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Thread: What we support and defend

  1. #61
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Well, I don't want to be too obtuse. My points are simple:

    1. The constitution specifies very different duties to congress for raising and funding Armies vice sustaining a Navy. I don't see where that distinction is given much notice in modern debates.

    2. Our Ends-Ways-Means of national strategy are IMO way off base in each of those categories and need to be reined back in to be less ideological, less controlling, less militarized.

    3. Power has shifted over the years from the Congress to the Executive, most notably in terms of the modern Cold War and post Cold War conflicts that the existence of a large peacetime standing army has enabled.

    4. Historically our peacetime Army has been very small and the US has never suffered due to that. Yes, "first fights" have often been difficult, but the US has never been seriously threatened by an armed foe. On the other hand, by having a large army on the shelf ready to go it has allowed the US to dive into all manner of wars of choice, from Vietnam to Iraq. The President can launch the force and then put huge pressure on the Congress to "support the troops" in combat to keep funding what the President started.

    This disrupts our historic balance where a President was required to go to Congress and ask for the Congress to fund and raise an Army in order to go on such an adventure. This allows time for a national debate to occur, for emotions to stabilize, and for more appropriate COAs of full DIME to be developed and employed.

    Yes, the US needs a small peacetime Regular force. This was a force that varied from 25,000 to 28,000 during the period from the Civil War to the Spanish American War. Of note, the Indian tribes fought on the frontier were a far greater threat, conducting far more egregious atrocities against American citizens and interests than anything AQ has been able to muster. The Comanche (corrected from Cheyenne) alone make AQ look like a bunch of Girl Scouts.

    As I recall this number bumped up to closer to 90,000 during the next peace time era leading up to WWI. Britain with their vast Empire is better model for the US today, with around 225,000. France and Germany were well over 500,000, and Russia was something like 6 million (probably including reserves).

    Bottom line is that regardless of what the final number is for the Army in peace, lets get the mission right, lets be in synch with Constitution, lets re-empower Congress and let's get serious about coming to a more appropriate overall strategy for the world as it exists today. We exaggerate VEOs and "rogue states" and are falling quickly into new era of Containment with China that completely ignores their own sphere of influence and clearly stated Red Lines.

    We have 60 years of inertia pushing us on a crash course with reality, and the sooner we seek to regain control over that the better.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-05-2012 at 09:12 AM. Reason: Correction made after author's update in later post
    Robert C. Jones
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  2. #62
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Admittedly a tangent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The Cheyenne alone make AQ look like a bunch of Girl Scouts.
    I won’t claim to be an expert on the Prairies and the Plains but that just doesn’t ring true to me. While the Cheyenne were by no means peacemongers, I think you might be thinking of the Comanche (and/or Kiowa and Apache).
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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Well, I don't want to be too obtuse. My points are simple:

    1. The constitution specifies very different duties to congress for raising and funding Armies vice sustaining a Navy. I don't see where that distinction is given much notice in modern debates.

    2. Our Ends-Ways-Means of national strategy are IMO way off base in each of those categories and need to be reined back in to be less ideological, less controlling, less militarized.

    3. Power has shifted over the years from the Congress to the Executive, most notably in terms of the modern Cold War and post Cold War conflicts that the existence of a large peacetime standing army has enabled.

    4. Historically our peacetime Army has been very small and the US has never suffered due to that. Yes, "first fights" have often been difficult, but the US has never been seriously threatened by an armed foe. On the other hand, by having a large army on the shelf ready to go it has allowed the US to dive into all manner of wars of choice, from Vietnam to Iraq. The President can launch the force and then put huge pressure on the Congress to "support the troops" in combat to keep funding what the President started.

    This disrupts our historic balance where a President was required to go to Congress and ask for the Congress to fund and raise an Army in order to go on such an adventure. This allows time for a national debate to occur, for emotions to stabilize, and for more appropriate COAs of full DIME to be developed and employed.

    Yes, the US needs a small peacetime Regular force. This was a force that varied from 25,000 to 28,000 during the period from the Civil War to the Spanish American War. Of note, the Indian tribes fought on the frontier were a far greater threat, conducting far more egregious atrocities against American citizens and interests than anything AQ has been able to muster. The Cheyenne alone make AQ look like a bunch of Girl Scouts.

