Monday, September 21, 2009

Define A Winnable War, Mr. President

What is the definition of a winnable war?

We use instant-response forces for continuous duty tasks. That kind of usage can destroy those forces. That's not win-ability. We have tanks that can go like heck for 35 miles - before breaking down.

Durability competes with effectiveness in war. Durable equipment is heavy and moves slowly. Speed wins battles. Instant response machinery wears out and need to be replaced again and again. Instant response people wear out, too.

War against a people in their own land inevitably becomes a long and slow war of attrition against the invader. Any invader win is temporary. Continued hostility is inevitably waged by a conquered people. It can be efficient over time.

America fought the Koreans to a draw on their own land. We fought the Vietnamese to less than a draw on their own land. Americans have not particularly "won" Iraq or Afghanistan. On their own land.

Durability and effectiveness are at odds. Conquered people endure until the invader becomes ineffective. A conquered people becomes more durable than a war machine.

But since we have a military, we must go to war and we must stay at war. Replaceable technology demands it. It's an economic imperative.

Can we discover a solution for war that is both durable and effective? One, perhaps, where our effectiveness depends on the endurability of the people we hope to help?

Define a winnable war, Mr. President.

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