Talk:Attrition warfare

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Vietnam War reference[edit]

I tagged the third paragraph reference to the Vietnam War as having disputed neutrality ("The Vietnam War has frequently been called a war of attrition. The American strategy was to wear down the enemy until he lost his "will to fight." This strategy was successful but the United States ultimately pulled out due to protests on the home front"). I feel that this is more of an opinion than a fact. I think that either more evidence should be brought in to support this statement, or that it should be deleted. Tabun1015 03:20, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Just look at the casualty figures. Approx. 600,000 NVA/VC killed at the very least compared to the 56,000 some Americans KIA. That's just a tad more than 10 of them for every one of us. VirgilCoolerKingHilts 22:03, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
You cannot say a given policy is being pursued purely by casualty figures. Toby Douglass 13:50, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
In the end, it was the United States that got worn down. The VC and NVA could withstand their losses and make up for them. AllStarZ 16:45, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I think you may be mistaking the style of warfare the VC used. The VC was more of a Guerrilla force, in both my opinion, as well as by all references I have read or can think of. The point of attrition warfare is different then that of Guerrilla warfare. The VC wore down America's willingness to send our army to fight, not the army's willingness to fight. While Guerrilla tactics destroy the morale of an army, as well as a soldiers ability to function in the way he expects, it's not attrition warfare. I look at Guerrilla and Attrition as two forces acting both with and against each other. Not unlike Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (read about the Fabian Strategy), the use of attrition can quickly demoralize a country's willingness to fight, because it results in little to no definitive wins. Guerrilla warfare also demoralizes a country's will to fight, by providing a steady and ticking stream of losses. The difference is that when you commit to attrition warfare you are using your larger and more powerful group of men, to defend and hold strategic territory (Which the US did), to constantly provide damage to men, and installations of the enemy (Which the US also did.) and must be able to outlast the enemy from the sense of power and supplies to be successful. Unfortunately without the ability to continue a doomed to be unpopular war, due to it's length, slow progression, and steady and constant costs of men and treasure, Attrition in itself is almost an impossible way to win a war. I do believe Vietnam to be a war primarily fought through attrition. Marcumw18d (talk) 19:05, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't think Vietnam is a good example of attrition warfare as destroying the will of the enemy to fight is not usually emphasised in attrition warfare.
Perhaps the Second World War, especially the latter part, would be a better example, as the Allies were ultimately able to overwhelm the Axis powers to a great extent due to superior numbers and econmic resources. In particular the USA and USSR were able to send more men, tanks, aircraft, ships etc to war than Japan and Germany and this doomed the Axis once the initial blitzkrieg was spent.
Eg on the Eastern Front the German forces were initially highly successful with their blitzkrieg but after failing to take Leningrad and Moscow in 1941 were turned back through attrition as the Soviets were able to bring up more soldiers, tanks etc than the Germans could cope with. In the Pacific, Japan was ultimately unable to replace its ships and aircraft and pilots destroyed by American forces as the USA strangled Japanese industry by disrupting imports of raw materials. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:55, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

feelings cocerning the "attrition warfare article"[edit]

I think the section with this article concerning the Vietinam war is biased being it states qoute "The Vietnam War has frequently been called a war of attrition. The American strategy was to wear down the enemy until he lost his "will to fight." Ultimately, this strategy would prove unsuccessful due to the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the profound underestimation by the United States of the determination of the North Vietnamese government and its supporters to defeat their enemy no matter the cost." which leads me to belive that this part of the article is more opinion than it is fact.

                                                 help and make a comment
Well, that the American government were less willing to tolerate loss of American life than the North Vietnamese were willing to accept loss of Vietnamese life is pretty darn obvious. FNL sometimes treated its soldiers like cheap cannon-fodder. Is anyone seriously quetsioning that? If you call willingness to accept own casualties "determination" (which is a reasonable meaning of the word but other meanings are also possible) when it is simply a statement of fact to say that the North Vietnamese government were much more determined than the US and South Vietnamese. To what extent the Americans underestimated the North Vietnamese determination and to what extent the US strategy was to make the enemy lose the will to fight -well I must say that I do not know enough to have an opinion. -Sensemaker

As I said above, the Viets were able to make up more easily than the U.S. for their casualties. The U.S. had to train and equip a replacement, and then ship him over. The Viets sometimes only gave an AK, a few clips, and sent the guy off with basic instructions.


