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Thread: Perspectives in (para)military thought

  1. #1
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    May 2008

    Default Perspectives in (para)military thought

    It's common at this place to look at all things from a U.S. perspective, up the the point of members writing about "our nation" meaning the United States.

    I suppose many limitations and failures of the discussions here stem from this fact.

    Thinking here is always about how a rich and large military accomplishes its mission in a foreign country.

    There would be much more to learn and many more hints to be found if perspectives were different.

    Think about being a small power, with a small military without substantial air power, without much personnel, gazillions of cash et cetera.

    Think about running a developing country military.

    Or paramilitary outfit.

    How about a militia /civil war faction's perspective?

    The guerrilla's perspective.

    The tribal/settlement politician's perspective.

    The corrupt 'host' country's perspective.

    The perspective of a shadow power pulling the strings on a puppet guerrilla force.

    The perspective of arms dealers trying to figure out how to supply whom, and how to not antagonize too many in the process.

    The perspective of local criminals trying to exploit the conflict's chaos to get rich.

    The perspective of media, lobbyist, arms dealer, career bureaucrats in uniform at home, trying to make personal gains off the conflict.

    The perspective of the Niskanen-type bureaucratic beast as a whole, trying to prove its 'relevance' and pushing for more budget, more personnel, more prestige - but not necessarily benefiting off a quick victory that much.

    The perspective of NGOs, and how they may resist or embrace corruption by intelligence services, protection money gangsters et cetera.

    The perspective of non-involved foreign great powers which may or may not intervene sooner or later if the predicted outcome turns away from their interests (think PRC '50, U.S. 80's and AFG).

    It's not surprising that people thinking about conflict run into walls limiting their progress and success and feeling like running in a circle all the time if said people think about conflict dominantly from a single perspective and feeling quite dismissive about other actors.

    One consequence is that objectives are not a range of negotiation outcomes with some bargaining space, but dreams. The disrespect and dismissive attitude about all the other actors coupled with 'can do' attitude and a lot of 'we are #1' Kool-aid may be the real reason why the recent conflicts lasted so unnecessarily long.
    There's simply not enough modesty in the head of the beast, and too man profiteers.

  2. #2
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Belly of the beast


    Excellent points and also germane to that big rich military. When you have floods of cash and can complain about the adequacy of a joint strike fighter that one line item costs more than your small countries entire military budget. Your example small nations have little in common with the vast military out there.

    Another aspect is that of winning. The entire position of NATO nations in particular and the United States specifically are on winning. The current critique from Gentile and others of COIN is that of "what does a win look like?" The UN position in the charter that war can only exist between two nation states inadequately expresses through true span of conflict and that of lessons larger nations could learn.

    There is something to be said about on the cheap, highly flexible, swarm tactic, volunteer militaries capability. It is hardly studied. In the United States it is a side line of intellectual thinking. The principle of not winning, but not losing, as a form of conflict is almost completely ignored in the intellectual thought of western nations. Which creates strategic seams exploited on almost a daily basis.
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
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