Does Cheap and Sneaky Work Better than Expensive and Hyperbole?

February 8, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

My father was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He loved reading about that historical “special operation.” I think he imagine himself in a make-shift uniform, hiding behind some bushes, and then greeting the friend of George III with some old-fashioned malice. My hunch is that John Arnold’s descendants wrote anti-British editorials and gave speeches. But what do I know? Not much that’s for sure.


The David and Goliath trope may be applicable to the cheap drone tactic. Thanks, MSFT Copilot Bing thing. Good enough.

I thought about how a rag-tag, under-supplied collection of colonials could bedevil the British when I read The Guardian’s essay “Deadly, Cheap and Widespread: How Iran-Supplied Drones Are Changing the Nature of Warfare.” The write up opines that the drone which killed several Americans in Iraq:

is most likely to the smaller Shahed 101 or delta winged Shahed 131, both believed to be in Kataib Hezbollah’s arsenal …with estimated ranges of at least 700km (434 miles) and a cost of $20,000 (£15,700) or more. (Source Fabian Hinz, a weapons expert)

The point strikes me as a variant of David versus Goliath. The giant gets hurt by a lesser opponent with a cheap weapon. Iran is using drones, not exotic hardware like the F-16s Türkiye craves. A flimsy drone does not require the obvious paraphernalia of power the advanced jet does. Tin snips, some parts from Shenzhen retail outlets, and model airplane controls. No hangers, mechanics, engineers, and specially trained pilots.

Shades of the Colonials I think. The article continues:

The drones …are best considered cheap substitutes for guided cruise missiles, most effective against soft or “static structures” which force those under threat to “either invest money in defenses or disperse and relocate which renders things like aircraft on bases more inefficient”

Is there a factoid in this presumably accurate story from a British newspaper? Yes. My take-away is that simple and basic can do considerable harm. Oh, let me add “economical”, but that is rarely a popular concept among some government entities and approved contractors.

Net net: How about thinking like some of those old-time Revolutionaries in what has become the US?

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2024


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