Many commentators on things military are prone to wax lyrical about ship’s missiles and the radar systems that guide them and the performance envelope of this or that aircraft and then ignore the more prosaic aspects of war fighting. The late Major General E.J.C. Schmidlin, the Quartermaster-General of the Canadian Army in 1940, was an Engineer officer who was decorated for bravery in action in World War I and was a professor of engineering at the Royal Military College in Kinston, ON in the 1920s. He took a great interest, as my friend The Regimental Rogue reminds us, in the “basics,” including on how to feed soldier good, nutritious meals on a limited budget ~ one, even in war, had to balance the costs of bullets and beans and the means to transport both.
General Schmidlin also turned his mind to the absolute basic business, the infantry’s very non technical business, of closing with and destroying the enemy:
Not everyone agreed then nor do they all agree now with that sentiment, but it is important to remember that fighting and winning wars is, above all else, a very human endeavour, perhaps the most ‘human‘ thing we do. The best military has enough good ships and enough good tanks, guns, missiles and aircraft but, above all, it has enough good, tough, superbly disciplined, well trained and well led people in its ranks … from top to bottom. Technology, even artificial intelligence with all of its promise, will never replace the human factor in war. The human factor is not just an army thing: even the best ships are only as good as the men and women who sail in them, and a second best aircraft in that hands of a first rate pilot will get the job done when a better aircraft in less skilled hands will often fail.