RANGER AGAINST WAR: Principles of War <

Monday, November 09, 2009

Principles of War

Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

--Everything Old is New Again,

Peter Allen


Ranger submitted an entry to a contest held by the The U.S. Naval Institute's journal
Proceedings several years back on the topic of warfare -- "Rethinking the Future Nature of Conflict". Needless to say, his neanderthal, non-4 GW thinking merited not so much as a nod.

But hearing Tyler Boudreau, former-Marine Captain and author of "Packing Inferno," address the topic of mission on National Public Radio this weekend got us thinking once again about mission and so-called New Nature of War. Simply: Everything is exactly the same as it was pre-9-11-01. No change. Nada.

The Constitution and the Rules of War are exactly as relevant and correct as they have always been. Clausewitz is alive and well. Even Sun-Tzu is still kicking! Asymmetrical warfare my ass. That's the way it has always been, just with new toys, now.

The Principles of War, as defined in the Army FM-3 Military Operations, were taught in 3rd-year ROTC class, so basic that all officers should be able to recite them in their sleep. Since our military leaders seem in a deep slumber, this is probably the only time they ponder the verity of these nine guiding principles. (If the reader doubts this, ask any officer to tick these off. Ranger will buy you a beer if you get a complete and correct answer.)

To a military man, these nine are more important than the 10 Commandments. They are:

  • Mass
  • Objective
  • Offensive
  • Surprise
  • Economy of Force
  • Maneuver
  • Unity of Command
  • Security
  • Simplicity

The principles apply to classic military operations, of which counterinsurgency is anything but. We try to operate as COIN, yet apply conventional combat power to the situation in a most inappropriate manner. Following classic Clausewitzian philosophy, this will ensure that COIN will fail.

COIN is not warfare, and therein lies the rub.
Classic combat operations insure the defeat of COIN theory and practice. Our political and military leaders have futilely been trying to fit COIN into a war formula, and trying to accommodate the war formula to fit COIN. The Principles of War are being ignored in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), though we carry on as though at war.

We have lost our way.
The only things being advanced are careers on the backs of the taxpayers and dead and wounded soldiers. All in a war that isn't a war, and a COIN experiment that isn't COIN.

If a Captain of USMC Infantry can see this, then why can't the Chiefs of Staff of the Services?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure but isn't all about Greed, sure some will say religion is the problem but the true believers are being used by those that want the minerals of a nation for free.

Monday, November 9, 2009 at 9:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Fasteddiez said...


I read the capn's book. In it, he states that although the various COIN aspects (Glad hand, hail raghead well met, sucking down chai, we're from the US Gummint and are here to help, and other spit swapping attempts at getting actionable, worth a fuck intel from the duskies..) were trumpeted from Corps down to the company levels, the kinetic stuff is what your fitrep depended on. The rest was verbiage.

To make matters worse, the reporting of said actions came under the rubric of Offensive Operations....even though the majority of engagements were initiated by the mean enemy people.
So, the junior officers boxes are being checked off according to their offensive acumen, when it should reflect their skills in reacting to surprise engagements (Not that the latter is chopped liver)

I'm scratching my gourd, where have I seen this before? Where or where have after action reports been pencil fucked (if only temporarily), before?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:31:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

am i the only one out here who is shocked, shocked i tell you to discover gambling in this establishment...(accepts winnings with a polite nod)

of course the brass in the army is going to want a bigger and wider war. winnable, unwinnable, they don't care.

in vietnam i noticed a huge difference in attitude about our war, and fuck it, any war, with the officers and the grunts.

officers, by and large, were interested in using the war to make themselves some rank. gather up some fruit salad and jump a couple slots over the rest of their class.

they knew that peacetime army was stagnant and that where they were when they left the combat zone was likely to be where they would remain for a very, very long time.

out of all the tea and moonshine i shared with my locals, i got honest to gawd actionable intell only a few times.

one result of that type of operation is still a good friend of mine to this very day.

but, as fasteddiez so ably noted, that doesn't make the high brass get hard. if you want your birds and two stars to come in their pants, you have to go out amongst them and get some. if you get some of your guys greased in the process, you then put on your revenge face and get some more.

they understand that. what they don't understand is questioning. what they don't understand is asking "what the fuck are we trying to accomplish here?"

it's actually a thing that was laid out pretty damned clearly in the iliad. the story, which covers the last two weeks of the ten year war, begins with achilles dressing down agammemnon harshly.

he asks pointedly when the last time was that agammemnon took his place in the shield line, or stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the greeks. he then notes that the best and finest share of the booty always ends up in agammemnon's tent....

as with all things war, there really isn't anything ever that new under the sun.

it always comes down to grunts, in a line, on the ground.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

Just a guess but I'd say the reason is that true COIN operations wouldn't be putting as much coin into the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex as conventional operations.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 8:49:00 PM GMT-5  

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