Primitivization of War and Prospects for Peace

…Because the Barbarians arrive today…

What laws now should the Senators be making?

When the Barbarians come they’ll make the laws.[1]

The barbarians have come and the rules of war and peace stand transformed. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ralph Peters once stated a historical fact rather tersely: “Technologies come and go, but the primitive endures.”[2] Well, the primitive has endured and reared its head again. The rise and rise of intrastate, irregular, and asymmetric warfare has primitivized the war and this is, to use Thomas Kuhn’s term, no “anomaly.”[3] It is instead a paradigm shift that has the potential to have seminal, largely unintended, and hugely positive consequences for world peace. Wise people like General Rupert Smith have actually called it exactly that: a paradigm shift in conduct of war.[4] Unless stymied by the powerful military industrial complexes and parasitic security establishments, the simplification of war has the potential to change into a sprouting of peace.

It may be worthwhile to sit up and take note of the causes of this potentially watershed moment in the history of war and peace before highlighting just some of its consequences.

Globalized economy, a seemingly irreversible march of democracy, and the shadowy nature of our shared enemy have together brought about a seminal change in warfare. While states have increasingly shied away from marching on other states, technology has taken the back seat as the footsloggers duel with the insurgents and the terrorists for not just chunks of real estate but also the hearts and minds of the populace in objective zones. Unless the mighty hands of gods roll back the chessboard of global economy, impose a global tyranny, and make all bad people plotting to kill innocent men and women suddenly disappear, this change is here to stay. From Turkey to Afghanistan and from Pakistan’s northwest to Thailand’s southeast, nation states have their multi-million dollar bombers and hi-tech tanks parked idle as their foot soldiers battle the enemy that resides within the borders and fights both the state as well as the society.

The debate between those who believe in a “bright” future for state-on-state warfare (for example, Colin Gray)[5] and those (for examples, Martin Creveld,[6] Robert Kaplan,[7]) who argue that factors like nuclear weapons and economic interdependence on global scale have all but ended possibilities for any large-scale state-on-state warfare, is at best ongoing. However, most of the recent wars have been intra-state or ones that involved coalitions of states fighting non-state actors. Since 1991, world has seen few state-on-state wars. According to SIPRI Year Book 2012, during the first decade of 21st century the world has witnessed 69 armed clashes and 221 non-state conflicts.[8] Even the most spectacular showcase of conventional military hardware of the last century, Gulf War-I, also does not qualify as an inter-state conflict because it was actually fought by a large international coalition against a regime that had, for a long time, waged war on its own people and had lost all credibility. The same can be said about NATO’s campaign against Milosevic’s Serbia, or against Qaddafi’s Lybia.

Empirical evidence also suggests that the states that employ high-tech means and militaries to fight the non-state actors seldom win decisively. Over the last couple of centuries, insurgents’ “rage against machines” has invariably prevailed.[9] Thus, trillions of dollars sunk into building state-of-the-art, often novel, weapon systems have increasingly become painfully irrelevant to modern, “fourth generation”[10] of warfare.

While the world will continue to be home to self-serving nation states with unequal military and economic powers, conflict in the military realm will, for the foreseeable future, ultimately and invariably be decided between the foot soldiers. Expensive space, sea, and air borne assets are condemned to the margins for next several years, possibly decades. As the recent counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved, the technologically superior state militaries will be obliged to climb the mountains, snake the streets, and jump the walls in order to fight the guerillas like the guerillas. While all the impressive air and ground based, hi-tech war-fighting means may help shape the battlefield, the footsloggers will ultimately decide the outcome of the conflict. The political and population-centric nature of the current and future wars will also oblige nation states to maintain militaries that value men more that machines to hold the ground and carefully reap the dividends of politico-economic investments.    

This paradigm shift in warfare is bound to have consequences for the larger phenomenon of war as a tool of policy. Well into the foreseeable future, war will continue to become longer but cheaper and manageable for states as it becomes harder for the military planners. Longer, mainly infantry-fought, primitivized wars that can’t be quickly and decisively won through sheer force of armament and which invariably need massive political and economic compliments will strengthen the role and dominance of policymakers and dilute the control of Generals. That means the world will see less and less of the run-away Generals marked for their disdain for the political oversight of the war effort. Similarly, the primitivization of war is also likely to enable political leaders to radically bring down investments in procurement and maintenance expenditures and focus more on people- and employment-friendly futuristic research and development.     

