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Old 09-13-2007   #1
LawVol
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Default Understanding Airmen

Below is a link to Gen Dunlap's latest article regarding AF culture.

http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/C...gseptoct07.pdf
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Old 09-13-2007   #2
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Default Interesting....

This will come in handy for a piece I'm working on about the Air Force's foundation myth. Thanks for the link!
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Old 09-13-2007   #3
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I'm getting a sinking feeling that I've just done something wrong. Be nice.
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 09-13-2007   #4
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Actually, it provides a fine window for how the Air Force views itself, which ties directly back to the foundation myth. I could pick the piece apart, but that's not really the point right now. Dunlap is cheerleading, which is often what he does. It's been a characteristic of semi-official Air Force writing going back to the late 1940s (and of course other services do it as well...).

His use of LeMay as someone who questioned authority is interesting, especially given LeMay's penchant for crushing those who disagreed with him or deviated from established SAC policy. His comment on AF officers doing most of the fighting is also somewhat disingenuous, because within the AF structure pilots HAVE to be officers.

I'll stop now....but it is a very interesting piece for those who want to see how the Air Force sees itself.
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Old 09-13-2007   #5
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Default That's a good article.

It's pretty much correct in my opinion and observation. He hits two critical points; first that there has been no attack from the air on US ground forces since 1950 and that the Air force has pretty much done its job while taking care of its people and without getting too wrapped around the axle about Martinetish foolishness...

Far more importantly, he writes this:

Quote:
"Airmen may also not read FMFM 3-24’s slogan of “learn and adapt” as the unqualified good the manual touts it to be. While “adaptability” is certainly an important military virtue, when we juxtapose it with “learn,” it strikes Airmen as too defensive and reactive. To Airmen, this sounds a lot like absorbing the first blow and then bending to the enemy by trying to figure out how to fight him on his terms (just do so “better”). That is not the Air Force “way.” In air warfare, the first blow can be fatal to relatively fragile aircraft. This makes Airmen extremely offensive-minded, and they are more inclined to take an “anticipate and shape” approach than a “learn and adapt” process. An Airman likes to seize the initiative and force the adversary to fight on his terms—terms in which he believes his superior technology and training will give him the advantage."
(emphasis added /kw)

I've been complaining about that for many years. We as an Army tend to be entirely too reactive; we react well, ususally but the mindset is too frequently to react...

Good article if a trifle defensive. The sad thing is that our excessive parochialism caused him to write it...
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Old 09-13-2007   #6
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There's more than enough parochialism to go around, IMO. And don't get me started about the "no air attack on US ground forces" straw man....

The Air Force has, IMO, been fortunate in that it has been able to more or less pick and choose its wars since Vietnam (where, as Dunlap fails to mention, they learned slowly and quickly forgot much of what they learned once the shooting stopped...until the TAC generals gained ascendancy in the 1980s and later). Their op tempo overall has been lower (with the notable exception of certain airframes and communities...tankers, AWACs, and A-10s spring immediately to mind, but there are others that were constantly drawn on as well), which gives them more time to consider the ideal conflict and develop systems for that conflict.

This is an area where we may have to agree to disagree, Ken. I found it most useful as an institutional expression of what the Air Force believes it is, where it's been, and where it's going.
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Old 09-13-2007   #7
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I agree with much of what Outcast had to say about Dunlap's piece. I think that Dunlap provides an accurate and explanatory piece of how airmen view the world. One might not agree with that view but it is their view nevertheless and Dunlap should be lauded for providing us with it in a clear and understandable form. I say this as a historian who has written very criticaly about airmen and airpower since its inception.
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Old 09-13-2007   #8
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Default I'd be interested to hear your views on the "no

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Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
There's more than enough parochialism to go around, IMO. And don't get me started about the "no air attack on US ground forces" straw man....

. . .

This is an area where we may have to agree to disagree, Ken. I found it most useful as an institutional expression of what the Air Force believes it is, where it's been, and where it's going.
air attacks on US ground forces" 'strawman.'

As for the rest of your comment, all true. So what? I'm not sure with what you're disagreeing. I made three statements, the foregoing air attacks; that the US Army is in fact too often in the reactive mode; and that it's sad that he felt the need to write what is, effectively an apologia and a defensive (as I noted) attempt to establish a philosophy.

