The manner in which societies organize for warfare has always been dependent on a number of interrelated factors. Technology is an important factor but there are many instances where societies that are behind in the technology of warfare or even behind in industrial strength and other economic factors have been able to become better organized than their opponents. Japan, for example, created the first successful carrier groups and managed to do this virtually overnight in the years before Pearl Harbor. At Pearl Harbor the Japanese executed tactics gleaned from systematic study of the British attack on Taranto that destroyed a major portion of the Italian Navy.
Just prior to WW II, theorists like Liddell Hart advocated in favor of integrating fast moving armored vehicles with smaller infantry units and air cover. The only authorities in a position to follow Hart’s innovative doctrine that were actually listening were members of the German High Command. The German execution of the lightning-fast tactics that the world came to know as Blitzkrieg overran France’s “state of the art” defenses in a matter of a few days with a loss of German lives that was almost nil!
The ability of the U.S. to mobilize and organize a civilian industrial base in order to convert to the building of carriers and planes and other military armament was one important factor that turned the tables on the Japanese and the Germans.
Hitler attempted to personally manage and direct forces that had been effectively trained to proceed with a great deal of rapid decision making at the operational level. Hitler’s seriously flawed military logic in overriding the advice of his generals and consigning Gen. Paulus’ Sixth Army to utter destruction led to its defeat on the Eastern Front.
Over time, battlefields, as the world historically has perceived battlefields to exist, have become almost a thing of the past. During the Napoleonic Wars, hundreds of thousands of men were formed into massed ranks which presented solid boxes at which their opponents would fire. Soldiers on both sides were ordered to fire into massed ranks of the enemy, usually without taking aim.
The field of battle was filled with black powder smoke and cannon balls would skip across the open ground, often removing heads and arms and legs as the iron balls bounded through rows of soldiers lined up like bowling pins.
The American Civil War and WW I caused great loss of life because both sides had such accurate rifles, machine guns and artillery that the men were pinned down in deadly trench warfare. The certainty of death by exposing men to such accurate long range fire initiated a search for new battlefield doctrine that would avoid the drawn out carnage and attrition of the trenches.
By WW II, the German High Command’s innovative mix of tanks, armored vehicles and planes dictated a new kind of warfare that depended on speed and initiative rather than masses of men. The other great powers had greater resources in terms of weapons and by almost every other manner of reckoning. The Germans, nevertheless, had developed a process of planning, innovating and testing various plans and tactics involving new technologies that other leaders only vaguely understood until the German onslaught demonstrated to the world what the English historian, Basil Liddell Hart, had been talking about for so many years; i.e., decentralized coordination between fast moving infantry, mechanized troops and tactical air support.
By the time of the first Gulf War, the U.S. was able to detect and destroy Iraqi armor so effectively that enemy troops just gave up and walked into the desert. At the present time, there is no enemy in the world that can challenge the U.S. on the high seas, in the air or on land. Our forces are trained, organized and equipped in ways that no other nation can match.
This situation prevails as a result of GPS, satellite reconnaissance, networked communications, along with other technogies that make it possible for planners located anywhere in the world to view every inch of a battlefield environment and communicate instructions or reach out and touch personnel and equipment in real time while committing few, if any, troops to the battlefield arena. This is because of robot technology and surveillance systems that make death almost certain for any personnel that expose themselves to the systems our planners and scientists have developed.
According to Max Boot in “War Made New”, however, every victor runs the risk of becoming complacent and relying on the technological and military prowess that provided the last victory. While the U.S. was basking in the benefits of the “peace dividend” our enemies were exploring our weaknesses. The fact that no army will expose itself to the bewildering networks of weaponry deployed by our armed forces creates a new medium of battle. The only way for an enemy to attack is to infiltrate our society with networks that operate with the kind of decentralized structure by which our own special forces deploy.
Each new innovation can only be integrated into a battle system by gradual experimentation and tactical experience. One example of such innovation is information reported by military intelligence that terrorists are using online social networking systems to identify targets, communicate strike opportunities as they arise and conduct surveillance. Thus, older technology is always preserved alongside state of the art developments. This fact brings us to an interesting thesis.
It was predicted to be a matter of less than five years before WMDs would be deployed within the U.S. homeland, according to the the 9/11 Commission. Suit-case nukes, biological weapons and chemical warfare are all available to terrorists and criminals. The argument that nuclear weapons are too high-tech for terrorists is more a kind of denial than a reassurance to any thinking person. Those who study such subjects at the highest levels state that it is just a matter of when the enemy will unleash such weaponry.
