You-Read-It-Here-First Forum Index You-Read-It-Here-First
A collection of textual novelties
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
If you want to read the articles here, go ahead, just click on a forum and find a thread that interests you...no need to register! If you want to post something... either new or in response to someone here, then click the Register link above. It's free... and it's fun to write your ideas here. You can even create a "blog" by starting a personal thread in the Daily Life Every Thread A Diary section...

The Surge: Strategy or Tactic?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    You-Read-It-Here-First Forum Index -> Political Euphemisms
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:12 pm    Post subject: The Surge: Strategy or Tactic? Reply with quote

I've been meaning to post on this, but today it is particularly timely:
the first Presidential Debate of 2008 ended only an hour or two ago.

There was a series of extended exchanges between the two candidates
on the topic of the "surge" and, interestingly, on the notion of the
meaning of strategy.

Wikipedia, as usual, has an admirable discussion on the topic
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_strategy).

Despite the relentless reproduction of the "strategy of the surge"
meme, "the surge" is clearly a tactic and not a strategy.
I think I can prove this. Discounting the somewhat archaic distinction
as being those things done during versus in preparation for a
battle, the meaning of a tactic is always within the context of a strategy.
In general, a strategy describes an objective, a "what" and a tactic
describes a way of achieving the objective, the "how".

By the direct meaning of the phrase "surge", it is an increase in troops.
You can tell that it is not a strategy because that is not an objective
that is valuable in itself. It is only valuable in the context of furthering
some larger goal.

So why isn't "the surge" described as a tactic by the administration and
its supporters? This question is at the heart of why "the surge" is a
euphemism: to correctly call it a tactic is to call into question the
strategy which it supports.

When (gently) questioned about the surge, supporters say that it
also includes the idea of protecting the population. So this would
seem the be the real, underlying, strategy. But how could it have
not been a strategy all along? Either it was, and so there is no
strategic change underlying the surge, or it wasn't, which raises
further embarrassing questions.

Note: I found another web page (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bergthold/who-knows-strategy-v-tact_b_129778.html)
that also discusses the strategy/tactics distinction in the context of
tonight's debate.

Like me, that author thinks that McCain, not Obama, is the one
who does not understand the difference between strategy and tactics.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Visit the Instant Postcard Collection @ http://instant-postcard-collection.com
Looking for postcards of that favorite place? Family origins? Or that perfect vacation, except for the photos?
Researching your dissertation? Serious collector? Just looking for something neat?
You've found the right place to add to your existing collection, or to start a new one.
jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A counter argument that there were two strategies.

Steady State: Continue to maintain troop levels.

Big Bang: The Surge.


Another argument why it was a strategy is that a tactic is something that occurs within the context of battle. "Take that hill, and cover us with artillery". Whereas strategy is outside of the combat. "Fight a war on two fronts".

Since the surge concerned not the actual fighting, but an increase in materiel and manpower, its a strategy. The confusion to some may be in the word "surge" where you visualize a platoon of solders running to take Pork Chop Hill...and perhaps that was intended on the part of the Bush defense strategists.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neither of those are strategies.

They do not describe an objective that makes any sense.
Having more troops, in itself, does not describe an approach
that is directly tied to an objective.

In something like: "Allowing the populace to take up more of their
self defense by protecting them by increasing the troops." In this
case, the first clause is a strategy, and the other two are in a
tactical hierarchy with respect to that strategy.

The other sense is listed as archaic. Even if it were not, it supports
my point, it seems to me. We are / have been engaged in a battle
of sorts. Changing conditions during that battle, by this archaic
definition, would be tactical.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of archaic, this definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_strategy) of "the art of arrangement of troops" on the battlefield has some pertinence to the surge or insertion of many soldiers in a short time span into the battle area.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Visit the Instant Postcard Collection @ http://instant-postcard-collection.com
Looking for postcards of that favorite place? Family origins? Or that perfect vacation, except for the photos?
Researching your dissertation? Serious collector? Just looking for something neat?
You've found the right place to add to your existing collection, or to start a new one.
brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In common usage, I don't object to someone using either of these terms.
Oftentime, the distinction is just not at all important, because we can
get the idea.

But the topic came up, and the distinction became relevant.

The clearest description of the difference between the 2, from the
article you cite:
Quote:
It is often said that the art of strategies defines the goals to achieve in a military campaign, while tactics defines the methods to achieve these goals. Strategic goals could be "We want to conquer area X", or "We want to stop country Y's expansion in world trade in commodity Z"; while tactical decisions range from a general statement, e.g. "We're going to do this by a naval invasion of the North of country X", "We're going to blockade the ports of country Y", to a more specific "C Platoon will attack while D platoon provides fire cover".

Following this definition, "we want more troops in the region" would
not qualify as a "strategy", while it most certainly could be a "tactic".
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess in reviewing the arguments, I would agree with you.

The Surge was a successful tactic.

The Strategy was also successful, in that it did not need to be changed to insure success.

It just needed the extra resource of the surge which allowed the original strategy to achieve victory.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So you are agreeing with me? I wonder how that is possible,
since I've never stated the things that you say you agree with.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Visit the Instant Postcard Collection @ http://instant-postcard-collection.com
Looking for postcards of that favorite place? Family origins? Or that perfect vacation, except for the photos?
Researching your dissertation? Serious collector? Just looking for something neat?
You've found the right place to add to your existing collection, or to start a new one.
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    You-Read-It-Here-First Forum Index -> Political Euphemisms All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group