Military History: History’s Last Left Hook?

left hook

Military Envelopments with Strategic Implications

“Left hook” is a boxing term for a short, sideways, inside punch which often lands on an opponent’s jaw. Left hooks generally come as a surprise because for most people it is much harder to punch with their left arm. So, while boxers may continuously jab, cross, and uppercut, the perfectly placed “left hook” can mean all the difference in a match, and its effects can be devastating. For orthodox or in-fighters the left hook is closer to land on your opponent, and for experienced boxers, the “left hook” is no random move. Successful boxers study their opponent, their moves and patterns; through deliberate and practiced blows they know when and how to throw the perfectly timed “left hook.”

Much like the football team that continuously runs the ball up the middle and passes only on occasion, the perfectly timed hook can surprise the most seasoned opponent and keep them off guard. Outside the ring, the term “left hook” has become a metaphor for a shocking and evasive move against an opponent.

One of history’s first large scale “left hooks” took place during the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. The fundamental principles of that ancient conflict can be seen in World Wars I and II, and even Desert Storm: all these “left hooks” share the common principles of surprise, shock, timing, overwhelming force, precision, and deception; they are military envelopments with strategic implications.

Are the principles of the “left hook” timeless?

Hannibal Barca

Hannibal’s actions at the Battle of Cannae during the 2nd Punic War in 216 B.C. created the gospel of strategic envelopment. Hannibal’s successes were catastrophic for the Romans, and the repercussions of his actions were felt for centuries. Before the battle, Hannibal had concluded a multi-year journey from Carthage (in northern Africa) through modern-day Spain, southern France, and into the Apennine peninsula from the north. Hannibal had led 50,000 foot soldiers, 9,000 cavalry, and 37 war elephants across the Pyrennees and the Alps. The movement of his entire army was itself acontinental envelopment.

Read the Remainder at Medium

Military History: The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917

Lenin

A Cautionary Tale for Revolutionaries

Human society is continuously shaped by social, political, and technological developments. Some societies reject these developments and others embrace them. Normally, the rejection or acceptance is silent and smooth. At times, however, the process is violent and leads to conflict or revolution. According to Samuel Huntington, “a revolution is a rapid, fundamental, and violent domestic change in the dominant values and myths of a society, in its institutions, social structure, leadership, and government activity and policies.”[1] The Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were marred by ardent violence and political maneuvering. This article will analyze both revolutions, illustrating that the revolution of 1905 was both a precursor and cause of the 1917 revolution, while having its own precursors and causes.

Aided by brutal defeats and unprecedented loss of life in two wars, the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were the collective backlash of the masses against the corrupt, incompetent, and uncaring autocracy of the Tsarist Regime which was unable and unwilling to change with the times. Moreover, the revolutions hardly yielded the type of productive and egalitarian change that masses called for. Thus, these revolutions serve as a cautionary tale for both governments and revolutionaries.

The 1905 Revolution

The indirect causes of the 1905 Revolution laid in the social, political, agrarian, and industrial developments that marked the preceding century. Since the 1860s emancipated serfs had become “free” peasants, though they were still tied to the communal agricultural system called the Mir.[2] The Mir system was unjust and backward, causing the farmers great grief by requiring them to make installment payments to the government, in addition to the heavy taxes, for the land distributed to them. The double burden often resulted in ill feelings towards the government.

Tsar Nicholas and his government of nobles were aware of the backward state of the Russian economy, and so they pushed for modernization. This led to rapid industrialization, which created a new urban proletariat class and snatched peasants from behind the plow to work at high-tech industrial factories. The conditions at the Russia factories were unbearably miserable and the workers were often unhappy with their squalid work environment. Since many had come to the cities to work in these factories, they had become increasingly literate and aware of their plight. As a result, worker strikes and general discontent were commonplace. The workers, in a unitary effort, turned into a formidable force against both factory management and the government.[4] At times, the strikes were for political aims, and other times they were economic. Thus, the workers were following the traditions of the peasants, who throughout the Russian political landscape of the 1700s and 1800s often rebelled in violent ways.[5]

Read the remainder at The Bridge

Doomsday Scenario: Reviewing the ISIS Apocalypse

isis1

The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State. William McCants. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015. pp 256.

Apocalyptic anticipation thriving in a sectarian bloodbath is the focus of this text, which was released alongside a biography of the group’s leader available from Brookings. Despite the claims of a recent anonymous author, there is nothing “bewildering” or “alien” about the Islamic State. On the contrary, ISIS is a terrorist group built up by an insurgency, which melded with other networks, and thrives on the ambivalence of the international community. William McCants’ contribution to the study of this group is to add a theological perspective that helps to explain the group’s ability to recruit and control people. (For a related perspective focused on insurgent strategies, see this report from Valens Global.)

