April 04, 2003

General Franks

UPI notices something I pointed out over a week ago: the US has perfected the blitzkrieg.

They go on to say, talking about the upcoming battle to control Baghdad:

The U.S. commanders know what the cities of Leningrad and Stalingrad did to the blitzkrieg experts of 1940. To avoid that fate, and demonstrate the flexibility in the face of new challenges that really tests an army's mettle, the victors of Blitzkrieg 2003 have to learn some asymmetric tactics of their own.

There are two kinds of generalship needed in an army, political and battlefield. Eisenhower was a political general, who was able to bring together the staff and generate the plans and arrange the political conditions with allies and do all of the other things to set the conditions for victory. Patton, in contrast, was a battlefield general, capable of executing his commander's intent brilliantly to bring about victory even when the conditions weren't quite set correctly. Political generals wage campaigns, and battlefield generals fight them out on the ground. General Franks is the political general for the war on terror.

General Franks has planned two brilliant campaigns now in the last three years. Afghanistan was a guerilla war by special forces and proxies, with limited conventional army support and extensive air support, to bring down an entrenched government in forbidding mountainous terrain, and it succeeded quickly and at low cost. Iraq is a conventional stand-up fight, with elements of guerilla combat in the rear areas (this time with the enemy acting as guerilla), and will come to be seen as one of the most brilliant armor campaigns ever conceived. In other words, General Franks has fought and won two very different campaigns in very different circumstances in three years, both done brilliantly with great speed and low cost, and both with the end of toppling hostile regimes.

General Franks will be remembered along with Grant, Eisenhower and Creighton Abrams as among the most successful theater commanders America has ever produced. His most important accomplishment, in my opinion, has been to show our enemies that there is no safe terrain, no safe situation, in which the US military cannot fight and win quickly and at low cost. The one thing he has not yet shown is that we can do this in large-scale urban combat. I have a feeling, though, given his record, that he is about to teach our enemies quite an interesting lesson about urban combat.

Posted by Jeff at April 4, 2003 08:50 AM | Link Cosmos
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