What is the specific disagreement?
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Old 09-13-2007   #9
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Ken,

The main reason I tend to consider the "no air attacks on ground forces since 1950" to be something of a straw man is that we've very rarely engaged an opponent (Gulf War I aside) that had any real capability TO attack our forces from the air, or a reason to do so if they possessed the capability. The limited air capability North Vietnam had could have been defeated by either Navy or Marine air (and in fact the Navy had a higher kill ratio during the Vietnam War and proved much quicker to adapt to NVAF tactics), although the objectives of NVN didn't really call for them to use ANY air power. Deterrence during the Cold War was very much a team effort so all services get a fair share of the credit there (along with occasionally very astute political leadership). The Balkans is something of a unique case, and the AF did very well there. It was a joint effort as well, with Navy air and NATO assets taking part. I'm not knocking the achievements of the AF, but I do think that some statements need to be taken with a grain of salt.

As for the disagreement, I'd say it stems more from the implication that Dunlap's piece represents something new (in terms of a defense of the AF viewpoint). It's not really new...in fact his tone is more of a throwback to the sort of pieces that came out in the 1950s regarding AF capabilities. As an institution (not as individuals) the AF isn't necessarily proactive; I'd say they spend more time (at the higher levels, mind, and in a form of projected "group vision") trying to craft a dreamstate of war. They (again a collective "they" that refers more to the vocal air power advocates) view warfare as a total activity, with nothing off limits or out of bounds. Politics do not frame conflict so much as they obstruct it and air power's decisive capability. Dunlap isn't establishing a policy at all; he's giving a current voice to a mindset that's been active in one form or another (and in a very consistent shape) since the birth of the Army Air Service.

Perhaps we aren't disagreeing that much....but there is a certain throwback dreamstate to Dunlap's piece that I find interesting.
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Last edited by Steve Blair; 09-13-2007 at 07:59 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 09-13-2007   #10
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Default I met that guy in 1990

Quote:
Providing support to U.S. troops on the ground is relentlessly imprinted on Airmen. As General Hal Hornburg, one of the Air Force’s most distinguished combat veterans and the former commander of the Air Combat Command, put it, “If you don’t love Soldiers, you have no place in my Air Force.”
Not Homburg; the guy I refer to loved neither Soldiers nor Marines and he was a BG in the Air Force advocating a unilateral air campaign to drive Saddam from Kuwait....

I would agree with both of you (Ken and Steve) that this is an interesting piece, providing a window in to the collective mind of the Air Force. I would point out there is a bit of offensive-defensiveness in this; I mean really, an Air Force General feels compelled to explain the Air Force to us ground pounders? I have to wonder how would an Army general be perceived if he penned a similar piece explaining the Army to the Air Force.

In relation to what Steve discusses about the Air Force belief system I find it quite revealing to look at what issues he feels compelled to explain. As I would expect, he certainly explains a view of airpower centered on lethal technology--as delivered by the pilots. The central focus of that lethality is destroying the enemy; he never seems to connect that focus with his continued concerns that FM 3-24 is somehow not lethal enough. Curiously he then feels compelled to explain that airmen are warriors, too, even when they don't fly.

It is also instructive to reflect on those subjects not explained. As a FAO in Africa, I loved airlift. It could be a trying experience but when you needed lots of stuff really fast--no one can beat the US Air Force. Yet this article seems to miss that one. As an intelligence officer looking for Iraqi tank divisions in 1990, I truly missed the SR71. Air breathing intelligence collectors are wonderful things. All the services have come along way since 1990 with regards to UAVs and such. In fact there is a major furr ball in progress right now on the UAV control issue, one not discussed in this piece.

best

Tom

Last edited by Tom Odom; 09-13-2007 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 09-13-2007   #11
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Steve, this is an interesting comment:

Quote:
They (again a collective "they" that refers more to the vocal air power advocates) view warfare as a total activity, with nothing off limits or out of bounds.
Rather than assume I understand what you are saying, could you elaborate please?

