The Battle of Cannae as illustrated above may have wiped Rome from the history books. Hubris, operational malpractice and military blundering were all critical factors. Fast forward 2200 years.
Isaac Asimov avers: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” This cult of ignorance and refusal to entertain what the military was fond of calling "branches and sequels" (the components of a FRAGPLAN) is much the same with so much of the buzzwords and new paradigms that come out of the Department of Defense (DoD).
Much of this is because of the lock-step centralization and the sclerotic Sovietization of the entire DoD apparatus.
The military industrial complex has taken this as a point of pride and run with it. There is no doubt no one can touch the US (yet) in technology (a linear process in production although application can be different) but non-linear processes and states of antifragility seem beyond the capacity of the US military to adapt to.We can’t do the notion justice without taking a tour through history and determining just what caused this to be the case. My colleague, Don Vandergriff, has done some very interesting work in the realm of military decision making processes in the West and has concentrated on the German means of staffing and fielding an Army as the optimal way to bring the most combat power. Don sums up his findings nicely in this essay: Personnel Reform and Military Effectiveness. The degree of trust and “joy of taking responsibility” not to to mention the Prussian incentives to disobey orders helped to shape the finest tactical and operational fighting forces since the Roman Legions with far more adaptation and flexibility in the German forces from 1806-1945. No matter where you look in contemporary American arms, the culture gives lip service to Auftragstaktik or Mission Type Orders but in practice is nothing more than Soviet Central Planning 2.0. There is a broad panoply of vectors to choose from that explain this and Colin Gray is one of the keenest strategic observers out there and does a splendid job parsing it out here. We will also take a look at Peak Guerrilla from 1916-1922 in the West. In the interest of being perfectly clear and making a comprehensive case for the ineffective if not anti-intellectual penchant of American arms in the conduct of combat operations, we will concentrate on the notions of irregular warfare (IW) and how they are served by the Western model after the conclusion of the War to Save Josef Stalin. The American Army started its decline immediately afterward. Don has done a splendid job describing the inadequacies of the system in conventional operations and I will expand more on the impact in IW. -BB “I'd like to have two armies: one for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals, and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their General's bowel movements or their Colonel's piles, an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country. The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, who would not be put on display, but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight.” - Jean Lartéguy