Tuesday, November 09, 2004

An ironic twist

I could not help but smile (although grimace might be closer) as I read a comment in the Philadelphia Inquirer dated 9 November.

David Aaron, director of Rand Corporation's Center for Middle East Public Policy, predicts that if the battle for Fallujah unfolds like other urban-combat operations in Iraq, a big part of it will involve troops on foot working closely with heavily armoured vehicles to probe the city's neighbourhoods, drawing fire that reveals enemy positions.

"I believe you’re going to see a major use of tanks and infantry," he says. “It turns out that the tank we thought we were going to fight the Russians with is the best thing we’ve got to fight in an urban environment."

The point, of course, is that this beguilingly simple – and obvious – statement turns the currently fashionable military doctrine on its head, whereby lightly armoured, "network enabled" wheeled vehicles are all the rage – relying on enhanced intelligence and stand-off weapons for protection.

It is that ethos which underpins the EU's "Rapid Reaction Force" and it is to afford the kit that Hoon is getting rid of regiments like the Black Watch and scrapping dozens of our Challenger tanks.

It will be seriously ironic if his commitment to the "new religion" of "network enabled" kit turns out to be a cul-de-sac and the most effective weapons turn out to be low-tech infantry and heavy tanks, just the things Hoon and his EU friends think they can do without.

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