Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Folly Of Tripwire Forces (aka Berger's Missile Marines)

I read an excellent article on the hazards of tripwire forces when it comes to a nation's defense but I wasn't able to properly put it together for the blog.

Luckily I don't have to.

via Texas National Review
A pillar of American grand strategy since 1945 has been the deployment of forces — sometimes smaller and sometimes larger — abroad. A key logic underpinning smaller deployments is that they serve as tripwires: Attacking them is assumed to inevitably trigger broader intervention, deterring aggression. We question this logic. Not only are small tripwire deployments unlikely to prevent an attacker from capturing its objective and establishing a strong defensive position, tripwire-force fatalities may be insufficient to provoke broader intervention. To deter, forward deployments must be sufficiently substantial to shift the local balance of power. Our claim is examined in three 20th-century deterrence attempts: the successful 1949 American attempt to deter a North Korean attack on South Korea; the unsuccessful 1950 American attempt to deter a North Korean attack on South Korea; and the unsuccessful 1914 British attempt to deter a German attack on Belgium.


From my chair it appears that Berger is trying to "compete" (they still can't put drawers on that term...word salad without meaning, no application militarily and simply buzzword idiocy), deter and when all fails (as it will without a doubt) then to TRY and interdict Chinese warships before they reach our ever shrinking fleet.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

It won't work.

What I found interesting is a MilTwitter thread on the topic.  Check this out...

We've been analyzed by an ally and he found our strategy wanting.  I bet the Chinese have too. 

The MOST INTERESTING and telling part of the thread is above.

Nick says it plainly enough.  The tripwire force must be right sized and that is the complete and total failure of Berger's Folly.

Let's assume its correct for the Pacific (for a second because he's taking this Marine Corps wide).  Let's assume that a tripwire force based in Okinawa/Guam/perhaps Korea is necessary.

The size and scope of this force and its implementation means that IF WAR WERE TO COME then we would see a Marine Littoral Regiment micro fragmented off the face of the earth. 

There is NO GUARANTEE that the American people would go to war over that loss...especially in this day and age.  We've become weak and decadent.  In layman's terms, pussified.

The loss of Taiwan would probably broker the same.  The American people would not go to war.

Even if policy makers did decide to go to war in defiance of the people then you have lost a tremendous amount of potential combat power at the start of hostilities.

A tripwire force turned into a graveyard of dead Marines.

Berger's Missile Marines won't work.  The very foundation of the concept is misguided and can be better accomplished by technology.  Wasting Marines is NOT the Marine Corps way.


If war does NOT come then the Chinese have already accomplished a tremendous win.  By their very actions they've gotten the US to completely transform the Marine Corps without firing a shot.  They've also tied up the Marine Corps to one theater/one region/one locale that can't be of utility anywhere else in the world.

In other words without doing anything but getting better they've limited our ability to respond to emergencies in other parts of the world.  

I don't recall the amount of ground combat power WE ONCE brought to the table for our nation but that is now gone...tied up in the Pacific.  Same goes for air power.

They've already achieved perfect victory.

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