Remember the game of Risk? Best suited for a long winter afternoon, or even a whole weekend, this classic game of world conquest involved armies, strategy, and a bit of luck as each player went on the offense or tried to defend their home territories.. The map of military personnel shown above reminds me of armies positioned on the Risk game board, at least a little bit.
Not all military forces are the same. Obvious differences involve size, organization and location, as the article linked above shows. However, differences in training, motivation, and leadership are at least as important as sheer numbers, if not more so. We see this in current differences between Ukrainian and Russian forces, and we see it elsewhere if we take time to look.
Is a nation’s military forces made up of mostly conscripts, or is it more of a professional force made up of people who choose to enlist? How good is the training? Do the individuals know why they are fighting, and do they believe in it? How much cohesion is there within the units? Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? How good is the leadership, and do they actually lead or only administer? What are the equipment and underlying supply chains like? Do they have a smart strategy, or do they rely only on strength of numbers? As these factors come into play, the numbers on the map and in the supporting text may not be quite what they seem. Food for thought as we navigate an uncertain world.