I'm going to kick around a couple things I noticed from Situational Awareness recently but haven't posted about.

The first is this post entitled "Was Tarawa necessary?" I'm not really going to debate that issue, (feel free to, though, in the comments) but rather the last paragraph caught my eye:
"...My interest is in examining the expectations of how the assault would go versus how it really went down. Tarawa happened early enough in the Pacific War as to be an "initial encounter" for a particular type of operation: the opposed beach landing against an island. The casualties it produced were shocking at the time, even by WW2 standards. There was outrage in the US, and calls for Nimitz's resignation. Sound familiar?"

Not to bring up those retired Generals' carping again, but gee-wiz, what were they really expecting? Perfection? A plan that worked flawlessly? C'mon. In the end, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20-20, and the decisions made by the US in Iraq are going to be fodder for debate for longer than anybody reading this will be alive.

The second is this post about "An Army of One"
"As societies the world over come to value the individual, military systems have been evolving to follow suit. In Western-oriented armed forces, casualty management is not good enough: The goal of many current battlefield tactics and supporting technologies is casualty avoidance. The evolution of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; battlefield networks; stand-off, precision fires; and electronic warfare are all examples of how modern militaries exploit the skill and value the life of each individual warfighter. Every friendly casualty is viewed as a failure on some level. Some see this as a weakness. I see it as a strength, one that is entirely consistent with the relationship between a society and its military.

It must be frustrating - and maybe quietly terrifying - to face an enemy who expends money rather than lives to kill you."

This idea isn't entirely new, as the cartoonist Bill Mauldin made a similar observation in his book "Up Front" about the US Army in Europe in WWII, willing to expend munitions instead of men.

But it is definitely more necessary these days. No longer, it seems, are people willing to be conscripted to fight. Therefore, militaries are going to depend on those willing to serve, (for whatever reason), and this 'warrior class' (or whatever you want to call it) cannot be 'bled white' or suffer undue (or maybe any) attrition.

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