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.”
Best Defense is on summer hiatus. During this restful spell we offer re-runs from the past 12 months. This item originally ran on April 5.
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