Thursday, March 22, 2012

A tendency to overspecialize

Navy's Tiniest Warships Could Lead Assault on Iran | Danger Room |

'via Blog this'

A gradual drift towards overspecialization has been a consistent problem for military services in many nations, pretty much since the arrival of the industrial age made perpetual evolution and refinement a reality of modern warfighting. As World War II played out, Germany's army, the Wehrmacht, gradually refined and improved the agility of its top tier units that were responsible for executing its signature blitzkrieg style of mechanized warfare. This involved paring down the tables of organization and equipment during the war's early years to produce leaner, faster moving formations. Units that were so light and agile that their commanders found that they lacked the manpower and redundancy needed to sustain themselves in drawn out fights, even before manpower became acute problem for the Wehrmacht as a whole during the conflict's later years.

Ironically, the same things happened with the Israeli Army during the twenty year period from the 1950s to 70s. Its mechanized infantry and especially foot infantry were reduced to create ever-more agile mech infantry and  tank units to the point that they found themselves unable to provide adequate support when infantry-carried wire-guided missiles made their first appearance on the battlefield and ravaged Israel's tank force.

The Wired article above touches on a similar drift within the US Navy over the past two decades. An emphasis on blue water warfare and the larger ship frames that are suited to it has come at a cost to the smaller Navy boats better suited to brown water, close-to-shore operations.

This kind of tendency to overspecialize during peacetime is often a nebulous problem--one that stems from a series of choices and priorities that gradually skews what was a well-balanced combined arms team. Such teams are collections of men and machines that in the right ratios compliment each others' strengths and compensate for each others' weaknesses in a wide variety of real-world situations.

Just something to keep in mind when thinking about military issues and futurism.

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