18 January 2009

More on Women and War (two great topics)

Greg in Mexico is a regular reader of this blog, and he wrote something interesting a year or so ago about the various functions of the US military.  This lends a lot of further credence to the belief that, to avoid a total identity crisis, the US military might need to structure itself for a "small wars" force and a "heavy wars" force.  

One of Greg's great points is a charactarization of the two types of personality types that dominate the thinking in both areas of conflict.  He mentions a miltary geared towards the "big wars", describing it as a "Leviathan Force", or your "Dad's military:  young, male, unmarried, and slightly pissed-off", with a force oriented for counter-insurgency and nation-building, which he describes as "Your Mom's Miltary:  gender-balanced, older, much more educated, married, with children."

The analogy of counter-insurgency as being a more feminine trait is one that I find fitting, as counter-insurgency requires a great deal more strategy to win than conventional war.  Recall that in the days of the Greeks and Romans that it was Athena who ruled over the realm of strategy and Ares who ruled over the clash of battle.  It is said that successful generals prayed to the goddeess Athena before victory, not to Ares.  

Further historical reading links insurgency with feminine wiles, as opposed to conventional war.  T.E. Lawrence, in the extended version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, had this to say about the Arab insurgency:  

As for lying, [a British Army colonel] was incapable of it, and most of all incapable of practicing the art upon the Arabs, whose wile life passed in a mist of deceits, and whose intuitions were of the finest.  The Arab leaders showed a completeness of instinct, a reliance upon intuition, the something fore-known, which left our centrifugal minds gasping in the distance.  They understood and judged quickly, effortlessly, unreasonably, like women:  it almost seemed as though the Oriental exclusion of women from political activity had conferred her particular gifts upon man-kind:  and some of the speed and secrecy of our victory, and its regularity, might perhaps be ascribed to the fact that from end to end of it thter was nothing female but from our camels in the Arab Movement.  

Strangely enough, in the past years, evolutionary psychologists have written much on the subject of the psychological differences between the sexes--from more serious works like The Red Queen, to more humorous ones like Why Woman Can't Follow Maps and Why Men Don't Ask Directions.  Most of them note that women have a much better ability to read human emotion, and prefer methods of indirect action (a constant mantra of B.H. Liddell Hart), which are actually skills critical to success in counter-insurgency, where direct action often proves counter-productive. 

With that said, I propose the following focus for the guys:  Did adapting to 4GW require a complete reboot of your world-view?  To what extent does counter-insurgency seem anathema to a military used to fighting force-on-force battles that resemble a football game?  Ladies, does counter-insurgency make more sense to you than the guys?  Does my emphasis on the somewhat feminine traits essential to counter-insurgency mean that I have The Notebook on DVD?  (Ladies are invited to drop by and find out the answer to that last one.)  

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