I often read essays on the “modern” conflict and find myself totally confused. New words and phrases abound to the point where I am not actually sure of what the author is writing about.
As a young soldier, I learnt about conventional warfare and unconventional warfare. Counter Insurgency (COIN) was viewed as a part of warfare utilising unconventional methods and tactics. Today I read about “asymmetrical warfare”, “hybrid warfare” and “kinetic” and “non-kinetic” actions. Even soldiers are no longer soldiers – they are now warfighters. The soldier’s rifle has become a Personal Defence Weapon (PDW) or an Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW).
Where will all of this end? – or is the aim to confuse ourselves more than we are able to confuse the enemy?
In my mind, “war” has always been war – and it has always been fought by “soldiers”. Whereas the weapons have evolved, the aim has always been the same: annihilate the enemy or exhaust the enemy to a point where he no longer desires to continue with the conflict. Today, I find myself exhausted just trying to understand the new terms, phrases and acronyms that abound and confuse me.
I was about to give up on the subject of war until I stumbled across William F Owen’s excellent article about the new language that has become part of the military make-up. (http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2009/11/4114043)
Somehow, this all reminds me of organisations that when faced with a task they cannot accomplish, create a new impressively-sounding term or phrase along with a new department and then simply continue with their incompetence. This gives them an excuse to waste time and money whilst trying to discover adaptive and complex solutions to the overcome the hybrid actions against them.
Military commanders - or perhaps one should call them “warfighter managers” - no longer command men – instead they “manage” them. Surely, there is a very distinct difference between an army and a commercial enterprise?
If I were still a serving soldier, I would much rather have a commander than a manager.
The discipline in a commercial enterprise cannot match that of a military unit where instructions and orders are to be obeyed the instant they are issued. Is the military not shooting itself in the foot by trying to turn commanders into managers, despite the fact that this softly-softly style of command can never succeed? Although the armed forces may serve a democracy, they cannot be run along democratic or commercial enterprise lines.
Bad military strategies cannot be rectified by Fortune-500 management styles.
Despite enormous developments in weapons and battlefield technology, the nature of war hasn’t changed that much. Why try to develop a new language to cope with age-old military problems that have been faced before by soldiers – or are these words and terms simply there to make excuses as to why strategies are failing?
Throwing around new words, phrases and acronyms does not make one competent or efficient. It is practicing the basics in a disciplined, planned and controlled manner that leads to success.