Let’s talk us some Sun Tzu here. He went over regular vs. irregular forces and tactics, but let’s apply this to modern circumstances.
The Right Tool For The Right Job
Irregular forces… well, for our very modern purposes, let’s call them elite forces.
That is, forces with a selection of manpower, equipment, training, doctrine, and leadership that renders them superior to regular forces, especially by the old “pound for pound” measurement.
Pound for pound, the elite force can whip any regular force it meets. If numbers are equal, the elite force will win virtually all the time.
Therein lies the problem.
Pound for pound, a panther might be fiercer than the lion, but the lion will still win because its overall power is greater.
Pound for pound, the elite force might be fiercer than the regular forces, but the regular forces, being far more numerous, will surround the elite force, bombard it with artillery, whittle down its numbers from the inevitable damage, and finish it off and utterly destroy it. It’ll be messy, but it’ll get done.
Therefore, an elite force cannot defeat a much larger, minimally competent regular force. While capable of doing horrific damage on a narrow front, the vulnerability is great.
How, then, to use elite forces?
I have realized the truth of this circumstance.
You must use regular forces and elite forces simultaneously, but separately.
If put together, the elite soldiers will be resented by the regular soldiers, and the regular soldiers scorned by the elite soldiers, and ruinous tests of courage will take place between them. (Read: Fistfights, brawls)
Elite forces will be held back if they serve alongside regular forces as a unit, and their advantages will be diminished and drowned out.
Regular forces cannot keep up with the elite forces, therefore a unified command either brings the elite forces to heel (to their ruin), or pits elite forces against the enemy without coordination (to their ruin).
What to do, then?
Elite forces require regular forces to mask their movements and permit them to do maximum damage to the enemy.
That is, only a large regular force can act as a decoy for an elite force. A small regular force is too fragile to do this for long, but a sufficiently large and resilient force can securely draw the enemy’s attention and allow elite forces – which can operate outside of the regular order of battle, and which can operate even when cut off from the commander – to carry the fight to the enemy.
Regular forces are indispensable to elite forces, not because they are more capable, but because they are complimentary.
Just as it is foolish to attempt to win with conventional tactics alone, so it is foolish to attempt to win with irregular tactics lacking the distraction and masking caused by the actions of regular forces.
Only when the two work together, not in unison but complimentary to each other, can elite forces repeatedly attack sections of the enemy on favorable terms and rout them utterly. This causes chaos in the enemy’s order of battle.
I believe that this is what works. I can come up with various examples, and in the future, I plan to, but I felt it’s good to get this out now and just let people stare at it a little while.