Even as a young soldier, I was always struck by the term “low intensity.” This always seemed a little misleading to me, since it always sounded more like an exercise than a war, yet things like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and even Afghanistan are, or were, considered to be Low Intensity conflicts. Casualties are just as serious, but over time there are just not as many. After all, totaling all 12 years of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve lost fewer soldiers than we did in one battle during World War II (Okinawa, Tarawa, D-Day, to name a few).
The level of intensity isn’t drawn from casualties, but instead it encompasses more basic concepts. Items such as air superiority, types of weapon systems employed, sea lane control, and lots of other factors go into this analysis, as to whether it is low intensity or not. Sadly though, if you’re one of the casualties, there is nothing “low intensity” about a conflict. Now if you’re even mildly confused, the last High Intensity Conflicts for the United States were World War II and at least the initial stages of Korea. From then on, we’ve controlled the air space above the battlefield, the transportation and supply lines, and the sea lanes to and from each conflict. In other words, the battlefield wasn’t saturated by highly intense enemy activity at all levels, hence these conflicts met the definition of a “low intensity conflict.”
I only point all this out, because while things in Eastern Europe may not appear to affect us directly, and while many would think it is a “low intensity” encounter, I can assure you that if the wrong move is made by anyone, it could evolve quite rapidly into something far worse. Is there really a potential for a High Intensity Conflict in Europe? Absolutely, since we are now facing a potential foe with determination and the capability to do its level best to deny us airspace, lines of transportation and supply, and the sea lanes. Moreover, they can employ weapons systems that will deny and saturate a battlefield on a level not seen since World War II. So, what makes this all especially unique is that for the first time since the Cold War ended, we’ll be facing off with someone that actually has the capability to make our war look different. Right now, if we’re not careful, we could be on the edge of a potential High Intensity Conflict, which is something we haven’t seen as a Nation since 1952. ~ Michael S. Pauley