Capacity to Fight

When making strategy, the capacity to fight (One’s own capacity as well as that of opponents) is a basic, natural consideration. To formalize that consideration a bit — to audit it, practice it, organize it or perhaps to have a handy checklist for review of said consideration, I offer the following, soft deconstruction.

Divide capacity to fight into four principal categories, as follows (the order is of little consequence):

  1. To move influential mass
  2. To build influential mass
  3. To move influential ideas
  4. To create influential ideas

Move influential mass. This includes water, fighters, bullets, bombs, aircraft, food – anything with actual weight that can help influence an opponent. And by ‘move’ that generally means move it to where it can have the desired influence. Boats, tunnels, ports – they all help move stuff. Nothing attains its competitive value except to the extent it can be moved.

Build influential mass. Before moving a thing — soldier, tank, drone, whatever — it has to exist. Some people, organizations, countries can make things while others have little capacity to do so. Owning a gun factory might be nice.

Move influential ideas. This means getting ideas to the audience one wants to influence, which on most fruitful occasion includes the opponent and his minions. We can have great ideas, but if we cannot deliver them, they fall silent in the forest.

Create influential ideas. Not everyone imagines influentially useful ideas. “Golly, gee, I think we can spit the atom” was a heck of a potentially influential idea. The categories do overlap some.

There are maybe two more categories to keep in mind as you are doing your essential strategy-making considerations bit. The first is resolve. Not exactly a capacity in that resolve, or willpower, is what keeps a competitor orchestrating and applying the capacities to a competitive end, but in a sense, it is also a capacity. A possible sixth capacity has to do with spying and secrecy. That, too, involves the other capacities even to include resolve. Having the capacity to find out the other competitors’ capacities and to simultaneously not let them know one’s own capacities is, I figure, itself a capacity. So… if in your capacity-considering you prefer to use five or six or even seven capacity categories instead of four, what’s it to me? Math is hard.

Anyhow, let’s think as an example for a moment about the relative capacities of the Russians to fight against the Ukrainians and vice-versa. Not really my geographical area of expertise, if I even have one. Nevertheless, it’s easy and was easy to see that the Ukrainians have advantage in none of the basic four or five or six categories of capacity. No, not even close. Whoever thought it a good bet for the Ukrainians to get into a long, hot war with the Russians did not calculate capacities at all well. Or maybe she did but was simply unconcerned about the deaths of Ukrainians or of Ukraine. Such ‘strategists’ are either not competent or not ethical. Probably neither competent nor ethical. We should prefer our strategists to be competent and ethical.

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2 Responses to Capacity to Fight

  1. Ivan Welch says:

    Looks like Texas is essential for any War in America 2025 strategic thinking.

    • Holmes Oliver says:

      Battleground for sure. When Geoff’s map is up and running, we’re gonna have to recruit someone from Texas to guide as to the details within. I’m curious, for instance, as to whether college-age progressive activists from Austin will be led to venture forth into some of the harder counties to act out their activisms, or if they will be on the defensive near campus, cringing. (Not much more pitiful than a cringing activist.)

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