Advanced technology is not enough to eliminate the Middle Ages.
The war against the "Islamic Caliphate" is not just a fight against terrorism. This is a war that must be waged seriously and with full effort.
The wars in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Yemen provide great food for thought about the trends in the development of the art of war. It is quite natural that a lot has been written about this. The term “hybrid war” has become a common place, which is particularly often applied to the conflict in Ukraine. The propagandists of both sides have already repeated the phrase like “the West (Russia) is waging a hybrid war against Russia (the West)” thousands of times.
Previously, for nearly two decades, the term “combating international terrorism” was the same commonplace. At the same time, they didn’t manage to decide even what he was, and absolutely everyone began to push it to fight him. Even the teachings of strategic nuclear forces for some time considered anti-terrorism. Apparently, it was precisely in connection with bringing this term to an absurdity and the loss of any meaning that a new one was needed. No less absurd and useless.
War of words
Like international terrorism, hybrid warfare does not even have a strict definition. Most often, this implies a certain combination of classic war, rebellion, information (including cybernetic) struggle, economic confrontation and diplomacy. It is also customary to include war without declaring war. At the same time, it is completely incomprehensible what is new here and why did you need to invent a sonorous, but meaningless term?
What is new, for example, in a combination of classic war with a mint-green, in support of its partisans and foreign separatists? Was it not a combination of the war against Napoleon, in which the Russian army used partisan army units and supported the peasant forces, while the British supported the Spanish insurgents? Extremely widely, all parties used a combination of classic war with a reptile war during World War II. Even the USSR and Japan, although they did not formally fight among themselves, sent sabotage groups to each other and quite openly cultivated partisans-separatists (the Japanese were from Russian immigrants, the USSR were from Chinese and Koreans). After World War II, such things generally became the norm, as well as war without its declaration. After the Korean War, it seems no one officially declared war on anyone, although there were hundreds of armed conflicts. For example, the USA dropped more bombs on North Vietnam than on Germany in 1942 – 1945, but did not declare war on it. If you go back to the XIX century, you can remember that at the same time as the Patriotic 1812, Russia fought a war with Persia (1804 – 1813). Against Napoleon, Russia and Great Britain were allies, while, however, London openly supported Persia. During the many years of the Caucasian war, Great Britain, Persia, and also Turkey very actively helped the mountaineers, even without breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia. If you go around the world stories without chronological and geographical restrictions, such examples can be given many hundreds.
What is new in the information and psychological war? As long as there is a traditional war, there is so much an informational and psychological component in it. It is obvious. In the last century and a half, four qualitative leaps have occurred in this area with the advent of mass print media, then radio, later television and, finally, the Internet along with various mobile devices. Combined with social transformations and globalization, this has created tremendous new opportunities, allowing one to fight not only without declaring war, but without shooting at all. After all, in the same period military equipment went through a lot of qualitative leaps and technological revolutions, only from this war has not ceased to be so.
And it is completely absurd to see the newness in the use of economic and diplomatic methods. Wasn't Napoleon's "continental blockade of England" an economic war? Or the German submarine war against the Anglo-Saxons during both world? A mutual abandonment of each other with counterfeit money during the Second World War (the British and Germans were particularly active in this)? There are examples in world history not even hundreds, but thousands. Diplomacy is simply by definition an integral part of the war, for it "is the continuation of politics by other, violent means."
This raises the question: why did such a meaningless term arise? Most likely, as it was shown at the beginning of the article, it initially became a substitute for the very worn-out "fight against international terrorism" in relation to the wars waged by the United States and its allies in the Middle East. Its use to describe the Ukrainian conflict was the result of the shock that the West experienced from the actions of Russia, which it had long written off from accounts not only as a global, but even as a regional force. To explain its lack of readiness and inability to respond to these actions, a theory was urgently invented that Russia showed something fundamentally new and previously unseen in the art of war. Domestic propagandists gladly picked up the term and "returned" to the creators.
In fact, what is happening today is very reminiscent of the triumph of the classic war, which seems to have been completely canceled.
