Re: The apparent ease with which the Iraq invasion proceeded?

Suitcases full of cash given to key officers in the Iraqi army were the wonder waffen responsible.

The few engagements where the defenders command structure had not been bought off at the top went less smoothly.

And if the "coalition" had been smart enough to keep on paying those officers & employing them, rather than telling them they were all now unemployed/unemployable/an avatar of evil with their own picture playing card? There would have been very little Iraqi resistance.

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This article makes a valuable point: that if the goal of the United States of America is truly the preservation of its democracy, then that goal has an inexpensive military procurement solution. That is rather bad news for shareholders of the major military contractors that siphon off our nation's disposable income. But it is great news for us, the citizen and taxpayer.

We citizens of the U.S. need to nationalize our defense industry, then produce in quantities the weapons that will repel any invasion and reap the rewards of sufficient funds to house, provide medical care, educate our children and provide an infrastructure that sustains a livable and enjoyable environment.

Of course, the two expected candidates (nor any alternatives from their respective political parties) for President will offer none of the above. We need to change that.

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"A complex weapon makes the strong stronger,"

I dunno how far this applies any more. When Lockheed Martin declares to their shareholders that the new software revisions are "90% done" I'm pretty sure they mean "90% done, 90% to go"

Complexity can only take you so far, before it eats its own existence.

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When you induce opponents to come to you, then their force is always empty; as long as you do not go to them, your force is always full.

Attacking emptiness with fullness is like throwing stones on eggs -- the eggs are sure to break.

Sun Tsu

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Great essay as usual. In relation to french force posture pre-WW2, there is a further complicating factor: the french did not need to defend their territory only, they had alliance commitments to observe. In order to attempt to counterbalance Germany, France had signed defense pacts with Poland and Czechoslovakia. However, the french promise to come to their aid in case of war was not credible without some offensive capacity, which they did not and could not develop to the same level of Germany (due to demographic constraints, a belated consequence of the birth crunch of ww1).

This fact weighed heavily in the decision to concede to Hitlers demands at Munich. There was also the franco-soviet pact of 1935, which likewise suffered from a lack of serious joint military planning (not to mention it depended on the polish giving the soviets right of passage through their territory, an unlikely scenario to put it mildly).

Until 1936 this situation was compensated by the fact that the Rhineland was demilitarized, leaving Germany wide open to french attack. Once Hitler reoccupied and fortified the Rhineland, the balance of power visibly shifted.

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Thank you Aurelien🙏 As usual, very interesting and insightful.

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In a wider context the rest of the world has finally caught up to the developed world.

The AK47 emancipated the infantry, and today the increasingly affordable rockets and drones are emancipating the navy, air force and artillery.

The old powers may still hold an edge in combined arms warfare, but that advantage is dissipating as well.

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One interesting addendum is that you can, conceivably, have too many ideas about what to do with newfangled inventions that supposedly change everything.

The French in 1940 had 3 separate ideas about using tanks, all of which, incidentally, wound up being justified by history. So they had 3 separate tank arms. The cavalry had ideas similar to the Germans and had 3 (the 4th was still forming) tank divisions, confusingly called "Mechanized Light Divisions," which were actually quite close to Panzer Divisions and, in some sense, more advanced: their tanks were "better," but had too little room to carry a radio and/or a radioman, the French pioneered use of halftrack APC's, etc. The infantry had 3 (I think) "Cuirassier Divisions" which had slow, but very well armored tanks, twice the artillery, and no reconnaissance unit, designed to punch through fortified lines, and this was essentially how Germans and Soviets (the latter more than the former) used their heavy tanks and assault guns (although on rather smaller scale) in assaulting fortified lines later in World War 2. Only about a 1/3 (I think--it was definitely less than half) of French tanks were actually split into small units supporting infantry--but, the experience of World War 2 would actually prove that even a handful of tanks make for extremely useful support element for infantry in assault, as illustrated by the fact that, by 1945, every US Army and Marine divisions had small tank units attached to them (and the decision to make such assignment permanent after the end of the war--a battalion for each division, because, during WW2, every infantry or marine division did wind up getting a separate tank or tank destroyer battalion attached to it for extended periods of time.).

