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Thread: RFI: In criticism of defense in depth

  1. #1
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Default RFI: In criticism of defense in depth

    From my reading of Luttwak and others defense in depth is a static strategy. Maneuver warfare and insurgency would seem to be counter strategies to a defense in depth approach. Whereas, war by attrition isn't a strategy but a comprehensive environmental condition. Suggestions? Specific readings? I'm looking for military tactical and strategic examples on how to counter defense in depth. In the information realm the "advanced persistent threat" or "crippled caterpillar" attacks are useful.

    Thanks!
    Sam Liles
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    I'm looking for military tactical and strategic examples on how to counter defense in depth.
    Strategic:
    The most promising approach is likely to attack elsewhere; defence in depth usually requires many resources for sufficient strength (else is becomes too porous).

    Tactical:
    Entice the enemy to switch into a mode that suits you better, such as pursuit.
    Alternatively, search for a spot that doesn't allow defence in depth. This usually includes something that should better not be given up (such as a dominating height).

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    I would consider insurgencies to be an outcome of a political problem rather than a doctrinal one (although it does present a series of unique doctrinal problems). Insurgency is related to war; while depth etc is related to warfare - subtly and profoundly different concepts (in my view, anyway). Regardless the more astute, knowledgeable and articulate members will hopefully shed more light on this matter than I can.

    As to suggested further readings:

    On Infantry, by Bruce Gudmundsson & John English:http://www.amazon.com/Infantry-John-.../dp/0275949729 - information about the tactical application of defence in depth. Very good in the early evolution to the 'elastic defence' in WW1 (Gudmundsson's Stormtrooper Tactics deals with this period of history and move to mobile defence in more detail, if you're interested).

    Military Power, by Stephen Biddle:http://www.amazon.com/Military-Power.../dp/0691116458 - a very confident, very interesting framework of a 'modern' military system that includes defence in depth, outlining how and why it works (in Biddle's view this 'modern system' has being in place since 1918). You will need a post-grad qualification in maths to progress into the second half of the book, though, but the first half is worth the shelf price alone.

    Operational Art, Centino (see Post 5 below for details & link) - a very good and readable account of campaigning in recent times. Centino includes a lot of theatres you would otherwise be pushed to read about - India and Pakistan, for example - and launches a rather blistering (and amusing!) attack on manoeuvre warfare.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-23-2011 at 08:55 PM. Reason: Links added, author's ful name and at 3rd failed. PM to author
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    ...and then it's only theory and defence in depth rarely works '1918 west front style' anyway:
    http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/resources/csi/wray/wray.asp

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    Apologies for the lack of detail / links to the titles provided.

    I had, additionally, got the spelling of the last reference somewhat warped. The amazon link for the Citino (not Centino, as I originally noted) is here: http://www.amazon.com/Blitzkrieg-Des...4&sr=8-2-spell
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
    Donald Kagan

  6. #6
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Strategic:
    The most promising approach is likely to attack elsewhere; defence in depth usually requires many resources for sufficient strength (else is becomes too porous).

    Tactical:
    Entice the enemy to switch into a mode that suits you better, such as pursuit.
    Alternatively, search for a spot that doesn't allow defence in depth. This usually includes something that should better not be given up (such as a dominating height).
    I like that very much thank you. Defense in Breadth is often given as another option with similar resourcing and control issues. Speed being a huge factor for it to work (if it ever did). One example is Naval Blockades, but I'm still puzzling that one.
    Sam Liles
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    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
    I would consider insurgencies to be an outcome of a political problem rather than a doctrinal one (although it does present a series of unique doctrinal problems). Insurgency is related to war; while depth etc is related to warfare - subtly and profoundly different concepts (in my view, anyway). Regardless the more astute, knowledgeable and articulate members will hopefully shed more light on this matter than I can.

    As to suggested further readings:
    Ordering them all.
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
    Don't forget to duck Secret Squirrel
    The scholarship of teaching and learning results in equal hatred from latte leftists and cappuccino conservatives.
    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

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    Sam,

    Are you looking at this from a COIN-insurgent view, or from a more conventional warfare view? WWI is a good example of a defense in depth, specifically looking at the Germans who were masters of it. Their defense in depth was so good that they had complete confidence they could hold the Western front with less troops (which they did for a long while), so they were able to shift more troops to the fight in Russia.

    I recently read Decoding Clausewitz (short read, but well done IMO), and the author claimed that Clausewitz believed defense was a superior form of strategy than offense, and he considered people's wars/insurgencies to be defensive in nature. Worth reading if you are interested in defense. I was one of the guilty ones who relied on Clausewitz quotations, and after reading this book I'm now motivated to read On War (punishment for my sins).

    Based on what I found interesting and relevant to our current wars I started a discussion on symmetrical defense strategies that may provide some food for thought.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...356#post121356

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    In regard to classic nation vs. nation full inventory land warfare, I doubt that elastic defence makes sense any more. A grandson may make sense, but not elastic defence itself.

    The classic approach of elastic defence was

    * to reduce losses by exposing less troops on the very front
    BUT: Today's sensors reach farther back, and today's weapon accuracy allows for pinpoint destruction of sitting targets. Their dispersion and entrenching doesn't matter much any more. It worked against barrages, not so much against today's very accurate 155 mm (and I don't mean guided munitions).