Tom,

Quote:
I mean really, an Air Force General feels compelled to explain the Air Force to us ground pounders?
You might be surprised how little some AF people understand the Army or Marines. Perhaps some sort of explanation of those cultures might be beneficial to those airmen moving into a joint environment. They are distinctly different. I had a hell of a time with some issues when I first came in the AF. I saw everything through a Marine Corps lense because it is what I knew. The egalitarian example he provides is a prime example. Another is the differences in NCOs, which has been discussed on some other thread.
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 09-13-2007   #12
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Quote:
You might be surprised how little some AF people understand the Army or Marines. Perhaps some sort of explanation of those cultures might be beneficial to those airmen moving into a joint environment. They are distinctly different. I had a hell of a time with some issues when I first came in the AF. I saw everything through a Marine Corps lense because it is what I knew. The egalitarian example he provides is a prime example. Another is the differences in NCOs, which has been discussed on some other thread.
No not at all surprised and that was my point; I expect that reception to such an explanation of Army culture would be disinterest if not hostility. I agree 100% that such an explanation service cultural would benefit any service member regardless of service entering a joint environment--it is after all much like COIN .

I have worked in an AF-centric environment and I --like you--definitely had to adjust. The NCO cultures are excellent examples, one that applies to all the services, the closest being the Marines and the Army.


Best

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Old 09-13-2007   #13
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Default Steve. Let me dispel some seeming wrong assumptions

I disagreed with the founding of the USAF in 1947, still do. It is a service in search of a mission. I watched USAF CAS in Korea in 50 and 52 -- the Marines and the Navy, in that order, did it far better. Watched it again several other places including SEA in 61, 66 and 68 -- same result as Korea. My middle son with Army DS/DS, two Afghan and one Iraqi tours says that's still true. Strategic bombing is a factually proven waste in virtually all respects. Warden's theories are IMO incorrect. The USAF has a bad tendency to over centralize; a big war will cure them of that foolishness. "Shock and Awe" (2003) was a ridiculous term that should never have seen daylight. The USAF has no business at all in taking over the UAVs of the other services, that would be a terrible mistake. The AF has done better with CAS since the A-10 arrived but those guys are way, way too trigger happy

In short; Air power has its uses but is vastly overrated as a war winner and the AF has some problems.

The fact that there have been few credible threats since 1950 is irrelevant; for whatever reason the USAF with a great deal of Navy and Marine help has owned the skies. Not the least of advantages in that is that the other services have been able to spend slightly less on AD than they might have in the absence of that control. The far more significant impact is that the other services have had far more freedom of maneuver. I submit that the Balkans were a side show and that the USAF did NOT do very well at all in Kosovo. As to selecting wars in which to participate and speaking of Kosovo, IIRC, the Army got M1A1s and AH-64s to the theater -- but, very selectively, not into the country 'til after things were chilled...

I did not represent Dunlaps piece as something new nor did I assess it as even attempting to establish a policy of any sort, it is, as I said initially, a piece of defensive writing; it is simply another regurgitation of AF self justification. That does not mean that he makes no valid points in the process and I merely mentioned four of them (the taking care of the troops bit is so obvious as to not need repetition). I see little sense in discarding anyone's valid premises because I disagree with the intent or the validity of the total contribution.

Tom is correct in noting the absence of the UAV stupidity and that the AF has never provided the priority merited to airlift and its airlift fleet. Given the Eagle Claw debacle and technology since available, there is no reason we should not have a 3K NM STOVL aircraft (among others).

All that said, I agree with your second and last paragraphs. I'd also add that my complaint about parochialism is all service -- but in many ways, the USAF is the worst offender in that aspect. Witness their intransigence at the formation of a unified medical command...

Regards,
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Old 09-13-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
Rather than assume I understand what you are saying, could you elaborate please?
Sure. What I refer to here is what I have taken over the years from the writing of air power theorists as well as some of the semi-official AF writing about Vietnam and Korea. My take is that they in essence view warfare as a zero-sum exercise: you are either at war or you are not. If you are at war, you should be able to use all weapons and methods at your disposal to defeat your opponent. You see strains of this in most discussion of Korea and Vietnam, where complaints are raised about (with Korea) not being able to attack bases in China or (in Vietnam) not bombing Hanoi soon enough or with enough severity. Political limitations are viewed with hostility - as shackles on the true effectiveness of air power - and not as a common feature in warfare (since war stems from politics in many if not all cases). If the population is part of the production system, they should be subject to attack. The same goes for political centers and the like. LeMay was a vocal advocate of this, but there have been others. You bomb power plants to cut off power to the populace, hit the Red River dikes (a VN example) to flood out food production areas, and so on.