McCants’ explanation focuses on apocalyptic myths mixing with authoritarian apparatchiks. Understanding these relationships completely, the author notes, is not possible. Analysis, at least in the press, seems to have been paralyzed by those apparent contradictions and the inevitable entropy that they seem to imply. In the conclusion, McCants shoves aside these often asked questions and argues that it is more important to assess the biases the group holds and the desires that they strive to fulfill. McCants discusses other revolutionary and apocalyptic movements in the history of Islam, and notes that these groups envisioned remaining in existence for some time. The Islamic State seems to be operating in the same way. Despite the group’s seizure of the plains of Armageddon, which appeals to the jihadi grunts, this group is building something more permanent though at the same time terrifying.

Read the Remainder at The Bridge

What Would We Lose by Winning?

Though it does not specifically mention it in the article, this is a PRIME example of why the scourge of islam must be stopped from spreading across Europe and America. It is not just the religion itself, but the despicable and perverted customs (that are seen as socially acceptable by muslims) that it carries with it. Things like pedophilia, male cross-dressing,  and the rape of children just to name a few.

Please read  National Security Goals and the Dancing Boys of Afghanistan to get some context and fully grasp the scope of this depravity. 

Remember folks, this is not just a “Afghan” or “muslim” problem, it is now (due to jihad by migration) a European problem, and very soon, if we do not stand up to it, due to the thousands of “refugees” being imported by BHO, an AMERICAN problem. -SF

afghan

The Mission vs. Morality

By Nathan A. Wike

While I was deployed to Afghanistan, my First Sergeant (1SG) and I swapped stories while sitting in our CP. As a man with more than 20 years of experience his anecdotes about the “old” army of the 90s, the trouble he got into or witnessed, and the places he had been were usually fun and exciting to listen to.

But not always. As a man with more than 20 years of experience, he had witnessed his fair share of tragedies and morally questionable episodes. Like all such stories, they caused me to think and reflect. And lately one has become frightfully relevant.

One such event he relayed came from his time in Haiti while on a disaster relief mission. At the perimeter of an American compound encircled by concertina wire, he and the other soldiers would gather to hand out bottled water and various foodstuffs to the locals who wandered up. They had weapons but no ammo, and were under strict instructions that they were not to take any sort of action against a Haitian national. Instead, if an incident occurred they were to notify one of the U.S. Marshals who also resided at the camp.

One day the soldiers were confronted with a situation that caused them each to make a decision about what was more important, their mission as they understood it, or their own morality.

Read the Remainder at Medium

Propaganda of the Deed: How Insurgents are Seizing the Initiative

saeed-appointment

On a clear afternoon in March 2011, the relatively still air in Uruzgan’s Tarin Kot bowl was punctured by a blast wave and flame ball that rose more than 100 meters into the sky.

Insurgents had concealed an improvised explosive device within a motorcycle, and infiltrated it into the logistics soak yard outside the Multi-National Base Tarin Kot. The IED was set between two civilian trucks carrying highly flammable JP-8 jet fuel, which blazed through the soak yard when the device was remotely detonated. Several civilian trucks were destroyed and a small number of Afghan civilians were killed or injured in the attack. Importantly, Multi-National Base Tarin Kot was not breached, no military personnel were wounded or killed, and the loss of two tankers worth of aviation fuel had no impact on operations from the base. The soak yard, a force protection measure, worked as it should.

Militarily, the attack by Taliban insurgents was an absolute failure. As a propaganda event, the ball of flame, which could be seen throughout the Tarin Kot bowl, was spectacularly effective. Locals immediately assumed the attack was on the grounds of the base itself and the rumour network went into overdrive, describing casualties and damage. Local media, and their Western affiliates, quickly reacted to the event with reports of an attack against the base. Engagements by Uruzgan officials and ISAF Commanders did little to stem the tide of reporting that circled the globe, announcing a successful attack against the military base. No amount of explanation concerning the military insignificance of the attack could overcome a perception that the insurgents had struck at the heart of the Australian commitment to Afghanistan. Australia, and its ISAF partners, were on the receiving end of a burgeoning insurgent tactic now known as “propaganda of the deed”. Despite having the facts, Australian and ISAF Commanders were powerless to slow the spread of the ideal.

Read the Remainder at The Bridge