The falsity of ‘owning the battlespace’
For years I have heard commanders in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan talk about “their area of operations” or “owning the battle space.”
Yet I also hear some of those commanders — especially at the battalion and brigade level — complain about special operators busting into their space without adequate coordination, conducting a raid, and giving high fives all around without regard to the consequences.
If you really “owned” the battle space — that is, held sovereignty — wouldn’t Special Ops have to get your permission to operate in it? This may seem a petulant or trivial question, but I think the phrase reflects sloppy thinking, which can lead to confusion and problems. Precision in speech is one way to reduce the friction of war. (And yes, the English/literature departments at military academies should feel free to borrow that last sentence.)
Photo credit: PARIS CAPERS/Flickr/U.S. Marine Corps