Winning: Al Qaeda Cries Banzai

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February 21, 2011: Without realizing it, al Qaeda is calling on its troops to make a homage to Japanese World War II infantry tactics, by making a Banzai Charge. Al Qaeda has called on all True Believers to make whatever kind of attack they can, especially in the West. This was very similar to a spectacular tactic Japanese troops used when they knew they were beaten.

The image most people have of the Japanese army during World War II is a mass of fanatical guys launching a hopeless charge led by officers waving katana (samurai swords). This was the Banzai charge and these attacks did occur, and made a vivid impression on the defending troops. But most of these attacks failed.

The zealous Banzai attack was not a pillar of Japanese infantry tactics but rather an expression of frustration and despair. When the Japanese launched a Banzai attack, they were announcing that they were in a hopeless situation and would rather die fighting than surrender. It took a while for Allied commanders to realize this, not that it lessened the terror felt when on the receiving end of one of these assaults. When the Japanese did use their standard infantry tactics, they emphasized deception and careful planning, not straight ahead assaults. The Japanese were very fond of night operations and extensive use of camouflage. They believed that a battle won by stealth, subterfuge and surprise was more worthy than a victory soaked in blood.

The Japanese army trained hard, and a lot of that training was at night. Of all the world's armies, none spent as much time training at night as the Japanese. Again, no other army was as strict as the Japanese, who enforced an extremely harsh discipline in the ranks. Moreover, the troops tended to be enthusiastic about their soldiering. The Japanese made death and suffering a patriotic duty, and most Japanese got into the spirit of it all. So when it was time to pull off a deception, Japanese officers could depend on their troops to perform their tasks diligently, even unto certain death. The troops were hard working, and did not think it unusual to be literally worked to death. The extent and thoroughness of Japanese fortifications was indicative of this. Not only were Japanese field works stoutly built, but they were generally very well camouflaged. What made the Japanese somewhat less than supermen on the battlefield was a lack of logistical support, and overconfidence resulting from years of fighting the rather lackadaisical Chinese. Their early victories over the British also led them to believe that Western troops in general would be pushovers.

Al Qaeda is in a much worse situation than the World War II Japanese. First of all, few al Qaeda members are as competent and diligent as the average Japanese soldier. Most al Qaeda recruits are illiterate, and, while often fanatic, not well disciplined. The few competent planners and technicians they had have been considerably depleted by a decade of attacks by Western troops and intelligence agencies. But Islamic radicals gained some media traction with their claims to be defending Islam from infidel (non-Moslem) attack. This inspires many young Moslems, especially the illiterate and poor, or those literate and fortunate Moslems living in the West who feel they are not getting sufficient respect from their infidel neighbors. To these Moslems, especially, al Qaeda is calling for a Banzai Charge. There have already been some of these attacks. Some involve guns or knives, others use a car driven into a crowd of unbelievers. Bombs have not been as successful, despite all the technical advice available on the web from al Qaeda bomb makers. But there are plenty of Moslems living in Western nations who openly admit their admiration for suicide attacks. If you can't win, you can at least go out in a mayhem of senseless slaughter.

 


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