You see strains of this in Warden's air campaign theory, although he does tone down the rhetoric. But even there you can see an attempt to shape warfare to the air power-centric doctrine and not adapting the doctrine to the political situation as dictated by national policy. One of the main points of this doctrine is maximum force (weapons, systems, etc.) delivered to vital points (as many as possible) as quickly as possible. Under such a mindset problems quickly become a question of what weapon to use and in what quantity, not if weapons should be used at all.

This ignores the contributions of lift (mentioned by Tom and I know you've talked about it as well, John), real-time recon like the SR-71 provided, and other functions. Dunlap mentions the Misty FACs, but he also fails to mention that they were marginalized by the AF when they were operating and have only recently enjoyed a resurgence of interest and semi-official approval. He also doesn't mention the number of times the AF has tried to retire or transfer the A-10 or other systems that don't really fit into the high-speed, lots of bombs on target mission that the total activity vision of warfare calls for.
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Old 10-04-2007   #15
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Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
My take is that they in essence view warfare as a zero-sum exercise: you are either at war or you are not. If you are at war, you should be able to use all weapons and methods at your disposal to defeat your opponent.
Probably because I simply was not looking for it, I failed to see evidence of this statement. But then I came across this article this morning:

http://aimpoints.hq.af.mil/display.cfm?id=21646

Of particular interest is this quote:
Quote:
The doctrine defines irregular warfare as "a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations."

But Peck cautioned this was not necessarily the same as a battle for hearts and minds.

"It doesn't have to be kinder and gentler," he said, citing the Viet Cong, who he charged had "won influence over the population how? Not by going in and immunizing the kids and building schools. Â… They'd go in and they'd grab a couple of the tribal elders and hang them."
I'm not quite sure how to take this. I've reread it several times to try and gleen a different read, but it just seems like he's calling for a sort of total war -- kill them all and let God sort this out. I'm flabbergasted. Even in COIN there is a need for putting steel on target and even being relentless in doing it, but surely it shouldn't be the rule. Like I said, maybe I'm misreading but, especially in today's globalized and liberalized society, we can't take a butcher and burn approach to COIN.

That being said, there is a statement that I believe does make sense.

Quote:
The storyline that "They are afraid to fight us face-to-face but not to bomb us from the air and kill our women and children" is "a good recruiting tool for the enemy," he said.

"I don't even know how to respond to that," said Peck, when a reporter put Richards' views to him.

"I take great pride in the fact that we can do these things without putting our forces at risk -- to me that's the goal. We don't want to fight a fair fight."
I don't buy into the argument that we should make ourselves available as target simply to adhere to some machismo version of fighting because the failure to do so taints our image in the eyes of our adversary. Who cares? Killing your enemy without being killed has been the goal since the beginning of time. We have simply developed better ways to do it. Within the confines of the laws of war, I completely agree that we should not engage in a "fair" fight if we can gain some sort of advantage.

Also, I'm not sure that this is a great recruiting tool anyway (the failure to fight aspect; civilian casualties will always play a role in recruiting). I guess it's possible that some may join the insurgency solely for this reason, but I doubt the numbers are significant. In their minds they have plenty of other reasons for joining. However, once engaged in the fight against the US, wouldn't the enemy become frustrated at their inability to kill US military personnel? I would think so.
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 10-04-2007   #16
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Quote:
I don't buy into the argument that we should make ourselves available as target simply to adhere to some machismo version of fighting because the failure to do so taints our image in the eyes of our adversary. Who cares?
The argument is about legitimacy in the eyes of the population. Who has it? And who gets it? There is no machismo attached to fighting in ways that help secure that legitimacy. Peck again uses "hearts and minds" as a red herring, implying that we are trying to love our enemy to death. We and our host nation allies try to convince the population that we are legitimate and the insurgents are not.


best

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Last edited by Tom Odom; 10-04-2007 at 03:21 PM. Reason: deleted second point as I misread original
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Old 10-04-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
Probably because I simply was not looking for it, I failed to see evidence of this statement. But then I came across this article this morning:
I first noticed the trend when reading about Air Force involvement in Vietnam. I came across it again when reading about Korea. There was a constant "airpower could have won everything if we had been allowed to do it our way" thread, which usually translated into bombing everything that moved (and most things that didn't). There's often a disconnect between the theory and its application in a world where political constraints are ALWAYS a part of military operations.

In terms of the failing to fight consideration, I don't think it's a recruiting tool as much as it is an IO consideration in many areas and with some cultures. By failing to put people on the ground, you can appear to be afraid of the insurgents, giving them a sense of legitimacy they might not have otherwise. You also deprive yourself of invaluable COIN intelligence: being able to SEE and HEAR the people. Sensors are great, but they just don't substitute for the impressions that can be formed on the ground.

Peck's VC example is nothing short of ludicrous. Intimidation has always been a part of insurgent operations, but most COIN attempts to "pay them back in their own coin" have been total failures. Part of successful COIN is being able to offer real alternatives to the insurgents, not a choice between who's going to shoot you in the back of the head.
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Old 10-04-2007   #18
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In the article, GEN Dunlap says
Quote:
Airmen shamelessly seek to destroy adversaries with as little risk to themselves... as possible.
All the way back to the Iliad, close combat is considered valient and couragous, and stand-off weapon users (then archers, now airmen) were considered lacking in martial virtue. Note that 'couragous' literally means 'having heart' and 'virtue' comes from vir, Latin for man so means manliness. So, stand-off weapons make the user heartless and unmanly...

Pretty archaic attitude from folks whose basic weapon has a maximum effective range of 500m against point targets and 800m against area targets (M16A2).

I think the central, unspoken issue is that most air force folks do not display the degree of respect for folks who go into close combat that ground forces feel is their due. And possibly, the air force folks are doing this to compensate for their own questions about their virtue when compared to us knuckle-dragging ground pounders.

In the current conflict, we are seeing a similar pattern to early Viet Nam. If the enemy has no strategic infrastructure to bomb, strategic bombing can continue 24-7 without effect. I would argue (as an Army guy) that precision munitions were one of the two things missing from the Douhet/Mitchell vision of air power (the other being information operations) to minimize collateral damage that turns into an IO victory for the opponent. In other words, were are closer now to the capabilities required for strat air to carry the day than ever before, but strat air requires an opponent who has an infrastructure that can be targeted with bombs. The bad guys in Iraq don't have big IED factories, they have dozens of home workshops, they don't have electric power plants discrete from the friendly power plants, their comm system might be a guy on a scooter who looks just like every other scooter in the city from 30,000 ft. In this circumstance, airpower is the big fire base in the sky, with someone on the ground as the forward observer, not an independant, autonomous fleet of airmachines envisioned by Douhet.

Last edited by Van; 10-04-2007 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 10-04-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Van View Post
I think the central, unspoken issue is that most air force folks do not display the degree of respect for folks who go into close combat that ground forces feel is their due. And possibly, the air force folks are doing this to compensate for their own questions about their virtue when compared to us knuckle-dragging ground pounders.
Perhaps the following link would be useful to you.

http://www.truesilence.com/psychological-projection.htm
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Rule of Law in Afghanistan

"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 10-04-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Van View Post
All the way back to the Iliad, close combat is considered valient and couragous, and stand-off weapon users (then archers, now airmen) were considered lacking in martial virtue. Note that 'couragous' literally means 'having heart' and 'virtue' comes from vir, Latin for man so means manliness. So, stand-off weapons make the user heartless and unmanly...
This is very much a Western myth of warfare, and ignores the experiences and cultures of the various nomadic/semi-nomadic horse tribes of Central Asia....not to mention the whole longbowmen myth. However, it can also tie into the fighter pilot "kill tally" idea and their own arguments about prowess (and lack thereof) with their bomber pilot brethren.

It's also worth remembering that the Romans trained their soldiers to use sword AND the pilum, which was a missile weapon and a central part of their tactics through at least the early Empire period. One of the key parts of the Byzantine military was the heavily-armored horse archer. I suspect the "unmanly" part may have crept in during the romanticism of the Medieval period....
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