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The War Nerd August 24, 2007
RPG vs. M1
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 2 of 2

So the key doctrine on tank use is either keep them away from the enemy -- which is why you get armies using tanks as dug-in artillery, the way most armies do today -- or send them fast and hard, so the enemy has no time to probe their weak points.

Now think about how we're using our tanks in Iraq these days. We send them slowly through crowded Arab cities, or we set them down at intersections. Bad, bad way to use tanks. Instead of showing their heavily-armored front to the enemy, the enemy has a 3D view of the tank: from the sides, from behind, and worst off all, from above. A tank in a neighborhood of high-rise buildings is a target, that's all. Just ask the Russian what happened when they sent armor into the Chechen capital, Grozny.

What we're doing here is running a very expensive war game to find out what the M1's weaknesses are -- back, sides, whatever. These "weaknesses" don't matter if we were using the M1 right, using its fantastic on-the-move targeting system to blast enemy tanks on an open battlefield. If that's the war you're fighting -- the war we fought in GW1 -- then it's totally smart to put the light armor on those places. If you're fighting in Arab cities, like we are now, no tank is any good. A tank has two assets, firepower and speed. In a city, both those things are gone. It can't fire freely without killing civilians, and it can't move fast without crushing them in their houses. All it can do is sit there waiting for somebody to find the right firing angle to hit it on the lighter armor up top or underneath. It's like taking a knight and stationing him at a corner like a traffic cop: sooner or later somebody's going to slit his hamstrings with a cheap pocketknife.

So the lesson is: hardware just isn't that important in a war like this. In urban warfare, what matters is intelligence and propaganda, not firepower.
Another lesson: the more you compare that way we used our strengths in GWI with the way we wasted them in GWII, the more you respect Colin Powell. He got it exactly right the first time -- meet the enemy in unpopulated, flat desert, stay the Hell out of the cities, stick with our strengths: air power and mobility.

Which brings up another big question: General Powell, how come you didn't resign when you must've known they had it all wrong this time around?

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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