Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Military Theory IX.

This is coolbert:

In the opinion of Du Puy, there has been no one that has sufficiently advanced military theory since the time of Lanchester.

And, no one has ever been able to consolidate the works of Clausewitz [especially Clausewitz!!] and others and come up with a concise military theory.

"it is an unfinished work ["On War"], and we suspect that had he [Clausewitz] been able to complete it in the fashion that he planned, he might have been able to integrate its many brilliant thoughts and concepts into a single, comprehensive theory. But he did not, and all of us [Du Puy includes himself] who have attempted to distill that coherent theory from the book have been frustrated."

It may just be that the task is too difficult for anyone.

Lanchester's equations for example. Even Lanchester was of the opinion that his equations modeled warfare without taking into account a myriad of factors that mitigated correctness. Generally the equations are correct, but of course only in a general sense.

"mathematical prediction of casualties and the actual casualties would coincide only when all other things are equal, and then he [Lanchester] added 'superior morale or better tactics, or a hundred and one other extraneous issues may intervene in practice.'"

In the case of an artillery duel, you would have a lot of factors to consider that work against total equality totally applied.

For instance [not totally inclusive of all factors]:

* Range of the guns.

* Accuracy of the guns,

* Lethality of the rounds fired.

* Rate of fire.

* Training of the gun crews.

* Accuracy of targeting.

* Ability to communicate corrections.

And this just for an artillery duel.

On the MODERN battlefield, with combined arms being employed, infantry, artillery, armor, air defense and ground attack aircraft all working in concert create a situation that is even much more complex and difficult to model.

Also, the cook-book type of doctrines, tactics, strategies, etc., of both Clausewitz and Jomini break down on the battlefield when confronted by weapons with far greater lethality than that encountered by either man.

Clausewitz and Jomini both were veterans of the Napoleonic type of warfare. Closed bunches of troops advancing over open ground to within close range of the enemy, exchanging musket fire at short range, followed by an advance with the bayonet.

Fifty years later, such tactics were to prove mostly naught in the face of the rifled musket firing a conoidal bullet. Riflemen of the American Civil War [Cold Harbor - - 10,000 casualties in ten minutes!!], the Franco-Prussian War [Mars-La-Tour - - 5,000 dead in fifteen minutes!!], and the Russo-Turkish War ["I send out companies and only squads return!!"] could fire more rapidly, at much longer ranges, and with greater accuracy. Tactics of the Napoleonic era was ineffective against such weapons handled by determined riflemen.

With the changing nature of weaponry on the battlefield, even the greats are wrong.

That is somewhat unfair, of course, as Clausewitz and Jomini, COULD NOT have anticipated such a quantum leap in lethality. Their cook-book methods of warfare were appropriate for their time in history.




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