Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Letter from Military History - April/May 2009

By Michael W. Robbins 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: February 27, 2009 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

No More Surprises

Reading recent history, it comes as a shock to realize that even in wars of living memory—World War II, Korea, Vietnam—just finding a major enemy force was far from a sure thing. Whole fleets could cruise undetected in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Whole armies could lurk just across the border and over the horizon, screened by no-fly weather conditions, radio silence and the dark of night. Large army units could intrude and infiltrate under cover of darkness. A surprise attack was an ever-present possibility. And surprise is a truly major advantage in a battle situation. If leaders on one side cannot see the enemy forces, or cannot determine their true strength or disposition, the advantage of surprise may outweigh all other factors—at least while the surprise lasts. Consider such nasty unexpected clashes as Red Cliffs, in ancient China, or Pearl Harbor, Barbarossa and Normandy, in World War II.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Military History magazine

Now, in an age when satellite imagery can readily catalog an enemy's inventory of armor, aircraft, railroad cars, ships, missiles; when satellite navigation systems can pinpoint locations with street-level accuracy; when television-equipped drone aircraft can bring a Hellfire missile to bear on a single speeding automobile; when the many varieties of ELINT (electronic signals intelligence) can snatch all varieties of enemy communications, from cell phone calls to e-mails, out of the ether in real time; when even Google Earth can deliver a comprehensive look at a waterfront, a forest or an intersection halfway around the globe—it's time to ask whether the age of surprise in warfare is over.

Perhaps not. Because surprise, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. All kinds of hardware and other military assets may be arrayed in plain sight, but as long as the beholder cannot discern an enemy's intentions, cannot penetrate the minds of its leaders and accurately answer the question, "What are they up to?" then surprise! remains a dangerous possibility.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy