January 1, 2007  

Big nations, small wars

Pitch large, powerful armies against substantially smaller, weaker enemies and the result can be the David vs. Goliath effect.

In his book “Small Wars,” British Army Col. C.E. Callwell warned that a powerful force stands to lose an asymmetric fight — or small war — if it is unable to draw the enemy insurgent into a head-on battle that leverages the big force’s superior size and weapons technology. Callwell saw this firsthand in the 2nd Afghan and Boer wars.

Modern insurgents adapt their strategy and tactics to capitalize on the weaknesses of their larger foe. Air Force Capt. John Bellflower argues that one such weakness is an over-reliance on strategic attack that shortchanges America’s capability in a war where its air supremacy is unchallenged.

Milan Vego, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, examines how network-centric warfare technology can be dazzling to the point of blinding when applied to the asymmetric fight.

And Canadian Forces Lt. Col. Mike Bullock asks why the military giant that is NATO does not meet the insurgent on its own terms, with far greater use of unconventional forces.