Friday, January 8, 2016

A Culture of Order in a Disordered World

This is from an old piece by William Lind laying out his model of the four generations of modern warfare:
The First Generation of Modern War runs roughly from 1648 to 1860. This was war of line and column tactics, where battles were formal and the battlefield was orderly. The relevance of the First Generation springs from the fact that the battlefield of order created a military culture of order. Most of the things that distinguish "military" from "civilian" - uniforms, saluting, careful gradations or rank – were products of the First Generation and are intended to reinforce the culture of order.

The problem is that, around the middle of the 19th century, the battlefield of order began to break down. Mass armies, soldiers who actually wanted to fight (an 18th century's soldier's main objective was to desert), rifled muskets, then breech loaders and machine guns, made the old line and column tactics first obsolete, then suicidal.

The problem ever since has been a growing contradiction between the military culture and the increasing disorderliness of the battlefield. The culture of order that was once consistent with the environment in which it operated has become more and more at odds with it.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Reading through the full piece, I quickly started to feel that Lind either doesn't really understand historical combat very well, or was grossly simplifying and generalizing it in service to his larger argument.

Then I got to his larger argument, and now I'm convinced he doesn't understand any combat, historical or otherwise.

Then I wondered, "Who exactly is this William Lind figure anyway?" and left off reading to look him up. It all went downhill from there.

When I returned to finish reading the piece, I tried to set aside my own biases against what I had learned of the man himself, and to respect what he was trying to say. Perhaps the piece wouldn't bear any overt hallmarks of his personal politics, I thought. But within only a few paragraphs of where I had left off, my hopes were dashed.

I'm left with the distinct impression that Lind is just another delusional xenophobe with a dim understanding of the nature of human conflict, which he employs to attempt to validate his prejudices against others and to reinforce his militant patriotism. I'm very severely disappointed.