On Tank battles – you don’t have to fight on the enemy’s terms

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, this video clip of Boris Johnson arguing with Tobias Elwood about defence spending was circulated. 

For the record, I think Elwood has a point re defence spending in general.  I’m also not convinced that Boris engages that point fairly or fully. However, the reason that the clip did the rounds was in order for people to mock this particular statement by Johnson.

 “The old concepts of fighting big tank battles on the European and mass are over”

Boris Johnson

The amassing of Russian tank battalions on the border appeared to disprove Boris. It now seemed likely that we would need to be ready for big tank battles again if we were to respond to the threat of Russian incursions into the rest of Europe.

Well, here we are a few weeks into the conflict, and things don’t tend to be looking too good for those Russian tank battalions. See this article here.

Is this the end of the tank?

We have seen this frequently in the history of warfare. An army amasses with calvary, or digs trenches or puts its battleships to sea ready for naval warfare. The appearance is awesome and fearsome. It looks like their opponents have been outgunned but then they choose to fight a different battle.

If the Ukrainians had attempted to match the Russians in tank to tank conflict, they may well have lost heavily. However, by relying on nimble, rapid deployment of anti-tank missiles they’ve caused the Russians a lot of problems. UK and NATO forces would no doubt respond in a similar manner also using VSTOL aircraft to attack tank formations from above. 

I suspect that just as the days of mass naval battles and cavalry charges are over and no-one would contemplate building dreadnaughts or recruiting knights on chargers, so too are the days when armies invested heavily in large numbers of tanks.

The crucial point here is that in battle, the victors are often those who choose not to fight on the chosen ground and terms of the enemy.

This week I’ve been writing on Faithroots about spiritual warfare. The same point applies.  We know well our enemy’s strength.  His tactics include:

  • Deceit -especially through the misquoting of Scripture
  • Flattery
  • Brute force bullying
  • Shaming and accusing

I’m sure you can identify other tactics and weapons at his disposal. Sadly at times, the church has been willing to enter the conflict on his terms. I think this has come through most obviously and overtly in recent cases of church abuse.  However, we can all be prone to the temptation.

Ephesians 6 reminds us that we don’t fight the battle with the enemy’s weapons but with the Lords. We don’t fight on his terms and on his ground. We fight on Christ’s terms and on the ground of the Cross.  That’s where victory is won.

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