Élan

The French military before WWI cultivated the practise of élan, an attack must not be just effective, it must be dashing.  Perhaps that’s why they wore such colorful military uniforms with impressive cuivres and lost so many wars.  The Japanese military cultivated the element of surprise, as they showed so brilliantly at Pearl Harbor in 1941.  But, they lacked follow-up.  The Al Qaeda terrorists cultivated the element of wanton uncivilized destruction to intimidate and undermine, as practised so brilliantly at The World Trade Center on 9/11/01.  But, they lacked substance, once counter-attacked, like the so-called Islamic State, they faded away.

Élan, brilliance or surprise will carry you only so far in the rigors of warfare.  A sustained campaign is needed.  Careful planning, supply lines, intelligence and dogged persistence may count for more in practise.  An example was the campaign of the British Expeditionary Force led by Gen. Allenby from Egypt to capture Palestine from the Turks in WWI.  The spearhead of that campaign was the Australian Light Horse regiment, that in a show of dashing bravery charged the Turkish lines at Beer Sheva in the last horse charge in history. They attacked from the south, partly out of surprise, but also following the line of the oases and water sources.  If they had not captured the wells of Beer Sheva the horses would not have had enough water to survive.

Recently in The Jerusalem Post there was a report that the Shin Bet Israel security service had thwarted 250 terrorist attacks this year (14/6/18).  Much of this was accomplished by data analysis, listening in to conversations and picking up clues.   There was also a report (18/6/18) that the Shin Bet and Israeli Police arrested a large Hamas cell in Nablus consisting of some 20 members.  They had planned to carry out a suicide bombing in Jerusalem and bombings in other Israeli cities to foment a wave of terror.  Much of the counter-terrorism work goes on under cover of secrecy, but it involves a great deal of élan on behalf of the Israeli services that are legend in their effectiveness.

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