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War of the Flea

Anyone who has studied Vietnam or any of the present non-conventional wars/conflicts is probably familiar with this concept.  However, this is the first time I have ever heard the analogy “War of the Flea” before, so I wanted to share it with you.

To quote Robert Taber:

The guerrilla fights the war of the flea, and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend; too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with.

The ideas and principles are something we all know.  The enemy resorts to hit and run attacks, IEDs, and ambushes to wear away at the coalition forces.  They try to hurt public interest and wait us out.  The Taliban have a phrase, “The Americans may wear the watches, but we have the time,” is exactly right.  The Afghans have been fighting for most of their lifetime.  They have the will to fight forever and they know if they can whittle away at the US (big dog) they can slip back in when we bail out.

That’s the same way the flea defeats the dog: jumping, hopping and biting because the dog has too much to defend.  Eventually the dog tires and gives up.

I hope people understand the War of the Flea and are mentally prepared for a long road ahead.


4 Responses

  1. I had never heard that before…Thanks for sharing. It is true and kind of daunting to think about. Unfortunately I don’t think many Americans are prepared for that long road….

  2. I might avoid this analogy when you get in country…I’m sure being compared to a pestering flee would probably get your dander up (pun intended).

    Perhaps when some batallions get redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan it will be easier to gain some traction. I’d be interested in hearing how the military has briefed and prepared you for the cultural and political climates in Afghanistan. Maybe we can chat about it on Skype sometime soon.

  3. It was great to get a chance to spend some time with you this past weekend.. I really enjoyed our talks.

    Hey have figured out what you left in my car yet?

  4. What did he leave in the car???

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