Sunday, April 09, 2006
Are We Losing, Or Have We Already Lost?
It’s been seven years since two Chinese soldiers, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, released their treatise, Unrestricted Warfare. But their 228-page book should be read again by policymakers and warfighters because their points are directly relevant to the dangers facing the U.S. and its gargantuan military-industrial-Congressional complex.
Three recent events underscore the need to look at America’s predicament through the eyes of the Chinese. First and foremost: the March 16 vote by the Senate to raise the federal debt limit to $9 trillion. Second, the recent crash of yet another V-22 Osprey, a crash that illustrates the waste, fraud and abuse within the Pentagon as it pursues a weapon that is too expensive and too complicated. And finally, the ongoing scourge of roadside bombs.
The Chinese soldiers recognize that fiscal irresponsibility as a strategic issue. They wrote, “Faced with warfare in the broad sense that will unfold on a borderless battlefield, it is no longer possible to rely on military forces and weapons alone to achieve national security in the larger strategic sense, nor is it possible to protect these stratified national interests. Obviously, warfare is in the process of transcending the domains of soldiers, military units, and military affairs, and is increasingly becoming a matter for politicians, scientists, and even bankers.”
The Chinese see bankers as warfighters. And that fact should worry every American.
Although Liang and Xiangsui don’t mention the V-22, it’s a classic example of what they call the “high-tech weapons trap where the cost stakes continue to be raised.” Breaking out of that trap, they say requires “lucid and incisive thinking. However, this is not a strong point of the Americans who are slaves to technology in their thinking.”
That slavery is led by President George W. Bush, who, it appears, has a faith-based belief that technology will be the answer to all of America’s military needs. In 2003, just a few days after the start of the Second Iraq War, Bush told workers at a Boeing plant in St. Louis who produce the F-18 that “From Kabul to Baghdad, American forces and our fine allies have conducted some of the most successful military campaigns in history. By a combination of creative strategies and advanced technology, we are redefining war on our terms.”
More than half of all U.S. casualties in Iraq have been caused by improvised explosive devices and those weapons have fundamentally changed how American troops approach the battlefield. First and foremost, the IEDs have changed the very idea of where the battlefield is. Second, the IEDs are employing modern technology that can easily -- and more important, cheaply -- defeat America’s huge horsepower advantage. By using a cell phone-activated detonator for an IED, an insurgent employs miniscule amounts of energy – less than one watt. Put another way, an insurgent employing 0.00099 horsepower can (given a large enough explosive charge) disable or destroy an uparmored Humvee (190 horsepower), an M2 Bradley tank (500 horsepower), or even an M1 Abrams tank (1,500 horsepower).
This is the very essence of asymmetric warfare. For the cost of a disposable cell phone, a detonator, and some (probably free) ordnance, an insurgent can destroy vehicles worth millions of dollars. And in the process, at no extra cost, he gets the chance to kill, maim or injure American soldiers whose training cost hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.
To use John Boyd’s language, the IEDs are allowing the insurgents to camp out inside America’s OODA loop. They have disrupted the military’s game plan and are forcing the U.S. into a reactive posture that is incredibly expensive and cumbersome. It’s also largely ineffective.
April 9, 2006 | Permalink
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As I posted shortly after Shuck and Jive, I mean Shock and Awe, America lost the Iraqi invasion before the first bomb was dropped by the chimperator.
Posted by: George Johnston | Apr 9, 2006 9:14:33 PM
It's nice knowing others are thinking the same things I am, it just would be nicer if those things concerned, say, hiking or new scientific discoveries or something.
Posted by: Thersites (T2) | Apr 10, 2006 12:26:08 PM
...well, it just breaks my heart. Metaphors and similes and long-lost tales and songs all fail miserably to describe the tragedy and forlorn, vainglorious peradventure that this admit-no-fault-nor-error administration has done.
Posted by: Darryl Pearce | Apr 10, 2006 2:29:30 PM