Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strategy, Tactics, and Logistics

The big brother of lacrosse could learn a thing or two from its little brother.

Strategy, tactics and logistics are essentials for success in any form of human endeavour. Without mastery of these three things, nothing can be accomplished, nothing can be won, and nothing can be achieved.

Last Sunday's experience in Waterloo was a clear example of this. In the first game, between Laurentian and Laurier, the Laurentian Voyageurs were the decided underdogs in the match, and they ended up losing because they failed to master the three essentials.

It was clear from the start that Laurentian's strategy was to try to hit Laurier hard and often. The Laurentian players were, generally, bigger and stockier than their opponents. Normally, in most sports, this is a decided advantage, except in field lacrosse, where smaller, quicker and more nimble players are required. Also, the referees in field lacrosse watch the hitting more closely than their box counterparts. As a consequence, Laurentian was able to catch Laurier off guard in the beginning of the match with their physical play, but the referees caught up to them and Laurentian spent too much time either penalized, or giving up possession to Laurier.

When it became clear that the main stragegy failed, Laurentian tried to change their tactics. In the second half, the hitting became less frequent, with the result that Laurentian had fewer penalties. But they had fallen behind in the score and had to rush their offensive forays. The result was too many shots that failed to make the target. Great effort was made by the Voyageurs to attack, but to little or no avail.

Finally, the Laurentian bench was smaller than Laurier's.... they just had fewer players to work with. As the afternoon wore on, and the heat became more noticeable, the Laurentian players began to tire. They had fewer substitutions, whereas Laurier, with more players at their disposal, was able to put fresher legs on the field as the game wore on. This was not the only logistical problem. Often, when a Laurentian longpole was penalized, he had to plead with one of his midfielders or attackers to change sticks, so that there were always enough long sticks on the field.... Laurentian just simply hadn't brought enough long poles to play the game. These, coupled with the growing frustration of the failed strategy and tactics, made the outcome of the game predictable.

Final score, Laurier 14, Laurentian 8. Laurentian gave it a good try, and their players were determined, but, alas, out-gunned and out-manned.... and out-thought.

One wonders if those who are in charge of our mission in Afghanistan have learned anything from similar blunders. Is our strategy sound? Have we made the necessary tactical changes in the face of unexpected resistance? Do we have enough people and equipment to do the job? Warriors of all kinds need to learn the lessons of the past. Surely, lacrosse players have learned that strategy, tactics, and logistics are necessary. They have learned this from over five hundred years of playing the "little brother of war." Have their "big brothers" become blind to history?

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