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The Day of the Clausewitzians

A couple of internet amigos who are hard-core Clausewitzians have put pen to paper of late ( or keys to board):

Wilf Owen at SWJ Blog:

The Toyota Horde

The subject of this article is a broad technical and operational examination of how almost any country on earth can currently gain a viable level of military power by building on the enduring elements of combined arms warfare. These elements are enduring and appeared in the first twenty years of the twentieth century. It is further suggested that skillfully applied this type of capability may enable its user to confront and possibly defeat NATO type expeditionary forces.

A number of popular opinions about the future nature of warfare have created a substantially misleading impression that the skills and equipment required for formation level combined arms capability, such as that possessed by NATO during the cold war is no longer needed, because few potential enemies possess similar peer capability. Thus the object of the article is to show just how simply a peer or near-peer capability can be acquired, and maintained.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many examples of where military action by irregular forces has inflicted battlefield defeats on regular forces. The most famous are the Boer defeats of the British Army during “Black Week” in December 1899 and the Hussite Wars of the 15th Century, where irregular forces, using improvised barricades made of ox wagons (wagenburgs) were able to stand against and defeat the armoured knights of the Holy Roman Empire. In both cases each irregular force was able to generate conventional military force from fairly meager resources. There is nothing novel, new or even complex, in this approach. It is common, enduring and proven.

Wilf, as usual, pulls few rhetorical punches. Read the rest here.

Now for the second piece, which rated a place of honor at Dr. Christopher Bassford’s Clausewitz Homepage (for those readers here whose interests are outside the realm of Clausewitzian strategy or military theory, this is sort of like a parish priest having their Sunday sermon published by the Vatican):

seydlitz89 at Clausewitz.com:

The Clausewitz Roundtable at Chicagoboyz.

My interest in Clausewitz goes back to my childhood when, being very interested in simulated wargames, I bought of copy of On War as a member of the military book club-that is at 12.  This was the the old, 19th-Century translation. I found it hard going and gave up about a third of the way through. 

It was only about 20 years later, after my service on active duty in the Marine Corps and serving as a US Army intelligence officer in Berlin, that I finally actually read On War,  that being the Howard/Paret translation, and realized that there was very much more to the work than I had ever suspected.  Being involved in strategic HUMINT collection was the spark that indicated for me the need of strategic theory, and specifically a theory that could be flexible enough to cover all sorts of conflicts, from industrial war to tense relations between otherwise friendly states or other political entities.

….I found out about the Chicagoboyz Clausewitz Roundtable quite by accident.  I was doing my usual Google search of “Clausewitz” under “news” when a post at Zen Pundit’s blog popped up.  As my comments and the responses show, I was more than eager to contribute.

What resulted was a very interesting mix of views on Clausewitz, some from people who had been familiar with Clausewitz through their military backgrounds or other reasons, as well as intelligent people who simply had picked up the book and started to read.  While this roundtable discussion would not be a good introduction to Clausewitz, since a beginning student might be led far astray by some of the comments, the roundtable did produce a wide variety of interesting perspectives and applications that the serious student of Clausewitz should find stimulating.  In short, the Chicagoboyz Clausewitz Roundtable reflects both the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet as a forum for dialogue, as an attempt at establishing a dialectic.  The weaknesses would include the nature of blog posting in general, which requires a serious proofreading effort after the fact in spite of the best intentions of the poster.

Read the rest here ( seydlitz89 gives a nice nod in his essay to the moving spirit behind the roundtable, Lexington Green)

I’ve participated in and helped organize quite a few online roundtables and Think Tank 2.0 events, and while all of them were successful and had their own zeitgeist, I can safely say that The Clausewitz Roundtable was the best.

3 Responses to “The Day of the Clausewitzians”

  1. Lexington Green Says:

    The Clausewitz Roundtable is the most fun I have had in my 7.5 years of blogging.

    It gave me the level of intellectual excitement I last got as an undergrad at the U of C.

    And of course it all started as a discussion in a comment thread right here.

    The book version is in the queue and should be out on June 1, 2010:

    That will be cool.

  2. Schmedlap Says:

    The name Christopher Bassford rang a bell, but I couldn’t figure out why. Then I remembered – I own a copy of "The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army" – the most entertaining critique of institutionalized insanity that I’ve ever read.

  3. seydlitz89 Says:

    this is sort of like a parish priest having their Sunday sermon published by the Vatican

    Well yea . . .

    Thanks Zen

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