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You do NOT need boots on the ground to win all wars

Posted by John Reed on

I am still trying to get the answer to what is the specific mechanism the prevents a military from winning a war solely by air. I keep getting sweeping generalities and philosophy. I want the specifics. We bomb a target area. Why is it not over? What specifically is there left that requires boots?

I am aware that our D-Day and Pacific Islands bombardments looked like they wiped out all life, then we hit very heavy enemy fire when we hit the beaches.

That was 70 years ago.

On D-Day, we missed. The USAAC bombs fell behind the German bunkers harmlessly because the Navy demanded too much avoidance of hitting the Navy ships off shore. And the Navy guns similarly missed the bunkers falling behind them. Not a problem today.

With regard to Pacific shore bombardments like Iwo and Okinawa: unnecessary. Just take the non-mountainous, tiny islands and atolls with no fresh water by starving them out, not gun fire or contested landings.

IS is in the desert, like Desert Storm, not the jungle of Vietnam or China Burma India. Trying to fight from the desert when your enemy has air supremacy strikes me as game over. Mountains and jungle are another matter, but desert!? The only reason for boots on the ground is to comply with outrageous rules of engagement like avoiding hurting civilians or environment or dolphins. If that is the kind of “war” you are fighting, get Green Peace to do it, not the U.S. military.

I say this mantra that you can’t win a war from the air and need boots on the ground, now recited by everyone including Hillary, is false. People have not thought it through. The hardest hard core marines and infantry don’t want to hear it because it obsoletes them in that terrain.

Let me back test another war: Rommel in North Africa. We had broken their codes and were able to sink each and every one of their supply ships. That’s it. Rommel’s Afrika Korps is nothing without fuel, food, ammo. Just sink their ships, shoot down their planes until they run out of fuel, and fold your arms and wait for the white flag. Much of this you must have boots stuff is you must let us be brave and get our medals. No, we do not have to do that. We can be smart as well as brave, and just starve the SOBs. Let ’em eat sand.

Timothy C Brosnan Some Pacific Islands, and parts of New Guinea were bypassed. We cut them off and let them starve.

No attempt was made to try to recapture Wake Island. The Navy cut it off and shelled it, the Army Air Corp bombed it. We simply went ashore on Sept. 4th
1945 after the surrender.

A naval blockade, plus threat of full out nuclear retaliation, made an invasion of Cuba unnecessary in 1962.

The North Vietnamese were forced back to the negotiating table in December 1972, due to massive B-52 strikes.

Seems to me that oil is a glass house from which you cannot throw stones. Few things on earth are easier to put out of commission from the air than pipes and refineries. And what makes IS powerful to the degree that they could threaten us? Oil wells, pipes and refineries.

John T. Reed: Terrain matters. But crappy terrain for our boots on the ground is also crappy terrain for the enemy we do not attack. One phase of US Army ranger school is the swamp phase. Other than the Swamp Fox, who was an annoyance, what war was won by swamp tactics and maneuvers? They put us in the swamp to torment us, period.
Europe in World War II was harder to starve, but read the book Blockade about Austria in World War I. They were pretty well done in by being cut off, not invaded.
I think deserts and islands that do not have fresh water are prima facie examples of starve them out, not boots on the ground terrain.
I just heard a pundit say, “You can’t occupy ground from the air.”

So don’t occupy ground. Japan occupied ground in the Aleutians during World War II. We ignored them until late in the war when we finally sent some guys in to clear them out.
In World War II in the Pacific, we should have ignored the Philippines, Okinawa, maybe China, Burma, and India, maybe Guadalcanal. Just acquire the stepping-stone islands we need—islands with no fresh water like Tarawa and Iwo—by surrounding them and preventing resupply. We sort of did that with the home islands and never put a single boot on them. This is called fighting smart, not just hard.
The mistake we made in Iraq and Afghanistan was not so much invading as staying and occupying.

About the only ground we need to occupy is US territory, but even there, we let Japan occupy Dutch Harbor for a long time.

Since when did occupying foreign ground become a military or national policy goal? The goal of war is to eliminate the enemy’ ability to credibly threaten us.

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