Given the fact that war is a permanent reality of human existence, pacifists across the globe have enough reasons to celebrate the down-grading of war from an all-consuming national effort with millions of deaths to a sub-state undertaking that has increasingly cost less in human lives and that progressively demands a nice mix of military, economic, informational, and political means instead of blind force of deadly arms. Increased complexity and longevity of war is bound also to make it ultimately less and less attractive as a tool of statecraft. However, even in its present form, it will be increasingly fought by ground forces, with infantry-men in the van and through intelligence and surgical, targeted operations that will be limited in temporal and spatial dimensions. US-NATO’s war effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s counter-terror campaign in its tribal belt are the current exemplars of this type of war. 

This transformative trend should lead to several encouraging possibilities for peace:          

  • Electorates across the world are entitled now to demand a cut in the defense budgets and greater investments in human security - food, shelter, fighting pandemics etcetera. Nation states may still be able to maintain their competitive edge in military technologies through progressive and futuristic R&D and without engaging in irresponsible shopping sprees for hi-tech aerial and naval platforms. As the now-former rulers of Egypt and Lybia have found out – and some more across the Arabian Peninsula may soon discover – their modern day rivals will not be impressed or defeated by multi-billion dollar fighter jets and tanks. Even the relatively mightier nations have found their machines irrelevant to wars in Turkish Kurd regions, Afghanistan, and Palestinian territories. It may therefore be time for the taxpayers to ask their governments: why invest in such systems?
  • The long, hard, politically oriented 4GW may also resurrect Clausewitz and so arrange his trinity[11] that governments, guided by what the Master called “reason”, are actually placed on the top corner of the trinity. Policy may thus be able to regain total control of war. In a democratic world, ascendency of policy and its control over war can have only positive consequences for peace. This, for one thing, will ensure that the strong arm of the nation does not run amuck and nullify the gains of the policy.
  • It may also be time to de-glorify war as there is no real glory left in the complex, nerve-testing, hard-slog that modern war has become. Fortunately for world peace, humanity is not likely to see any glorious cavalry charges, awe-inspiring tank formations, or earth shattering strategic bombings any time soon. It may be time to worship heroes that do not deal in blood and steal, but instead are simple, boring, humanity-loving people.
  • The primitivization of war is also an opportunity to firewall warfare from the limitless imaginative power of the human mind and divert our collective energies to perpetuation of peace. If we fail now, the dogs of war will tear the world with ferocity that humanity has never seen before. This is not hyperbole. Since times immemorial, the demons of war have used periods of relative peace to recover their destructive power and strike back with unprecedented force.
  • This may also be time for security establishments to invest in the weapons that hurt the insurgents most: the foot soldiers. A progress in that direction will end up humanizing the warfare by, inter alia, minimizing the terrible cost in terms of collateral damage.

Summing up, seldom before has a step backward actually thrown up a range of opportunities to move forward. Primitivization of war may just prove a giant leap forward for mankind.


[1] From a poem entitled Waiting for the Barbarians by Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. (Translated into English by John Mavrogordato and reproduced in Readings in World Literature (HRW Library))

[2] Ralph Peters, “Our New Old Enemies”, Parameters, Summer 1999.

[3] Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, (University of Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 52-60.

[4] Smith, Gen Sir Rupert,  The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, (Allan Lane, 2005), pp. 1-20. .

[5] Gray, Colin S., Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare, (London: Phoenix, 2006)

[6] Creveld, Martin Van, The Rise and Decline of the State, (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

[7] Kaplan, Robert D., The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War (Random House, 2000).

[8] Highlights of SIPRI data on the changing trends in conflict are available at http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2012

[9] Lyall, Jason and Isaiah Wilson, III, “Rage Against the Machines: Explaining Outcomes in Counterinsurgency Wars,” June 17, 2008. Available online at http://www.humansecuritygateway.com/documents/LYALL_RageAgainstTheMachines.pdf

[10] U.S. Marine Col T.X. Hammes has written a great book on the idea (The Sling and The Stone: On War in the 21st Century, Zenith Press: 2004) propounded originally by William S. Lind in his 1989 article for Marine Corps Gazette, entitled "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation”.

[11] The Prussian Master identified State, Society, and the Military as part of a trinity that conducts policy and its extension called war.

 

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Comments

Strangely I was just having this conversation with a fellow pol-mil officer this morning.

The real issue is that the defense department in general has not truly come to terms with what the re-emergence of non-state conflict means. I doubt a British military officer from the 1890s would have missed much in this discussion.

