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

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Military Theory XII. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

With regard to the development of a military theory, it does seem that in a period of two hundred years now, NO concise theory has been developed that satisfies the "experts".

At the least, the "finding" of such a theory may be described as being VERY DIFFICULT at best.

Military theory may be very well a subject that does NOT have absolute laws as does physics. Rather a constantly changing and evolving set of laws that are very hard to understand at any given moment.

Again, military theory, as it exists now, is generally divided into three "categories". Which are:

* Philosophy of war. Why wars are fought, the reasons for, the rationalities, etc.

* Preparations for war.

* Actual fighting of the war itself. Strategy, operational art, tactics.

Consider these comments regarding tactics and such:

See this comment [from a previous blog entry] on tactics [tactics alone here] from a "brother officer" as being told to Suvorov:

"Tactics, brother, are the most complicated subject on earth. But just tell our generals that tactics are more complicated than chess and they laugh their heads off, they simply don't believe it. But it's really no laughing matter. Chess is the crudest form, the most superficial model of a battle between two armies and the most primitive of armies [based upon the armies of the Mahabharata, 1400 B.C.] at that. In all other respects, it's exactly like war . . . A contemporary battle . . . is a thousand times more complicated than chess. If you want to model a small contemporary army on a chess board, the number of chess men, with all kinds of different capabilities will have to be sharply increased. Somehow, you will need to designate tanks, anti-tank rockets, anti-tank artillery and attack planes, strategic bombers, air transport and helicopters - - you just can't list them all . . . and all demand a united plan, a united strategy and the closest possible co-ordination."

Please also see this comment from esteemed reader of this blog, SciFiGeek:

"I think there are no laws of warfare because there are just so many variables that the ability to size things up in the moment and react accordingly far outweighs any theory a clever theorist can come up with. Kind of like why business school is so short on theory and so long on case studies.

With law, it's different because you're dealing with outcomes in an artificially created system. With physics, the systems are much simpler (one ball flying through space) so you can predict a lot more a priori. But war is thousands of people trying to kill thousands of other people. It's really hard to predict."

"Thousands of people trying to kill thousands of other people". And using a variety of weapons, machines, tactics, doctrine, etc., to do so. Operating in an environment which is called the "fog of war" [uncertainty as to what is what on the part of the decision makers].

Yes, and even the most casual of observers can get the gist instantly, we are talking about a complexity that humans find almost totally incapable of dealing with. Trying to explain such behavior with simple aphorisms [simple statements of truth], according to Du Puy, is next to impossible. If NOT impossible.

Also, military theory, as it exists, would be constantly open to change. Much as is almost any other theory of any other scientific discipline.

For example, the tactics as espoused by Clausewitz and Jomini were NO LONGER effective only fifty years later. I have blogged about this before many times.

And the methods of organizing a nation-state for war as enunciated by Shaposhnikov are not valid to the same extent any more as the type of total war, in an almost absolute context, as fought in World War One or Two will in all probability not be fought any more [too expensive].

Philosophies of war, why war is fought, rationalities, etc., this is perhaps the one category where the most understandable and constant and "eternal" laws can be found.

And, as I have said, with all theories, constant change will be seen.

For three hundred years, Newton's theory of gravity held true, and does hold true in a largely general sense today.

Newton's theory of gravity breaks down when particle of light pass within close distance of a massive gravitational object. This was not conceived or could have been understood during the time of Newton.

Does this mean Newton was wrong?? NO! Only that changing observations and understandings modified his basic theory in a way Newton could not have anticipated or even understood.

Perhaps it is best that military theory is looked at in the same manner.




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