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Conventional vs. Unconventional Warfare

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  • Conventional vs. Unconventional Warfare

    The one thing I don't see in the media, and that I definitely don't see the government educating the public about, is the difference between conventional war, guerilla war, and terrorist war.

    Conventional war is uniformed soldier vs. uniformed soldier targeting each other and their support structures. Collateral damage is unavoidable but hardly intentional. Intentional military action against civilians is rare, and often used to achieve military goals.

    Guerrila war could still be considered soldier vs. soldier. Guerillas generally still target military or political entities, needing to avoid antagonizing the local population. The difficulty is that the guerilla soldier blurs the line between soldier and civilian, using civilian guise to conceal himself while conducting his operations. This makes it extremely hard to tell friend from foe. For the common soldier and his officers, this is exceptionally frustrating. It didn't start in Vietnam, but that is the most notorious example in American military history.

    Terrorist war makes things murkier still. The terrorist blurs the line between soldier and criminal. He hides amongst the civilian population like the guerilla, but his targets are often civilians, attempting to use their version of 'shock and awe' to achieve their goals. He also operates globally, showing crass disrespect for international boundaries and international conventions. Tracking him down is more like a criminal manhunt than a military operation.

    Why do some nations and independent groups choose to fight their wars in these unconventional fashions? Because it's the only way to have a hope of winning. Our military can go almost anywhere in the world it wants even in the face of stiff opposition. Yes, it's that powerful. One aircraft carrier has more planes than most countries' entire air forces. They fight sneaky because they would get walked on otherwise.

    Welcome to 21st century warfare. War even more hellish than ever, because the enemy is so hard to find and pin down.

    Doug H.

    P.S. Blow up my soapbox!!!

  • #2
    The one thing I don't see in the media, and that I definitely don't see the government educating the public about, is the difference between conventional war, guerilla war, and terrorist war.

    Conventional war is uniformed soldier vs. uniformed soldier targeting each other and their support structures. Collateral damage is unavoidable but hardly intentional. Intentional military action against civilians is rare, and often used to achieve military goals.

    Guerrila war could still be considered soldier vs. soldier. Guerillas generally still target military or political entities, needing to avoid antagonizing the local population. The difficulty is that the guerilla soldier blurs the line between soldier and civilian, using civilian guise to conceal himself while conducting his operations. This makes it extremely hard to tell friend from foe. For the common soldier and his officers, this is exceptionally frustrating. It didn't start in Vietnam, but that is the most notorious example in American military history.

    Terrorist war makes things murkier still. The terrorist blurs the line between soldier and criminal. He hides amongst the civilian population like the guerilla, but his targets are often civilians, attempting to use their version of 'shock and awe' to achieve their goals. He also operates globally, showing crass disrespect for international boundaries and international conventions. Tracking him down is more like a criminal manhunt than a military operation.

    Why do some nations and independent groups choose to fight their wars in these unconventional fashions? Because it's the only way to have a hope of winning. Our military can go almost anywhere in the world it wants even in the face of stiff opposition. Yes, it's that powerful. One aircraft carrier has more planes than most countries' entire air forces. They fight sneaky because they would get walked on otherwise.

    Welcome to 21st century warfare. War even more hellish than ever, because the enemy is so hard to find and pin down.

    Doug H.

    P.S. Blow up my soapbox!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Doug, We did that alot to the Brittish during the revolution. Hit and run, hiding in the woods wearing buckskin,(they had RED COATS), blending in with the population, and such like. I don't believe that our forefathers used terrorist tactics but I'm sure the Brittish thought it quite unfair. I think the only way to beat the terrorists is to out last them while changing world oppinon about us without giving in to them.

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      • #4
        P.S. For every Hammas leader killed, 5 rise up! The people over there are quite lucky that the U.S. doesn't use every thing in our power or stoop to their level.

        Comment


        • #5
          quote:
          Originally posted by R.M. Greenman:
          [qb] I think the only way to beat the terrorists is to out last them while changing world oppinon about us without giving in to them. [/qb]
          With the US being an instant gratification society? With the US public's sensitivities on the subject of casualties? And our media's willingness to exploit those tendencies for easy headlines? I agree with the idea, but it will be a long uphill sell.

          As for "questionable" tactics, the Duke of Marlborough, in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession, commanding an army of British, Dutch, and Austrian troops, turn his army loose to terrorize Bavaria. The point was lure a French and Bavarian army back from their advance against Vienna. I don't think the Duke of Bavaria appreciated it either. The point being that almost every nation has something like this in their closet.

          And yes, these countries are lucky. Forget ground and air power. Most of them could be complete irradiated by a mere one or two of our missile submarines.

          Doug H.

          Comment


          • #6
            quote:
            Originally posted by Doug H:
            [qb]
            quote:
            Originally posted by R.M. Greenman:
            [qb] I think the only way to beat the terrorists is to out last them while changing world oppinon about us without giving in to them. [/qb]
            With the US being an instant gratification society? With the US public's sensitivities on the subject of casualties? And our media's willingness to exploit those tendencies for easy headlines? I agree with the idea, but it will be a long uphill sell.[/qb]
            By this I mean that eventually, our President and other elected officials will face reelection. And if the American electorate wants a change in policy they replace all those in support of policy with someone else. Stubborn adherence to an unpopular policy can cost one his job. Third World dictators and leaders of guerilla and terrorist groups don't have that worry. The one thing that the Bin Laden's and Saddam's of this world are is survivors. They're survivors first, fighters second. They can afford to be patient.

