September 14, 2006

Red vs Blue -A battlefield scenario

[Just something I brainstormed while talking about the media and Vietnam, when I read bookworm's post on it]

People are tired of war, they want to go back to winning elections, envying Hollywood, and making money.

The weird thing is, it's like a sports team constantly getting beat, and the fans never likes it. However, the fans (Red Sox) keep rooting for their team. Unlike sports tv, Iraq is only shown piecemeal. So you have all the bad mistakes on the Red Sox being shown, and you can't feel "good" about anything. Meaning, they show you the Red Sox losing, but they never show you the Red Sox scoring anything. So instead of a real game where you see both sides in continuous time, you see snatches that keep your spirit at an all time low always. There's no ups and downs usually going on as with a normal game. Instead of seeing one team score, other team score, we see one team score, other team fumbles, one team scores, other team fumbles, and so forth. Eventually someone might just shut the tv off with that kind of frustration.

You can get people away from despair, by giving a victory party. However, first you have to get a victory. And you can't get a victory if nobody is paying attention to the Red Sox's wins. People do reminder the ecstatic mood when the Marines got to Baghdad. Future failures are to be expected, you can't win all the time. However, there have been few ups and down cycles. The election was notable because it was low, high, low. The invasion, high to low. The second election was high, middle, low, middle.

Reminds me of an AC sinuisoidal wave. The media damps down the morale and spirit of the US people, preventing it from going high or low. The failures are not as painful as pictures of Pallywood. The successes are not as joyful as marriages and promotions, but more like a 1% raise in your salary. Good news, but negligible. After awhile, this kind of mood will break people's spirit and willpower. At that moment, a coup de grace like the Tet Offensive can obviously shatter the will of a weakened people.

You should have heard this general story about two armies clashing on the field of battle. Red Army is fighting a losing battle, ultimately giving ground in order to prevent being enveloped. Blue Army is focused on smashing through the middle of the Red Lines, and defeating the enemy in detail. Blue army sees their side pushing through Red's center, slaughtering all in their way to victory and glory. Blue's soldiers feel uplifted, euphoric, ultimately joyous more or less at the sight. Red's morale is shaking, but holding.

Who will win the battle? The side that perceives that they are going to win. So obviously Red wins because they hid forces behind the Blue lines, allowing Red to hit Blue's forces in the rear at the moment of their victory. By snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Red has demoralized Blue to such an extent that their morale shatters and they run for it. Blue has thrown down their weapons and is proceeding to leave the battlefield via a rout. How can this be, wasn't Blue winning? How could a small force hidden behind the indomitable Blue Army crashing their way through Red's center to victory, possibly be defeated by a small force from the rear when victory was almost on the tongues of Blue's men?

The reason is simple. It was precisely because Blue thought they were winning, that they were defeated. Perception creates victory, but whose perception of whom however, is not set in stone. It is mercurial, shifting.

Blue by believing that the battle was almost won, dropped their mental barriers. This allowed a small force that could surprise them with shock and awe (the real thing, not the Donald Rumsfeld air force version) to mow down several people at the back of Blue's lines. Blue's formation would shift, appearing to Red's center as if Blue was attempting to run away. Blue would be totally surprised, and even though Blue outnumbers the small force in their rear, panic sets in. You see, Blue believed things were going to happen in a certain way, and when new things occur, they cannot adapt, they panic, they are confused, they are without orders and direction. While Red's center was being pushed inwards, Red didn't run, because Red had orders and knew what to do. Hold the center, that was all. Even though they were dieing in droves to hold the center, they did not break and run. Yet Blue broke and ran after suffering a miniscule amount of deaths compared to that which Red's Center suffered. How could that be? Shock and Awe. The shock of being surprised and killed by a foe that you thought you had defeaten, the awe of Red's Center as they realized that victory was indeed occuring after gruesome hours of holding the line, watching their friends fall on their sides.

Red counter-attacks, with renewed vengeance, with a focus on vengeance. Red now believes victory is at hand. Why is that different from Blue's belief that victory was at hand? Because Red came to believe in victory after being at the BOTTOM, near bottom, of the morale scale. Red's morale has skyrocketed, from almost zero. The delta, the change, was from 0 to skyscraper. For Blue, they started off high, and when surprised, their morale shrunk and fell. As with gravity, if you fall from a great height, you hurt yourself. Blue's morale fell from skyscraper heights, to the ground. The acceleration was so fast, Blue's will to fight was broken instantaneously. It's simple force equations. F=v^2m iirc. Velocity being displacement over time. The less time, the more velocity, the more velocity, the more force. Red was losing morale at a very low rate, a low velocity. Blue lost their morale all at about the same time. That has a devastating effect.

The Democrats are so busy focusing on the kill counts, but you do understand that their effect on people and you are not based upon absolute numbers, right? Their propaganda effect is focused through changing your morale, numbers are simply a means to an end. It is the morale, the willpower, the spirit, that counts. It is what restricts your war machines and your body. No matter how strong or how numerous, those who are not willing to act, might as well be frozen in time regardless of their power on paper.

The Democrats do not care about how many die, in so far as the more that die, the more readily they can decrease your morale to fight. Attrition warfare, the lowest and crudest form of warfare.

But as the scenario I painted portrayed with Blue vs Red, it is not numbers that matter, it is time, shock, and awe.

Two generals have used inferior numerical forces to best and defeat superior forces. They weren't "freedom fighters" or "guerrilas" or even terrorists. Guerrila warfare is not some esoteric discipline based upon principles foreign and alien to warfare. It is simply taking a weakened position and purposefully applying it against a stronger position, which is what warfare mostly is about. The strong killing the weak, and the weak trying to survive and kill the strong. In other words, the 21st century of "Siege Warfare". But back to the two generals. Their names were Belisarius and Hannibal Barca. Most infamous, there are many more leaders and generals in history.

Why did Hannibal Barca cross the Alps? Why did Hannibal Barca bait a full Roman Legion across a river with his light numidian cavalry? Why did the generals send an armored push through to Baghdad?

Studying the current war and reading the events about it, is not a good way to understand warfare. Simply because this war isn't over, you can't see what will be or could have been. Looking into past battles however, and you can see the long reaching effects of the actions of both sides.


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