On War #250: Counter Counter-Insurgency

By William S. Lind

Retired Air Force Colonel Chet Richards has published another short, good book: If We Can Keep It: A National Security Manifesto for the Next Administration. The “it” in question is a republic, which we are unlikely to keep since republics require a virtuous citizenry. But suggesting a rational, prudent defense policy for the next administration is sufficiently quixotic we might as well also pretend the republic can endure.

Richards’ first major point is that most of our armed forces are “legacy forces,” white elephants designed for fighting the Red Army in Europe or the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific. They have little utility in a world where nuclear weapons prevent wars among major powers, wars with minor powers can be won easily and usually aren’t worth fighting, and legacy forces generally lose against Fourth Generation opponents. Although they are largely useless, these legacy forces eat up most of the defense budget. Richards would disband them, save the Marine Corps, some useful tac air (i.e., A-10s) and some sealift, and give the money back to the taxpayer.

That will happen when pork stops flying. But the point is a good one; most of what we are buying is a military museum. I disagree with Richards that the Marine Corps or any other major elements of the U.S. armed forces are Third Generation forces, forces which have institutionalized maneuver warfare. The Marines talk it, but it is not what they do. I would prefer to keep enough of the Army to face the Corps with some competition, rewarding whichever service actually makes it into the Third Generation. Bureaucratic competition is a good thing.

Perhaps Richards’ sharpest point is that DOD’s latest fad, counter-insurgency, is something of a fraud. He notes that whereas states have often been successful in defeating insurgencies on their own soil, invaders and occupiers have almost never won against a guerrilla-style war of national liberation. Not even the best counter-insurgency techniques make much difference, because neither a foreign occupier nor any puppet government he installs can gain legitimacy. Despite the current “we’re winning in Iraq” propaganda, both Iraq and Afghanistan are almost certain to add themselves to the long list of failures. If neither the U.S. Army nor the Marine Corps can do successful counter-insurgency, what can they do? That brings us back to Richards’ first point.

While all these observations are useful, there is one suggestion in If We Can Keep It the next administration desperately needs to follow, namely Richards’ recommendations on grand strategy. As Germany discovered in both World Wars, if you get your grand strategy wrong, nothing else you do well matters; you still lose. At the moment, America’s grand strategy suggests

we have the national character of a rich kid schoolyard bully. Somebody hit us pretty good from the back, so in retaliation, we’ve beaten up on some weak kids in the playground, one of whom had nothing to do with it but whom we had been wanting to thrash anyway. In the meantime, we’ve left the real perpetrators alone, even though everybody is sure we know where they are, and we’ve been careful not to pick on kids who look like they might hit back.

Not very attractive, is it?

The best passage in Richard’s book prescribes the grand strategic antidote:

As a first step, therefore, the country needs to return to its roots. We need to restore our innate suspicion of foreign entanglements and concentrate on being the best United States of America we can be.

With the ghosts of our Founding Fathers, I reply, Hurrah! This is advice the next administration can take, should take and will take — if, and only if, our next President is Ron Paul.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
717 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
Direct line: 202-543-8796

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31 Responses to “On War #250: Counter Counter-Insurgency”

  1. rogelio007on 13 Feb 2008 at 7:25 pm 1

    “if, and only if, our next President is Ron Paul.”

    Not likely. Ron Paul not only will not be elected President of the United States, there is a very good possibility he will be defeated in his bid for re-election to his place in the House of Representatives this year.

  2. jaylemeuxon 13 Feb 2008 at 10:20 pm 2

    I tend to agree with most of Lind’s military opinions, but his recent trend of mixing his social and political views (more overtly, at least) is a bit disheartening. Maybe that’s because I disagree with most of his social and political views. This article seems to be evidence that he’s moving further in the direction of political commentary and away from military commentary, or using military commentary as a pretext for the political. The last paragraph gives me the impression that the entire article was meant to persuade readers to vote for Paul.

    Anyway, I agree with Lind that it would be a mistake to believe that the USMC is a maneuver force just because MCDP-1 says so. I’ve already given examples, on other threads, of how that plays out at the bottom. If you go to Iraq and watch the infantry in action, you’ll understand why.

    If a mounted patrol takes small arms contact that can’t be ignored or pushed through, their usual course of action is to slam the brakes on their momentum, get on line and attempt to shoot the most powerful weapons they can get away with using until they reduce the enemy to a pile of corpses. They are not comfortable fighting close and will attempt to do this from as far away as possible. They do not want to get drawn into a contest of maneuver. They will spend much more energy on preventing friendly fire or “masking” than they will trying to outsmart or defeat the enemy.

