Military Power Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern

Military Power Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle Stephen Biddle November 10, 2004 U.S. U.S. Army Army War War College College Strategic Strategic Studies Studies Institute Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Agenda 1. What is military power? 2. Standard explanations 3.

A new explanation 4. Recent experience: Afghanistan and Iraq 5. Implications U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 What is Military Power? Ability to take and hold territory Ability to inflict (and avoid) casualties Time required U.S. Army War College

Initial focus: mid-high intensity conventional warfare Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Standard Explanations 1. Material Preponderance (Quantity) 2. Technology (Quality) 3. Force Employment (Strategy, tactics, skill, motivation) U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 A New Explanation Force employment-technology interaction as key Radical lethality as dominant technological fact of post-1900 battlefield

Survival requires exposure reduction Since 1918, modern system force employment has been key to exposure reduction and thus, successful operations Problems with the modern system: Very hard to do Politically unpopular side effects Result is wide variation in degree of implementation Where fully implemented, limits impact of weapons growing lethality, range Where little-implemented, troops exposed to full weight of modern firepower Increasingly grave consequences as firepower has grown more lethal Growing gap in real military power of those who can, and cannot, implement Effects of technology depend on force employment: Technological change can have opposite effects depending on force employment Modern system force employment can compensate for wide range of technical, numerical, shortcomings U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute

From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Lethality Trends Armor Penetration Artillery Range 8000 6000 100 meters kilometers 150 50 4000 2000 0 0 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 Mean Penetration Range of U.S. Heavy Antitank Systems

1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 6000 Ongoing, progressive increase in lethality for last 100 years 4000 Central problem of modern tactics: 8000 meters 200mmRHA penetration range How to survive long enough to perform meaningful missions? 2000

0 1945 1955 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 The Modern System Cover, concealment Dispersion Small unit independent maneuver Suppression Combined arms U.S. Army War College

Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Problems with the Modern System Very hard to do Individual, custom decision making by thousands of jr. leaders Tight coordination between dispersed, moving units, multiple commanders Leaders must master employment, support requirements of multiple, radically dissimilar weapon types Unpopular Political, Organizational Side Effects Requires devolution of authority; autonomy, initiative at jr. levels Harder for superiors to control subordinates behavior Yields territory early Requires high military proficiency U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Attacker Territorial Gain (km) New Theory Summarized

1000 Non-Modern-SystemDefense 100 10 Modern-SystemOff enseandDefense 1 Non-Modern-SystemOff ense 0.1 1900 1925 U.S. Army War College 1950 1975 2000 Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Recent Experience: Afghanistan and Iraq

Does 21st century technology undermine modern system, overturn new theory? Many see ongoing military revolution requiring transformed military; Afghanistan and Iraq as examples New theory sees no revolution: incremental extension of trends dating to First World War Do Afghanistan or Iraq suggest radical departure? No. Recent warfare as further examples of force employments role in surviving modern firepower U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Afghanistan, 2001-2 Many see Afghanistan as campaign of standoff precision warfare At first it was: indigenous Afghan Taliban unskilled, unable to reduce exposure, easily defeated by standoff precision

As target base shifts to better-skilled al Qaeda, close combat increasingly necessary Al Qaeda adopts important elements of modern system; reduces exposure Operation Anaconda (3/02): Under 50% of al Qaeda's actual fighting positions identified prior to ground contact, in spite of intensive intelligence effort Most fire received by US units came from initially unseen, unanticipated al Qaeda fighting positions U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Iraq, 2003 Why were Coalition casualties so low? Many credit technology: warfare transformed by speed, precision strike But Iraqi force employment very permissive: non-modern system

U.S. Army War College In 2003, 21st c. firepower punishes nonmodern-system exposure very severely 2003 does not suggest that new technology can overwhelm modern system exposure reduction Caution warranted in extrapolating technologys effects vs. other militaries Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Central Findings Force employment and technology interact in powerful, nonlinear way Predictions of combat outcomes based on materiel alone subject to gross error Future warfare debate exaggerates change, underestimates continuity Technologys role in war commonly overestimated Force employments role understudied, underemphasized

