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Response to "Infidel" re "... what asymetric warfare is"

Reader comment on item: Strange Logic in the Lebanon War
in response to reader comment: What is Asymetric Warfare?

Submitted by J. Keen Holland (United States), Aug 17, 2006 at 01:24

Asymetric warfare means exploiting your strengths against an enemy's weakness and recognizing that all areas of human endeavor are part of the battlespace. The older way of looking at warfare tended to focus attention on symetrical means. Consider all the planning and wargaming that two generations of Warsaw Pact and NATO commanders engaged in to decide how to penetrate or hold, respectively, the Fulda Gap - this was textbook force on force, very symetrical. The Warsaw Pact had tanks to punch the hole and mechanized infantry to pour through it. NATO had tanks and artillery to blunt the thrust and infantry to, they hoped, end the day in control of the battlefield.

So, how did it play out? Beginning with the naval construction boom under Carter and continuing through the Reagan Administration, the West exploited its strengths - high technology, adequate finance, industrial production of complex systems - and forced the Soviets to recognize that they could not compete symetrically in the long run. Instead of looking for better ways to counter our defense of the Fulda Gap, the Soviets made the Fulda Gap irrelevant by withdrawing from Eastern Europe. Some think that was the end of the Cold War. Some, we call ourselves realists and others call us pessimists and paranoids, simply see it as entering a new era where China has taken on the leading role as principal antagonist of the West. And China has learned the lesson of asymetric warfare by encouraging its strategic planners to consider how to confront and defeat the West without relying on traditional means of warfare.

The PRC has North Korea as a cat's paw to keep our attention focused on what is unlikely to be the key area of conflict. Meanwhile, they are about two decades into a program of military applications of nanotechnology, they have amassed a hoard of US dollars which could seriously harm western economies if released suddenly, they have huge numbers of computer experts learning how to cripple both military and civilian computer networks in the West, they have a space program which some see as aimed at killing western satellites in the opening stage of actual hostilities, and so on.

One of the key things to note is that much of this new form of military capability can be used surreptitiously, maintaining the outward appearance of peace while softening up the opposition. In the Mideast context, despite the bloody nose given to the IDF by Hizbollah in the recent Lebanese campaign, the rejectionist front among Israel's neighbors recognize that they are not likely to prevail by means of conventional warfare, either now or in the near future. But they have learned that by means of provocations they can elicit responses from the Israelis that will result in outside pressure on Israel to make concessions.

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