    The usual answer to perpetual resistance in Iraq has been to conduct sweeps of a geographic “problem” area, using meticulous coordination to keep all units on line and in control. By the usual planning, the only way the enemy is to be affected is by methodical, physical reduction, one by one by one as the line advances. Sure, there might be some air called in to make a few intimidating overhead passes, but this intimidation is an extra, not the focus of main effort.

    I agree with Richards, though, that the bulk of our military is a complete waste of resources. When the first IED is laid, everything we’ve got becomes completely useless.

  3. gracaton 14 Feb 2008 at 12:31 am 3

    Bill Lind is a old fashioned conservative and has never made any bones about it. I think he knows Ron Paul hasn’t a snowball in Hell’s chance but what the heck. That’s who he likes. He has always mixed the political with the military side of things as it should be. The rub comes as to who will have the greatest say in national affairs. The politicians (civilians) or the military.

    Bill Lind has kept me sane for many years. Never mind his eccentricities. Maybe it’s because he worked with Gary Hart at one time.

  4. Cheton 14 Feb 2008 at 12:37 am 4

    gracat —

    I think you broke the code.

  5. ski66on 14 Feb 2008 at 12:50 am 5

    Military strategy must combine political policy and direction with military capabilities in order to actually have a workable strategy and grand strategy.

    Whether or not you agree with Lind’s political view is irrelevant.

    He knows Paul has no shot, but he also realizes that the military strategy along the lines that Col. Richards has devloped will never be implemented under any of the other four candidates running for office. So it is necessary that you have the right political leaders/climate in place to develop and execute a strategy. The military works for the political civilian masters, and that’s the interface and beginning of any military strategy.

    Military reform, and strategic reform falls under that umbrella, will not occur unless the country starts running out of money (at least a possibility that this can happen) or there is a true existential threat to the United States (somewhat less likely).

    So we can continue down the road we’ve been marching on for the last 8 years, or we can vote people into office who have a bit of foresight and internal fortitude to make military reform a possibility.

    If not, we can always remember that immortal HL Mencken quotation…”Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  6. judasnooseon 14 Feb 2008 at 3:21 am 6

    I agree with part of what ski66 wrote:

    So it is necessary that you have the right political leaders/climate in place to develop and execute a strategy. The military works for the political civilian masters, and that’s the interface and beginning of any military strategy.
    Military reform, and strategic reform falls under that umbrella, will not occur unless the country starts running out of money (at least a possibility that this can happen) or there is a true existential threat to the United States (somewhat less likely).
    So we can continue down the road we’ve been marching on for the last 8 years,

    And I would underline an idea: The USA is corrupt both politically and militarily. Those entrusted with power serve their own benefit at the expense of the public interest. Lind cannot talk about military issues without addressing political corruption.

    or we can vote people into office who have a bit of foresight and internal fortitude

    I really hope that’s true, but I fear that Diebold will report false numbers regardless of what the voters choose.

  7. emerynon 14 Feb 2008 at 5:17 am 7

    “if you get your grand strategy wrong, nothing else you do well matters; you still lose.”

    It’s impossible to separate Grand Strategy from politics and, even more importantly if you want success, moral consistency. Seeking successful grand strategy out of the current political and moral incoherency is impossible. I see nothing dishonest or incoherent about any of his statements.

  8. jaylemeuxon 15 Feb 2008 at 9:31 pm 8

    Wow, looks like my comment brought some people out of the woodworks. Exciting.

    To whether my disagreement with Lind’s political views is relevant, I point out three things:

    1. Lind, like the rest of the human race, is not infallible.
    2. This forum is intended to facilitate open discussion of the posted articles.
    3. My generation will eventually assume responsibility for national policy.

    I’d say,then, that whether or not I disagree with Lind’s political views is quite relevant.

    However, I wasn’t really disagreeing with the individual ideas he brought forth in this article so much as my perception of the articles’ purpose. It has nothing to do with my opinion of Ron Paul. Writing an article mixing the military with the political is one, maybe necessary, thing, but that is different from creeping further and further from objective analysis into subjective commentary and, in this case, using ones’ series about strategy to create a thinly veiled endorsement of a political candidate. That’s what I saw this as. I posit that one of the following is true:
    1. Lind didn’t tailor the article to his target audience very well;
    2. I am not part of Lind’s target audience;
    3. I need to improve my reading comprehension skills.

