clarity is essential in the profession of arms
When I was at NATO, the term "Arc of Instability" was used to describe the areas surrounding Europe - North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. That term seemed appropriate, included fronts and flanks and encompassed all sorts of threats and problems.
Let's just compromise and call it the Putin Front.
If east is a flank, then NATO's front is to orient either toward the north sea and the Baltic or the Med. If those are their orientation options, then perhaps they need fewer tanks and a bigger navy? Should the Swedes and Norwegians or my Tunisian friends be nervous? Maybe NATO should start talking about the "eastern resource area"? Nobody will know what that is about ...
CDR - “burr” vice “bur”.
Thank you Sal for another outstanding post.
Clausewicz knew the meaning of the front and flank... perhaps Military War Colleges should reinstitute an appreciation of On War and use resources spent on "WPS Perspectives" as an offset.
"As danger is the general element in which everything moves in War, it is also chiefly by courage, the feeling of one's own power, that the judgment is differently influenced . It is to a certain extent the crystalline lens through which all appearances pass before reaching the understanding.
And yet we cannot doubt that these things acquire a certain objective value simply through experience. Everyone knows the moral effect of a surprise , of an attack in flank or rear. Everyone thinks less of the enemy's courage as soon as he turns his back, and ventures much more in pursuit than when pursued."
A Russian attack on NATO's Eastern Border would certainly not be an attack on a NATO flank.
If NATO is confused (or self-deluded) about using proper language in terms of front and flanks, then how goes the thinking process when it comes to the idea of operational depth? In the days of Napoleon, operational depth was the distance of a cannon shot. The "front" was measured in distances of a few km at most. Even through WWI, depth was measured by artillery range and accuracy. WWII brought air power, but each significant raid was a major combat and logistic evolution; hundreds of aircraft, etc. and each a discrete event. Point is... Today with fast, smart, long-range missiles -- flying in swarms, no less -- there are no true "rear" areas; no such thing as operational depth anymore. If the other side knows the location of a target, getting hit is but a matter of minutes. In this sense, fronts and flanks can still be defined, but they don't matter as much. And considering that long-range, fast, accurate missiles are also sea-launched, even the "rear area" of the Atlantic is a key theater of risk and combat.
Fun fact, "eastern front" is deprecated generally even in what remains of academic military history. I have seen with my own eyes how the very phrase makes certain well-known moguls of the genre wave their hands at conferences and insist we have nothing to learn from 1914-1917, or 1919-1921, or 1939-1945. Another good reason why I will not be pursung a PhD.
Come on Sal. Fess up. The answer to the question imbedded in the center of your article was written by Kamala Harris, right? It was a remarkable word salid. I will take it a step further. I have a sneaking, paranoid hunch that the General actually IS Kamala Harris. Has anybody actually laid eyes on his birth certificate?
With leadership like this, how can we possibly lose to the evil Eastern Bloc?
1. "The purpose of NATO is to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down".
2. "... a graduate of Princeton and Yale". No further comments needed there.
3. To our German friends: we realize Rosenfeld had one good idea, and are using it. We're defending you to the last Ukrainian undermenschen.
I hate it when people “flunk flank”.
Thank you Mel Brooks and The History of the World Part I.
First, I appreciate that you are not on the good general’s staff, and therefore has no obligation to believe the unbelievable. But then, that seems to be one of the tenets of your blog. Salute! Second, may I suggest that NATO’s southern flank includes the immensity of Africa and that both Putin and the PRC are doing their best to outflank us?
BTW, most of us here in America do not appreciate the immensity of that continent. Just for fun, go to the web site TheTrueSize.com, select the U.S., and then slide it over to map it onto Africa. Africa is large enough to encompass the area covered by the U.S. plus India plus China. Lots of room for things to go badly.
When you talk about the Germans and their frustration, it’s there with the Navy, too.
We had a Luftwaffe exchange pilot with us back at VF-101, was an F-104 pilot. Manfred. Great guy.
Anyway, we’re having an All-Instructors Meeting, and we’re trying to hash out some new syllabus stuff. It’s going back and forth, do it this way; no, we tried that, do this; no, we tried THAT, do this! On and on, ‘round and ‘round.
Finally, Manny can stand it no more. He jumps up, yells, “You Americans! I don’t see how you EVER won the War!”...and stomps out of the Ready Room...it was priceless!!
I remember close order drill and marching in boot camp. Without precise language from our Company Commander (and his will to auto-correct morons) none of us would have become sailors. Imagine the possible confusion of "Eyes flank!" or "Left front march!". Egad, close order drill. I was an OCUICS (Former EWCS(SW)) at OCS in Newport in 1981, aspiring to become an Ensign. I got called out during formation, "Mister Flowers, front and center. Mister Flowers is a former Senior Chief with 16 years service. He is going to demonstrate how to do an "About face" movement. "Ah-bout FACE!" This was old hat. Piece of cake, I thought. But I realized I was thinking instead of doing. ("Which foot? Which foot?" I was asking myself.) The formation was dead silent, all eyes on me. A full 1 second had passed. I panicked instead of doing and pivoted on the wrong foot, turned the wrong way. "Good Lord!" the DI said, "There is no hope for any of you sons of b_tches. Back in ranks, Flowers." The moral of that story is that language must be precise and that lessons in it be repeated often enough in order to elicit the proper response. On that June day in 1981 it had been 5+ years since I had done an About Face. Never was called on again to execute that maneuver.
Jibber Jabber! Stevie Wonder can see what a front is.
Maybe the good general was confused about his “flank” vs “front” because he checked in a OTAN command….
"...I understand how a very few highly emotional people can’t let go of their grandfather’s nightmares..." Failure to accept reality creates opportunities to lose and living nightmares for a new generation. This makes them sound like the Japanese gaming Midway.
As long as Russia has a Navy, and allies in the Balkans (Serbia) and Middle East (Syria) NATO has multiple fronts.