Re[2]: Cannon Fodder

Sun, 19 Jan 2003 11:55:13 -0800

To use a non-US example from 20 years ago.

It is normally considered prudent to have a 3-1 advantage in an attack.

The British in the Falklands attacked in the teeth of a 1-3 disadvantage
in numbers of troops.  That should have been suicidal, and would have
been if the troops were the same quality.

At the time I had a copy of Dunnigan's "How to Make War" which included
his 'modifiers' for combat effectiveness.

I forget if those modifiers predicted a British soldier was worth 27
Argentineans or 81.  But the bottom line was that by his calculations it
should be a walkover, and it was.

The situation between the US and Iraq is a _lot_ worse from Iraq's
standpoint.  And even then such 'multipliers' don't tell the full story.
They guy with lots of poor troops has to feed all of them, the guy with
fewer high-tech troops has a simpler logistic problem.

And above all, the high-tech troops know they can count on kicking ass.
The low-tech troops know they will be the ones getting kicked.  This
makes it highly desirable on the part of the low tech troops to
surrender early and often (where the other guys have a rep of not
shooting those who surrender).

Low tech troops have to focus on human wave attacks, hugging the belt,
or using the high-tech troops own moral restrictions against them.

The US has seen the first two up close and personal.  Though you can
generate problems for them by doing that in a particular battle I doubt
anyone would succeed in doing it systematically again.

As for the latter, I think people would find out that when pushed to the
wall America would open up the whole can of whup ass when they needed
too and apologize later.  The strategic reasons that prevent Israel from
doing that don't apply to America.

[For a specific example, I'd be quite upset if an American commander
sent his soldiers into the situation Israel faced in Jenin.  I'd have
expected the Americans to warn the people there and then level the

> From: [] On Behalf Of
> Rogers
> The way it usually works is that elite forces are used for assault and
> the standard combat troops are used to hold positions already taken by
> the assault troops.  Since assault is far more dangerous than defense,
> we typically only use our most highly trained troops for this mission.
> Although the aggressor is supposed to be at a substantial
> the elite units of the US military take very few casualties during an
> assault.