    In this article, his ideas are not dishonest or incoherent, but I wasn’t stating otherwise. In the past, he’s made some incoherent and/or just plain false statements.

    For example, that “Western, Christian” culture is superior to all the rest. This is simply a falsehood. Much of what defines our culture has happened in spite of Christianity, not because of it. The qualitative value of a culture is mostly meaningless anyway, because all human beings are taught from birth that their culture is better than the others. Furthermore, we couldn’t have come where we are (or where we were in the ’50s, which is what Lind has called for) without taking resources that didn’t belong to us. Anybody can create the appearance of success if they just steal from everyone else.

    But that’s a topic for a different thread. I just wanted to explain what I was getting at and show that my statements weren’t made out of any lack of appreciation for grand strategy.

  9. Cheton 15 Feb 2008 at 11:20 pm 9

    Jaylemeux — this is way too long for a comment. But it was so interesting that I approved it anyway. Bad precedent, I realize, so you all please don’t count on it.

  10. maximilliangcon 16 Feb 2008 at 12:48 am 10

    emeryn said,
    “It’s impossible to separate Grand Strategy from politics and, even more importantly if you want success, moral consistency.”

    Moral consitancy, moral Consitancy ?!
    Good point, excellent and yet so obvious.

    Let’s start with the Government telling the TRUTH for a change, and stop
    all the secrecy, the back door cut throat dirty dealing, and outright lies
    about the threats and how everyone’s out to get us,,.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080215/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_iran

    US secretly met Iran banking officials

    By MATTHEW LEE and ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writers 25 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON – A U.S. official met secretly with Iranian banking officials and senior government aides who oppose punishing the Islamic nation for not doing enough to stop money laundering and terrorism funding, The Associated Press has learned.

    The talks last month in Paris took place despite the Bush administration’s near-absolute ban on formal U.S.-Iran contact. They also occurred against the backdrop of Tehran’s attempts to avert the imposition of new U.N. sanctions over its suspect nuclear program.

    MaX

  11. ski66on 16 Feb 2008 at 5:29 pm 11

    Jay

    I think Lind’s poltical views have zero chance of being accepted by mainstream America anyway. Whether that is good or bad is a discussion for another time and place.

    I don’t think Lind has a target audience. I think he writes from his heart/gut and basically tells everyone else “This is what I think and don’t really care if you like it or not.”

    The point about culture also deserves another thread, but it’s pretty clear to me that culture matters a great deal in the 21st Century, and there are a lot of people willing to fight to preserve their culture. Most of them are not located in the US or Europe from my personal travels over the last few years (including a wonderful of Afghanistan).

  12. mycophagiston 16 Feb 2008 at 6:20 pm 12

    jaylemeux wrote:

    “In this article, his ideas are not dishonest or incoherent, but I wasn’t stating otherwise. In the past, he’s made some incoherent and/or just plain false statements.”

    “For example, that “Western, Christian” culture is superior to all the rest.”
    ***********
    I disagree with just about all of Mr. Linds social views – Ditto for Mr. Paul.

    On the other hand, the first and most demanding need for our country is a return to Constitutional norms.

    In the past, from time to time, we’ve abandoned these norms, only to return to them. Will this occur again? Will we return to a respect for our Constitution?

    May I suggest that I regard the above as a far greater priority than anything else? Grand Strategy, as has been pointed out in this thread, is first and foremost a political strategy. That can only be implemented by a country which obeys its own laws before trying to impose them on anyone else. Should not the first question we ask any political candidate is, “How do you stand on following and obeying the Constitution?”

    No President OR Congress can do irreparable damage if our Constitution is followed. If enough people demand an answer to this question, it will become a part of the public dialogue – And making it a part of the dialogue is the first step in restoring it. Making it a part of the dialogue is the first step in educating the public as to it’s importance.

    The problem is not, as Mr. Lind states that we need a virtuous public, the problem is that we have an ignorant public.

    Dave

  13. mycophagiston 17 Feb 2008 at 4:04 pm 13

    An Addendum…

    Mr. Lind seems to believe we are not a virtuous people. Fabius Maximus seems to believe that we have more information available to us now than ever before…

    Each in his own way is both wrong and right.

    The overwhelming majority of people want to do the “right thing,” and they want our country to do the “right thing.” Virtue is not taking a moral stand on whom a consenting adult sleeps with. Nor is it a taste in art.

    It is honesty in relation to others; it is a society which embeds basic norms of behavior into it’s laws.

