This article contains spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” episode “The Spoils of War.” So, if you have complaints about being spoiled, pick a number from below.
You can say this for the Mother of Dragons: While her initial disastrous forays would leave even Saint Mattis of Quantico with a difficult task, she is both a fast learner and she also doesn’t hesitate to lead from the front. This puts her miles ahead of George McClellan (at just about any time in the Civil War) or Frank Jack Fletcher.
Let’s take a good look.
1. Proper air-land coordination is critical
Daenerys Targaryen has to react after a series of military disasters, one of which left her army of Unsullied stranded at Casterly Rock. In this episode, she properly uses the strengths of her units — and in a coordinated effort.
The Dothraki are mobile, but not the best against heavy infantry. Jamie Lannister (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, notable for playing Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Gary Gordon in “Blackhawk Down”) orders the Lannister/Tarly force to bunch up. That would have worked passingly well…except the other side had the ability to call down an air strike.
Which Daenerys executes tremendously. The dragon delivers the fire and takes out the Lannister ground forces. The Lannister Army is practically wiped out in an Arc Light of napalm, and the objective of avoiding civilian casualties has been met.
2. Do not underestimate the enemy
The problem: Daenerys has decided that, to paraphrase Winfield S. Hancock at Gettysburg, this is a time that a queen’s life does not count. Daenerys has repeated her mistake of splitting her forces. This time, she apparently only sent one dragon, which almost turned very fatal for her.
Luckily, she got away with a warning shot. Still, this was a much closer call than it had to be. Even when on the ground, her dragon is lethal — kinda like what Doug Masters did with an AGM-65 Maverick in “Iron Eagle.”
Now that she knows the Lannisters have developed their “Scorpion” weapon to attack her dragons, she will have to be more prepared. Maybe a “Wild Weasels” sort of tactic is in order to deal with this medieval-era surface-to-air missile?
3. A weapon is only as good as the one who wields it
Let’s head back up to the North.
We’ve been hoping for more Brienne of Tarth. She underestimated her (sparring) opponent — and her weapons. She thought that Needle and a dagger wouldn’t be a match, but Arya had her to a draw. Brienne is a formidable fighter — she took down the Hound in single combat, something not many can claim to do — yet Arya handed Brienne her rear end on a silver platter.
Arya’s training as a Faceless Man enabled her to use those weapons to greater effect. Brienne could deliver a powerful blow with her sword, which was forged from Ned Stark’s Ice, but a miss does no damage. If that fight were for real, Arya would have inflicted a series of wounds on Brienne, and eventually been able to score a killing blow.
This is much like the early years of the Pacific Theater. By all accounts, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was the best naval fighter. But Stanley Vejtasa was able to shoot down two and cut the wing off a third with an SBD dive bomber. Vejtasa and Arya made the most of the strengths of their weapons.
This is why training is so important. Let’s hope the Targaryen forces can take note.