The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.
All our freedoms are a result of successful battles – regardless if it is about taking up arms, demonstrations, peace activism or simple politics. All wars begin within the mind.
We can choose to avoid battle but if we aim to survive let alone thrive, we cannot avoid preparation for defensive actions. Look at where the Roman Empire is today? Or The Islamic Empire, Or the British Empire or the French or Spanish or Persian. They became weak because they lacked humility in their power and imploded or placed themselves in position where they were simply destroyed by others.
Empires and nations can survive only when their leaders see beyond their own individual lives and desires.
I am Muslim and I speak English – I am the product of Empires of the past – Islamic and British. These two Empires came close to ruling the world at different times of recent human history but they failed due to a lack of humility within their leaders and inability to see longterm and reform whilst still at top of their game.
My teachers are those veterans of those Empires of the past – we know what we know and we are what we are – for better or worse because of them. I exist because of those veterans of the past – so do all of us. This is not about the right or wrong of those empires or wars but rather an understanding that we are all the product of the past.
“Guerilla” is Spanish for “little war”. Guerilla War is taking advantage of speed, and has little use for armour. Guerilla War is not of “Strength in Numbers”, as most operations are by small highly-mobile groups. In guerilla attacks, the enemy quickly, then “vanish” into the landscape.
For a brief period around the 18th century, War was considered a Gentlemen’s’ Sport by leaders of many leading European powers (probably because those leading the wars stayed well away from battle and moved their soldiers as if on a chess board) but we only need to look further in time and space from the set piece battle field to see the truth of war. WWI and WWII are text-book examples of Total War; this included indiscriminate use of Chemical Weapons and bombing (conventional and nuclear) of industrial/population centres to destroy enemy resources and morale.
Law of War
No laws have been nearly as comprehensive as the Geneva Conventions.
But we must remember that the Geneva Conventions and such treaties are agreements between the governments of nation states. Terrorist groups are not parties to these agreements, and their most basic tactics break these agreements.
Religious and Ideological Wars
Violently wanting to control others thoughts and to subjugate or at least harm them because of their beliefs are the basis of religious and ideological wars. If we study the Crusades, rise of Muslim Caliphates, Wars of the Reformation, the spread and containment of Communism, Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and rise of Christian fundamentalism in the United States which is increasingly energising the wars of The United States with a religious and ideological flavour.
If we look at Germany in the Second World War which had no oil reserves and the closest oil reserves of any size were in the Caucasus mountains of Russia. So to meet Germany’s need for oil, Hitler’s strategy was to invade Russia and take theirs. That invasion plan was not a strategic decision, but an operational one. At the military operational level, we are concerned primarily, if not solely, with military matters and if a nations leader is more concerned about his or her ego then strategy will take second place to the business of winning a war. Strategy should bring together all the tools at a nation’s disposal: military, diplomatic, economic and social. Military force remains just one tool in a nation’s toolbox.
If we look at empires of the past as well as nations today which have failed or are failing we can see lack of long term strategy within them.
When within the heat of battle we are in a tactical situation. Tactical engagements are “battles.” The battles of The Alamo and Little Big Horn are famous examples of tactical battles. In naval combat, they are tactics made by junior to senior level officers. In air combat, it is squadron leaders or wing commanders. Tactical decisions need to be made quickly,as they have life-and-death consequences.
Decisions can be tactically good decisions, but also strategically bad decisions.
In military actions – operations usually unfold over days, weeks or even months and can involve large numbers of troops alongside several battles. We need to study the Invasion of Normandy or the Tet Offensive to see what military operations are.
This can be the distribution and delivery of supplies to troops. These can include anything from food rations, to more soldiers, to munitions, to fuel and anything between. Logistics has been important throughout the history of successful warfare. Today with more advanced military technology more supplies are necessary to continue a war. Logistics is also part of a successful strategy.