Current developments are extensions of longstanding trends; no revolutionary discontinuity in prospect U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Force Structure Implications: Policy Many advocate radical restructuring to shift away from orthodox close combat, toward standoff precision and/or SASO, COIN Risky: Works well vs. non-modern-system opponent Ineffective otherwise Cannot guarantee that we will never again face a modern-system opponent

Joint Doctrine Many advocate radical change: Change is needed, but orthodox incremental adaptation is sufficient Emphasize speed, nonlinear operations; avoid close combat Neither take nor hold terrain per se Replace concentration-breakthrough-exploitation with simultaneous operations throughout depth of enemy positions Neither necessary nor desirable Warfare not being revolutionized: radical change not necessary to keep up Radical doctrines require unskilled enemy to work; cannot guarantee this U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 U.S. Army War College

Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Backup Slides U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 How to Explain Military Power? Formal modeling Small-n case method testing Operation Michael, March 1918 Operation Goodwood, July 1944 Operation Desert Storm, January-February 1991 Large-n statistical testing COW CDB90 (HERO) Miltech

Ex ante simulation experimentation U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Implications: IR Theory Standard material indicators are poor proxies for actual capability Empirical literature likely to underestimate effects of capability relative to resolve, audience costs, signaling Potential effects across wide range of empirical studies in IR Offense-Defense Theory misspecifies technologys role To do better, must account for force employment Central role of states internal characteristics Force employment variance driven by states varying internal politics, social organization

Avenues for research: Other conflict types Explanation of variance in force employment; ex ante prediction Data development for force employment variables U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Historical Test: Operation Michael, March 1918 U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Historical Test: Operation Michael, March 1918 2 Allied 1.5 Allied Allied

German 1917 1918 1 0.5 0 1915 1916 Technology: Typical of Western Front stalemate Rough parity between attacker, defender Numerical Balance: 1.17:1 theaterwide troops 1.5:1 initially engaged troops Typical of Western Front stalemate Local Numerical Balances Attacker:Defender Divisions Attacker/ Defender Troops Theater Numerical Balance 5 4 3

2 MICHAEL 1 0 1915 1916 U.S. Army War College 1917 1918 1919 Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Historical Test: Operation Michael, March 1918 Depth of Prepared Defenses 20000 Yards 15000 10000 5000 MICHAEL

0 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 Fraction of Defenders in Reserve 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 MICHAEL 0.1 0 1915 1916 1917 1918

1919 Technology: Typical of Western Front stalemate Rough parity between attacker, defender Numerical Balance: 1.17:1 theaterwide troops 1.5:1 initially engaged troops Typical of Western Front stalemate Force Employment: Modern-System German attack Non-Modern-System British defense Exposed Shallow Forward U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Historical Test: Operation Michael, March 1918 Outcome: Breakthrough 47 battalions of British infantry annihilated 530 British guns overrun Exploitation fails

40 mile advance Exhaustion, Allied reserve arrivals halt offensive 250K casualties ea War continues Technology: Typical of Western Front stalemate Rough parity between attacker, defender Numerical Balance: 1.17:1 theaterwide troops 1.5:1 initially engaged troops Typical of Western Front stalemate Force Employment: Modern-System German attack Non-Modern-System British defense Exposed Shallow Forward Orthodox theories predict shattered offensive New theory predicts offensive breakthrough, but limited consequences Strategic Studies Institute U.S. Army War College From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Experimental Test: Refighting the Battle of 73 Easting

Many see Desert Storm result as technologically predetermined New theory implies not: if Iraqis had used modern system, no rout Test via Janus recreation of 1991 Battle of 73 Easting Counterfactuals: What if Iraqis had used modern system in 1991? What if US technology had been less advanced? Experimental Results, 73 Easting Janus Simulation Iraqi Losses 100 US Losses 90 Armored Vehicle Losses 80 70 60 50

40 30 20 10 0 Historical Base O lde r US Technology Modern System Iraqi Tactics Findings: Outcome not technologically predetermined Technologys effects influenced powerfully by force employment Modern system defensive tactics negate Iraqi technological inferiority Strategic Studies Institute U.S. Army War College From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004 Anaconda Battlefield U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute From Military Power, published by Princeton University Press, copyright Princeton University Press, 2004

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