Starve the virus in this siege warfare – general
GOTCHA – Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star )
April 20, 2020
Strategist Marine general Orlando de Leon (ret.) sees the COVID-19 onslaught as siege warfare. In medieval times an army encircling a fortress prevents rations from getting in. The besieged must hold out till the enemy runs low on food and leaves. Whoever starves first loses.
De Leon’s two-part analysis can guide government planners on options, and correct mistakes. Families – the frontlines – can better understand their roles as part of a whole war effort against pandemic.
A Philippine Military Academy grad, 1982, de Leon planned and executed countless battles against separatists and terrorists. He was Marine vice commandant, then Armed Forces West Mindanao commander, before retiring in 2015. Excerpted with his permission is “A Quarantined Mind”:
“This continues my post the other night wherein I promised to answer some questions. May I remind that I don’t wish to provoke a fight, only some thoughts. A quarantined hence idle mind, I feel so free to ramble on.
“Where I left off I averred that: (1) I don’t consider our health workers as frontlines, and (2) we misallocated tasks. The family and the home are the frontline.
“As a general I considered our medical personnel part of our rear elements. In the thick of battle we bring casualties to a collection point for first aid, then transfer them farther back the line for medical attention. I never dreamed my medical personnel, my rear, will fight for me. The implication being, that I have been overrun by the enemy … that I have failed. Time for hara-kiri.
“Why are we in this very situation now? Why is our rear fighting in front? Have we been overrun? Not yet. In near panic we failed to determine which our front and rear are. We scrambled to take a grip of the situation while innovating on courses of action. This is normal; 80 percent of commanders would react similarly. I would have had the same mind frame, confronted with an invisible, invincible enemy. But we need to recover from shock, reassess, then reconsolidate our position.
“What type of war are we fighting? How are we to fight?
“Siege Warfare. I never imagined I would be fighting a medieval-type war in the frontlines (in defense of my family and integrity of my home). A siege involved surrounding a town, castle or fortress by an army attempting to capture it. The ‘besieged’ are those inside holding fort.
“A siege aims to cut off all resources from getting in, to force the defenders to venture out and be annihilated. Storing resources for the long haul, the defenders can hold out till the attackers leave. The latter would leave because of diminished ration and inability to live off the land. Whoever starves first loses.
“Are the besieged confined to waiting it out? No. It is a question of survival. Food and other resources can only go so far. The average siege in medieval times was six to nine months. The besieged sometimes ventured out to forage for food. That is when they became vulnerable to the enemy.
“We are in this predicament. We are besieged by the virus to a point that we cannot move out of our perimeters. We lost the first round. We allowed our enemy to enter our gates, our borders. We did not take advantage of our natural barriers (man-made moats in medieval times) to prevent the enemy from barging through. Our frontlines then were the BI, BOC, DOTr, DFA, etc. When those frontlines were overrun, we were in the first stages of preparing for a long fight. The onslaught was so fast it reached our rear. That brought us to thinking our health workers are the frontlines.
“We also [wrongly] assumed that COVID-19 could be defeated by maneuver warfare. Maneuvers aim to trap or bring the enemy to your chosen battlefield for the coup de grace. But how will you entrap an invisible enemy? Can we prevent and detect them at checkpoints? Can curfew make a dent? If we think so, we are doomed. Checkpoint is the worst violator of social distancing.
“Let us stop thinking our health workers are fighting. What they are doing is heal the sick and tend to casualties from the frontlines. They can become collateral casualties. [Let’s] focus on preventing casualties from piling. The front should be equipped and trained properly to fight.
“How do I fight? (1) I see this fight as a siege. I cannot see the enemy; therefore, I should confine myself to the safest garrison available, my home. (2) I consider my door the forward edge of battle. Any enemy who knocks on it, I will “slay” – decontaminate – to not breach my security. (3) I am the commander of my frontline (home and family). (4) I will discourage and prevent any family member to go out and be exposed to the enemy unless necessary.
“I can only be effective in my task to hold the fort if my superiors at the rear bring forward the logistics. I have simple needs to fight: (1) Food; (2) Armor or Quarantine Suit (PPEs, alcohol, other essentials); (3) Reinforced knowledge of the enemy. Like in the medieval siege, the besieged family will only allow a member to go out on a necessity. He will be required to wear armor.
“These measures will starve out the enemy into leaving us alone.”
(Part of the armor is a new app-based “contact warning” – JB)
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