The Cold War really put a crimp on outside actors doing whatever they want. In particular, this happened because the worst of the bunch were managed by the Soviets and they were brutal with people who broke with the central government's plan.

The current band of "the worst of the worst" will never show restraint or abide by the normal rules of warfare (i.e. not attacking an enemy embassy). Only through fear and ramifications beyond what they are willing to accept will their behavior be mitigated. This leads to the next issue.

When discussing the use of harsh measures against enemy combatants academia likes to discuss how this alienates host populations, often results in the the wrong people being punished, etc. This is a false arguement.

The key is restraint in use.

You essentially have two tiers of activity. The first basically follows our current operating rules for warfare and applies to 99+% of the combatants our there and would include groups like the Taliban. Human treatment of prisoners, access to medical care courts, rehabilitation, etc.

Then comes how you treat the other 1%. This is total war. Targeted killings, kidnapping and re-education of family members, destruction of their cultural base, no formal burial, etc. Attackiong their cultutral base in particular is important. It removes the underpinings for their existance. Everything comes into play. Essentially you are sending the following message, "if you want to fight us within boundaries then you can expect the following treatment, but if you go outside of this you have no assurances." This also sends a very clear message to the general population that you problem is not with them. It also gives the general population a good platform on which to resist the extremists.

In the first case you a fighting a group of people. In the second you are destroying a culture that causes this kind of problem to arise. Without eventually confronting barbarism, I don't think you can prevent its employment.

I found myself agreeing with much of what the (former?) Major said (more IW and infantry-emphasis, like it or not) while simultaneously finding that he missed the boat by implying that boots-on-the-ground and technology are mutually exclusive. Read some of his past articles in SWJ and you find a Pakistani officer, past and maybe current, who has mastered flowery English language. However, he seems to believe that the more primitive Pakistani way of war must be practiced by other nations with greater resources and technological ingenuity.

“Technologies come and go, but the primitive endures.” Well, the primitive has endured and reared its head again…..Unless stymied by the powerful military industrial complexes and parasitic security establishments, the simplification of war has the potential to change into a sprouting of peace.

The MIC was nearly abandoned during the seventies, yet that didn’t prevent the 1973 Egyptian attack in the Sinai, the Ayatollahs revolution in Iran, or the Iran-Iraq war. The Israelis learned that the OODA loop meant little to an SA-6 radar missile. Despite the peril of ATGM, only tanks were the ultimate savior of the IDF in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Iran learned that human-wave infantry attacks are no smarter than horse cavalry against machine guns and tanks.

Were it not for Reagan’s embrace of some MIC aspects in the 80s, the Cold War never would have been won and Desert Storm would not have occurred with so little loss of allied life. The MIC was largely abandoned during the Clinton procurement holiday years. Despite obvious attempts to safeguard Muslims in the Balkans, the U.S. was repaid with 9/11. The resulting necessary build-up in ground arms during this century’s first decade has added trillions to our deficit because we did not spread out those costs over the prior lost decade.

While states have increasingly shied away from marching on other states, technology has taken the back seat as the footsloggers duel with the insurgents and the terrorists for not just chunks of real estate but also the hearts and minds of the populace in objective zones….From Turkey to Afghanistan and from Pakistan’s northwest to Thailand’s southeast, nation states have their multi-million dollar bombers and hi-tech tanks parked idle as their foot soldiers battle the enemy that resides within the borders and fights both the state as well as the society.

I would guess that should LeT continues to practice major terror attacks such as Mumbai, that Pakistan might learn whether India will shy away from marching on, or least bombing other states. How well will your Infantry fair then, particularly if you employ nuclear weapons in a tactical manner against Indian tanks and airfields as was implied in a recent ForeignPolicy.com article?

factors like nuclear weapons and economic interdependence on global scale have all but ended possibilities for any large-scale state-on-state warfare. However, most of the recent wars have been intra-state or ones that involved coalitions of states fighting non-state actors. Since 1991, world has seen few state-on-state wars…..(221 non-state conflicts)….Desert Storm, NATO’s campaign against Milosevic’s Serbia, or against Qaddafi’s Libya.

Again, nukes don’t seem to have stopped conflict between India and Pakistan. Nor can I find credibility in the need for strategic depth in allowing good Taliban attacks on Afghanistan. Do agree that in the case of the US and China and Europe and Russia, that economic interdependency and nuclear weapons largely deter war.

