Dispelling JR / GAB's Brain Fog Fever
jbone at deepfile.com
Wed Apr 9 18:33:30 PDT 2003
On Wednesday, Apr 9, 2003, at 16:47 US/Central, James Rogers wrote:
> Blowing only a billion dollars of ordnance while taking a large
> country with
> few casualties in a matter of weeks is pretty damn efficient for that
> It certainly isn't comparable to dropping a couple skyscrapers. If
> the goal
> of the military was to drop the two towers, it would have cost them
Let me introduce you to my friend "normalization." By this process, we
can compare apples and oranges by calling them both pears, then
distorting other parts of the equation proportionally. ;-)
OF COURSE dropping a couple of buildings isn't the same as taking out
even an impoverished country's military and regime. But that ---
strategic political objective achievement alone --- is not the
comparison of interest. We're talking about "efficiency" -wrt- the
Shock and Awe stratagem, and I'm asserting that (a) it's very difficult
to measure the efficiency of Shock and Awe, because it's hard to
measure the effects, and (b) it's beside the point anyway, entirely the
wrong criteria to try to use, because Shock and Awe is all about
"effectiveness." "Efficiency" in that context is a boondoggle.
The comparison, as Greg IMHO correctly pointed out, is about the
relationship of input to output. Shock and Awe itself isn't in any way
about achieving a particular effect efficiently --- it's all about the
effect, it's about rendering an enemy psychologically impotent. This
does as a side-effect hopefully shorten the engagement / make it less
costly in terms of casualties and materiel in the long haul. And yes,
the latter *can* be measured, eventually, but none of us on this list
are in any way equipped to perform that calculation at this time.
Neither is CENTCOM, for that matter.
Also pertinent: the actual strategy that ended up being deployed in
GWII, FOX News talking heads and Rush Limbaugh aside, is not in fact
Shock and Awe. It much more closely resembles the surgical strike
doctrine employed during the Gulf War --- just much more intense. And
surgical strike doctrine, like most modern warfighting doctrines, IS
very concerned with efficiency. And on that basis, we can make some
Ignoring the particular operational theory behind Iraq for a moment, a
fair set of metrics for input might be lives committed / spent and
dollars spent on ordinance / materiel. A fair set of metrics for
output might be lives taken / dollars in economic utility destroyed.
== Al Qaeda, 9/11 ==
Input: 19 lives, $45 in box cutters, <$30,000 in plane fare.
Output: 3300 lives taken, ~>$1T in direct and collateral economic
Yield: 174-to-1 kill ratio, 33M-to-1 economic yield
== USA v. Iraq, GWII ==
Input: dozens of lives, let's say 100, $B in costs, let's say $20B
Output: 10k Iraqis (high-side conservative), $30B in in economic
damages (~Iraqi GDP )
Yield: 100-to-1 kill ratio, 1.5-1 economic yield
So whatever the current operational philosophy, it's CLEAR to anybody
who can drive a $3 calculator and a Web browser that on at least two
important dimensions asymmetric "terror" war is far more "efficient"
than traditional warfare. And in terms of psychological output, it's
hard to argue against the efficiency of terror: the U.S. economy and
society is still reeling from 9/11, from the brilliantly sick
application of 19 fanatic lives, 19 box cutters, and 19 plane tickets.
And that was all I was really saying, here --- I was not criticizing
Shock and Awe, surgical strike, or any other stratagem *or* our ability
to achieve our goals efficiently. Because we are a law-abiding (ahem)
nation-state, we do not have access to the tools of our opponents, the
tools of asymmetric warfare. And therefore we will never achieve the
levels of efficiency that terrorists achieve in their hostile endeavors.
My point stands: "efficiency" is a characteristic of terrorism, Greg
got it backwards, and my conclusion has been effectively demonstrated.
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