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Antifragile Adversaries: How to Defeat Them?

a_majoor

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An interesting article which looks at adversaries in a different way. By stressing the "evolutionary" nature of warfare, where actions are met with responses, which spawn new measures and countermeasures, it suggests that in many ways, "we" might end up on the wrong end of the learning curve.

Considering the multiplicity of ideas out there like "4GW", "Hybrid War", Chinese "Unrestricted Warfare" it certainly seems like there are multiple opportunities for adversaries to upend us in ways we are unprepared to counter or respond to. While there are conceptual tools in our own toolbox like DIME, Attack the Network (AtN), Info Ops and so on, there does not appear to be a wholistic or doctrinal understanding of either the adversary or our own toolkit.

This is a long one, so follow the link and ponder:

https://www.militarystrategymagazine.com/article/antifragile-adversaries-how-to-defeat-them/

Antifragile Adversaries: How to Defeat Them?

The third ideal type is the antifragile adversary. For this one, strategic performance serves as a stimulus for the growth in his military capabilities. This happens when the adversary with antifragile predispositions faces regular challenges appropriate to his current capabilities. Of course, what is “regular” and “appropriate” is context dependent. Antifragile adversaries are less common in strategic history. This is so because they manifest themselves only in instances when their predispositions match with the favourable character of the strategist’s attacks. One historical example that comes close to the ideal type were the Thebans in their wars against the Spartans (395-362 B.C.). The two polities fought each other regularly during the first half of the fourth century. The continual engagement in strategic performance made Theban forces stronger from one major battle to another. Though first suffering a defeat at Nemea (394 B.C.), Thebans fought Spartans to a standstill at Coronea (394 B.C.), routed them at Tegyra (375 B.C.), and slaughtered them at Leuctra (371 B.C.) and Mantinea (362 B.C.).[vi] Over the course of the wars, Thebans enjoyed gradually increasing morale, explored innovative echelon tactics and developed new kinds of military units. Therefore, by their own efforts as well by the repeated violent interaction with the Spartans, the Thebans fulfilled their anti-fragile potential. Seeing this development in practice, one Spartan sarcastically congratulated his own king that by the repeated attacks against Thebes, he had taught his adversary how to fight.[vii] Antifragile adversaries are not an artefact of a distant past. In fact, as David Betz and Hugo Stanford-Tuck argue in their recent piece, even the contemporary West has often pursued a way of war “which through one’s own efforts leaves the enemy stronger at the end than at the beginning.[viii]” Antifragile adversaries are universal and so is the unique challenge they pose.

The main challenge in facing antifragile adversaries is that what does not kill them makes them stronger. This is a bit of exaggeration, but in general it does apply. To start with, most strategies seeking to attrite that adversary do not work. Worse, these strategies work for the antifragile adversaries. Actively seeking out the antifragile adversary and trying to attrite his military capabilities by frequent engagements is a reliable receipt for making him stronger. This may not seem like a big deal when the other strategies are available. The problem is, most of the other strategies eventually turn into some sort of attrition contest as well. Strategists too often envision quick and decisive wars of annihilation and get prolonged wars of attrition instead. Others, who start out with terrorist attacks and guerrilla raids, turn to attrition once they develop sufficient military capabilities to have a reasonable chance of success. Not all the strategic options lead to attrition but too many of them do. It follows that most options for dealing with the antifragile adversaries convey high risks of failure.

 

daftandbarmy

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Thucydides said:
An interesting article which looks at adversaries in a different way. By stressing the "evolutionary" nature of warfare, where actions are met with responses, which spawn new measures and countermeasures, it suggests that in many ways, "we" might end up on the wrong end of the learning curve.

Considering the multiplicity of ideas out there like "4GW", "Hybrid War", Chinese "Unrestricted Warfare" it certainly seems like there are multiple opportunities for adversaries to upend us in ways we are unprepared to counter or respond to. While there are conceptual tools in our own toolbox like DIME, Attack the Network (AtN), Info Ops and so on, there does not appear to be a wholistic or doctrinal understanding of either the adversary or our own toolkit.

This is a long one, so follow the link and ponder:

https://www.militarystrategymagazine.com/article/antifragile-adversaries-how-to-defeat-them/

Antifragile Adversaries: How to Defeat Them?


"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of War." Napoleon Bonaparte
 
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