In a high-tech and network-centric warfare, there is "nothing bad but good." And to deny this is to become like Ilf-Peter's grandmother, who did not believe in electricity. Guaranteed to hit the target from the first shot - the dream of the military from the moment the concept of shooting appeared. If the development of technology makes it possible to create high-precision ammunition, they will certainly appear. If there is a means to achieve maximum situational awareness, as well as integrate your own aircraft into a single network, this will also be done. All this gives the army completely new opportunities, there is simply nothing to argue about. Just do not absolutize and bring to the point of absurdity. After all, we have already managed to observe the evolution of this concept from the triumph of the first Iraq war through “mass crushing” in Yugoslavia and “massacre of babies” in the classical phase of the second Iraq war to the infamous farce in Libya. If in the first Iraq war the proportion of high-precision munitions used by the coalition was insignificant, there was no talk of any network-centricity, but an extremely strong enemy was defeated, then in Libya only high-precision munitions were used 20 years later, the opponent was extremely weak but NATO aviation did not achieve anything at all (Gaddafi was overthrown by bribing allied tribal leaders and the actions of Western PMCs).
It is already quite obvious that quality does not cancel and does not replace quantity, and the means of destruction should not be more expensive than the target destroyed by it. Actually, these factors are directly related. In a network-centric concept, information networks combine platforms, that is, traditional military equipment (Tanks, airplanes, ships, etc.). The network dramatically improves the efficiency of platforms, but this does not make it more important than them. It is the platforms that are still primary. Moreover, they are the carriers of those very high-precision munitions. Moreover, even with one hundred percent accuracy of the hit (which is almost impossible in a combat situation), it is impossible to hit more targets than there are ammunition. That is why the quantity factor has not disappeared.
In addition, both platforms and weapons cost money. If your ammunition costs as much as the enemy platform struck by it, it means that in the economic aspect you suffered the same damage as the enemy. You can, of course, put the question in such a way that by destroying the platform you prevented the damage it could cause to you. But here we are again returning to the question of whether your high-precision ammunition (or money for it) will run out earlier than that of the enemy platform, after which it can cause you any damage. In the course of the aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, the NATO countries suffered almost no losses, while, however, their costs of the operation turned out to be almost the same as the damage they had inflicted on Yugoslavia. However, at that moment almost no one noticed, because with the number of platforms and ammunition, NATO still had no problems, and the total economic potential was almost three orders of magnitude higher. But in Libya, the stalemate of such an option became apparent. Since the United States almost completely eliminated the campaign, for Europe the war became a complete disgrace. Fighting without any opposition from the enemy’s air defenses, the European Air Force’s NATO countries spent almost all of their very expensive ammunition in five months, burned a huge amount of kerosene, which was very expensive at that time, and could not ensure their victory on the ground by their Libyan allies. They could not even knock out all the equipment available to the forces of Gaddafi, although it was scrap metal, produced at best in the 80-e, besides ugly exploited. I had to buy the leaders and use PMCs.
Thus, high-tech and network-centric, if brought to an absurdity, do not guarantee victory even over a weak and archaic adversary. If the European-type army, that is, high-tech, but with a limited arsenal and panicked for losses, will encounter an opponent with a large number of platforms (albeit not entirely new) and well-trained highly motivated personnel, its defeat is virtually guaranteed. High tech doesn't help. That is why the circle of opponents, against whom the Europeans are ready to fight, is reduced to almost zero. Those now remain only in tropical Africa.
Americans, not only with quality, but also with the amount of equipment and with the motivation of personnel, are much better than the Europeans. Nevertheless, they have already begun to guess that high technology and network-centricity, on the one hand, have no alternatives, and on the other, they are not a panacea. For example, because the whole network-centricity and a very significant part of the accuracy can be lost at the same time if the enemy effectively applies the EW tools. And this may be the strongest shock for the US military, who are psychologically unable to fight without absolute technological superiority over the enemy and simply this is no longer trained. If, moreover, the enemy puts up many platforms, albeit somewhat inferior in quality to the American ones, he may well count on success. And if the army, which is also a high-tech and network-centric, will be in front of the US Armed Forces, it will be a classic war at a new level. In which the decisive factors will be the number of vehicles, the level of combat and moral and psychological training of personnel.
