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Myths of War: Insights from the Army Chief of Staff

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October 16, 2015
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Myths of war from the Army Chief of Staff


General Mark Milley, the Army Chief of Staff, was the keynote speaker at the Dwight D. Eisenhower luncheon. This is an annual event held by the Association of the United States Army. Gen. Milley's speech revolved around 4 myths of warfare. From the Fort Hood Sentinel:Myth 1 : Wars of the future will be short, perhaps even “a minor dustup,” is the first myth he said.America’s founding fathers had no intention of fighting an eight-year war against the greatest power of the day, Great Britain, he said. “Most thought they’d rebel a bit, get some tax relief and do so with their local militias.”Americans, both in the North and South during the civil war, expected a short war. They had “no clue they’d entered a four-year bloodbath that would be the deadliest in American history,” he said.No leaders in Europe or elsewhere in 1914 thought they’d “butcher an entire generation of their youth in the next four years … and set conditions for World War II, the most devastating war in human history.”Milley then cited the surprise of those who thought the wars in Korea and Vietnam would be short and with relatively few casualties.And, “I doubt we thought we’d still be in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq when we first started at the places I’ve been,” he said.“Wars are funny things. They have a logic all of their own. And they rarely conform to preplanned timelines,” the chief said. “They’re rarely short.”


Myth 2: The second myth is that wars can be won with advanced technologies, Milley said.Proponents of this myth say that modern weaponry can provide standoff capabilities from the air and from the sea, he said.“Our precision munitions and cruise missiles are wonderful, and I love them. They deliver a devastating punch. But this too is very seductive,” he said.Wars cannot be won on the cheap in terms of blood and sacrifice, he said. “Those of us who’ve seen battles up close, who’ve watched our comrades die, I deeply want that to be true. I want wars to be won from standoff ranges.”But unfortunately, it’s “fantasy,” not fact, he said. “After the shock and awe, comes the march and fight.”He cited the belief that strategic bombing during World War II could bring the war to a quick end. That didn’t happen. Soldiers on the ground won the battles.Another example, he said, was Iwo Jima, where his father fought. Days and weeks of pounding by aircraft and battleships caused relatively few casualties and the Marines were surprised at the stiff resistance they faced when they landed, as well as the high number of their own dead and wounded that resulted.See the remaining two from the Fort Hood Sentinel.[mwi-cat-listing cat="94" ppp="4" cols="4" desc="false" type="view" btn_color="black" ]

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