    As I recall this number bumped up to closer to 90,000 during the next peace time era leading up to WWI. Britain with their vast Empire is better model for the US today, with around 225,000. France and Germany were well over 500,000, and Russia was something like 6 million (probably including reserves).

    Bottom line is that regardless of what the final number is for the Army in peace, lets get the mission right, lets be in synch with Constitution, lets re-empower Congress and let's get serious about coming to a more appropriate overall strategy for the world as it exists today. We exaggerate VEOs and "rogue states" and are falling quickly into new era of Containment with China that completely ignores their own sphere of influence and clearly stated Red Lines.

    We have 60 years of inertia pushing us on a crash course with reality, and the sooner we seek to regain control over that the better.
    I agree 100% - well said.

    Sven,

    We will never know if its a myth. The United States supposedly subsidizing European powers is probably like many other 'myths' - over stated, but not untrue.

  4. #64
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    ...China that completely ignores their own sphere of influence and clearly stated Red Lines.
    At the risk of David moving this Done!, I ask the following questions.

    What is Red China's sphere of influence?

    What does is encompass exactly, on land and at sea?

    Does it have hard bounderies (sic) or does it exist in various zones of increasing or decreasing influence?

    Who determines what their sphere of influence is?

    Is the sphere of influence fixed forever or does it change?

    If it changes, who determines what changes it?

    Should changes be recognized?

    What powers does Red China have within its sphere of influence?

    Who determines what those powers are?

    Do any people living within that sphere of influence have any say in that?

    Do Red Chinese powers within the sphere change depending on what part of the sphere is in question or are they fixed everywhere?

    Would any and all power Red China claimed within its sphere of influence be legitimate or would there be certain things that would be beyond the pale?

    These are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. More will follow. And then on to the red lines.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-05-2012 at 09:54 AM. Reason: Copied to 'China's Emergence as a Superpower' thread and note added
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  5. #65
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    I won’t claim to be an expert on the Prairies and the Plains but that just doesn’t ring true to me. While the Cheyenne (later corrected to Comanche) were by no means peacemongers, I think you might be thinking of the Comanche (and/or Kiowa and Apache).
    Good catch, yes, I meant Comanche. (I'll claim mental fatigue from sitting next to a 300lb man for four hours on a cross country flght. Talk about being terrorized...)
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-05-2012 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Note mistake corrected in original post
    Robert C. Jones
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Good catch, yes, I meant Comanche. (I'll claim mental fatigue from sitting next to a 300lb man for four hours on a cross country flght. Talk about being terrorized...)
    You are lucky he did not eat you.

  7. #67
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Countries determine their own spheres of influence, their own interests, their own red lines etc. No one else gets a vote on what others think theirs are, but everyone gets a vote on how they are operationalized.

    China actually posts their on their Embassy web page in pretty clear terms, and lay them out on occasion with great consistency. I was researching that a bit a couple weeks ago and can share some links. No surprises.

    Unique to China is their "100 years of humiliation" and being forced to accept violations of their sphere of influence and red lines that at some point they will step up and call "foul." The US selling arms to Taiwan is one of those red lines that is clearly communicated that we cross routinely, as an example. One day China will determine that the time is right to enforce that position and we will likely take it with great surprise and indignation. Maybe even see it as an act of war. I am not saying they are right or wrong on this matter, but it is how they see the issue according to various open sources I read.

    What I find interesting is that there are about 9-12 important regional powers, all with their own take on their spheres, interests and red lines. Many of these overlap. Obviously smaller nations live within these spheres and zones of overlap. It maps out where future conflicts are likely, particularly when one also takes into account geostrategic key terrain and resources. IMO this is far more important to appreciate than the latest intel report on what wadi some AQ chucklehead is camped out in last night. But that is the difference between Strategy and Intel. One provides a map for the future, while the other is just a snapshot of today. We need to wean off the snapshots and start reading the map.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  8. #68
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    Bob:

    Posting those links here would be helpful. Though from the nature of your response they post their interests. That is not what I am interested in.

    So, we have one question answered. Red China determines what their sphere of influence is. None of the other questions were answered though. Statements about what their interests are do not define the nature and extent of a sphere of influence. It is important that you define what you mean, pretty exactly, when you say sphere of influence. It is important because from what you write, it seems to me that you think it proper that the Red Chinese expect us to defer to them within their sphere of influence so we had better have a good idea of what that means.

