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

Saturday, October 27, 2007


This is coolbert:

[this is a reprise from a prior blog entry!!]

"The plan is the base from which all change is made!!" - - Israeli General.

I have often thought that fighting forest [wild] fires is the closest you can come to simulating battle without being in actual combat. I am thinking here about fires of the magnitude that devastated Yellowstone a few years ago, or the most recent fires in the L.A. area [both right now and from four years ago].

Fires at this magnitude require a response that can be only equated to a small army descending upon the area.

* Large numbers of persons [firefighters/troops] are required to fight the fire, each fighter carrying a standard kit, shovel, mattock, uniform, canteen, helmet [hard hat], boots, etc.

* Equipment such a fire trucks, bulldozers accompany the fire fighters and are employed when necessary.

* Sustainment of fire fighters and equipment in the field with resupply, rest, etc., sometimes for long periods of time, days, weeks, months (?).

* A command and control structure that resembles the C3I of the military. Command, control, communications, and intelligence.

* A commander [general] with staff directs the firefighting battle over a wide area, not being personally on the scene for the most part, relaying orders to the fire fighters via radio.

The commander [general] has many assets available besides the firefighters on the ground. To include:

* Engineers, in the form of heavy earth moving equipment, to create firewalls and temporary roads into remote areas where necessary.

* His [the commander] own air force. Fixed wing planes dropping slurry and helios dropping water are employed to fight the fire.

* The commander may even have airborne [parachutists] at his disposal. Called smoke jumpers, these parachutists jump into remote areas to fight fires when they are still small and can be fought with the basic equipment carried by the jumper.

To properly coordinate these assets, the commander needs intelligence. Appreciation of where the fire will be in 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours is all crucial to decisions made by the commander. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) has to be done by the intelligence staff. Mapping and templating of vegetation, moisture levels, road network, water assets, built up areas and non-essential areas, etc., all this allows the commander to make informed decisions as he/she fights the fire.

And of course the element of danger is constantly present when fighting the fire. Fire fighters are killed when fighting fires, or injured from accidents, etc.

In addition:

* Widespread devastation. Wholesale devastation not seen possibly except for the devastation caused by war itself. Devastation of private property AND the environment in totality!!

* The unpredictable nature of a fire itself leads to apprehension and insecurity in the minds of the firefighters. You are fighting an enemy that is not playing by the rules of a war game or field exercise. This enemy is playing by it's own rules with a mind of it's own.

[read this amazing stuff addressing the proposition, "is fire alive??!!"]

[see here links to Clausewitz and Complexity Theory. War is chaos?? Some have suggested so. Probably only a superficial generality. "The plan is the base from which all change is made". NOBODY ever suggested that a "plan" will go perfectly 100 % of the time. But, the better the plan, the more contingencies are considered and prepared for properly, the more correct the basic assumptions from the start, the less the plan will have to revised. This is intuitive!!?? Change will always be present and is a given in warfare. Adjustments needed as conditions vary. BUT, WAR CHAOS!!?? To a degree, but not totally!!]

* Refugees. During the recent "Witch" fire in the San Diego area, up to as many as 300,000 persons had to flee the "war zone". Fled to safety and to clear the area for the firefighters to do their job properly. Too much disruption in the "battle zone" with civilians present. The mere presence of bystanders can impede the work of the "soldiers" [firefighters]. The burden of providing care for the refugees places an even greater strain on governmental resources and planners.




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