A Lesson in Warfare

I recently had the opportunity to get a lesson in warfare from one of Australia’s cleverest military thinkers. Last week a friend and I met with Major General Jim Molan for a few hours in Melbourne. He had been visiting to lecture to senior Justices on Leadership. This subject is largely a novelty for judges who have little need for it in their profession. They are concerned with arguing the Law in their chambers not enforcing it on the battlefield.

General Molan advises the ADF in Canberra on advanced warfighting concepts. It is always difficult, if not impossible, for civilians to understand what their soldiers are facing in the field. As a VietVet I discussed with the general how I found it was tempting to look at the Iraq War from the strategic perspective of one’s own experience of jungle warfare in Viet Nam but I knew that view would be misguided, to say the least.

So, I asked if he could explain succinctly what was the kind of warfare the coalition were up against in Iraq. Here he gave his lesson in warfare. He said, “The enemy have 27 million targets. We have 1000 targets. That’s the problem we are working to solve”.

On reflection since Friday, I have found that to be a really useful lesson and an insight that is likely to empower my thinking on this war for quite a while. With this lesson, the physics of this war are so much clearer; and warfare is mostly physics.

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