European readers of The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook may wonder why much of the latter part of the book is devoted to true light (or Jaeger) infantry. The reason is that the U.S. armed forces mis-define light infantry as line infantry with less equipment. This false definition leads the Americans to think they have light infantry when in fact they do not. Because true light infantry are usually 4GW forces’ most dangerous opponents, this leaves the U.S. largely disarmed in this kind of war. Its fall-back of massive firepower literally blows up in its face at the moral level, ensuring its defeat. (The closest thing the U.S. has to true light infantry is probably the Marine Scout/Snipers. According to one report from Afghanistan, the Taliban refer to the Scout/Snipers as “The Marines who are well-trained.” The Pashtun are, and long have been, some of the world’s best light infantry.)
-William S. Lind
Lind, a longtime lecturer to the armed forces on the topic of small units for small wars(and the original codification of the 4GW concept), has explained an interesting point. One that I don’t entirely agree nor disagree with, however one that must be examined from the Patriot’s standpoint.
For all of the hornblowing on “martial law” and the military coming to help the militarized police enforce freedom, a serious observer should sit back and ponder a few key issues.
US Infantry Units exist for manuever warfare.
What does this mean, exactly? They move, as part of a combined arms team, against another force fighting on the same theoretical plane as them. Sure, there’s a few units here and there, USMC SS teams, Army LRSU, and a few others sprinkled in there depending mostly on the flavor of the month, but by and large, Infantry is a very small piece of a larger equation. Still with me? Ok. We’ve been in a counterinsurgency posture for some time, but those lessons are being forgotten as we speak, because true CI is relatively cheap.
True, bottom-up Light Infantry looks more like this:
Than the Top down, Micromanaged Person with a Rifle, seen here:
Before you chuckle, understand that the push has been going in this direction for a long time, and still is. US conventional commanders are obsessed with specific, micro control. And that’s a big problem. There’s lots of justifications, but it all boils down to one thing- trust.
Conventional force commanders do not trust their troops to make decisions at the small unit level.
Sure, they may give lip service to it, but they in reality, they do not. No Commander is willing to risk his brass on men who may be the next ones filmed pissing on a dead enemy’s corpse and touching off a media firestorm. In many ways, we’re still very much figuring out how to fight WWII better and better each time. WWIII(aka 4GW) has been going on since Korea, and our track record is, well let’s say, not as spectacular.
Despite all the lip service to the contrary, they will never figure this out.
Either they can’t or more likely they won’t. True, simple Light Infantry is relatively cheap and effective. I could talk all day about individual successes of small teams given free reign to destroy Taliban and AQI pipelines from personal experience, but in the end it’ll matter little. The US Army is concerned with structuring to fight linear warfare against regional, similarly equipped linear enemies. At the forefront of the issues is the over-reliance upon high tech infrastructure. In my experience, even the equipment that’s existed for the past couple decades is unreliable at best.
Once, during a long duration field exercise while assessing a real-world casualty, was asked to send the medevac request by the Blue Force Tracker. Despite announcing it was real world, and had triaged my soldier myself, I was still relegated to using the BFT(which I ignored, and called BN myself.) The request showed up somewhere in the system some time later, well after the BN level aid station had been notified and my CO and PL had been called to the BN TOC after berating me over the net. I digress; but it’s a stark example of over reliance on technology which works well only in the minds of the designers.
True, genuine Light Infantry thinks and operates on its own, melting into it’s population.
It’s not just the American Army either, all of the 1st World armies suffer from this, including the Europeans. Even in this blog, with Ironbound Concepts’ commentary, illustrates this point with the Russians. Despite Mr. Lind’s assertions, I’ve conducted joint operations with a few nations, and the closest to small autonomous units that any of them gets is the Brits, hands down. Even still, this is not to say that there’s roving bands of troops running amok in the countryside, but rather, effective small teams of Hunters looking for prey.
Why this is important
Traditional Infantry is rigid, and doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. They are reactive, remember this. In addition, with the laughable inclusion of women, they will become largely irrelevant to anyone except the easiest prey. Examine the seams created by the technology and societal gap. We can very easily win this fight, as any Westerner is still three times the fighter an Afghan or Iraqi is, despite the collectivist aim to the contrary. Train hard, think unconventionally.