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From: "Peter T. Cash" <PTCash@ibm.net>
Subject: (urth) War and sense
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 21:57:49 

>From: Paul C Duggan <pduggan@world.std.com>
>And the Ascian "roll to see how many of your troops commit suicide before
>the battle" beats GW's Commissar kills Seargent to prevent squad from
>routing for "dark and gothic" ruleswriting.

Careful, the Sergeant is sensitive to proposals involving fragging of
noncoms; they undermine discipline. He does not recall Mr. Wolfe suggesting
anything like this, but he will investigate. Mr. Wolfe may have to do some

Kind of reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) comment attributed to a
Russian general in the Winter War against the Finns upon greeting a
trainload of replacements: "Shall we march them up to the front...or just
shoot them here?" I'm sure he was purged by the commisars.

>>From: m.driussi@genie.com

>Witness the massed charges in WWI trench warfare.  Why on Earth did
>it have to happen more than =once=?  As predictable as feeding men
>into a sausage grinder, making them run across open ground toward
>fixed machine guns.  And yet the generals kept ordering them.
>Senseless and un-learning of mistakes.

Well, there was a problem you see: the generals thought it was important to
win the war, and they couldn't think of anything to do, except charge the
enemy lines. Haig and French et. al. knew very well what happens when you
charge entrenchments held by machine guns. (Indeed, French at least had some
pretty bitter experience just charging entrenchments manned by guys with
repeating bolt-action Mausers during the Boer War). But you're seeing the
past through the eyes of today; they thought differently in 1915 than we do
now: the generals on both sides simply did not consider massive casualties
an unacceptable price for victory--and neither did the public. Our thinking
has changed since that time, partially as a reaction to the slaughter of
both world wars.

We may have gone to an extreme. Today's US army will do almost anything to
avoid casualties; indeed, that army is notorious for its expenditure of
firepower (mostly air and artillery) over risking a frontal attack against a
prepared enemy; this policy is quite heedless of civilian "collateral
casualties". The problem with such doctrine is that there may come a time
when sacrifices must be made, when there is nothing to do but assault enemy
positions with whatever resources are at hand. And that means a lot of
casualties. The Marines might still be able to do this; the Army...no. Well,
perhaps we'll be lucky; maybe the world has become a better place since 1918
and there'll be no more serious warfare involving the major Powers. No, I'm
not betting on it.

Sgt. Rock

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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