As you know, no weapon, including nuclear, no technology has become someone's monopoly for any long time. Therefore, the term "high-tech war" in its current understanding in the foreseeable future will lose its meaning. After all, for example, the Second World War was extremely high-tech compared to the First. Today, there is only a transition of the classical war to the next technological level. There will be at least one more such - when the mass robotization of the aircraft occurs. He may be the last, but that's another topic.
He is going through a no less interesting transformation.
By itself, the fact of domination in the last half century of rebelliousness over the ordinary cannot cause doubts: in almost all current wars, at least one participant is a non-state actor. It fits perfectly into the modern trend of total denationalization of all that is possible and impossible. That is why PMCs are so popular, crowding out the regular state aircraft. In addition, it is well known that for the regular army it is much more difficult to fight against partisans than against another army, which additionally stimulates non-state actors to fight against state ones.
However, recently a very interesting trend is beginning to be observed here - non-state actors more often act as regular armies, that is, they are leading not a partisan, but a classic war, destroying the very meaning of the notion of "lean-green".
So, in 2011, in Libya, both sides acted in exactly the same way, using purely classical methods. The fact that the Toyota SUVs were used in battles more widely than armored vehicles was due only to its lack due to extreme wear and tear. In Syria, the rebels of all stripes, capturing many techniques of the Syrian army, also very quickly moved from the guerrilla to the classical methods. Not the slightest partisan was and is not in Ukraine, the civil war there on 100 percent is of a classic nature. The same is true of the Yemeni Khousits - they have a full range of ground equipment, which they use in battles against government forces and the "Arabian coalition." In all cases, problems with the rebels only with aviation. It remains the monopoly of government forces in Ukraine and Syria, in Yemen it is replaced by the “coalition” BBC. However, the Housits have a substitute for aviation - tactical missiles P-17 (Scud) and Point, which are used very effectively. In Libya, the rebels had aviation (not their own, but NATO's).
The phenomenon of the “Islamic Caliphate” turned out to be a kind of apotheosis of the transition to a classic form of mild-green. His predecessor, Al-Qaeda, became the personification of the very concept of restlessness and, in fact, a synonym for international terrorism. This is a network structure, which everywhere and nowhere, has no controlled territory and does not even try to create at least some semblance of state institutions. Such a device organization seemed the key to its success. Nevertheless, over a decade and a half, those countries that were the main goals of Islamic terrorism - the United States, Russia, and Israel succeeded (first of all with purely force methods) either to completely suppress or minimize and marginalize terrorism in their territories. Al-Qaida still operates in Syria (represented by Dzhebhat en Nusra), Nigeria, Yemen, and Algeria. However, the crisis of the structure was obvious, the emergence of the “caliphate” was its most vivid manifestation.
The Islamic Caliphate turned out to be the exact opposite of al-Qaida. It is a state with a territory and all the institutions it requires, the construction of which receives a lot of attention. Yes, this state is openly criminal and completely totalitarian, but nonetheless. Nazi Germany was the same, but no one doubts that it is a highly valuable state. Interestingly, the “branch” of the “caliphate”, which arose in Libya covered by chaos, builds itself as a state on the territory it controls. Apparently, the same will happen in Afghanistan if the “caliphate” displaces the Taliban who are inclined towards the traditional partisan movement.
One of the state institutions of the "caliphate" is the army. Having seized a lot of equipment in Syria (not only among government troops, but also among various opposition groups, especially the “moderate pro-Western”) and even more in Iraq, whose military forces have already broken up, the “caliphate” has created full-fledged ground forces equipped with a large number of armored vehicles and artillery. Only with aviation he has problems. Nevertheless, he wages a classic war, not a partisan or a terrorist war. Terrorist attacks with the help of suicide bombers are sometimes used, but they are only some specific substitute for special forces (this also applies to what happened in Paris), and by no means the main, and certainly not the only way to conduct combat operations. The war against the "Islamic Caliphate" is no longer a fight against terrorism. This is a classic war. It must be led seriously and with full effort. Only almost no one wants to admit it. In the West, there is no one who wants to fight seriously and with full effort.
High-precision idle shooting
- Alexander Khramchikhin