We recently discussed the military’s ill-considered path of bringing a knife to a knife fight and noted that we should be bringing a machine gun to a knife fight (see, "Don't Bring A Knife To A Knife Fight"). Fine, so how do we do that?
There are three things that are needed to build a “machine gun”.
Firepower. First and foremost on the battlefield is the need for overwhelming firepower. Firepower can make up for a lot of tactical and surveillance shortcomings (not to denigrate the immense importance of surveillance!). With sufficient firepower, we don’t need to know where every enemy soldier is and whether they’re right-handed or left. We simply blanket the suspect area with firepower and move on. Sniper in the building? – level it and move on. Enemy armored brigade in contact? – nothing that massed artillery and overwhelming anti-tank missiles can’t handle. Human wave attack coming? – call for 16” naval gunfire and sit back and watch the show.
Survivability. It does no good to show up on the battlefield and be wiped out in short order. Survivability requires armor and self-defense weapons. The current fascination with, and trend towards, light “jeeps” for mobility is a surefire recipe for defeat especially if one has to fight under unfriendly skies. Heavy tanks, heavy Armored Personnel Carriers, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and active protection systems are needed for battlefield survivability.
Numbers. It’s war. War is attrition no matter how much “maneuver” is applied. Attrition can only be compensated for with numbers. Further, numbers can overcome a lack of quality, to an extent. For example, the
tank’s numbers overcame any quality, survivability,
or firepower shortcomings it may have had. Sherman
We’ve been so focused on the low end of warfare for so long that we’ve forgotten what’s needed on the high end battlefield. We need to bring overwhelming firepower, survivability, and numbers to the knife fight, not a knife.
For a closely related post, see "How To Win A War"