Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Surrender Strategy

In a previous column we discussed the six forms of maneuver warfare with a particular focus on infiltration.  You might recall the Army manual that covered that topic was titled Offense and Defense.   The particular way my mind is warped has caused me to dwell on that title – “Offense and Defense” – for the past couple of weeks. It is as if they are mutually exclusive, yet obviously related.
The other thought that has been churning in my mind is the old maxim, “The best defense is a good offense.”  As I tested that hypothesis using historical examples, modern military engagements, and my understanding of the “art and science” of war, I’m not so sure that old adage is accurate.   

The way the introduction of FM 3-90-1 (Offense and Defense) deals with the tactics embodied in that title certainly suggests they are discreet.  The intro says, “These offensive and defensive combined arms tactics and considerations apply to the conduct of decisive action across the range of military operations…Part One contains five chapters and addresses the conduct of offensive tasks.  Part Two contains four chapters and addresses the conduct of defensive tasks.”  Although they may be interrelated, they are clearly divided.

We can see this division more clearly in American football.  In that sport we have two specific squads, each task organized to fulfill their specific functions.  Only one of the two formations from each team is on the field at a given time.  Contrast this with basketball; the same players play both offense and defense.  In sports where the winner is determined by amassing points it is difficult to win with only a good defense. 

One historical approach to warfare that has served us well is the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD).  This doctrine has achieved peace in the nuclear realm by asserting that we reserve the right to use nuclear weapons (to include preemptively); in an overwhelming manner should another nation dare to consider offensive use.  The underlying logic of this MAD doctrine is that neither side dares launch as the resultant destruction would be unacceptable to either side.  Reagan called this “peace through strength.”   All that said, this might be best characterized as, “the best offense is a good offense.” 

 Paradoxically, in this instance “a good defense” (counter missile capabilities, nuclear shelters, etc.) that make survivability more plausible, really only makes the MAD doctrine less likely to work, such that one might conclude “the best defense (to keep the doctrine effective) is no defense.” 

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military strategist and philosopher might choose to say, “The best offense is a good strategy.”  The translation of his thoughts says it this way, “The best strategy in warfare is to capture an enemy country whole and intact without having to resort to arms. To conquer it by force is the second best way…Accordingly, the best way in directing military operations is to defeat the enemy through strategic superiority, the second best way is to defeat the enemy through diplomatic means; the next best method is resorting to arms to conquer the enemy army, and it is always the least desirable method to besiege a fortified city.”  So for Sun Tzu the best way to win is to defeat the enemy through strategic superiority.  One could only wish America’s current leaders would rediscover that truth.

When the hypothesis that “the best defense is a good offense” is tested in the area of interpersonal relationships it seems to have the greatest probability for failure.   The weak and wounded seem to lash out at the least provocation.  We’ve seen that in the recent irrational acts of several shooters, the cold-blooded killing of the Texas policeman putting petrol in his patrol car being one.  The absolutely senseless shooting of the reporter and her cameraman is another.   In these cases the worst defense was a “good” offense.  A sound mind in the attacker was what was wanting.

There is one realm where it is neither offense nor defense that achieves victory – that is in the spiritual realm.  There is no offense that can win against God, nor any defense that can hold Him off – only unconditional surrender works.  Jesus said it this way, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Surrendering to the Savior is the only sure strategy.

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