Empirical evidence also suggests that the states that employ high-tech means and militaries to fight the non-state actors seldom win decisively. Over the last couple of centuries, insurgents’ “rage against machines” has invariably prevailed. Thus, trillions of dollars sunk into building state-of-the-art, often novel, weapon systems have increasingly become painfully irrelevant to modern, “fourth generation” of warfare.

conflict in the military realm will, for the foreseeable future, ultimately and invariably be decided between the foot soldiers. Expensive space, sea, and air borne assets are condemned to the margins for next several years, possibly decades. As the recent counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved, the technologically superior state militaries will be obliged to climb the mountains, snake the streets, and jump the walls in order to fight the guerillas like the guerillas.

While most Army types would agree to some extent, try telling that to the AirSea Battle proponents or even Marines where the air-ground task force is inherent in the force structure. Unfortunately, friendly infantry won’t always just face other infantry and insurgents, but if they should, technology like body armor and M-ATV/JLTV proves a lifesaver. Without counterbattery fire facilitated by other precision artillery and radars, and other systems to shoot down inbound rounds, infantry is often a victim of the historically largest killer on the battlefield. Infantry may encounter tanks, which makes technology such as Javelin missiles and Army attack helicopters essential. Infantry like to fight, scout, and move at night, which means that technologies like night vision goggles, thermal imagers, and FLIRs come in handy.

Infantry often must move faster than foot-speed which requires technologies like armored personnel carriers. When infantry try to communicate, radios generally work better than two cans and a string. Infantry can be attacked by massed infantry or enemy manned and unmanned aircraft and long range missiles which forces friendly forces to rely on air defenses and other joint fighter aircraft, intelligence systems, and UAS. No need to climb that mountain if an assault helicopter can drop you off on the ridgeline. Why trudge along with excessive supplies if an airdrop or K-MAX/CH-47F sling load can bring it.

While all the impressive air and ground based, hi-tech war-fighting means may help shape the battlefield, the footsloggers will ultimately decide the outcome of the conflict. The political and population-centric nature of the current and future wars will also oblige nation states to maintain militaries that value men more that machines to hold the ground and carefully reap the dividends of politico-economic investments.

Luddites often make it a contest between man and machine rather than the reality of man/woman assisted by mastery of better machines and equipment. In contrast, much of the failure of some COIN is directly attributable to human frailty. Asking junior Soldiers and Marines to confer with village elders and tribal sheiks implies that they are equals in experience and wisdom. Is some of the advantage of special warfare forces their greater maturity? Is excessive testosterone consistent with improved local dialogue and deal-making…or are expletives, hot-headedness, and impatience likely to result when some young U.S. ground leaders are thrust into situations requiring greater diplomacy.

It isn’t the young leaders fault, either. He is becoming a master of combat systems under an experienced platoon sergeant’s tutelage. That is a far cry from either being trained as a diplomat. Should we be talking less with local leaders and flying in true diplomats, senior leaders, and civil affairs troops for that purpose? Can you operate platoon COPs in and around a village or city without trying to be a diplomat other than handing out candy, other goodies, and supervising some minimum essential stability tasks? Hezbollah seemed to prove that COIN can work. They plan on sticking around and not announcing a withdrawal date. However, can it ever work for U.S. troops who are religiously and culturally too dissimilar? Should the GPF ground force stick instead to the clear and wide area security hold aspects, training/mentoring host nation forces, while securing SOF attempting the build?

Well into the foreseeable future, war will continue to become longer but cheaper and manageable for states as it becomes harder for the military planners. Longer, mainly infantry-fought, primitivized wars that can’t be quickly and decisively won through sheer force of armament and which invariably need massive political and economic compliments will strengthen the role and dominance of policymakers and dilute the control of Generals……Similarly, the primitivization of war is also likely to enable political leaders to radically bring down investments in procurement and maintenance expenditures and focus more on people- and employment-friendly futuristic research and development.

“Longer but cheaper and manageable wars?” There is an oxymoron if there ever was one. How are fewer BCTs managed effectively to serve multiple 7-9 month tours when BCT numbers are always brought down excessively between wars. How can that smaller initial ground force mass to conquer and stabilize, yet still have sufficient troops for the next several years of troop rotations? If it takes years to make a host nation army, why would we believe a new recruit or rusty junior reservist infantryman can be brought up to standard in time to ease the active rotation roster? If we mass active ground forces sooner, and keep them around for well-planned stability operations, perhaps the longer, costly war is not inevitable.