    So, I restate my questions, except the one about who determines what Red China's sphere of influence is. Your answer on that one is Red China.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Interesting thread so far. A few points:

    Bob's World,

    12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
    and

    1. The constitution specifies very different duties to congress for raising and funding Armies vice sustaining a Navy. I don't see where that distinction is given much notice in modern debates.
    This part of the Constitution is OBE today because of modern budgeting. Congress appropriates money annually (mostly), so the two-year limit is never reached. Even though the Congress hasn't passed a budget, it did pass a Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31 2011.

    The purpose behind the distinction is to give Congress firm control over the size of the Army - it doesn't disallow a standing Army and it doesn't disallow a large standing Army (however one defines "large). It simply means that in order to have a standing Army (of whatever size - size is irrelevant here), the Congress must come back at least every two years and appropriate money for it. I'm speculating here, but I suspect it isn't a coincidence that Congressional elections are also every two years.

    Today we plan equal cuts to the Army and the Marines, but the fact is that the entirety of those cuts should fall upon the Army if we follow the constitution. In fact, the Navy could make a case that to cut the Marines while leaving Army forces on the books is arguably unconstitutional.
    I think you're reading something into the Constitution that isn't there. The only restriction is that funds for an Army expire after two years and must be reauthorized. There's nothing specific to suggest the the Navy must be bigger or have more resources than the Army or anything else actually.

    I think the reality is that the US population isn't as fearful of a standing Army as it once was and Congress is reflecting that reality.

    Having a standing Army for the past several decades has, I believe, contributed significantly toward shifting the intended balance of power in our government from the Congress to the Executive.
    and

    3. Power has shifted over the years from the Congress to the Executive, most notably in terms of the modern Cold War and post Cold War conflicts that the existence of a large peacetime standing army has enabled.
    Nonsense. The balance of power appeared to shift because the Congress often defers to the President and rarely brings out its "big guns" against the Executive. Secondly, the Army is a creation of Congress, lent to the Executive and can, therefore, be taken away by Congress. If I buy a car and and let my brother drive it would anyone suggest that the car "contributed significantly toward shifting the balance of power" between me and my brother? No, it's still my car and I could sell it or get another one.

    One relatively recent example shows that Congressional authority hasn't gone anywhere. Specifically, Congress shut-down the President's plan (and campaign pledge) to close Gitmo and transfer the detainees to the US. IIRC, both the House and Senate passed amendments to the Defense Authorization Act specifically forbidding the spending of any money to close Gitmo or to transfer detainees to the US. Those amendments passed by substantial veto-proof majorities.

    Finally, I think there's a big piece missing from your analysis and this discussion more generally - namely our alliances with other nations. We didn't need a large standing army in the early 19th century because we weren't obligated by treaty to come to the military aid of several dozen different nations. Today we are and for those treaties to have any credibility, the US must have the capability to meet their intent. Yes, the US could greatly reduce the size of the Army and Air Force, but that is putting the strategic cart before the horse. If that is something we choose to do then we need to reevaluate our strategic position and renegotiate our alliances.

    To put it another way, we can talk about tearing out a few bedrooms and knocking down some walls to make our house smaller, more affordable and more efficient, but it's probably a good idea to coordinate that with our friends living in those bedrooms be plan on tearing down.

    Not that I disagree with the idea (since I think we could, in theory, put the bulk of the Army and Air Force into the reserve as a true strategic reserve), but first things first.

    Fuchs,

    That's a popular myth among Americans.


    Fact is that the U.S. military is so suboptimal for defence of U.S. allies an, so wasteful and so oversized that only a fraction of your military budget is really relevant to the security of U.S. allies.
    and

    Last but not least: The U.S. Army, three quarters of the U.S. Navy plus the last quarter of its amphibious warfare ships, two thirds of the U.S. Air Force, all U.S.Marines and even 90% of U.S. nukes could disappear today and the security situation of the European allies would not have changed substantially. It's all surplus.
    Those are grand, sweeping claims which would, I think, require some pretty substantial evidence before they're taken seriously. I think the Balkans and Libya, to name two examples, would seriously challenge your assertions.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    3. Power has shifted over the years from the Congress to the Executive, most notably in terms of the modern Cold War and post Cold War conflicts that the existence of a large peacetime standing army has enabled.

