Monday, April 28, 2008

Pointless Question #21

So, you've got a big military budget. Why'd you spend it on a whole bunch of humongous mecha with beam sabers and oversized handguns instead of a bunch of cruise missiles?

Well, duh answer #1: Because it's really cool.

11 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

Maybe the idea is, I dunno, the wars of the future are of a military occupation sort and to avoid killing civilians and destroying buildings... wait let me rethink this.

Firewalk said...

To get the support of any populace you face. Sure you could blow people up with missiles, but that won't garner ground support.

But [i]everyone[/i] loves giant robots. It's a fact.

Dunc said...

Cruise missiles don't win wars, unless they're wars of total annihilation. Haven't you noticed?

To (probably mis-) quote from Blue Thunder: "Crowd control from the air doesn't work. We tried that in Vietnam".

When the writers of a cheesy 80s flick about a magic helicopter have a better grasp of the essentials of military tactics than most of your generals, you really know you're screwed. Air power does not win wars. It never has and it never will.

Bronze Dog said...

Okay, so I screwed up the phrasing. Mostly the cruise missile line was intended to be showy, impractical weapon (mech) versus a practical weapon that doesn't involve highly cinematic displays (missile).

Dunc said...

Yeah, I know, but that's what you get for asking pointless questions. ;)

Still, I'm not convinced that mechs aren't practical in that respect. They're basically equivalent to tanks, which can be very effective. Besides, showy is good - just ask Hannibal. Those elephants didn't contribute much militarily and they were hideously impractical, but boy did they have a psychological effect!

valhar2000 said...

"Air power does not win wars. It never has and it never will."

Excuse me? It worked pretty well for Germany during the battle of Britain until Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to concentrate on attacking the civilian population, and it also worked pretty well at the end of that war, by forcing Germany to move soldiers from the fronts in order to defend the mainland from air attacks.

In anything, you should have said "bombing ramdom people while allowing enemy troops to operate in protected enclaves does not win wars".

Dunc said...

Air power may have an important role to play in preparing for a ground action which can win a war, but both of the examples you have provided demonstrate fairly well that air power alone does not win wars. If it did, Britain would have folded in 1941, it would have unnecessary to occupy Germany in 1945, and the Vietnam war would have been over in about 6 months. Air power alone is not decisive, unless you're waging a war of annihilation. At some point, you have to put troops in the field.

Find me an example in which air power actually did win a war, and I'll reconsider.

Rick PIkul said...

While I don't have an example, there is a case where air power can win a war:

Wars of defence, most notably where the attacker has to cross a sea barrier. In this particular case, it is possible for air power to destroy the enemy troops as they are fielded. The war is won by convincing the attacker that they cannot mount a successful attack.

Dark Jaguar said...

Air power can win ANY war... so long as sufficient munitions are used...

If the enemy's entire country is reduced to smoldering glass, I'm pretty sure the war is won.

Dunc said...

If the enemy's entire country is reduced to smoldering glass, I'm pretty sure the war is won.

That rather depends on your war aims, and is exactly why I included the proviso "unless you're waging a war of annihilation". Which is not exactly the most common sort of war, propaganda notwithstanding. (Everybody always claims that their enemies seek to destroy them completely. It's almost never true.) Wars are usually fought to achieve goals which not only fall short of complete annihilation, but actively preclude it. Nobody is much interested in ruling over a glass desert.

Wars of defence, most notably where the attacker has to cross a sea barrier. In this particular case, it is possible for air power to destroy the enemy troops as they are fielded. The war is won by convincing the attacker that they cannot mount a successful attack.

OK, now that's an interesting one. The question here is whether it would actually work out that way in practice... I'll grant that it may be theoretically possible. Well done.

Dikkii said...

Nobody is much interested in ruling over a glass desert.

...well, if there's oil buried below it...