Many small arms and personnel are pouring back and forth across the U.S.-Mexican border. An epidemic of kidnappings has started in Phoenix and experts predict that the business of kidnapping is spreading to other cities in the U.S. The fact that many of the kidnappings and much of the contraband and personnel crossing the border involves Mexican gangs goes hand in hand with credible intelligence that Middle Eastern personnel are also coming across our Southern border and receiving many kinds of weapons other than just small arms.
When the new administration uses the complaints about U.S. manufactured guns showing up South of the border, ask yourself whether you would care to be defenseless in El Paso, Texas when the violence spills over the border from Ciudad Juárez.
According to the New York Times, cities llike El Paso, Phoenix and Tucson are “hardly alone in feeling the impact of Mexico’s drug cartels and their trade. In the past few years, the cartels and other drug trafficking organizations have extended their reach across the United States and into Canada. Law enforcement authorities say they believe traffickers distributing the cartels’ marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs are responsible for a rash of shootings in Vancouver, British Columbia, kidnappings in Phoenix, brutal assaults in Birmingham, Ala., and much more.”
It will not take a WMD event to paralyze our economy. Even temporary economic and social disruption could make our armed forces vulnerable. Various synchronized forces and events are ready to converge in many parts of the world. Cyber-warfare and political confusion can amount to chaos in the midst of profound despair and recriminations.
Think about the questions that existed (and still exist) after the WTC attacks and the invasion of Iraq. Some people still question whether Al Qaeda was really behind the attacks. The apparent confusion about how seriously the American public should view terrorist threats raises the issue of whether additional unrecognized enemies can wreak havoc. Can terrorists intitiate attacks in a manner that disguises the identity of the enemy power initiating an attack? Can these attacks occur via tactical teams utilizing small arms, WMDs or industrial-financial sabotage by computer-hacking or some other electronic attack?
An ordinary-looking freighter ship heading toward New York or Los Angeles launches a missile from its hull or from a canister lowered into the sea. It hits a densely populated area. A million people are incinerated. The ship is then sunk. No one claims responsibility. There is no firm evidence as to who sponsored the attack, and thus no one against whom to launch a counterstrike.
But as terrible as that scenario sounds, there is one that is worse. Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.
This is what is referred to as an EMP attack. Such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century.
DARPA, a U.S. Government R & D technology lab, was able to create microwave technology at a relatively local cost with generally available electronic components that could disarm many high tech weapons systems. Such inexpensive designs are published on the internet.
The best way to deal with roving bands of killers is on their own terms. The low-tech swarming concept developed by terrorists is also one of the evolving doctrines of our own special forces.
A unit or individual blends into the social environment and, by means of cheap handheld GPS units (available at any electronics shop or outdoor store), cell phone and laptop, units come together as opportunities are presented. Similarly, the ancient Parthian and Mongolians and Turks were just some of the Asiatic horsemen that were able to envelope their enemies by converging from many directions with little or no apparent leadership.
The fact that the Asian “hordes” knew their enemies’ weaknesses stands in stark contrast to the lack of knowledge regarding the onslaught on the part of their victims (Europeans, Persians and Arabic societies, as well as the Chinese empire, to name a few). Such swarming tactics resulted in whole regions becoming systematically repopulated with mountains of skulls.
When a team comes together the units “swarm” their enemy like wolf packs or sharks. The best weapons against such forces are forces of citizens that are armed and trained to detect patterns, react and respond until the police and/or military take over.
The principle of social organization that most characterized the Twentieth Century is the same principle upon which 19th Century factories and armies were organized; the military-industrial complex organized as a massive hierarchy of professionals, bureaucrats, and engineers; i.e., as cog-like components in a huge machine. The concept of a citizen militia seemed outmoded by the 1950s.
A conventional comment is that, “The professional soldiers can provide for our defense.” The idea of a citizen armed with a deer rifle standing up to Blitzkrieg-style storm troopers seems laughable. The U.S. homeland, however, is unlikely to sustain a conventional attack on our homeland, unless our society is already decimated by the networks of terror cells that may already be waiting for the “perfect storm” to arrive.
The fact that so many naysayers deny that we are embroiled in real warfare is because the nature of the new warfare is such that there is normally not a conventional battlefield space.
The real space where the battle occurs is in hearts and minds of citizens and the outcome is determined by how we prepare for and then react to sudden manifestations of violence in schools, churches and synagogues, malls, streets or workplaces.