    And that is the real problem. Power hasn't shifted it has been stolen! The Presidents "Primary Responsability is to be the Chief Executive" War from the original American viewpoint was an exception or special condition requiring a Declaration from Congreess where upon the the Chief Executive becomes the Commander In Chief. But Power freaks don't usually care about the Law in the first place.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default It Is A Citizen Army....Ike Warned Us!!!!

    Oh yea and while I am ranting.... at least according the History I have been reading the Primary Purpose of the "peacetime Army" was to run West Point To study War and upon Declaration be prepared to raise and train the Continental Army to win and then go back to being Citizen Soldiers.... only the Officer Corps and a small cadre at West Point should be on the permanent payroll. The Marines are probabaly supposed to do the rest, with the help from some Navy guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I think the Balkans and Libya, to name two examples, would seriously challenge your assertions.

    Neither was a threat to us. Moreover, what Americans never seem to get is that their involvement in Bosnia was first and foremost about doing something together for the sake of doing something together.
    It's similar with Libya; the European forces weren't even involved enough to move some fighters to forward airfields in Southern Sicily - no wonder that additional aerial refuelling etc was required.
    No joint intervention was ever a real stretch for European capabilities. They hardly ever left our comfort zone ever since the French gave up Algeria.


    On the other hand, Europe is being defended by two European nuclear power with SSBNs, faces no serious military in its South and a still weakened and rotten Russian/Belorussian military in its East. Even the quickest check of numbers reveals that we're dominating our periphery with a vast military superiority without taking into account a single U.S. soldier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    On the other hand, Europe is being defended by two European nuclear power with SSBNs, faces no serious military in its South and a still weakened and rotten Russian/Belorussian military in its East. Even the quickest check of numbers reveals that we're dominating our periphery with a vast military superiority without taking into account a single U.S. soldier.
    I suspect that the two nuclear powers mentioned are not defending Europe with their SSBN. Rather they are defending theior own countries, and the rest of Europe just happens to benefit from that fact. The rest of Euiope benefits from French and British nukes in a way similar to that by which the whole of Europe benefits from the US strategic nuclear triad. Whether the French or British would be willing to use their nukes to protect other European nations when either nation was not itself directly threatened is an open question. But, I think an example from history worth considering is the nature of the "defense" of Poland by the French and British from the 1939 German invasion.

    By the way, numbers do not in themselves demonstrate dominant capability. Consider, for example, the Modoc Indian War in which the Modoc warriors held off a US force over 10 times its size for about a year. Marathon, Plataea, and the Greco-Persian Wars also come to mind.
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  14. #74
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Neither was a threat to us. Moreover, what Americans never seem to get is that their involvement in Bosnia was first and foremost about doing something together for the sake of doing something together.
    It's similar with Libya; the European forces weren't even involved enough to move some fighters to forward airfields in Southern Sicily - no wonder that additional aerial refueling etc was required.
    No joint intervention was ever a real stretch for European capabilities. They hardly ever left our comfort zone ever since the French gave up Algeria.


    On the other hand, Europe is being defended by two European nuclear power with SSBNs, faces no serious military in its South and a still weakened and rotten Russian/Belorussian military in its East. Even the quickest check of numbers reveals that we're dominating our periphery with a vast military superiority without taking into account a single U.S. soldier.


    Fuchs points are fare in their rationale, but I question the reality. I do not propose that the US pays for the militaries of foreign nations; but rather that many nations do not take on the full burden of fielding the military they need based upon their geostrategic realities as they rely upon the US to continue to make excessive guarantees of support in treaties designed for a Cold War threat, that as Fuchs points out no longer exists, and for the US to continue to pay for and field far more military capacity than our geostrategic reality demands as we seek to sustain a zenith of post Cold War power, that realistically was beginning to recede to more balanced levels from the very day it was first achieved.

    By having excessive views of our own sphere of influence and fielding excessive capacity and strategies (A2/AD; more carriers, F35, etc) to enforce those excesses; we provoke our most powerful competitors by crossing their clear read-lines as we overly work to compress their regional spheres of influence as we seek to expand our own; and we equally enable our most powerful allies to under-invest in their own security.

    The end result is an overly burdened US economy, powerful states pushed into war-like postures against what they perceive as US aggression; and allies il-prepared to fight their own fights, let alone assist us in ours. We are not playing this very smart and the entire thing needs a massive overhaul, but instead we simply massage the edges, leaving it largely unchanged.

