18 Feb 2011

Adaptation as Defense

Posted by jofr

Adaptation plays an important role in wars, combats and team sports like football or soccer. It is a basic defense mechanism. In a combat or fight, both sides are struggling to act faster than the opponent, because this increases their chance to act against the will of the opponent. Adaptation enables reaction, which is indispensable for good defense. A lack of information can prevent a successful adaptation, and is therefore a defense risk.

  • Lack of Adaptation: bad defense, unpreparedness, inability to react swiftly enough
  • Good Adaptation: good defense, preparedness, ability to react swiftly enough

Intelligence agencies like the CIA orginally were founded to prevent this lack of information. The CIA itself is a legacy of the war, because it is the successor of the Office of Strategic Services formed during World War II to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the branches of the United States military.

Warfare and Combat

Good adaptation is the best defense strategy. Armor (inkl. helmets, body armor, and armored fighting vehicles) is a adaptation to piercing ammunition fired by the enemy, bunkers are an adaptation to exploding bombs dropped from above. Trenches and walls are an adaptation to sudden assaults of ground troops. Since ancient times, fortified locations are an adaptation to increased mobility of attacking forces in general.

The best attack strategies are tactics which prevent fast adaptation. Sneak and surprise attacks are very powerful strategies, because they prevent a fast response of the enemy. Unexpected, sudden attack can generate local superiority and lead to local victory, which in turn leads to even greater local superiority. Napolean and the Germans in WWII used this kind of Blitzkrieg. It is the opposite of static warfare, which was so common in WWI.

Immune System

The task of the immune system is defense: it is responsible for the protection against invaders. It has two layers, the innate immune system provides an immediate, but non-specific response, and the adaptive immune system provides an specific response adapted to the target. Adaptation seems to be the best and last weapon of the body against dangerous invaders.

Stress is an adaptive defense mechanism of the body, too, because it is an adaptation to terror (i.e. to uncertain and disruptive environments where large peaceful periods are sometimes disrupted by extremely dangerous threats which require immediate reaction).

Games and Goals

In games and wars alike, two parties confront each other, and both parties are trying to win, which means to act against the will of the opponents and to disrupt their defense. The line of equilibrium between the two parties is the front-line, the frontier between the territories of both parties. The attacking party tries to disrupt the front-line, and the defending party tries to restore the front-line by continuous adaptation of form and position. The goal is to disrupt the front-line. High degree of adaption to the ever changing front-line is a perfect defense, because it means being prepared for any attack along the front-line.

A retracting movement is obviously an adaptation to an advancing movement of the opponent. A defensive strategy uses this method to counter attacks, defence in depth (also known as deep or elastic defence) is a military strategy as well. It is apparently an adaptation of the own territory to the advancements of a strong opponent.

The Flickr photo is from Flickr user Jon Candy

Defence in depth (also known as deep or elastic defence)

Leave a Reply