Our enemies will exploit any dissension (especially partisan gamesmanship) and attempt to break down our trust by creating horrific fear at the same time as the true aims and source of the terrorist acts become more difficult to identify. One source of such “plausible deniability” may result from more than one set of actors with conflicting ideological and national loyalties getting involved, perhaps in joint operations.
There are no means by which enough police can be deployed to guard all our schools. Think of all the workplaces, intersections, overpasses, malls, and other facilities where a few homicide teams bent on destruction and suicide can systematically murder many innocent Americans.
The best defense will be men and women, armed with hand guns and proper training. The government will not take the initiative to train you because “thinking outside the box” is the province of a few individuals- individuals that may lack the patience to wade through the bureaucratic gauntlets. Military officers normally listen to credible military leaders, usually from within their own command.
Even a President or Secretary of Defense has a very difficult time changing the military culture and landscape, littered as it is with turf wars. It took years to unify the various armed forces into an integrated structure where each branch coordinates with the other. A few citizens armed with pistols and spare magazines probably cannot stop a WMD. But think of what happens after a WMD event. If a suit case bomb explodes do you think the carnage will just stop there?
There are some quiet discussions going on among our political leaders about the possibility of arming some of the staff in our schools. There may be a need to change some state and federal laws. Every war takes a different kind of thinking than the last war. The concept that may be foremost in the present day battlefield is “swarming”. No one quite knows quite how it works but for defense of our U.S. homeland it could be as simple as several armed people that are near an intersection stopping one or more terrorist teams from systematically executing drivers while stopped at a traffic light during rush hour.
A Pakistani terrorist, Mir Aimal Kasi, attacked CIA personnel outside the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, killing two CIA employees and wounding three in 1993.
“At around 8 a.m. on January 25, 1993, Kasi stopped his Isuzu pickup behind a number of vehicles waiting at a red traffic light on the eastbound side of Route 123, Fairfax County. The vehicles were waiting to make a left turn into the main entrance of CIA headquarters. Kasi emerged from his vehicle with an AK-47 and proceeded to move among the lines of vehicles, firing into them. Within seconds, he had killed Lansing H. Bennett MD, 66, and Frank Darling, 28. Three others were left with gunshot wounds. Darling was shot first and later received additional gunshot wounds to the head after Kasi shot the other victims.”
Kasi stated later that he wanted to kill people that were more important to the government. Kasi escaped and was hiding in Afghanistan from where the FBI lured him with an offer of a business deal and then captured him by going to his hotel room in Dera Ghazi Khan, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, “rendering” Kasi back to the U.S. Kasi was tried and convicted in the U.S. On November 12, 1997, four US oil executives and their Pakistani taxi driver were shot dead in Karachi, in what was described as a deliberate response to Kasi’s guilty verdict. Kasi was executed by lethal injection in 2002.
All the military experts recognize the viability of the swarming concept. Swarming tactics do not require advanced technology. Just as happens on any other battlefield, technology plays its part and we need the professionals.
Ordinary citizens will usually be able to respond to an emergency that occurs in a public location more quickly than the police. If the professionals are tied down by multiple emergencies, volunteers with radios, cell phones and preparation for defensive tactical engagement may be able to head off potentially devastating attacks. Or even confront jihadist homicide teams.
Citizen defense conflicts with the way many of us have been trained to react but such thinking is in line with the mental outlook of most freedom loving people up until a few generations ago. One of the reasons that Americans got away from such civil defense strategies relates to the defunct official philosophy that the world would be destroyed by nuclear events if there was ever a war. T
hus, the notion developed that there was no use preparing to defend against our enemies since “mutual assured destruction” had become official policy under the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT). Even military forces were reconfigured in a manner reflecting the primacy of the unthinkable nuclear threat.
The contributions of many human resources and various perspectives from inside and outside the ranks of the security professionals is indispensible. Intelligence and sophisticated communications, radioactivity detection, bomb squads and medical/rescue teams have been augmented with billions in federal and state funds. Nevertheless, you can get to your neighbor’s home in an emergency faster than any other “first responder”.
You don’t have to be covered with body armor or trained as a SWAT operator or to operate radar to get a concealed carry license, take some defensive shooting classes and think tactically.
The government has also spent billions to inform citizens about the importance of vigilance and getting ready for emergencies. but, at least for now, the tactical training is something that you will have to develop without government assistance, unless you work for the government.
Think about the nature of modern warfare and why individually armed men and women may become more important to our national security than ever before. Our biggest vulnerability is also our greatest strength- the mindset of the average American citizen.