Bring down investments in procurement and maintenance? Maintenance underfunding lead to increased Navy procurement frequency as they must park ships prematurely. If we shuffle off ground equipment to the reserve component where part time troops are not using it as often, seals and other parts are not being adequately lubricated. On the other hand, Air Force reservists often have full time civilian technicians able to maintain aircraft as well or better than active USAF airmen.

celebrate the down-grading of war from an all-consuming national effort with millions of deaths to a sub-state undertaking that has increasingly cost less in human lives and that progressively demands a nice mix of military, economic, informational, and political means instead of blind force of deadly arms.

Unfortunately, we tried to mind our own business over many decades. We did not start WWI, WWII, or the Korean War. The Cold War was a victory without ever killing millions using the “blind force of deadly arms” against Soviets or Chinese residing in their true borders. We will avoid Vietnam for the moment, other than it led to a decade of neglect in our military afterwards, and it was a proxy Cold War effort. In the 80s, we assisted Muslims in a proxy war against Soviets in Afghanistan who really were occupying and disregarding the lives of Muslim people. Desert Storm saved Muslim people in Kuwait. We subsequently claimed a peace dividend, even though as a result we asked too few Soldiers to do far too much in the Balkans…again safeguarding lives of Muslim peoples.

Despite all these attempts to help Muslims, we were repaid with al Qaeda and Hezbollah attacks and 9/11. After rescuing Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, we were repaid with a long deadly insurgency. We prevented Taliban extremism from controlling the lives of non-Pashtuns in Afghanistan, yet Pakistan continues to give sanctuary to the Taliban and other insurgents. We saved Libyan people from Qaddafi and encourage democracy in Egypt, and we are repaid with the attack on our consulate and embassies throughout the Middle East. If this is how your religion treats your friends, then it is no wonder Israel is so paranoid as your enemy.

Electorates across the world are entitled now to demand a cut in the defense budgets and greater investments in human security - food, shelter, fighting pandemics etcetera. Nation states may still be able to maintain their competitive edge in military technologies through progressive and futuristic R&D and without engaging in irresponsible shopping sprees for hi-tech aerial and naval platforms.

“Shopping sprees” expended until now on carriers, subs, air and missile defenses, stealth fighters, and unmanned aircraft have been rather excellent R&D and procurement investments. R&D without procurement leads to the waste witnessed on so many JIEDDO, Army, and EFV systems over the past decade. The MRAP may have been the opposite example of excessive procurement without the more adequate R&D characterized by M-ATV and JLTV. I would agree with you that excessive investments beyond current levels for air and seapower would be inappropriate for the Chinese, Russian, or Iranian threats.

Excessive investment in modernizing nuclear weapons likewise is not money well spent. Neither is nuclear proliferation well spent in Pakistan where greater investments in food, shelter, fighting pandemics, etc. would be far more sorely essential than in the U.S. Pakistan also has home-grown terrorists who would love to get their hands on nuclear weapons and would not necessarily share your government’s aversion to using them.

I suspect Pakistan and other Islamic-dominated countries would greatly benefit through increased investment in women’s rights. How can any nation progress without using half its citizenry to their ultimate potential. Throwing acid on women’s faces, stoning them to death, using gas and poison on their schools, making them wear veils are all examples of how civilized god-loving peoples should not behave. Suicidal behavior of any type in the cause of religion is equally atypical of human security.

As the now-former rulers of Egypt and Libya have found out – and some more across the Arabian Peninsula may soon discover – their modern day rivals will not be impressed or defeated by multi-billion dollar fighter jets and tanks. Even the relatively mightier nations have found their machines irrelevant to wars in Turkish Kurd regions, Afghanistan, and Palestinian territories.

Guess you would need to consult with Hamas to see how irrelevant they found the Israeli machines in Cast Lead. Qaddafi was rather powerless against multi-million dollar jets. Assad learned from Mubarek’s decision not to use tanks in a heavy-handed manner against his own people. Assad has felt no similar aversion, and appears to be hanging on to power just as Hussein did against the Shiites. Despite Israeli losses in Lebanon of about 125 troops, the Hezbollah losses were far greater and they have been largely quiet ever since…particularly after seeing restored Israeli IDF ground capabilities in Cast Lead. You can ask the Taliban how they feel about Apache helicopters, as you may consult your own border forces who made the mistake of firing on our forces, or who thought they could hide Osama bin Laden in a military town.

Fortunately for world peace, humanity is not likely to see any glorious cavalry charges, awe-inspiring tank formations, or earth shattering strategic bombings any time soon. It may be time to worship heroes that do not deal in blood and steal, but instead are simple, boring, humanity-loving people.

