RE: MIL: Warfare Basics

Billy Brown (
Wed, 24 Mar 1999 09:36:33 -0600 wrote:
> CONTROL. The whole point of government is to control people, because,
> like Billy Brown, governors are scared of chaos. They're scared that
> something might change outside their control, and if preventing that
> means sticking electrodes in all our brains, then electrodes it is..

When name-calling begins, the opportunity for productive discussion has ended. So, I don't think that there is much point in continuing this thread. However, for the benefit of any lurkers who may be interested, I'll summarize my view one more time:

The evolution of warfare over the last thousand years shows a clear trend of increasing advantage to those who have the largest concentration of wealth. Industrial technology has only accelerated this trend. The practical implication is that in any environment where armed conflicts occur, large organizations have a strong competitive advantage over small ones, and even small organizations have an advantage over individuals. An environment full of tiny power groups will thus tend to evolve into a small number of large power blocks.

The emergence of unconventional styles of warfare has not changed that. Instead, it simply creates a demand for better training and organization on the part of an aggressor. Investment in heavy weapons is still an advantage (because it forces the guerrillas to remain covert), so the net effect is to create yet another advantage for those who invest heavily in their military.

The early 21st century may well see the emergence of cheap weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear devices. This trend is a threat to the very existence of civilization, and may well demand that we expand into space or take other drastic measures in order to survive. However, it is not a magic silver bullet for destroying enemy military forces. Instead, it creates a demand for ABM systems, improved minesweeping and radiation detection devices, long-duration sealed environment systems, and universal surveillance. Once again, those who have lots of money will be better able to deal with such threats than those who do not.

IMO, the only way to reverse this trend is to create a weapon so cheap that any individual can build one, so effective that no possible defense can resist it, and so powerful that it can destroy any conceivable enemy before he can shoot back. If such a weapon is ever invented, it will mean the end of armies, States, society, and probably human life. Fortunately, there is no sign that such a discovery is immanent (unless you count strong SI, which is a different discussion entirely).

I believe those who disagree with my thesis do so because of two fundamental mistakes:

First, they consistently assume that the side they favor is immune to all the problems of organization, logistics and engineering that make real warfare (not to mention real manufacturing) expensive. They assume that anything they want to use can be made cheap and plentiful, that their own side has perfect moral and perfect information. Then they assume that the other side is still subject to all of the problems and limitations we see in the real world. Obviously, this is not a realistic basis for planning.

Second, they tend to assume that the side they favor has access to the technology of the early 21st century, while the side they oppose is limited to what was in common use a few years ago. This is an easy mistake to make, since an individual is naturally more interested in thinking of technologies he could use than technologies that could be used against him. However, it is still quite unrealistic. In the real world both sides of any potential conflict are constantly working on ways of defeating each other, and any evaluation of future military technology must take this into account.

Now, I'm going to go back to the political side of this debate. If you guys want to hang around and argue about the details of nuclear weapon construction in a public forum, feel free - I think there is already far too much data on this subject in the public domain, and I'm not going to contribute to the problem.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I