A lot of times, I find myself reading articles about aviation and vacillating between cringing in anticipation of how the events unfolded or grinding my teeth in knowing much more about the organizational challenges that are being described.
One very recent example by David Brown initially provoked an emotional reaction: “The Next War Will Be Conventional and All-Out. What Does that Mean?” As a subtle hook, Brown relates part of a conversation with an associate:
In a war that pits the U.S. versus (for example) China in all-out total warfare, the Army is telling its aviators that they should expect to lose 70% of their aircraft in the first few hours of battle.
My reaction was justifiable: Army Aviation remains close to my heart as the cruel mistress from whom I learned much for the price of my ongoing back issues. During my time on flight status and as a sort of a “hobby,” I frequently combed open-source documents to better build my own training presentations on threat identification and assessment based upon our intended theater of operations. While I found it entirely too fascinating a subject which ended up consuming much of my time off, any divergence between theory and practice when it came to matters of applied doctrine always intrigued me.
Much like it does now…
Brown’s article resulted in 19 different tabs open on my browser, 5 PDF’s opened with assorted sections highlighted, and 4 other Word documents accessed as I try to correlate the notes of blog posts never written/posted and the avalanche of thoughts which threaten to suffocate my original idea: that “most likely/most dangerous” is not just a part of an Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB), but a potential means to link history to tomorrow.
Most likely is an interesting concept not only when the discussion is about the tactical applications of intelligence, but also when looking at the long-term economic, political, and societal estimations associated with a nation, event, or theme. We can easily look at the historic trends when forces are built up in a cycle of causality, the industrial indicators regarding fluctuations in production or manufacturing, or where a nation sits on the “permissive liberty/draconian reprisal” scale of public opinion.
The chances of a financial crisis, large-scale conflict between comparatively equal opponents, or sudden cultural shift presently appear to be somewhat inevitable. Predictions of an impending recession, growing tensions with Iran, China, and Russia, and levels of discontent in France, Caracas, Moscow, Hong Kong all seem to point to an emotional precipice that was only familiar in hindsight when the origins of the First World War were being hashed out.
Most dangerous is exactly that: a course of action which would be catastrophic if unchecked or disregarded. Oddly enough, in researching the current speculations about a recession within the next two years, the thought struck me that it would be prophetic if the reporting on the idea actually instigated the fruition of those concerns. Likewise, continued over-reliance on foreign resources and production, while beneficial for the strengthening of trade alliances, would further place us at a severe disadvantage should those agreements become unfeasible due to opportunistic rates, aggressive political policies, or coercive attempts to influence our participation in a contested regional affair… all while allowing our own atrophy through dependence. Finally, by following a predictable pattern (I really want to say “heuristic” or “if-then”) of action/reaction with little regard to the secondary and third order consequences of new policy or norm, the immediate gratification of change would establish an entirely new stressor within a nation – thus unintentionally paving the way for either a harsh public backlash and further strife.
We have seen this happen before in some form or another: the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the glacial steps towards the First World War, the various sanctions aimed to curb the activities of potential aggressors, and the ongoing challenges to the problematic status quo maintained by many European leaders. That’s the allure of history for me – that we are in that fleeting moment between the past and the unforeseeable future, and while we have the tools to make the best educated guesses to ensure an agreeable outcome, we often willingly ignore the trends or trivialize the complex stories into one-word epithets which only illustrate our desire for simplicity. Most likely and most dangerous… all at the same time.
So… for two blogs in a row, I have mulled over some fairly deep topics.
I hate dragging the reader into this strange funk that seems to have been hanging over me, but I have the quiet time to actually write what has been on my mind in some intangible form or another over the last few weeks.
As bleak as things may seem, however, all is not lost. Taking a look at some of what I have written in 291 posts, my recurring theme is simple: we endure. Though sometimes it seems like we never really learn our lesson and are intent on revisiting chapters in our history over and over, I have to remember that the modified intent of this blog is posterity – to capture my own thoughts for future contemplation. Who knows – I may be completely wrong in many of my ideas… but accurate forecasting of where we go isn’t the point and isn’t really within the realm of my direct influence.
What I can do is to offer perspective, hope, and something interesting to read and consider.