, it defines defeat.
In WWII it was a joint decision between Roosevelt (Gen Marshall was the key) and Churchill to fight the war in Europe first and fight a holding action with Japan because we did not have the resources to prosecute both equally. It was a hard sell because Japan had actually attacked us and Germany had not. Douglas Macarthur's roll was an economy of force for years until we were able to shift resources to defeat Japan - and in the end - it took the A bomb to do it. So it is now -- we defeated the Iraq army quickly and the Taliban quickly than had to concentrate available resources on Iraq as a primarily US effort to stabilize the country and defeat the terrorists - domestic and foreign. At the same time NATO took on the continuing mission with Afganastan as a holding action to allow the governmen t to stand up -- the regrouping enemy in the boarder area must now be addressed. The key is the poppy plant which is the funding base for all their efforts -- this will be dealt with soon -- on the phone I will tell you how but not in an e-mail. Actualized force in the form of Combat Power has limits - especially when it must be projected to a distant point of contact. Above all, a complete understanding of the relationship between strategy. the actualizing of military power and the role of our civilian leadership is essential.
......the primary responsibility for the formation of strategy in our democratic society rests squarely with civilian leadership. "In its fuller meaning, strategy is defined as the art of mobilizing and directing the resources of a nation or community of nations--including the armed forces--to safeguard and promote its interests against those of its enemies actual or potential."  (Emphasis added.)