2006/06/03

Sun-Tzu Must Be Shaking His Head

by John Janks

All right, quick - what do pigeons, kites, garden hoses, mannequins, flashlights, trash piles and corpses all have in common? They are all inexpensive and highly effective methods used by the Iraqi insurgents to defeat the high-tech US military. Pigeons are used to communicate, kites are used as alternatives to artillery balloons, flashlights blind night vision goggles, and garden hoses, trash piles and corpses are all used to disguise IED’s. Mannequins are set up in plain view of the US troops with the aim of getting the soldiers used to seeing it then suddenly replacing it with a real soldier. Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio of the US Marine Corps summed it up best, “Firepower-wise they're no match for us, but that’s the nature and beauty of an insurgency – they capitalize on their strengths to hit our weaknesses.”

Where have we heard that before? Remember that in the heady days before Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 US troops were urged to read selected literature, including The Art of War, by the 5th Century B.C. Chinese writer, Sun-Tzu? Maybe the troops read it, maybe they didn't, but it is obvious that those starting this war did not. Sun-Tzu advised leaders to avoid war unless the state is threatened, never allowing haste, fear of being called a coward, and emotions like anger and hatred to influence their decisions. Hmmm.

Sun-Tzu separated military success by a combination of orthodox and unorthodox tactics. Massive frontal assaults that emphasize deliberate and organized movement are an example of orthodox tactics. Unorthodox tactics emphasize employing flexible forces, imaginative, unexpected and unconventional ways. The Chinese have a dictum that states, “With the orthodox govern the state, with the unorthodox employ the army.”

Is this coming through to you as easily as it does to me? I hate to keep pitching ‘em if you keep droppin’ ‘em. I don’t have any military expertise, let alone any credentials. I simply bought The Art of War several years ago for a few dollars. But the last three and one-half years sure seem to beg the question. What have the hundreds of billions spent on military weaponry gotten us, especially when compared to the simple, inexpensive and unorthodox methods used by the insurgency?

The Art of War does not paint a pretty picture for any nation caught in prolonged war and relying mostly on orthodox tactics. They drain a nation’s spirit as well as its treasury. The Damn Shame part of it all is how could a non-soldier reading a 2500-year old book figure this out and the high-tech high-dollar Bush administration not?

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LDS Temple in Mesa

Wife took me to this temple to walk around the grounds, very pretty place.