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Subject: A type of futurtist army
Miles    4/16/2007 9:56:20 PM
What kind of army would you develop to fight against an enemy, who appears to be stronger that your defenses? It can be any kind.
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Yimmy       4/17/2007 9:50:18 AM
Well, hence unorthodox warfare such as insurgencies and terrorism....

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andyf    depends   4/17/2007 10:32:01 AM
are they stronger in numbers or technology or both?
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Treadgar       4/17/2007 11:39:08 AM
Look at what's going on right now, asymmetrical warfare. Years ago I read a position paper from an army officer who wrote about how you could fight the US on other than conventional terms. This was way before Iraq and Afghanistan, and it sounds to me like the insurgents, terrorists, whatever you want to call them read that paper. Of course this is really isn't all that new, it's been around a long time, perhaps as long as wars have been fought.

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Jeff_F_F       4/18/2007 9:30:36 AM
The assumption is that insurgencies can be successful in the absense of the asymetrically "disadvantaged" side being a democracy with sellout media and a sellout political party who takes advantage of the media spin, or can otherwise be persuaded that even though they are killing far more of their opponent than their opponent is killing of them that they are losing.
That said it is possible to win against aparently greater odds. This is mostly a matter of leadership skill, but it also helps if a military force is optimally organized and equipped to put the plans of the leadership into action. More on that when I have time.
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andyf    history   4/18/2007 11:04:14 AM
its happend before a major power defeated by an opposition force that just wouldnt play by the rules, try the american war of independence.
oh, but we'l re-conquer you insurgents- just you wait...
as soon as we can muster a navy that is.
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Jeff_F_F       4/18/2007 11:59:31 AM
The American Revolution was won by Guerrilla hit and run tactics? I thought the guerilla stuff was simply to keep from getting wiped out until we could find some vulnerable high value targets to exploit in an effort to make headlines. A political strategy to prove to the French that it was worth their trouble to get involved and buy time for Benjamin Franklin to convince them. I was thinking that the decisive battle was a straight seige by conventional land and naval forces. I'll have to review the history of the Battle of Yorktown again.
I'll freely admit that I had forgotten another political objective of insurgency which is to get enemies of your enemy to decide that you are their friend and support you.
Also, note that Afghanistan was not lost by the Soviets until glasnost allowed the press to get involved. Until then even with US support the Soviets were willing to accept the casualties being suffered. These were at a rate similar to those suffered by the US in Iraq, nothing a totalitarian nation cannot tolerate indefinitely in the absence of a political dimension to the conflict.
Note that in Vietnam the Viet Cong insurgency effectively ceased to exist after the Tet Offensive. It was already losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese population who were tired of their terrorist tactics against the populace. When they rose up during the tet and were destroyed the insurgency was basically finished. After that point virtually all Viet Cong were of two sorts, North Vietnamese light infantry posing as VC and South Vietnamese civillians who were "collateral damage" who were called VC by the South and the US to hide the extent of the civilian casualties being suffered, but which inadvertently helped create the illusion of an ongoing insurgency. The much greater US casualties compared to Iraq or Afghanistan were because it was fighting the ground and air military forces of North Vietnam rather than an insurgency.
I point these things out because in the context of a SciFi story many enemies are not going to be vulnerable to an insurgency.
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TrustButVerify    Good one, Jeff_F_F   4/18/2007 1:31:50 PM
Thanks for saying it all. One of the great myths of the 20th (and now 21st) century is the invincibility of the guerilla. It's everywhere, from graduate papers to The Simpsons. And so damned ignorant.
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Jeff_F_F       4/18/2007 5:12:47 PM
I'm going to go out on a limb here. This isn't any kind of accepted military theory, but it is how things seem to work to me.
These are five basic paradigms for of military strategy. Sometimes your enemy is not capable of acting in all of these areas, so your military does not have to be able to use all of them either. However, usually if you consistently beat an enemy using some tactic they will figure out a counter in time. Because of this, being able to use all of these is best. At least being able to use the tactic that defeats the tactic that defeats what you prefer to use is vital.