I found this on this forum: "A war of attrition is a war in which neither side has an exploitable strategic or tactical advantage, and the continuation of the war is just the slow bleeding by both sides of their strength. Thus, the war will be won by the side with greater reserves of personnel and war material, the loser eventually succumbing because they run out first." -LaborTalkLaw Encyclopedia

I was thinking that the encyclopaedia might have been one of the sources for the article. raptor 16:08, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Is really WWI such a good example of an attrition strategy[edit]

The article says: "The most well-known example of this strategy was during World War I on the Western Front. Both military forces found themselves in static defensive positions in trenches that ran from Switzerland to the English Channel. " I am less than happy with the word "strategy" here. At the outset of WWI no one planned for a war of attrition so at least at the start attrition warfare wasn't a strategy. It was just something that happened. Also at least most offensives (except Falkenheyn's planning for Verdun) were meant to create a breakthrough and make manouevre warfare possible. They were not planned as attrition warfare. Therefore I am highly sceptical of using WWI as a prime example of attrition warfare as a strategy. WWI certainly was to a great extent a case of war of attrition, however, this was in spite of what both sides planned, not a deliberate strategy on either side. -Sensemaker

Firmly seconded. Toby Douglass 13:51, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

On the contrary, attrition warfare was definitively used as strategy. One need look no further than Falkenhayne's planning of the Battle of Verdun in February of 1916. The objective of the German offensive at this point was to force France into a Lose-Lose Double-Blind scneario in which they would either give up Verdun and consequentially Paris or they would be forced into devoting an endless amount of troops to the battle. In essence, Falkenhayne wished to "bleed France white." -Elias — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:24, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Iraqi civil war/"insurgency"/etc.[edit]

Can anyone find a source that states that the current Iraqi civil war/insurgency (whatever you want to name it), is attrition warfare? Or suicide bombings in general? It seems to me that it is, but that's only my opinion, and would violate WP:NOR. -- 15:24, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

"Most theorists [who?]" Huh?[edit]

From "Strategic Considerations":

Most military theorists[who?] and strategics like Sun Tzu have viewed attrition warfare as something to be avoided.

I think it'd be hard to find a theorist who doesn't view attrition warfare as something to be avoided when possible. Even a layman like me understands why this is not a desirable situation. Do you really need to specify someone here? Come on, now. TaintedMustard (talk) 20:59, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

I haven't had time to put a lot of work into this, but will continue research and posting of useful information to help lay out references of military strategists and theorists who support or do not support the use of Attrition warfare. While I agree most all people would view attrition warfare as a bad idea, It is not -always- a bad idea. The use of attrition warfare as part of a greater strategy is always an important part of war. I think what we really need to do is narrow down references to the usage of Attrition warfare, and how it is part of a broader strategy.

View this for discussions about Colonel John Boyd, by Major Jeffrey L. Cowan. [1]. Marcumw18d (talk) 14:17, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

I saw this discussion as I was in the middle of my CBA for my 10th grade humanities class and I would like to share some of my finished ideas. And some input from smart analytical people before I turn it in might be nice. The Last Chapter of The Prince

