Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time is the Great Killer

Retired Army Major General Robert Scales notes in this part 3 of an interview about his new book that force protection measures that limit exposure of American troops on the theory that this is the best way to avoid friendly casualties in fact leads to more casualties because it will likely extend the war. And time is the biggest killer of friendlies by giving your enemy more opportunities to kill your soldiers.

That's what I wrote back in 1997 in a Land Warfare Paper on lessons from the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980:

Our soldiers' lives are indeed valuable, and our country's insistence that we minimize risks to them is laudable (as well as being necessary due to the small size of the Army). Undue concern, however, is false compassion and, as was the case for Iraq in 1980, could result in even greater casualties in a prolonged war should we refuse--because of the prospects of battle deaths--to seize an opportunity for early victory.

Sorry. The paper is not available online, not even at the ghost site I linked to in that post.

When deciding to go to war, the first thing you should do is determine how you win rather than figuring out how to keep daily friendly casualties down to a level that won't disturb the evening dinner of Americans as they watch the news.

And in the end, winning as soon as you can will reduce casualties.