So, did the French make any mistake in how they designed their tank arm? I don't think so., at least not the basic ideas themselves. The problem was that the French army had too many ideas that didn't talk to each other and did not have an integrated organization that could implement any of them very well. In some sense, different branches of the French military recognized that "tanks change everything," but, given their perspective, had different ideas about what "everything" is. Given the politics of the French military, each faction wound up using resources that they could mobilize to employ tanks as they wanted. And, while none of them was "wrong," the entire French army fell between 3 stools, at least as far as tanks go. So if you decide X "changes everything" (and you might be right that it is), you'd want to have a clear idea about how to use it as an institution and employ the resources efficiently..

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The events of the Cod wars bear out your points beautifully. When the Icelandic coast guard was trying to establish power and control over the Icelandic fishing grounds in the 60’s and 70’s, a game changing weapon and tactic was invented by the Icelanders, the trawl cutters. The cutter was an iron, shaped like a V, sharp on the inside and dragged in a wire behind a coast guard ship. Released at the right time and dragged across the hauling trail of a trawler, it was bound to find the trawl wires and break them given the needed force. It was a real “claw of the weak” to use Orwell’s phrase. Cutting one wire was a real pain for the trawler and crew, they might be able to salvage their trawl and wires with a lot of effort, both wires were catastrophic, wiping out all profits of the fishing trip, even if they had a spare. The British sent their frigates, which tried to hinder the maneuvers of the coast guard by force of ship size, inserting themselves in the line of cutter attack. The British frigates did not use their guns (it would probably have been seen as a nuclear attack on the Argentinians in the Falklands war), they could have easily sunk the coast guard ships. But the weapon was so cheap and simple, any trawler sized ship could employ it and eventually the Brits realized that the cod war was simply lost against a small and weak contender.

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"It is for this reason that historically even the wildest militarist in Washington has never seriously talked about invading North Korea. The conventional forces of that country may be obsolescent, but it has had for decades an armoury of short and medium-range missiles that could devastate not only South Korea but also Japan, and destroy the infrastructure which would enable force projection to take place."

This might also be the case with Iran. And yet, a lot of politicians and retired generals in the USA are dreaming of bombing the place. Hopefully saner minds prevail.

Similar with Israel vs Hezbollah.

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Thank you for the thoughtful article.

A point that did not turn up in your text was sea-mines used in commercial shipping lanes. They would seem to be even more effective from a cost/benefit POV than anti-ship missiles. More economically effective by far, indeed, it seems to me, due to their infinite loitering capability, the inability of commercial shippers to trust the shipping-lane (even if missile bases suppressed), their explosive damage potential as compared to missiles (far greater explosive charges, below the waterline), their per-unit cost, etc.

I would argue that the only reason the Houthis have abstained, is that they want to achieve a specific goal as directed by their sponsor, and using sea-mines would cause far more persistent threat than the one they are using. But on a more general scale, I would like to hear your thoughts.

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Funny that Aurelien and JM Greer choose to talk about the future of war the same week ;)

"The spectacularly overpriced armed services of the industrial world have passed their pull date. They no longer yield military power commensurate with their overwhelming expense: quite the contrary, cheaper ways of fighting wars can now overwhelm them. That’s something that happens routinely in the declining years of a civilization." JMG


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The Houthi campaign is an awareness one to reveal the genocide face of the west having suffered 250’000 deaths through the desires of the Hegemon to exhibit power, subjugation to their will.

It has failed while the Houthi campaign is wildly successful!

Underlying context as you say is important.

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Force projection is increasingly difficult if only because under current ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) conditions, mechanized land vehicles, airframes and capital ships are increasingly little more than expensive, inviting targets for relatively cheap missiles and drones. The fact that the latter are most effective at relatively short range has further tilted the current balance in war in favour of the defence over offence.

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This is a very well thought out primer on the military scenario across the world today. It gives important insight into the history and future of strategy and survival. If all nations wake up and realize the realities here we may very well begin to see a more stable world.

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Both French and the British were not very "active" after they declared war on Germany in September 1939. In fact what followed was the strange war https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoney_War , with none of the three parties doing anything against the other(s). All the while Poland being invaded, occupied, and partitioned. Only after Germany invaded Denmark and Norway and started moving west, the British moved troops in France.

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