Thomas D. Segel
Warfare & The Will to Win
September 28, 2009
Another five American servicemen were killed in Afghanistan yesterday.
This was the same day the White House announced our president might get
around to reading the report from General Stanley McChrystal seeking
thousands of new troops for that combat theater. It has now been
languishing in governmental "pending” files for almost a month. At the
same time, with each passing day our forces find themselves waging
warfare under untenable conditions, instead of positions of strength.
If one is to search for a definition of "war”, it will be noted the term
is sometimes defined as "An interaction in which two or more opposing
forces have a struggle of wills.” This is a fitting explanation for what
is now taking place in Afghanistan. There are opposing struggles of
will...and the Taliban has far more will to emerge the victor than a
large segment of the American population and their cowardly lackeys in
If we ever have enough courage to truthfully examine the actions of
Americans during times of war, the case can easily be made that our
failures and losses in combat can all be traced back to congressional
actions, or non-actions that resulted in the American forces defeat.
Anyone who fought in Korea knows that war story well. We were inserted
into combat following a period after World War II when Congress reduced
our military strength and equipment to a level even lower than pre-war
manning levels. Still, the war in Korea could have been brought to a
successful conclusion if our forces had been given the political will,
manpower and equipment needed to eliminate North Korean forces and
convince China to withdraw behind its own borders.
Instead, on a worldwide stage, our politicians negotiated for weeks on
the proposed shape of the table around which they would confer, then
talked us into a so-called "cease-fire”. After 23,615 Americans were
killed in action and another 7,600 of our brave youth died of wounds or
were declared dead, we departed the battlefield battered and without a
Our ill-fated war in Vietnam is perhaps the premiere example of
political cowardice and mismanagement. Restrictive political regulations
stopped the pursuit of the enemy. More political restrictions on
everything from combat actions to attacking known safe havens and the
political snake dance our Washington "leadership” undertook with corrupt
South Vietnamese officials placed America in a position where we won
every battle and lost the war. 40,934 American KIA, another 6,300
declared dead or lost to fatal wounds and that final scene of people
screaming and hanging on to the skids as the last USA helicopter lifted
off the roof of the American Embassy was the ultimate portrait of
defeat...and it was painted by the anti-war crowd and Washington DC.
Our actions in Afghanistan seem to mean we have very limited objectives.
If the goal is to contain everything in its current configuration, then
our restrictive proportionality of force will accomplish that objective.
It will also assure there are many more American casualties.
If the objective is to have a decisive victory, our Cowardly Lions in
Washington need to grow a backbone and subscribe to the philosophy of
overwhelming force. From Disraeli in the 19th Century to Powell in the
20th Century the established principle has been that the use of
concentrated overwhelming force is the key to victory.
During World War I Frederick W. Lanchester formulated Lancaster’s Law
that calculated "combat power of a military force is the square of the
number of members of that unit so that the advantage a larger force has
is the difference of the squares of the two forces.”
In simple terms this means a two to one advantage will quadruple the
firepower and inflict four times the punishment. A three to one
advantage in strength will have nine times the combat effect, etc. In a
final analysis, the more superiority one side has over the other, the
greater damage he can inflict on the other side and the smaller the cost
to himself. This was the view of Disraeli, Lanchester, Powell and most
military strategists. This is also the view of this former Mud Marine
and combat scribe.
vantage point we cannot hope to match the military expertise of a
weekend warrior and rear echelon hero such as John Murtha with his
paper-cut Purple Heart, or the fine tuned insight of a three month,
medal winning veteran such as John Kerry, who was so valorous in the
waters off Vietnam. Nobody outside of Washington has the knowledge of
those great military minds that fill the halls of Congress and the
Executive Office. They know just how to come up with a winning hand.
After all they have a blueprint right in front of them that dates back
all the way to 1951.