    Mark Twain once said, “Nothing is more satisfying than correcting someone elses morality.”

    Looking at yesterdays corporate media I see the top news story is whether Roger Clemens used steroids… How soon will Brittany Spears go naked in public. And this is taking place in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. A crisis which is being given no or almost no coverage. How does this compare to Nixen and Watergate? Or even Clinton and Monica?

    Should I then go on the net to read stories (backed with careful “documentation”) on how the Masons, in a conspiricy with the Elders of Zion, have got us into Iraq?

    Could it be that the corporate media is NOT interested in an educated public? Could it be that the virtuous public is being systematically dumbed down? Could it be that a society which allows 500 percent interest rates lacks a virtuous leadership?

    Our military and political decisions do not take place in a vacuum.

    Dave

  14. rogelio007on 17 Feb 2008 at 10:53 pm 14

    “that “Western, Christian” culture is superior to all the rest.”

    Maybe it is.

    Afghan suicide blast kills 80 at dogfight. Can not say I have a whole lot of sympathy for the victims here. Something in me wants to think that people who would gather around to watch a dogfight deserve it.

  15. mycophagiston 18 Feb 2008 at 12:02 am 15

    Apparently no one set off a bomb at any of Michael Vicks little get togethers…

    When did he convert to Islam? :)

    When Serbia came unglued, we all can bare witness to the inhumanity of man to man. Doesn’t seem to matter what the culture is.

    Dave

  16. maximilliangcon 18 Feb 2008 at 12:25 am 16

    “Can not say I have a whole lot of sympathy for the victims here. Something in me wants to think that people who would gather around to watch a dogfight deserve it.”

    Poetic justice and irrony at it’s finest, perhaps there is a GOD.

    Where does that leave Randy Moss ?

    MC

  17. maximilliangcon 18 Feb 2008 at 1:10 am 17

    What can you say ?
    What ?
    MC

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080217/pl_afp/usattackscia

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the US Central Intelligence Agency set up 12 bogus companies in Europe and other parts of the world in the hope of penetrating Islamic organizations, The Los Angeles Times reported on its website late Saturday.

    SNIP

    the agency had now shut down all but two of them after concluding they were ill-conceived.

    The firms were part of an ambitious plan to increase the number of CIA case officers sent overseas under what is known as “nonofficial cover” in order to increase the agency’s potential for penetrating Islamic networks, the report said.

  18. jaylemeuxon 18 Feb 2008 at 6:13 am 18

    “Apparently no one set off a bomb at any of Michael Vicks little get togethers…

    When did he convert to Islam?”

    thanks for handling that fairly easy rebuttal, myco.

  19. rogelio007on 18 Feb 2008 at 1:24 pm 19

    “Poetic justice and irony at it’s finest, perhaps there is a GOD.”

    You said it, Max. My thoughts exactly.

  20. mycophagiston 18 Feb 2008 at 3:40 pm 20

    Going back on topic…

    [Editor’s note – excellent idea! I’m going to start enforcing it.]

    As I’ve said, I supported our invasion of Afghanistan. Deep down inside I knew this administration would blow it. Not because they would aim to create a democratic state in our image – But because I knew they wouldn’t.

    Let pause and state that when I use the words, “in our image,” I mean calling up the powerful secular forces, that actually have a long tradition there. While they were never a majority, from Constitutional Monarchists to Democratic Socialists, they have always had a strong role.

    One has to remember that the Soviet invasion did not overthrow an Islamic society but a moderate Communist one, that constantly and vainly tried to improve relations with the West. Creating a secular state out of these various groups would have been no picnic – But it was worth trying.

    But it seems that Mr. Bush was more interested in creating a facade in which tame Fundamentalists would run the new government. Meaning corrupt fundamentalists, drug lords, and whomever else would look out for number one instead of the interests of the country. And how much appreciation of our efforts are we going to get from them?

    But if our culture is Superior to theirs, it is because of social and democratic norms, which we at home no longer place as much value on. So as our country becomes less and less democratic, it’s no wonder that we impose the same facade in other places and call it freedom.

    A scheme doomed to failure by it’s very nature. Imposing a dictatorship would have at least had the virtue of internal coherence.

    And of course in Iraq, we see the same process, and Iraq did not have any signifigant native traditions ofdemocratic ideas.

    From an historical perspective we can blame Jimmy Carter for setting up the series of events which led directly to the Taliban…

    If our culture is superior to others, why then are we always making war on it?

