Monday, September 05, 2005

Biddle's Chapter on Operation Desert Storm

Biddle's use of Operation Desert Storm to support his new theory (as he repeatedly likes to call it) may work on the surface, but it still seems that technology is what made the difference.

Biddle says that Iraqi incompetence in force employment magnified the effects of technology in the war ("The New Theory" pp. 146-147). For instance, he says that the Iraqis left their forces exposed "to the full, proving-ground lethality of U.S. weapons." To me, his argument is tautological in nature. It implies that U.S. technology made it possible to inflict damage on the Iraqi forces in the locations of those Iraqi forces; conversely, if the U.S. didn't have the technology to attack those positions, the ineptitude of the Iraqis in their force employment wouldn't matter. That supports the importance of technology more so than force employment. In other words, it doesn't matter if the Iraqis were out in the open or hidden in a bunker, without the technology to attack either of those positions, the location is irrelevant.

Also, it seems to me that the technological gap between the U.S. and Iraq is so great that other factors just don't matter. For instance, an Egyptian (think Rameses, not Anwar Sadat) army with chariots held a huge advantage over smaller civilizations who did not have chariots. But, even with chariots, the Egyptians were not immune to a spear hurled by an adept foe, ergo the Egyptians probably still suffered quite a few casualties. Now fast forward to Desert Storm. When the Iraqis are using artillery and armor that cannot even penetrate U.S. tanks or IFVs and technology that cannot detect B-2s or other advanced "toys," the Iraqis will practically have no chance (1116 casualties out of 795,000 Coalition troops = 0.14%) regardless of their force employment, tactics, skill, or motivation.

No comments: