Dogs and Cat’s living together: Irregular forces and National Armies
Seeing the shellacing Iraq took in OIF, the bloody fight during the occupation and the current situation in Afghanistan, North Korea has began coping their methods:
North Korea Mimics Al Qaeda
North Korea’s army is big, but antiquated, only marginally mobile and it presents a massive target to allied airpower.
Pyongyang knows that and is shifting some of its troops, tactics and technology to benefit from lessons learned during the U.S. fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The 80,000-man special operations force has been recently schooled in the employment of enhanced, improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Their use was refined in Middle East fighting and the combination of SOF and IEDs is considered one of the top threats to the government in Seoul.
Russia used irregular forces in it’s war with Georgia.
Now a 1,000-page report commissioned by the European Union lays the blame on Georgia for the artillery attack that touched off the war. But it doesn’t let Russia off the hook either: The Russians, the report states, turned a blind eye to atrocities by South Ossetian irregulars, and deliberately stoked tensions in the run-up to war.
Russian troops pushed well outside the boundaries of the disputed enclave of South Ossetia; opened a second front in Abkhazia; and were followed by militias who conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Georgians in South Ossetia.
What does this mean? It means that forces dedicated to ‘irregular’ warfare could get eaten alive when the enemy suddenly morphs into a regular fighting force . When Chinese forces entered the Korean War, the US Army and Marines were taken aback. Some in the Pentagon even called for the use of atomic weapons. Only bombing and napalm held the line. Even then the ‘war’ ended in an armistice.
When backed by a superpower (North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were backed by the USSR) or the next best thing (Russia’s ‘militias’ in South Osseta) smaller forces are hurt badly. Downsiing the military may not work if terrorists and insurgents can flee to safe areas with AAA and regular forces protecting them. A lighter military may be outgunned.
Light Fighter Planes: From Crop-Dusting to Counterinsurgency?
Moreover, in its haste to show that it is not focused on the next war, the Air Force may be trying to fight the last war. These planes won’t be deployable for use in Iraq or Afghanistan until 2013 at best. The plan thus rests on two huge assumptions: 1) that we’ll still be fighting counterinsurgencies there or elsewhere for which we’ll need 100 more planes, and 2) while we are going back in time militarily, our enemies won’t be going forward. Even within insurgencies, various non-state actors like Hezbollah already field anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles; now we would just be providing them with easier targets.
May have argued for the US Air Force to go back to prop-driver COIN airctaf (COunter Insurgency). These aircraft are slow, traveling at WWII-era speeds. One desigen is in fact a WWII era plane modified with a turbo prop. The above quote comes from the Brookings Institute. They are notorious for being anti-military, but here they give surprise with a vote of confident for the MQ-9 UAV and for conventional forces.
The DOD should prepare for both. The conventional fight should not be sacrificed for today’s wars.