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Old September 25th, 2017, 09:56 PM
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shahadi shahadi is offline
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Post Re: Acceptable US Casualties Against 3rd World Armies

In Avi Kober's (2008) 'The Israel defense forces in the Second Lebanon War: Why the poor performance?' frames a compelling discussion whose nexus is that Western soldiers fighting a "non-existential" war are not willing to scarifice fellow soldiers to accomplish the unit's mission.

According to IDF’s Chief of the Manpower Branch Major General Elazar Stern, part of the explanation for the IDF’s failure in the war was over-sensitivity to casualties.

An investigation committee headed by Major General (res.) Yoram Yair found that during the war commanders’ sense of responsibility for the lives of their troops over shadowed their commitment
to fulfill their missions.

The ‘post-heroic’ style of warfare, which characterized the Israeli conduct of the Second Lebanon War, is not a new innovation. Post-heroic warfare has two main rules: (a) the avoidance of casualties to your own troops, and (b) the avoidance of killing enemy civilians.

Its roots are demographic, social and moral, and it is characteristic of Western democracies conducting non-existential wars in which their readiness to sacrifice is relatively low, as per Edward Luttwak who penned the term "post-heroic warfare." Accordingly, when an IDF company attacked the mountain town of Bint Jbeil in the Second Lebanon War, losing eight men in one night, that number was perceived in Israel and broadcast around the world as a disastrous loss.

Juxtapose the scarifice of American forces on D-Day, an operation deemed "existential" where most reports put fatalities at 29000 while all of Iraq war we find reports of 4800 deaths.

Or, consider the lines of Americans during the weeks following December 7, 1942 against the paltry number of volunteers following 9/11.

Hence, we may have an additional tool, "non-existential" or "post-heroic" warfare to understand the complexities of what are acceptable casualities today.

Kober is from the Department of Political Studies and, BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

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Old September 25th, 2017, 11:04 PM

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Default Re: Acceptable US Casualties Against 3rd World Armies

US fatalities were 29,000 on D-Day? Some sources say more like 10,000-plus total casualties with over 4,000 KIA. Similar casualties for the Germans. Please correct me if that's wrong.

Quibble aside, the concept of post-heroic or non-existential warfare bears repeating. Without the prospects of plunder or glory it's hard to see how Western troops' morale and motivation can be maintained on a battlefield. Perhaps special forces with classic warrior's spirit and a taste for danger are the answer? In any case missiles, jets, drones, long-range artillery and eventually robots may render the question moot as warfare becomes increasingly mechanized. Stay tuned.
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Old September 26th, 2017, 12:58 AM

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Fallout Re: Acceptable US Casualties Against 3rd World Armies

You know I have to wonder about this all somewhat. I really don't think these judgements can really be made until that war or this war is actually going on. I was just a young kid watching the nightly news on TV during the Vietnam War,I saw the cost in human lives, the wounded who'd never be whole again, the compassion of those same troops, the fear, the guilt, the sacrifice, devotion to duty, the loss and the will to live and so much more. I do believe for anyone that has served many of these traits are within themselves. It's the motivation to get the job done when you no longer believe the mission can be accomplished in a tactical or strategic sense. They were 19 years of age four years younger than when I began my career. They are still now getting the job done and sacrificing again as they have down the ages and unfortunately will into the future.

I posted in the Vietnam Forum about the PBS covering the war. A Marine described how he was wounded in an ambush, two sacrificed themselves to save him, a third finally did after being severely wounded himself in all three cases they kept that Marine alive by throwing their bodies over his.

As an NVA soldier I think rightly pointed out at the end of the segment "...the only people who care about winning or losing are those who've never fought."

Until actually tested none of us will know how we'll react, we can just hope we'll do the right thing if tested. My motivation is simply, just to come home to CINCLANTHOME at the end of the day, though I hope I'll never have to find out if that's enough or not. I feel based on some of the people I work with, know otherwise and from watching programs as noted above, it seems that "motivation" driven by whatever reason(s) seems to be a constant theme.

When the KURSK sank (2000) in relatively shallow water (Where a DSRV/or other can reach you.) we joked about the poorly built in some cases Russian subs. We did know however, they were at a depth where rescue of the crew could have easily been achieved. We would find out during the event how badly damaged she was, and out of respect not one person working for me (All Submariners.) didn't think how sorry we felt for those dead and their families, and how angry we became at the lack of response by their government and the refusal by them for not allowing us and others to send in our equipment to effect and assist in rescue operations for the survivors.

We all accept the risks, that's why they weed out the ones that can't from Sub School on. As the days went on we all also knew the various stages the crew was going through in the slow death they were experiencing (We're trained in such matters.). No one did anything and a 118 never went home alive to their loved ones.

That's respect for their service, bravery and empathy for their situation until the very end.

Those are the words I hear.

I don't know and where ever my Dad I know he's glad I never found out, but I can tell you he respected those 19 year old kids he was training to go to Vietnam after all the combat he saw in three wars.

Which ever side they are on, I feel they'll do their duty for whatever their motivation is given the proper tools to do the job and the leadership to guide them.

"If something is not impossible, there must be a way of doing it." - Sir Nicholas Winton

"Ex communi periculo, fraternitas" - My career long mentor and current friend -QMCM/SS M. Moher USN Ret..
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Old September 26th, 2017, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: Acceptable US Casualties Against 3rd World Armies

It's all very VERY situational.

Even the exact same unit fighting a near identical battle may, and often does, behave differently during each. There are so many factors it's impossible to even list them all much less quantify them. This of course never seems to deter the Armchair Quarterbacks.

Yes, you can make generalized assessments based on training, leadership, equipment, and "national character". But anything more precise is nothing but guesswork.
Suhiir - Wargame Junkie

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"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." - Albert Einstein
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