Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Intelligence requirements

"Revolution in military affairs", RMA, is a cluster of thoughts on how to wage war in the space-age. It grew out of the 1991 Gulf war and the succes and exhilaration provided by precision guided munitions and satellite pictures.

It looks very much as if this is the way that the Danish military is going (please see Valde's comprehensive description if you haven't already). And that just started me down a path of thoughts:

* Precision guided munitions takes high-grade intelligence on targets, otherwise you might as well hit a hen-shack very precisely, for all the bomb care. Will the Danish arsenal upgrade on this capability? (Right now it buzzes around with some French produced drones, that as far as I have heard, should be pretty shabby)

* What political gains would a more modern Danish army be able to give a Danish government? I'm thinking: what arguments will the RMA present to a government, with the desire to utilise the army in Danish foreign policy? Will the Danes be more ready to send off soldiers? Will the US be more ready to let Danish troopers "attack alongside US and UK forces"?

Hmm, guess those questions are not exactly linked - by anything else than my strange combination of interest in intelligence and rhetoric.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quite agree - guided munitions calls for reliable intelligence. One means of acquiring intelligence of sufficient reliability is by unmanned RECCE drones such as the French one in service with the Danish Army (TÅRNFALKEN)

One much more reliable source, and one which seems to be increasingly popular with the armed forces of the western democracies, is the special forces arms branch. Advanced technology allows special forces to mark targets for weaponry such as Tomahawk missiles, or indeed for aerial weapons platforms such as the Predator drone.

This type of warfare is morally and ethically much more resilient than all of its alternatives. It allows for next to no civilian casualties (as was the case with the US led coalition's invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 - sinisterly countered by the Soviet exploits in Afghanistan in the 1980's) At the same time, it reduces the amount of soldiers deployed to a minimum, thus avoiding appaling casualties among soldiers, too.

The Danish government has recently concluded its latest plan for a future defence programme. Among the major steps to be taken is the expansion of the special forces units (one equalling SAS, one equalling SBS) This can argueably be seen as a major transition in the placement of the strategic and operational CoG, or Centre of Gravity. This transition will, at length, mean an abandoning of full-scale mechanized warfare in favour of a much more flexible and dispersed type of warfare. This could be thought of as a revolution in military affairs - with actual PEOPLE on the ground still spearheading any operational offensive.


8/11/04 23:00

Blogger Nis said...

I have just returned from a seminar where we discussed this and it is a very interesting thought. But I would like to question one of your assumptions, Valde.

"This type of warfare is morally and ethically much more resilient than all of its alternatives. It allows for next to no civilian casualties"

I would say not. Because hasn't there been a "counterrevolution" so to say. Suddenly, as a reaction to US and Western supremacy, the Iraqi insurgents revert to another form of warfare - the assymetrical, urban one, where a lot of sensor technology and precision munition is more or less useless. And where casualties go up. They argument this with the use of new technology like that darn' internet to show all these dead bodies and hostages.

Or as some people on my seminar group noted, it's a reaction old as warfare itself. Take the fight to a place where you have the advantage.

9/11/04 15:20

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The campaign in Afghanistan is a brilliant example of thoroughly conducted special forces warfare. The primary targets of the Western coalition were Al Qaeda traning camps in the bedrock desert of central and southern Afghanistan. These rather isolated camps left the fighting men of Al Qaeda with no option but to face the oncoming threat. this oncoming threat was in all respects spearheaded by special forces. The special forces had a multi-purpose role - they were to reconoiter the Afghan desert in areas hitherto only examined by sattelites. Furthermore, they were to mark all compromised targets for destruction by primarily AC-130 gunships. In the case af the fighters of Al Qaeda, retreat to an urban stronghold was not an option.

Faced with the massed mechanized force of the American onslaught in 2003, Saddam Hussein promised to meet the US forces in urban battle. Naturally so; it was his best chance of inflicting but modest casualties upon the coalition invaders. And it was bad, with An Nassiriyah propably being the most enduring pocket of resistance.

Still, the invasion of Iraq ran on a very tight schedule. One must not forget the fact that siege warfare is still an option, the sieges of Sarajevo and Grosny being the most obvious examples. The attrition of enemy forces oevr time (if time is available) is a means never to be underestimated.


9/11/04 19:46


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