    We continue to race toward some future precipice, chasing our fears and pursued by our demons, we will arrive there all alone, in an unnecessry, fight beyond our capacity in some far corner far from home, with no chance to win. We will not be the first Empire to run up against such a reality, but that historic company will be cold comfort.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    By the way, numbers do not in themselves demonstrate dominant capability. Consider, for example, the Modoc Indian War in which the Modoc warriors held off a US force over 10 times its size for about a year. Marathon, Plataea, and the Greco-Persian Wars also come to mind.
    Terrain can be a multiplier, it is true. [1] [2]
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    Those Modocs were good Southern Oregon, Northern California men. The Army should have known better...


    Oh, and just back from a needed workout, I have to toss Fuchs a point. I may have to agree with him in large part in regards to Europe. The Russian threat is nowhere near the Soviet threat of old. Europe may well have the military it needs for the threats those nations see to their interests based upon their geostrategic realities.

    The frustration for the US is that we are on this Global Sphere of influence mission driven by a powerful ideological message that Europeans do not share, seeking to exercise control over outcomes that Europeans see as none of their interest-based business; and applying a brand of militarism that they are unwilling to endorse.

    Perhaps Europe is playing this just right. I don't think that is as true in the Pacific. Old documents signed under extremely different conditions must be updated for the world we live in today. Japan, for example, is a great ally, but our agreement with them was made between a victor and a vanquished, while nearby China and Russia were our allies in the region. Times and the situation have changed significantly. Agreements must evolve as well.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I suspect that the two nuclear powers mentioned are not defending Europe with their SSBN. Rather they are defending theior own countries, and the rest of Europe just happens to benefit from that fact. The rest of Euiope benefits from French and British nukes in a way similar to that by which the whole of Europe benefits from the US strategic nuclear triad. Whether the French or British would be willing to use their nukes to protect other European nations when either nation was not itself directly threatened is an open question. But, I think an example from history worth considering is the nature of the "defense" of Poland by the French and British from the 1939 German invasion.

    By the way, numbers do not in themselves demonstrate dominant capability. Consider, for example, the Modoc Indian War in which the Modoc warriors held off a US force over 10 times its size for about a year. Marathon, Plataea, and the Greco-Persian Wars also come to mind.
    Regarding numbers and geography; the no-threat across the Med is held off by the Med. Regarding quality of troops: This time the Germans are with the big alliance, not against it.

    Regarding the nuclear umbrella: The French nuclear deterrence is a more credible defence for Europe than is the U.S. one. The U.S. is not involved in an ideologicals truggle concerning Europe any more; distances, culture and economic connections have become more important regarding shared interests than before. The U.S. would likely more easily sacrifice Romania than France would.
    On top of that, the Lisbon Treaty has a much stronger choice of words regrding collective defence than the North Atlantic Treaty and the U.S. is a serial violator of the North Atlantic Tretay anyway, remembering it only when it suits its intents.

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    Default Strategic Compression

    Just realised this thread is in the 'Strategic Compression' venue, how fitting that Rob should choose this.

    Plus the sub-title 'The compression of roles and effects. The Strategic Corporal meets the "turn left" National Security Advisor'.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    Terrain can be a multiplier, it is true. [1] [2]
    I've been to the museum and walked Captain Jack's Stronghold when I was kid. Not so much with regards to Thermopylae.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    Terrain can be a multiplier, it is true. [1] [2]
    Terrain is not the only item worth considering. Plataea and Marathon were won by better tactics and command. Nothwithstanding that, generally, a force using interior lines (like the Modocs in the lava beds, the Texicans in the Alamo, or any other force undergoing a seige) may be much smaller than its opponent and still be quite effective. And interior lines need not be on a small scale. The Germans had a similar advantage when they went on the defensive during the later parts of the European portions of both world wars. (As did they in Tunisia during the last of the WWII North African campaign.)

    Interior lines can also provide an offensive advantage. Much as the Germans were able to shift forces back and forth between the Eastern and Western fronts during WWI to mount successive offensives, the US is naturally disposed to be able to use interior lines to shift between Atlantic-facing and Pacific-facing operations. This potential geographical advantage might be the basis for an argument for withdrawal from forward basing and downsizing, provided, of course, that US policy makers choose to eschew the Truman doctrine and return to something more like the Monroe Doctrine. But, as noted in Entropy's post, such a move would require revisiting/rewriting many currrent treaty obligations.
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    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris

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