Thursday, December 10, 2015

Strategy, as opposed to tactics.

Strategy is the highest level of planning and directing a war.  Tactics is concerned with how to win an engagement with the enemy.  For instance, at the Casablanca conference in WWII, President Roosevelt announced that the allied war aim was "Unconditional Surrender".  That was strategic.  It surprised our allies the British, and it shocked the German enemy.  But it told the American voters, whose unflinching support for the war was essential, that the administration was not fooling around, and that we would not settle for the sort of half measures that followed WWI.  Other strategic decisions of WWII were the decision to do Germany first, and the decision to invade North Africa. 
    Tactical decisions, are of a lower level.  For instance, George Washington when he crossed the Delaware, fearing that his colonial militiamen might not be able to stand up to Hessian regulars, brought eighteen guns across the river with his infantry.  When battle was joined  American artillery superiority quickly decided things.  That is an example of a tactical decision. 
   By my way of thinking, current day discussions about boots on the ground, is a tactical discussion, it is not strategic.  The strategic discussion, which we have not had,  is what should we do about ISIS and middle east insurgency under any name they select.  We could ignore them and hope they go away or die out. We could embargo them, cut off their oil sales, access to the banking system, commercial air transport, and all imports.  We could bomb them, either lightly, or back to stone age.  We could infiltrate political operatives, or a modern day Lawrence of Arabia, and attempt to raise a revolution against ISIS.  We could invade and occupy the ISIS lands.  Or some other option that has not occured to me.  These are strategic issues. 
   Whether to deploy American troops is a tactical decision.  I only see American troops necessary if we decide to invade and occupy the ISIS lands.  The lesser strategic options could be done without US troops.
   Our country would be better off by first deciding upon a strategy, rounding up the political support for the  strategy, and executing it.  So far, nobody, Obama, the media, the Congress, the pundits, not even Rush Limbaugh, has said a word about strategy. We don't have one.   

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