8 years, 2 months ago
During the Israel-Hezballah war, Hezballah used a strategy called distributed operations. Small, self-sufficient teams of fighters with only low- to mid-level leadership conducted operations against the IDF, often cut off from communication, senior leadership and supplies. The risks are great, but Hezballah could react organically rather than bureaucratically.
The insurgency in Iraq has taken this to the next level. Distributed operations are the norm. Insurgent snipers regularly stay cut off from their leadership for days. Small teams of insurgents operate with near autonomy, yet the overall objective remains fairly well known and paramount. The “membership rolls” of the insurgency can grow or shrink, depending upon any number of things. An insurgent might be a respected worker by day and a fighter by night.
The insurgent makes use of any means available, such as high tech explosively formed projectiles transported in from Iran. In the absence of a high tech weapon, they will make use of the lowest-tech weapon possible — ordnance delivered by humans, or suicide bombers. Depending upon the needs, the insurgency can cluster or disperse, swarm or disappear, distribute largesse or threaten brutality, hide or relocate.
The single best word that describes this behavior is adaptability.
Let’s contrast this with a possible example from the U.S. Army. Let’s suppose that there existed an NCO (non-commissioned officer) in a combat brigade who, after doing previous combat tours in support of OIF and training his subordinates to do the same for the next deployment, decided that he didn’t want to re-enlist for a full enlistment term, but also that he would like to deploy with the unit soon for another combat tour in support of OIF. He decided this because he felt an obligation to the mission and his troops, and his troops wanted him to deploy with them. So the intent was to stay in the Army until the combat tour was finished.
The problem is that the rules don’t allow it. Our NCO has to re-enlist for the full term or leave the Army. He decides to leave the Army, and so the Army loses a seasoned NCO who could have provided leadership to his troops in the upcoming deployment. In this instance, adaptability has ceded the high ground to bureaucracy, and the insurgency wins one small encounter due to the unadaptability of the U.S. military.