    Dave

  21. rogelio007on 18 Feb 2008 at 4:36 pm 21

    “When Serbia came unglued”

    I see President George W. Bush was quick to jump on the “recognize Kosovo” bandwagon. Does that mean my country, the Confederate States of America, can redeclare independence from the United States? (sarcasm intended)

  22. maximilliangcon 18 Feb 2008 at 8:55 pm 22

    Dave mentions;

    But it seems that Mr. Bush was more interested in creating a facade in which tame Fundamentalists would run the new government. Meaning corrupt fundamentalists, drug lords, and whomever..”

    Could be ? As was the case in the revolving door approach in S. Vietnam,
    anyone and his BROTHER (sarc) who while not nessesarily a trusted ally, hand picked
    by the USA, come CIA, and no matter how corrupt, where we believed (wished) that “they” hated whomever we imagined to be OUR moral enemies.

    Too bad the entire premis top to bottom, was based on non-sense from the get go,,,.

    Moreover, It never seems to work.
    Not in Iran either.

    I believe that in Afganistan we are basically dealing with a scociety which is 100-150 years behind western civilisation, across the spectrum of scocai l -economic development, or that which we call progress.

    At this stage, Maybe we should simply leave them alone, and let them catch up in thier own good time.

    If they go back to harbouring and exporting terrorisim, just make it clear, through every means available in international relations, and defence interests, and in no uncertian terms, that we will deal with it, when and if.

    MaX

  23. patcrottyon 19 Feb 2008 at 4:25 am 23

    I’ve not read Richard’s new book. I have looked at his short online PP briefing on the internet about the book. It says we are spending an enormous amount of money to counter a threat that does not exist and we should stop this foolishness. Let’s suppose we can do that along the traditional lines that most American’s think why the US Armed forces exist. Now we are down to Chet’s $250 billion a year budget for the DOD and we don’t talk about starting a war with whomever or threaten anybody else. We don’t invade, conquer, occupy, and then try and shove our idea of democracy down some countries throat. Given that, we got to settle on how we split this $250 BN on 3rd and 4th generation forces. My idea of how to respond to Richard’s thinking and to others discussions of that thinking is to develop a US strategy that would be best suited to those limited conditions. Is any of that within the art of the possible – no. Of course Ron Paul has no chance, of course at a $650 BN DOD budget pigs will continue to fly, of course if we do a couple more Iraq numbers in the next 5-10 years we will go broke and have another 30’s type depression. That’s my perception of reality. Nevertheless, we should think about real threats and how to respond to them within the constraints of being a virtuous republic.

  24. maximilliangcon 19 Feb 2008 at 6:33 pm 24

    patcrotty said,

    “we should stop this foolishness”
    “we should think about real threats and how to respond to them within the constraints of being a virtuous republic.”

    Welcome to this forum.

    Most of what you mention makes reasonable sense, and also could
    have made sense not long after the US intervention in Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon, The Balkans, Somalia, Afganistan, Iraq, etc ,etc.

    Now the US IS attacking in Pakistan, still talking about, and planning a war with Iran,
    and some even mention China.

    Good luck with all that.

    MaXimillian

  25. zoagriaon 23 Feb 2008 at 9:23 am 25

    Maximillian,

    The U.S. is certainly NOT attacking Pakistan. Well… unless one accepts the colonial modernist premise that territory claimed by this or that Nation State to be within it’s borders, along with the population of said territory, and independent of any actual authority or control, is indistinguishable from any and all parts of the Nation State itself. This premise, for those (like myself) who have to deal with the chaos and anarchy that typifies conflict in these remote places, is perfectly ignorant and silly. There is no neat little dotted line to be found distinguishing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and in those areas where even the Pakistani military doesn’t venture, like the tribal region, no one imagines an operation by NATO forces against a Taliban or al queda training camp is “in” Pakistan outside of diplomatic formality.

    Likewise, and as Mr. Lind AND Fabius Maximus AND Mr. Richards will certainly laugh upon reading, the nature of the U.S. military bureaucracy and DoS bureaucracy is such that there is ALWAYS someone in some random office PLANNING and TALKING about every hair brained weird idea under the sun, quite independently of any reasonable or rational consideration of said idea. So while you can rest assured that somewhere deep within the Pentagon there’s some “working group” cooking up a plan for what the U.S. should do were the SUN to FAIL TO RISE tomorrow… the relationship between those planning for such a day, and the seriousness others ascribe or view these, certainly very sincere, officers work in no way implies or reflects any connection to reality whatsoever. Thus one might as well state that the “US” is still talking about, AND PLANNING A WAR WITH MARTIANS, with the same degree of conviction you seem to ascribe to invasions of Iran.