Note also that it doesn't matter how good you are tactically if the enemy is able to overwhelm your force you will lose, so these tactical principles only work if you are not outclassed by your opposition. If you are Iraq facing the US you are doomed--the best you can hope for is to bloody their nose, actual victory is out of the question. If you are Germany facing the Soviet Union in 1942-1943 you have a chance to improve your position using good tactics.
The idea is that most militaries are really good at one or two things, and everything else they are less good at. Usually some things they are downright incompetent at. The objective is to pick the tactic that works best against the tactics your enemy prefers. To apply these theories optimally, you want to be very good at five areas of warfare. Unfortunately for most overmatched militaries they aren't even all that good at what they do well, so this isn't very realistic. But in a fictional world, why not.
Mobile defense--Mobility is key to many tactics, but is of particular intrest to forces seeking to avoid confrontation with their enemies. An attacking force can get away slowly crushing their opponents, but an escaping force has no substitute for speed. This is commonly referred to as guerilla warfare. It hasn't really been tested in the context of a major military campaign. The only folks that really had a chance to test it were the Germans in the middle of the war against the Soviets, but Hitler had a habit of interfering. Interestingly, by moving the bulk of their industry to the Urals, the Soviets were using this technique to some extent on a strategic level to counter the German blitz.
Position and Firepower--On the defense this paradigm is expressed through entrenchment. Forces dig in to delay the enemy and force the enemy to concentrate enough firepower to root them out, in the hopes that they will come up short. On the offense, forces using this method occupy successive positions from which they can clear the enemy from the next position then overwatch the movement of forces occupying it. This paradigm is a favorite of the British, which is why the Challenger is a bit slow but extremely powerfully armored.
Blitzkreig--We all know about this one. It requires good training, and cultural influences may be critical as well. The force must be able to change plans quickly to take advantage of the changing situation. The definitive expression of blitzkreig is the ability to stage an effective attack immediately against a vulnerability or threat with the forces available. This paradigm is used quite succesffully by US forces as well as the Germans in WWII.
Hunter/Killer--This is the paradigm used by special operations forces. They track down the enemy and take them out the old fashioned way. They usually include scouts to find the enemy and some kind of mobile reserve (often emphasizing airpower and/or artillery) to destroy them. Mobility is very useful here to keep the enemy from escaping. Generally these forces are light infantry but that is because they are formed to fight guerillas that are even lighter than themselves. There is no reason that the same principles couldn't be applied to armored forces if they were needed.
Seige Warfare--Seige warfare is building up a force that is strong enough to destroy whatever is blocking it. Seiges are generally not the objective attacking paradigm of modern militaries, instead they happen when a military that was planning on doing something else ends up facing an objective that is too strong to drive through and can't be bypassed. Unfortunately sometimes it happens because the military doesn't think to bypass something that they otherwise could have. Strategically an agressive nation building up its forces before an attack also has a lot in common with seige warfare.
The reason guerilla warfare has as much success as it does have is that many militaries tend to prefer blitzkreigs. As a result their fast moving formations tend to leave their supporting units exposed. When guerillas strike these targets, it can force the military
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Treadgar       4/20/2007 9:04:22 PM
"Thanks for saying it all. One of the great myths of the 20th (and now 21st) century is the invincibility of the guerilla. It's everywhere, from graduate papers to The Simpsons. And so damned ignorant."

I completely agree with this statement. I also agree with the person or persons who wrote something about spin. Ultimately, as Clauswitz said, it's all about will power. As for guerilla movements, they cannot win a war alone. If you study the successful ones (and many have failed), you will notice that at some point the gurerillas become more conventional. Just take a look at the Vietnam war...

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Treadgar       4/20/2007 9:07:00 PM
Oh yeah, by the way, I never assume an insurgency will be successful. They can be defeated, and have been defeated.  
The person that wrote about a sellout press and so on, made this point and I won't argue with that.

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