Ultimately, then, the basic rationale of American strategy in Afghanistan is questionable. Certainly America cannot ignore that country as it did before September 11, 2001, and should continue supporting the national government and other Afghans opposed to the Taliban. But in strategy, balance is the key—the expected security benefits of any action must justify the costs and risks. Today, America’s Afghanistan strategy, with its flawed assumptions, is badly out of balance.
Pentagon Shifts Its Strategy To Small-Scale Warfare
By August Cole and Yochi J. Dreazen
Wall Street Journal January 30, 2010 Pg. 4
The shift in strategy sets up potential conflicts with defense contractors and powerful lawmakers uneasy with the Pentagon’s growing focus on smaller-scale, guerilla warfare.
In particular, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has come to think that the Pentagon’s traditional belief that it needed to be able to fight two major wars at the same time was outdated and overly focused on conventional warfare. The new QDR moves away from that model, a mainstay of U.S. military thinking for more than two decades, in favor of an expanded focus on low-intensity conflict.
Phi Beta Iota: This is most fascinating; it is also not the last word. Here is the timeline in short and long versions. Short: 22 years from advance guard to leadership; 12 years from internal think tanks to leadership; probably further delay from leadership acceptance to bureaucratic implementation: another 20 years.
Serious Strategy–Serious Whole of Government Strategy, May 29, 2009
I am disappointed to find so few reader reviews of this work. I read it in galley, and provided the following as it appears on the back jacket:
“Steven Mets is considered by many to be one of America’s greatest strategists. It is no wonder, therefore, that this elegant book provided a balanced overview of the numerous ways in which America fails to devise strategy that can effectively guide inter-agency planning, capabilities development, and operations.”
I’ve known the author for over fifteen years now, and consider him along with Colin Gray (UK) to be among a tiny handful of strategists that have displaced the Cold War self-proclaimed strategists who totally hosed the planet in a 50-year spree of unilateral militarism–all brawn and no brains.
This book is as a graceful, elegant, diplomatic–all the stuff I don’t do–a “reading” on where our flag officers failed to question illegal orders, down-right idiotic orders, all of which have led to an elective war that we won only because the Iraqi Army under Sadaam Hussein was totally incompetent, and we used up every air weapon in the inventory, a great many of which did not hit the target as advertised, and a disconcerting number of which did not explode at all.
Metz is the tip of the iceberg that lies quietly at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Strategic Studies Institute is a jewel waiting to be noticed by the new National Security Advisor, who would do well to ask them to connect him with all those now being shut out by the “closed circle” that has captured President Obama and is feeding him pap–dangeously uninformed unintegrated pap.
Along with Colin Gray, Steve Metz, and Max Manwaring, Martin van Creveld is among the intellectual giants of our era with respect to strategic reflection, and he stands alone at the intersection of strategy, logistics, technology, command & control, and the art of decision-making under conditions of great uncertainty.
His contribution to OSS ’02 was created especially for this multinational group, and we believe it will stand the test of time as a seminal work for those who seek to transform intelligence from a bureaucracy that measures inputs to a cosmic force that determines outcomes favorable to all concerned.