            Can any elected leader afford the same patience?

            Well, he could. As long as his electorate doesn't allow themselves to played like musical instrument by the media. A difficult thing it is for someone to be sensitive to real issues while ignoring the often overblown media portrayal of events.

            Doug H.

            Comment


            • #7
              They're survivors first, fighters second. They can afford to be patient.

              Can any elected leader afford the same patience?

              Well, he could. As long as his electorate doesn't allow themselves to played like musical instrument by the media. A difficult thing it is for someone to be sensitive to real issues while ignoring the often overblown media portrayal of events.

              I would have to disagree with an elected leader being able to wait out these killers. Remember, as soon as WWII ended, the British dumped Winston Churchill as their leader in spite of his being probably the most important single individual in defeating Germany.

              Comment


              • #8
                Doug, I love the fact that you are a history buff as well. I have only been really into it for about 10 years and I mostly studied WWII and ancient pre and post Roman Empire stuff.(Celtic and Gaulish Empires,Dark and Middle ages,and rennaisance.) Back to subject or area therein:

                As I am writing this, on this date in 410 A.D. Rome was overrun by the Visigoths, symbolizing the fall of the Roman empire.

                At that time, Rome was the world power. If history tends to repeat itself, will 9-11 go down in the books as the beginning of the end of the U.S. as we know it? I hope not! But nobody can tell me that it didn't change the way we live. I'm afraid that we shall never be a completly open society again.

                My life changed alot because of the last two years. Not only do I now have to share my B-day with a infamous day:9-11, but I feel it is my duty to watch people in my neiborhood, not spy, but be more aware.

                Sorry. I need to get off my soap box now.

                Stop me before I rant again!

                Comment


                • #9
                  By 410AD, the capital of the "Roman" Empire was not Rome, but Constantinople. The only reason the Goths didn't sack that city after defeating Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378AD was that the Empress bought them off.

                  Back to the topic, the question is not ?Did 9/11 change US society?? but ?HOW did it change US society?? For the better? I ponder. The current administration is definitely playing at the edges of the Constitution. That said, the trend of thinking of oneself as something else first and American second definitely hit the brakes. I think that?s good. Beginning of the end? I doubt it. US society as we knew will change. It was changing anyway. Societies evolve. (As much as certain archconservative types don?t like it?)

                  Actually, I think the US's big challenge right now, is to develop a collective attention span long enough to engage in an effective campaign against terrorism. And I'm not sure if the media sees it in their best interest to allow that too develop.

                  Doug H.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It will be interesting to see how things develope in the next 10 yrs. I myself only began to pay attention to the rest of the world at 11 when the Iran hostage crisis began.

                    I know societies evolve but I guess I was hoping it would go the other way and we would gain personal freedoms rather than loose.

                    As far as the media goes, they need to get their stories right before they report them. Point in case: A friend of mine was over in Iraq as part of the 5th Battle Batallion w/ the Army. When he came back recently for about a month he had said that the media was reporting on their clashes and calling them the Marines.

                    And then they are so dead set on being the first to report on something they mess it all up.

                    During the Columbine shootings a helicopter reporter had the audacity to automatically convict a group of youths whos' curiosity got the better of them and tried to get a closer look. They were caught by a Sherif, handcuffed, and questioned. There was a lot of confussion going on and I could see why the police did as they did, but this reporter said "Looks like they caught the culprits!" and zoomed in on their faces. Here in the Denver metro area, we were glued to our sets over this horrid event as it developed. If the parents of these kids or their friends saw them, they must have been in major turmoil trying to figure out why.

                    I'm ranting again, ain't I?!?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quote:
                      Originally posted by R.M. Greenman:
                      [qb] It will be interesting to see how things develope in the next 10 yrs. I myself only began to pay attention to the rest of the world at 11 when the Iran hostage crisis began. [/qb]
                      That's make you and I about the same age. I started paying some attention to the world before that, but the closer that link is to New England, the better my memory is. '74 Cup finals (Boston vs. Philadelphia, Philly won. Such Bullies!! LOL!!) '75 World Series (Boston vs. Cincinnati, Hail Fisk! Curse of the Bambino again.) The '76 Presidential Election (Jimmy Carter, good man, bad spot.) The Olympics in Innsbruck and Montreal. And yes, IMHO, the government of Iran still owes the people of the USA for 444 days in the lives of 50 Americans.

                      Two significant events in Naturism in the '70s. 1977, Black's Beach in San Diego loses it's official status. 1979, Brighton beach in England gains official status.

                      Has anyone got any ideas on setting up some sort of regulatory or ratings body for the news media. It would have to private not governmental. (censorship issues.) There has got to be a way to mitigate the staggering economic incentive inherent in the "controversy = ratings = more money (advertising and readership)" equation.

                      Doug H.

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