Steel (and lighter alloys and composites) prevents spilled blood or sheds the enemy's if that was how you intended to spell it. If you meant “steal,” I find that ironic considering the monies your own and other Islamic governments takes from US taxpayers. The government of Afghanistan and its “humanity-loving people,” also seem to feel no revulsion in stealing money from our well-meaning efforts to improve the plights of “simple” people.

I seem to recall that tanks were employed in smaller numbers to great effect in just the past few years. Likewise, bombers continue to fly 24/7 over Afghanistan and were used optimally to oust the Taliban. They could have thwarted the 1975 NVA Army invasion of the South had Congress allowed it, just as they did the 1972 Easter Offensive. Likewise, they could prevent any conventional march on Kabul after we leave, or in Iraq if Iranians should march elsewhere in response to Israeli attacks.

This may also be time for security establishments to invest in the weapons that hurt the insurgents most: the foot soldiers.

Foot soldiers lack tactical mobility without air assault, airborne, seaborne, and vehicular technology. The new heliborne and fighter technology of the Ia Drang Valley allowed an imperiled battalion to withstand a NVA Division with moderate casualties. Days later while departing the valley on foot to LZ X-Ray, it took only a single enemy company to destroy another company in close proximity.

It is ironic that only foot infantry can move through complex terrain, yet the nature of that terrain often condemns infantry to either ambushing or being ambushed. The 58,000 dead that America experienced in Vietnam illustrates the danger of employing infantry in hazardous searches attempting to destroy an elusive enemy who better knows the surrounding terrain and can blend into villages, jungles, and cities with equal ease and come and go across international borders. Snipers and artillery are the other bane of the infantryman exposed in the open.

With helicopter transport, complex terrain, ambushes, and IEDs are bypassed, and rapid movement is more likely to result in surprise. Inside ground armored vehicles, troops also can move off road and employ speed and engineers to breach and clear obstacles and IEDs/mines, and cross gaps while unexposed to artillery and sniper fire. Unmanned ground vehicles offer the potential to improve further the plight of the infantry foot Soldier by leading patrols, carrying backpacks/supplies, and closing rapidly on distant enemy direct fires without the inherent risk of intervening IEDs, mortars/artillery, RPGs, and fires.

The new ADRP 3-90, Offense and Defense, also points out that Soldiers/Marines only can realistically carry 30% of their body weight. An average 160 lb troop can carry a 48 lb pack, yet often is asked to carry up to the recommended limit of 72 lbs and more. Only robotic and lightweight material technology or larger, stronger troops allow more to be transported without risking long-term injury. Artillery rounds and Hellfire missiles still weigh 100 lbs. Tank rounds still weigh 35 lbs. Troops on litters still weigh 200 lbs. Technology can assist manpower in bearing all these weights and body armor.

Summing up, seldom before has a step backward actually thrown up a range of opportunities to move forward. Primitivization of war may just prove a giant leap forward for mankind.

The technology that made possible Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” employed room-sized computing power roughly comparable to today’s I-Pad. The world potential created by such technology in no way supports returning to a primitive state of society or war. The genie will not return to the bottle. Nations, cultures, and individuals that reject modernization are doomed to nothing but sandy real estate when the natural resources that lie beneath them are expended this century…especially when their best and brightest move to other progressive nations where modernization is appreciated rather than condemned.

I have witnessed that Muslims and others with countries of origin from Pakistan and India, and other Asian lands can get along quite well in Silicon Valley and other areas of the U.S. My daughter was in a study group with both a Pakistani and Indian medical student, and somehow they all got along. Why must your best come to the U.S. (as you did) to avoid the stagnation of home “primitivization.” Why can Pakistan and other Islamic countries have woman prime ministers and diplomats, and yet treat rank-and-file women so primitively?

As is usually the case when someone declares a "paradigm shift", there are some assumptions here that need to be questioned. Even if we accept the assumption that non-state actors and terrorists will be the prevalent antagonists of the future (in itself an assumption open to question), why should we assume that long, slogging, infantry-dominated COIN campaigns must be the method of choice in dealing with them? The campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were not inevitable consequences of conflict with non-state actors or terrorists, they were consequences of a specific, voluntary decision to address that conflict through regime change, nation-building, and the prolonged COIN campaigns that accompany regime change and nation-building. That strategy has not been particularly effective, and I see no reason why it should be repeated, still less why it should be assumed to be a new paradigm for warfare.

The assumption that conflict with non-state actors or terrorists must equate to extended, primitivized COIN campaigning needs to be much more rigorously supported.