    * to buy time for railway-mobile reinforcements to strengthen the threatened sector
    BUT: This head-on defence idea is outdated because we have high mobility thanks to 100% motorization even of mountain infantry. Attacks of armoured brigades can furthermore penetrate 10 km defence in depth in 2 hrs or much less - not enough for the handling of a reserve brigade.

    Elastic defence is furthermore a brainchild of the Western front 1916-1918. This was a very high force density front-line. We haven't anything close to such a mobilization and cannot expect it for the first 6 months of any NATO conflict either.



    Today we require a corridor of possibly up to 400 km width in which defence and offence are only tactically defined. Think of battleship and cruiser fleets roaming the Northern Sea. Few ships, huge sea. Scouting and manoeuvring became the principal challenge.

    Such a "skirmish corridor" (tm ) is what I envisage as modern and appropriate grandson of elastic defence, mobile defence and many other historical land warfare concepts.


    Imagine this: Five Russian brigades invade the Baltic states.
    The next thing that happens is that company to battalion-sized (personnel- and vehicle-wise) units infiltrate up to 200-400 km far behind them and raid airfields, bridges, convoys, depots and even the outskirts of St. Petersburg, if not Moscow. LRS teams set up hundreds of observation points at up to the same depth.
    The military back of the invading force would be ripped apart and their security and scouting forces be torn apart as well - long before NATO brigades from Central and Western Europe arrive for a counter-attack in force against the partially blinded invaders.
    That's when NATO publicly calls the whole thing a misunderstanding-based border conflict and proposes status quo ante within 48 hrs.

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    Imagine this: Five Russian brigades invade the Baltic states.
    The next thing that happens is that company to battalion-sized (personnel- and vehicle-wise) units infiltrate up to 200-400 km far behind them and raid airfields, bridges, convoys, depots and even the outskirts of St. Petersburg, if not Moscow. LRS teams set up hundreds of observation points at up to the same depth.
    The military back of the invading force would be ripped apart and their security and scouting forces be torn apart as well - long before NATO brigades from Central and Western Europe arrive for a counter-attack in force against the partially blinded invaders.
    That's when NATO publicly calls the whole thing a misunderstanding-based border conflict and proposes status quo ante within 48 hrs.
    This sounds good in theory, however, it almost always works out different in progress. A few small teams will not stop the resupply efforts of the main effort. Hell even the Taliban and other militants have been unable to effectively shut off our supply lines. Napolean simply out ran his lines in Russia, small teams didn't stop them from functioned. Definitely a tactic that anyone on the defensive should employ, but more likely than not it won't decisive.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Keep in mind this would be additional to air power efforts, the "few small teams" would be created by converting a third of the combat formations - and the long form description is 30 pages.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Sam,

    Are you looking at this from a COIN-insurgent view, or from a more conventional warfare view?
    Thank you! Short answer yes. I'm trying to identify the larger patterns (applying Clausewitz, Luttwalk, and others). I'm preparing a briefing on cyber and one of my thesis is that "defense in depth is dead" for cyber. I've got lots of material to prove the point for infotech related strategy, but my consistent weakness is the tactics that chickens and stars understand.

    In infosec the use of enterprise switches (and the cloud) break the defense in depth precedent significantly. They are cheaper and easier to manage but do not impose separation of space and time. Kind of like a predator drone may be a forward projection of force but it is not part of a defense in depth strategy (weak example I know). Maybe better would be a Battalion of tanks without air-cover or infantry screens is a force to be reckoned with unless they are going up against A10s or Tow Companies.
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Selil,

    The vivid example that comes to mind dates back to the Yom Kippur War, October 1973, on the Suez canal front, where the Israeli fixed defences, the Bar Lev Line, were penetrated by the Egyptians and elements pushed beyond into relatively IIRC open ground. The Israeli (IDF) response was to attack with an armoured brigade, held in reserve and one account I read referred to seeing hundreds of dots digging in. Then the tanks were hit by hundreds, if not more, of ATGMs (Sagger ?) and the brigade was destroyed. IDF rapidly changed the brigade structure to an all-arms format, so later attacks had artillery, mortars and infantry alongside tanks. It was a bit of shock to the IDF.

    Not sure if that helps.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Well, the Israeli fort line along the canal and their fortified passes were no defence in depth. they did intend to hold the Suez line; the depth of Sinai rather served as buffer against the long-range artillery harrassment of 70/71 than as a planned space for manoeuvre IIRC.

    The Egyptian defensive positions didn't practice much elastic defence or defence in depth either. They did even lack the necessary effective mobile reserve to handle the later breakthrough.

    The Israeli armor brigade was so terribly imbalanced in part because that saved much active-service personnel in comparison to a forward-deployed well-rounded brigade. The example was thus a rare and special exception.

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    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Link from Combat Studies Institute

    Overview of US Army tactical doctrine from defense in depth to active defense. It might put a combat arms spin on the information concepts you are presenting.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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    There is a book called Defence In Depth by Frederic P. Miller. This might be what you are looking for.

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