Serendipity: Two Armies

Russian Spetznaz Special Forces Troops in Camouflage

Russian Spetznaz Special Forces Troops in Camouflage

I saw this passage in an introduction by Robert D. Kaplan, who was quoting French military writer Jean Lartéguy’s The Centurions:

I’d like … two armies: one for display, with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, fanfares, staffs, distinguished and doddering generals, and dear little regimental officers … an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage battledress, who would not be put on display but from whom … all sorts of tricks would be taught. That’s the army in which I should like to fight.

The first army would be huddled in the Green Zone or Bagram AFB, eating pizzas and drinking Cokes. Whenever they would venture out in force, they would be blown to smithereens without ever having seen the face of their enemy.

The second army was the one that bagged Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad and that will defeat ISIS if ISIS is ever to be defeated.

By the way, do not underestimate the French military. They are not all “surrender monkeys,” as some Americans would have it. It was the first army—the parade ground army—that surrendered at Sedan and Dien Bien Phu.