Rwandan troops Board A C-17 On The Way To Darfur.
Afghanistan is a country that has been at war continually since 1978. From the Soviet invasion, to the American invasion, almost two million Afghanis have died fighting interlopers and foreign armies. The Afghanis have been fighting western armies for about five centuries and if you go back further, this same regional conflict transpired before today’s lines on maps ever appeared. That said, they have seen many massive set piece armies, lately they have seen modern combined armored corps pouring over their borders meandering through sinuous mountain passes grimly determined to enforce some ethical lesson on them. For millennium these obdurate tribes people sat over the trails and defiles, cradling their jezails, and watched them all enter, and then they watched them all leave. The Persians. The Greeks. The Indians. The Mughals. The Muslims. The Mongols. The British. The Russians. And now the Americans.
The salient historical point is that essentially no one defeats the Afghanis. The Mongols thoroughly outclassed the Afghanis on the battlefield. And so did the Arabs. But no invading army has ever stayed in Afghanistan, even the Muslims. Though the Afghans carry the most conservative versions of Islam in their hearts, the Arabs who were invested by the Caliphate in Afghanistan vacated this most beautiful but ultimately inhospitable place.
In Somalia, we see the thirty-year fallout from the coup that toppled Mohamed Said Barre. What followed was a tooth and nail fight between numerous armed factions, none big enough to overthrow all the competition. The communists, the democratic factions, the Muslim and the Nationalist parties are all duly represented. Since Barre fell, a half million Somalis have died in the intercine strife.
Sudan was rent asunder by war that looks from afar like a Muslim-Infidel war. This is really not the case, only the coloring. The combatants are essentially the descendants of migratory cattle herders and the sedentary farmers. In lieu of the drought that is devastating the cattle herders, the herders intended to purloin some of the valuable land of the farmers. Of course there was an apartheid conducted by one government over another people and the simple explanation proffered was replaced by a multifarious tangle of perpetrators and vengeful victims. In this conflict, as many as 400,000 have perished.
Across the world, in 2014 alone, there have been 85 car bombings. Each one has been an attack in a fratricidal war of endless anonymous retributions many of them occurring in the Mideast and central Asia where so many unstable regional conflicts are ablaze. International military naval vessels are now regularly intercepting pirate ships off the horn of Africa. Even African troops are deploying to quell African insurgencies.
This is the face of modern warfare. It will probably be a cold day in Hell before we see another major set piece war like Dessert Storm or the imaginings of Tom Clancy’s NATO versus Warsaw Pact forces. Today’s battlefields will be smaller arenas where local tribesmen fight well trained special forces units. Or local armies versus small unit special operations forces. No, you will not see Russia march or roll into the Crimean. They will parachute in at night and take the whole place before dawn. Fights will be sudden, unexpected, small unit versus small unit, and vicious. Combat in the future will be less bloody in terms of overall numbers of casualties. However it will be every bit as expensive and complex as before. Future combat will begin long before any hostilities are declared as both sides will begin hoovering up all the data about each other as they can. Then they’ll begin spying online and in person, assessing each other’s enemies, friends, predilections, lovers, homes, and routes and hangouts.
Combat will happen with cruise missiles, aircraft that slice quietly through the sky at night and strike when most are asleep. Small units of specially trained men bristling with modern weaponry, smart networked matrices of encrypted communications between command and unit. Missions will be viewed in real time by planners. Planners won’t sit out bad weather in leaky tents. They will be in darkened, safe, air-conditioned accommodations with live encrypted digital interfaces.
The only real scenario with set piece large scale armies would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a massive showdown in the North African desert against fundamentalist groups. The French battles with Al Queda groups and drove them out of Mali in a few short months. It involved some air strikes by French Rafales and Mirage 2000s. Then again the combat was hardly reported, as today’s conflicts have highly controlled media access and few chances to get a real battle covered.
In Africa, division sized units are deploying to act as peacekeepers and sometimes visit violence upon intractable warlords. Rather than wait for the United States, Central African nations are stepping up. Warfare is decreasing in scale and increasing in number of conflicts. Conflicts have gone local, smaller more nimble units fed good real time data over encrypted digital networks. While this is a new phenomenon, and while the more sporadic, isolated, regional warfare becomes, the weapons manufacturers are still addicted to the weaponry of another era. Yes, aircraft carriers can always project force anywhere in the world. But we have learned that advanced jet bombers are no match for local, clandestine and radical organizations armed with left over munitions and creative remote control triggers.
The numbers of private contractors enacting conflict is increasing and the actual national boots on the ground forces are decreasing until one day literally corporations will be waging war on their own terms.
So warfare is going smaller, more high tech, more clandestine (even if you never hear of the battle, then that’s fine) and more corporate. Warriors will sign on not to flag, but to a denomination.
Abandoned M-47s In Somalia.
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