By Barry D. Watts, Institute for National Strategic Studies (U.S.)

McNair Paper 68.
Examines the query of even if Clausewitzian friction might succumb to the alterations in modern war that could lie forward, or no matter if such impediments replicate extra enduring points of warfare that know-how can basically have an effect on marginally. Clausewitzian friction refers back to the conception through Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) that fact exerts one of those friction on rules and intentions in conflict. This time period is usually linked to the varied problems and impediments to the powerful use of army force.

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Consider, once again, Clausewitz’s argument from the first chapter as to why the actual conduct of war falls so far short of the maximum possible application of violence implicit in war’s pure concept. ” In an age of intercontinental, thermonuclear weapons, these physical limits may be considerably less than they were in Napoleon’s day. Nonetheless, physical limits remain even with thermonuclear weapons, and to these physical limits must be added the political limitations of war’s subordination to policy.

155 How does this appreciation of the likely impossibility of eliminating any and all prospects of falling victim to a future surprise attack help one argue that general friction, too, is unlikely to be eliminated from or greatly diminished in future conflict? The first point to be made is one of consistency. Despite the persuasive historical evidence that strategic surprise has been a recurring problem in the past, it remains conceivable that it might be eliminated by technological advances we cannot yet clearly foresee or, perhaps, even imagine.

None of these problems was new under the sun in 1991. Indeed, the author personally experienced virtually all of them flying F–4s over North Vietnam during 1967–1968. Elaboration of two examples from the preceding list should suffice to substantiate friction’s seemingly undiminished pervasiveness at the tactical level of Desert Storm. 85 Thus, in 1991, the combination of coalition sensitivity to losses, coupled with the impracticability of eliminating more than a fraction of Iraqi AAA and infrared SAMs, imposed an unexpected degradation in the visual bombing accuracy of coalition aircraft that persisted to the end of the campaign.

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