Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 79

America’s Frontier Wars: Lessons for Asymmetric Conflicts Congressman Ike Skelton The Honorable Ike Skelton, U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat, Missouri, represented Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District from 1977 to 2011. He was the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee. The late Congressman Skelton wrote several articles for Military Review over the years. I n July 1755, Major General Edward Braddock, commander in chief of all British forces in North America and a 45-year career soldier, was killed along with 900 of his men by a smaller French and Indian force. On his way to capture Fort Duquesne, Pennsylvania, Braddock had split his force into two divisions. Because of the difficulty of crossing the wilderness, they opened a distance of 60 miles between the “flying column” division of rapidly moving soldiers and a support column hauling “monstrously heavy eightinch howitzers and twelve-pound cannons” completely unsuited to the terrain. The lead column stretched a mile in length and was attacked on the far side of the Monongahela River by Indians streaming along either British flank and hiding within the forest they had long used as hunting grounds. The British responded using traditional tactics—continuously trying to form companies and return fire but only concentrating their number further MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Research Library is being rededicated as the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. In honor of this event we are republishing this article by the late congressman. “America’s Frontier Wars: Lessons for Asymmetric Conflicts” originally appeared in the SeptemberOctober 2001 edition of Military Review. for Indian attack. Braddock ordered forward the main body of his troops, which then collided with retreating elements ahead. In the resulting confusion, 15 of the 18 officers in the advance party were picked off. Still, the remaining forces continued to fight the way they were taught: maintaining platoon formations and firing together even as they drew heavy fire to the line from well-hidden Indians. It was not until Braddock himself was shot in the back that the British broke in retreat, carrying off the body of their commanding officer.1 Asymmetric Warfare: Yesterday and Tomorrow Why do I begin an article addressing tomorrow’s conflicts with an account of a battle fought two and a half centuries ago? As an avid student of history, I believe it is critically important for us to understand that asymmetric warfare is not something new. In fact, it has been a recurring theme of American military 77