RANGER AGAINST WAR: Punch or Push? <

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Punch or Push?

All the wars that were won and lost
Somehow don't seem to matter

very much anymore

--Living on a Thin Line
, The Kinks

Strike against war, for without you

no battles can be fought

--Helen Keller

Ranger Thought on War Socialism:

Counterinsurgency is social security
provided to the world,
with no enrollment fees.
The American taxpayers fund this socialism,
but the war hawks never address that fact


Military strategist Heinz Guderian's Punch versus Push was recently mentioned in Ranger's piece, SOFISM. Though he is not a military historian like his friend Chief over @ Milpub, he will take the generalist's view of the idea.

The Mexican War will be our start, since that seems one of the best examples of the U.S.'s ability to fight a strategic war -- it was fought unilaterally and without alliance (unless one considers Texans, allies.)

Pre-war planning was conducted with corresponding troop movements, and the Army and Navy conducted deep objective, joint-service missions which destroyed the enemy's will to fight. The Mexican War was a successful demonstration of Guderian's "punch" imperative. Strangely, we related this war to relative obscurity in our pantheon, instead focusing upon our Civil War.

The U.S. Civil War is our Holy Grail, but one wonders why since this effort was largely pushing versus punching. The U.S. did not use the knock-out punch in it's own home-wrecking exercise.

The battles of General Lee were exceptional for their tactical maneuver, though he could not exploit his victories. He attempted to bring the fight to the enemy with deep penetrations, but he failed to achieve anything permanent with his Antietam victory.

Lee's successes at Seven Pines, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg were simple pushing as the Union Army never lost its ability or will to continue the fight. Likewise, the Union victory at Gettysburg was meaningless because it lacked an exploitation phase.

The greatness of the Civil War was the emergence of Grant in the East because he fought and he exploited both his victories and his losses. He punched, and continued to do so while loosing General Sherman to strike deep into the enemy's rear for deep objectives. This was the true lesson of the CW, one which was used by Nazi military thinkers.

The Wehrmacht campaigns of note
were modeled upon this template of deep mobile warfare. These are principles of war: Seize the initiative and utilize economy of force. Bend the enemy to your will by destroying their will and ability to fight.

World War I was just a push fest, and so is inconsequential to this discussion.

World War II, however, was a strange brew of punch and push. The Pacific fight had the earmarks of punching by bypassing and attacking deep objectives. The expanses of the Pacific were analogous to the Germans fighting across the vast terrain of Russia. The German Army was like a vast Navy afloat in the sea of Russian battlefields.

The U.S. Army in Europe fought a pushing campaign that ignored the punching contest, but this was acceptable as it had a Russian sea drowning the Wehrmacht assets. The U.S. needed only to push and reinforce, pushing its way to victory.

The lessons of these wars were taught, and U.S. doctrine has always been to reach for deep objectives; however, we do not always attain this ideal.

In Korea the U.S. was restricted by a lack of maneuver space. (Afghanistan shares this attribute, but we are not facing organized armies there.) Somewhere along the way, the U.S. achieved a disconnect in its military doctrine. Was this due to our nuclear dominance, or just misguided thought?

In Vietnam, the U.S. reactively pushed an enemy that seldom relinquished the initiative. He never fought unless it was to his advantage to do so. Often he would fight even though he sustained a tactical defeat, if it facilitated his strategic goals. The U.S. has violated the principles of war, and still fails to acknowledge that fact.

Gulf War I was a live fire field training exercise. The Phony War on Terror (
PWOT ©) has the U.S. roaming the Third World releasing violence and raining death from the sky with no observable tactical or strategic value to be had. We are General Lee killing for the sake of killing sans any chance of destroying the enemy's will to fight -- in fact, emboldening it. We cannot even define who the enemy is on any given day.

Like Lee, in Iraq we were unable to convert a tactical victory -- which the invasion was -- into a strategic defeat of terrorism. We are punching and pushing air. How can the greatest superpower the world has seen devolve into such a primitive mentality? The only conclusion we can reach is that our violence is as symbolic as that of any terrorist group, and as meaningless.

Both the violence of the terrorist and ours is mindless, and illustrative of impotence.

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Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...


You and Ranger write so well and so expertly on the Phony GWoT and military technique/history/matters in general how is it possible some of these lessons are lost on upper echelon types? Is it just the political demands that take over once the stars get on the shoulders? Is it the huge sums of money that come into the Pentagon?

It's just mind-numbing and soul-crushing more blood, sinew, heart and soul will be expended in pursuit of bs objectives.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 8:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you for the lovely compliment. These things do seem so bog simple, no?

I'm sure political expediency and money has much to do with the lack of clarity we see about us. No one's paying us, and we dispense with the necessary obfuscation of being politically-correct, so it's easier to say what you see when there's no penalty.

The writer Fran Liebowitz said, I'm always right, because I'm never fair. Because we pander to no one, we get to be right, per our perception of matters.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 9:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I recently read Bush at War/Woodward, and presently reading In The Company Of Soldiers/Atkinson ,and a few things jump out at the reader.
Both books accept as a given the US right to kick ass and take names.Also if we were fighting a real enemy with air land battle capabilities we'd be wearing our asses for a hat.
We violate every principle of war fighting rag tag ass holes.

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 7:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Let me give a quik summary.
We invaded a country before the 101 div's vehicles were even off the boats. A lot of their eqt was still in transit. Poor planning.The 4th Div wasn't even on the ground.
The missions changed daily thus precluding strategic, and tactical planning. We had no idea of en. capabilities or civilian attitudes.
But most of all we claim to be a ultra modern kick ass force and we attack like we are Nazis going into Poland.We used antiquated land battle techniques that should have been shit canned.
Why didn't we establish air heads and fight out from there? Invasions are so passe imo.
Why do we have helos and air mobility and then use them like we're back in Viet Nam.?
We can't think our way out of doctrine that is obsolete.
It's all bullshit and we get away with it b/c we won't fight a real battle.
I opine that we didn't interfere in Berlin uprisings, Budapest or Prague-52/56/68. We avoid real confrontations and prefer to focus on no threat wars.We'll fight in RVN , but not in Germany.
Yep , lets kill those somali pirates, eyeranians, etc..

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 7:53:00 AM GMT-5  

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