    Heck, wasn’t this the justification for taking this DNI site onto a registered user format? Because too much of OUR discussion topics were being applied by our enemies before WE could figure out how to adopt and adapt 4GW concepts ourselves!

    (sorry for digressing off subject… )

  26. stevenmaximusdecaturon 02 Mar 2008 at 12:30 pm 26

    It is interesting the lion’s share of response to this post review the political twist near the end, rather than the merits of the review and the material being reviewed.

    Grand Strategy is not only required, it is fundamental and necessary. The military is mastered by the government. And for that we should all be blessed, for in the so-called “4th generation,” there is a blurring of responsibilities, authorities and actions. The military, the government, the masses are all one. Do, the primal challenge, is to figure out exactly what that grand strategy should be: I would argue although it is not either of GWBs (pre or post 9-11) concepts, the ‘warning’ contained in GW’s farewell address, or the defeatism/insular/protectionism purported by the likes of Paul-Obama-Edwards and others. Before we trash the US Army, Navy and Air Force; it would be more efficacious to set the course for our nation. I would argue, should someone like the reported Paul be elected, a legacy 2GW force is exactly what would be required to enact our grand strategy, for all we would be doing is protecting ourselves from invasion. Also, we would not be able to afford much of a military as our economy (and the global one as well), would rapidly be flushed down the toilette.

    None of that will come to pass in this electoral season or during our next presidency.

    On force composition. I would like to emphasize a point indicated above, should we only maintain a 4GW military, we will no longer be a leader in this world. Our time, our culture, our influence will be surpassed—perhaps this is already occurring, but I see no reason not to delay the course. If the United States does not lead, someone will. This has been proven, time and time again. When a strong power fades, others will rise. The much poo-pooed 2and3GW forces of the US military are truly the guarantors of stability through much of the world—wait, the developed world. There is no European Union, NATO or United Nations without these forces.

    Moreover, an only 4GW force, will leave us at the whims of other powers. We will be able to beat up UBL, but we will struggle with the likes of Chavez!

    A final point, interesting that the USMC survives mostly in tact … and interesting that they are the lone service that has at least in part attempted to listen to the ideas of Richards, et al.

  27. Cheton 02 Mar 2008 at 4:27 pm 27

    dear stevenmaximusdecatur,

    Interesting comment, thanks. The issue as you note is not whether we have only a 4GW force, whatever that might be, but how much of our legacy forces we keep into the 21st Century. Grand strategy is indeed the key.

    We don’t, for example, use 2/3GW forces in the developed world (Tom Barnett also makes this point in both of his books). Practically all these countries are either our allies or nuclear-armed, or both. In the “developing” world, they can be used so long as you don’t get yourself into an occupation — punitive raids and strikes, in other words. The problem with raiding, though, is that the effect tends to wear off. The destruction of the Osirak reactor, for example, was a brilliant tactical feat, but Saddam was on the verge of building a nuke anyway by the time of the First Gulf War (see If We Can Keep It for details).

    In any case, if Chavez is the best threat we can come up with, we should be able to do a lot of budget balancing as we rationalize our defense establishment.

  28. rogelio007on 02 Mar 2008 at 5:38 pm 28

    “the USMC survives mostly in tact”

    Yes. But the Marine Corps is not being used to full advantage. Currently, the Marine Corps is being used as a second Army (Iraq and Afghanistan). We don’t need a second Army. We already have an Army. To be used to full advantage the Marine Corps needs to be reshaped into something other than an unnecessary duplication of the Army.

  29. Cheton 02 Mar 2008 at 6:03 pm 29

    rogelio007 —

    Right – that’s the question. But since we don’t need both of them, why don’t we keep the one that’s made a start at implementing maneuver warfare? And that has 4GW as part of its informal doctrine, at least (you see references to and discussion of 4GW all the time in the Marine Corps Gazette)?

    As for the other one – well, it did its job and it’s time to wind it down.

  30. rogelio007on 02 Mar 2008 at 7:16 pm 30

    “you see references to and discussion of 4GW all the time in the Marine Corps Gazette”

    True. But as William S. Lind has pointed out a few times in his columns, the Marine Corps preaches but they don’t practice. Perhaps this will change after the current generation of Marine Corps senior officers has retired in ten years or so. But by then it will be too late. We will have been defeated in both Iraq and Afghanistan by then.

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