ComNavOps has long stated that the
military has forgotten what war is. Instead, in a frenzy of technological
fantasy, we have embarked on a path of precise, guided, long range weapons
intended to produce a “clean” war, conducted from afar, and harming no one but
the enemy and even then the emphasis is on the enemy’s equipment rather than
killing individual soldiers. For
example, the notion that the Zumwalt will stand off an enemy’s shore and pick
off individual pieces of equipment with a precision and efficiency previously
unheard of is pure cow droppings. In a
real war, we’re not going to even be able to see most of an enemy’s assets and
personnel, let alone target them with that kind of precision. There’s no getting around the need for
massive, area explosives. We’ll
rediscover this when a war starts. US
In a similar vein, ComNavOps has stated that the naval surface force battles will all too often come down to gun duels, just like WWII. Our fantasy of stand off missile attacks will be found to be just that – fantasy. We will rue the absence of large caliber naval guns.
The Army, though, light years ahead of the other services in beginning to prepare for actual war, has confirmed what ComNavOps has been saying. War will be up close, personal, and violent.
“Our enemies are moving into complex terrain and they are evading our long-range detection capabilities,” McMaster [Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster] said. “The combination of those two things, the difficulty [of] targeting the enemy with long-range precision fires and the enemy’s elusiveness means we are going to fight in close combat.” (1)
There you have it. The Army is beginning to recognize what ComNavOps and every combat veteran knows – war is not a dainty, precise, stand off affair. It’s a down and dirty, close combat, fight for survival. McMaster correctly identified the wishful thinking inherent in our fantasy of omniscient battlefield awareness and precision targeting. When real war comes and we begin shipping bodies home by the hundreds and thousands, we’ll quickly come to appreciate the value of area effect high explosives. You don’t deal with a sniper by carefully conducting a search of the building he’s hiding in, you vaporize the building with high explosives and move on without risking your own people. We’ll relearn that lesson but not without a blood bill for the learning.
Kudos to the Army for at least beginning to remember what war is and starting to prepare for it. The Navy and Marines need to heed the Army’s example.
(1)Defense News website, “McMaster: Army Must Prioritize Close-Combat Capability”, Jen Judson,