Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Arabs Could Win Wars

     Arabs are not very good at winning wars. That article is rather old by this point, but it nevertheless stands that many Arab states have a major problem which kills their effectiveness: culture. Senior officers neither trust nor empower their junior officers, who neither trust nor empower the enlisted men to complete missions. For their part, the enlisted men do not trust the officers to watch out for them. Each group hates the other, and both are more concerned with preserving their own safety than the mission. The Arab states cannot simply buy their way out of this problem.

     The solution to this problem is to remake the culture of the military in the Arab states. If there is any degree of class system present in the state, the government should establish the military as an elite, selective class.
  1. Improve the material conditions of the military. The enlisted men should be fed well, paid on time and not treated like incompetent cannon fodder (this will take longer to achieve than the first two.
  2. Develop a culture and traditions within the military separate from the rest of society.
  3. Launch an advertisement campaign to romanticize life in the military and increase volunteer rates.
  4. If possible, be selective when accepting recruits. The military should be both desirable and exclusive.
  5. The military should develop the belief within itself that it is an elite class in society.

     If the citizenry views the entire military as an elite class, it is possible that the officers would view the enlisted men less as peasants or cannon fodder and more as soldiers to be trusted. If the military was a better long term profession for enlisted men, we should see more soldiers stay in past the initial enlistment or conscription period, which would help to establish an NCO corps. Of course, the Arab states would need to take more steps to empower junior officers and NCO’s which might not be initially solved by such a cultural shift.


     Presently, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Eremites are attempting to build a better civil society. That is an incredible task and it could also indirectly improve military performance. However, there is a strong chance that they will not succeed; a more focused approach would be better. This suggestion would not be easy; however, it is the best solution to a problem that cannot be solved with money alone.

1 comment:

Dave Patton said...

The wealthier Arab states have had a problem getting their citizens to perform tough jobs. They have traditionally imported labor to do jobs that require manual labor, including manning their militaries. Add to that the inherent distrust that Sunni governments have for their Shia minorities and you have eliminated another sector of the population from military service. Saudi Arabia was quite embarrassed at the minimal contribution it was able to make to the coalition defending its territory after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The US has been selling them equipment and training their troops for years. Unless things have changed recently, they would still rather pay someone else to do their dirty work. The less-prosperous countries like Egypt, Syria, and Turkey have had strong militaries but they were often viewed as tools of the autocratic governments they served; more focused on maintaining power than defending their countries.