While on an ideal world, there would be no such thing as warfare, since as of today that is not our world, the question exists: which is less destructive, Wars of Nationalism, or Wars of Attrition? The best way to start anything is by understanding the question. Wikipedia defines attrition warfare as, “a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel, and the Bing Dictionary defines nationalism as partially patriotism, proud devotion and loyalty to a nation, but it also defines it as often thinking that one nation is superior than another. You may believe that thinking of one’s country as superior to everyone else’s cannot exist today, but which country have you been told, as Americans, is the strongest and most free country in the world? Wars of attrition are horrible also, as their leaders usually hone in the powers of pain and weakness in an effort to crush any idea of rebellion from the enemy. Now, if there is an unavoidable war it would be better for humanities sake to be a war of attrition, rather than a war of nationalism because, nationalism leads to competitiveness, and while this is normally good, in the case of causing death it is not, the weakening of enemies morale discourages continued war and fatalities; it is important for people to understand this so that from it we can learn how to make inevitable future wars have less victims. Socially and Psychologically. There are several examples of both wars of nationalism and wars of attrition, but the key factor in these wars is always the mass mindset. In a wrestling match, along with any other conflict people have, if you can dishearten your opponent into thinking they will lose, then they almost definitely will, while if they believe they can win then it may be a lot harder and take a lot more pain to win. As shown in the Vietnam war, it doesn’t take a superior force, or massive efficiency of troops to win, victory is determined by the opinion of the people, and if a weak leader succumbs to the weaknesses and complaints of the people suffering from attrition, then failure is achieved. Disappoint any powerful group of people enough and they will be subdued, and bring down their associates. Attrition and nationalism specifically in politics. Political war is as old as any grouping of humans; from the Christian scriptures we can read, “there is opposition in all things”, and so there is. In politics it is becoming of more frequent occurrence now days to put-down your opponent; while I do not support this I recognize it as an effective way to discourage opposition, or angering them enough to hopefully act irrationally and eventually lose the vote. Realize attrition is unavoidable; as discovered by chemistry, disorder (enthalpy) is the natural law of the universe, and as stated in Things Fall Apart, “living fire begats cold impotent ash”, in other words, enthusiasm dies! Nationalism in politics, as well as my 3rd period class’s willingness to pledge allegiance to the flag, is falling, and giving way for cruelty and laxness to take its place. Competitive cultures. Each culture wants to be the strongest, many believe they are, in some way. As an athlete and an aficionado I believe in competitiveness on the playing field and in the work place, but only to a positive extent. When competitive cultures interlock in warfare and death, then enough is enough. Nationalism feeds steroids to competitiveness in cultures and even smaller communities. Without Patriotic Nationalism, World War One would have never escalated to what is was, and this means World War Two might have been extremely less severe in many aspects, along with many other problems that could possibly have been avoided. When countries want something bad enough, they will kill, and accept mass death to get it. There is no excuse for this action. On the flip side of making each enemy very competitive in war, is trying to make an enemy less competitive in war so they will no longer accept the deaths. This dear friends is called attrition. If a prince is insatiably lusting power, then intimidating another prince enough to not oppose him, would spare many, many lives; mothers like yours, fathers, sons, and daughters too. I cannot find a reference but I do not take credit for something in my mind; it follows, the best war is the one not fought. Destroying others and then, very importantly your own competitiveness for power is the first step to destroying war. In conclusion, one of Niccolò Machiavelli’s more famous quotes reads, “better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.” A nationalistic leader may be loved by the people, but when, even for a moment he is hated, he may be over turned. A feared leader, using attrition, is prepared for opposition and if some group doesn’t fear them enough then the rebel can be conquered. Nationalism depends on the support of the people, so part of the war is within your own country, while attrition is a war with the enemies’ support of people in their own territories; to conclude there is one simple question that strongly relates to the first; while fighting your enemy, is it better to have the brawl in their house, or yours?

Nationalism starts wars and never ends them, Attrition can’t start a war, but it can end it! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:12, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

    by adaon  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:05, 17 May 2010 (UTC) 

page links[edit]

The first line of the page is formatted incorrectly, meaning the initial clarification for disambiguation/redirect/similarly named pages (appearing before the real content). I'm confused by the Wikipedia syntax for this so I can't fix the format myself and am requesting someone else please do so. The "game theory/game theoretical" sense of the term is different from the actual game called war of attrition. The prior is an academic theory about strategy in fields like politics and economics; the latter is the title of a video game for the consumer market. So these should be designated as distinct subjects (like the Arab-Israeli war sense of the term already is). Also, there is no link back to this page ("Attrition warfare") on the one for the Arab-Israeli war sense of the term ("War of Attrition"). These two usages are easily confused so there should be the same option for suggested links there. But as above, I am requesting someone who knows how to please add a link for this page ("Attrition warfare") to the other one ("War of Attrition") in case people arrive at the wrong page by mistake. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:21, 16 April 2012 (UTC)