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Friday, July 15, 2022
High-Precision Ground Warfare in the Contemporary World
Chan Kung & Yang Xite

For many, ground warfare is a familiar episode in numerous war-themed movies. In such a scene, we often see countless brave soldiers marching forward, often in groups, on the battlefields. During the time of abundant human resources, low labor cost, backward weapons, and when the soldiers were less sophisticated, such a battle tactic would perfectly make sense, even inevitable. Yet, such a tactic would also be largely based on esprit de corps, and the willingness to sacrifice oneself.

In China, for instance, during the 1900s to 1980s, like any army in most third-world countries, military operations were mostly based on such a principle. Marshal Lin Biao (1907 - 1971), the well-known Chinese military leader, improvised on it and creatively devised various battle stratagems, thereby playing a pivotal role in the victory of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in northeastern China during the Chinese Civil War (1927 – 1949).

Similarly, during the Huaihai campaign, the last stage of the war between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang, the PLA troop’s spirit of sacrifice constituted the fundamental reason for the decisive victory of the Communists. Likewise, the same situation could be seen in the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979.

What then, is the difference between modern warfare and ground warfare?

Looking at the Russia-Ukraine war now, the trend of modern ground warfare is that the more modern military, the more emphasis will be given to accurate, high-precision ground warfare. This will also ensure there will be minimum sacrifice and lesser cost in achieving tactical objectives. As a result, high-precision ground warfare came into existence.

High-precision ground warfare refers to ground combat supported by comprehensive intelligence and information under the fundamental condition that the battlefield areas are presented transparently. On this basis, all the combat areas will be fully planned and allocated. The combat action can be likened to a commercial project, where there are detailed plans for the control of a trench, the occupation of a highland, the role of a house, and even every landscape and building in the area. With all these being considered and then compared with the combat resources, including air force, ground support firepower, and the number of combatants, comprehensive planning is carried out. In the actual battle process, China uses meter as unit, while yard is more commonly used in the West. Unit by unit, high-precision ground warfare would adopt the step-by-step approach to gradually achieve the battle goal. The dynamics in the battle process should be transparent and accompanied by numerous real-time action decisions made by field commanders, but the steps are also carried out by the project planning until the end of the entire operation.

Such high-precision ground warfare has changed from emphasizing momentum, fighting spirit, and the number of personnel to comprehensive scientific operation. The entire combat operations and forces would act like a machine. The emphasis in such a tactic would be on information, resources, and overall operation. In the West, especially the United States, the war in Afghanistan, and the regular army combat, is an example of this. On the other hand, European countries, though being part of the West as well, can only achieve this in a few limited areas such as special forces. As for Russia, the situation is the same, where this is only achievable only in some specific areas. These countries do not possess sufficient military resources, and their military officials are without the required quality, therefore they are unable to accomplish such a tactic.

Notably, high-precision ground warfare gives greater emphasis on high-quality military education, otherwise it would be something that is unattainable. Commanders on the scene require extremely high military literacy and comprehensive command ability. It is also indispensable for them to possess the skills of controlling high-tech information, from aerospace details to ground fire calculation, from equipment mobilization to having a clear understanding of the operation distance. Therefore, the U.S. military attaches great importance to the training of commanders. There are objective reasons for the obvious differences in the treatment, class, and status of officers and soldiers. Even in the U.S. military, there are not so many command personnel, especially given the high cost of training. Only a few elites are competent for the job. It is for this reason that the United States Military Academy has become the pride of the country. This is also the reason that after the retirement of many professional officers, they moved forward to the business field and became senior administrators.

However, what troubles countries around the world is that modern ground warfare is a kind of high-precision ground warfare, and it is an unattainable feat for most countries. Yet, for the U.S., which is good at engaging in professional warfare, this is a scenario that is about to be eliminated. As things stand, the U.S. will be comprehensively updating its tactical system and switching to near-unmanned tactical equipment. The future ground warfare will be a brand-new territory for modern military countries.

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