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Current Topic: Military

Civilized Warriors: The US Army Learns from its Mistakes in Iraq
Topic: Military 9:29 pm EST, Dec 22, 2006

A reporter from Spiegel visits Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to see how the new Army is shaping up. The short of it: this is going to be a long, hard slog.

In the end the visitor is left with the feeling that a revolution is being launched here in Fort Leavenworth, one that will radically change the face of the United States military and the wars it will fight in the future.

... until they began learning from experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army's worldview was still colored by the logic of the Cold War, which divided the world into clear-cut blocs. Military leaders were primarily focused on a big picture ...

It took commanders who could implement changes and who had the courage to question the Pentagon's old-school way of thinking ...

The decision to remove Petraeus, who was clearly the best man for the job, triggered an outcry in the press and the political arena. He was portrayed as the shining hope for a new Iraq and for the American military -- even as a new Lawrence of Arabia. Nowadays, he is considered a candidate for a fourth star, and those who worked with him hope that he may one day lead the entire US Army.


An instructor asks his students: "In your opinion, how has the US's view of the world changed since Sept. 11?" A female student says, in a piercing voice: "We now know that we have to take them out before they take us out." It isn't the answer the instructor was looking for.


In an effort to teach skepticism and critical thinking, the instructors are constantly asking their students trick questions and presenting them with paradoxes, rewiring their brains to help them understand the new military doctrine.

The great litany of Fort Leavenworth is that everything must change.

See also the interview with David Petraeus.

Civilized Warriors: The US Army Learns from its Mistakes in Iraq

SPIEGEL Interview with US General David Petraeus
Topic: Military 8:58 pm EST, Dec 22, 2006

Petraeus is one of the leaders you're looking for. Have you read the new Counterinsurgency manual?

Spiegel: Would you agree that you are trying to impose a sort of a cultural revolution on the United States Army?

Petraeus: There is quite a big cultural change going on. We used to say, that if you can do the "big stuff," the big combined arms, high-end, high intensity major combat operations and have a disciplined force, then you can do the so-called "little stuff," too. That turned out to be wrong.


You know, people look at this in theory and think, well, we're dealing here with the training of a couple of battalions -- give them rifles, vehicles, materials, stuff like that, rebuild their infrastructure. But it has cost $2 billion so far -- and that's real money.

And that's the easiest part of it, actually. The hard part is building the institutions to support the new security system, and I'm not only talking about logistics here. I'm talking about the policies, the big over-arching ideas, I'm talking about the set of values on which this system is built. These are questions that are constitutional almost by nature. And I'm talking about ministries, communications systems, depot and maintenance programs, branch schools and training centers, airfields, naval bases, barracks and so on.

Change is Hard.

What we are trying to do is to present counter-intuitive situations to people to really make them think. And counterinsurgency operations are war at the graduate level, they're thinking man's warfare.

What we simply don't want anymore is to give people a checklist of what to do. We want them to think, not memorize.

Petraeus wants to send young officers to graduate school.

See also the companion piece on a visit to Fort Leavenworth.

SPIEGEL Interview with US General David Petraeus

FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency
Topic: Military 5:46 am EST, Dec 19, 2006

The Army has just updated its counterinsurgency manual; it includes an appendix on "Social Network Analysis and Other Analytical Tools".

FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency

NPR : Religious Group's Ties to Pentagon Questioned
Topic: Military 8:49 pm EST, Dec 14, 2006

A military watchdog group is asking the Pentagon whether senior uniformed officers, including Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks, the former public affairs director of the Army, had permission to appear in a video endorsing an evangelical Christian group.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is preparing a possible class-action lawsuit against the Pentagon for "the creation of a theocracy, of a particular fundamentalist perspective within our own military branches."

The foundation says a core of evangelicals are gaining influence at the Pentagon, and violating military policies. It cites Wednesday-morning prayer sessions in the Pentagon's executive dining room.

Here's the same story, over at Salon:

Former Air Force officer Mikey Weinstein (MRFF) says evangelicals are trying to turn his beloved military into a "frickin' faith-based initiative."

Here's coverage from the "Associated Baptist Press":

The influence of evangelical Christians in the military's highest ranks is again under question, after complaints ...

NPR : Religious Group's Ties to Pentagon Questioned

Shaping the Future Air Force | RAND
Topic: Military 10:37 am EDT, Oct  1, 2006

This report examines how US national security strategy and the USAF might change to better confront new challenges ...

Our analysis suggests that the United States could fail to achieve its core objectives -- could, in other words, lose -- under certain circumstances, in a conflict with any of the three most likely near- to mid-term state opponents -- North Korea, China, and Iran.

These findings are, of course, scenario specific; we do not mean to say that the United States. would, or must, fail in these or any other contingencies. The point that we wish to convey is that it is now fairly easy to devise scenarios in which the United States "loses" a war, something that seemed impossible during the post-Cold War era.

Shaping the Future Air Force | RAND

A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon
Topic: Military 10:43 am EST, Mar 25, 2006

"It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

Mr. Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his cold warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower.

The true professional always looks to the "What's next?" phase.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates.

A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon

Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. By Sean Naylor
Topic: Military 7:20 am EST, Mar 15, 2006

Despite his expertise, Sean Naylor is not well thought of by the Army brass, for the good reason that he is generally and genuinely skeptical of the story lines that emanate from official outlets. Like any good reporter, he seeks to tell the whole tale, and some of what he reports the senior leadership would prefer not to hear.

Not a Good Day to Die is a good story and one well told. First, it is a compelling and interesting story, and second, it raises important questions about how the United States planned and conducted Operation Anaconda.

Sean Naylor will not have the last word on this campaign, but he has told a story of courage and devotion to duty that enriches both those who bear arms and those who do not. He has also raised important questions about how operations are planned and executed. His book is provocative, compelling, and irritating all at the same time.

It's within the top 1,000 books at Amazon. Check it.

Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. By Sean Naylor

Shaping the Future of Counterinsurgency Warfare
Topic: Military 7:08 am EST, Mar 15, 2006

Anthony Cordesman delivered a talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace entitled “Rethinking the Challenge of Counterinsurgency Warfare,” November 7. Among the topics covered were:

* The complexity and instability of operations, and the need for time and patience
* Knowing when to "play" and when "not to play"
* The need to plan for complexity and cost
* Focus on the desired outcome of war, not simply the battle situation
* Understanding the state of the enemy, as well as our own vulnerabilities
* Utilizing the full spectrums of options, both military and political

Shaping the Future of Counterinsurgency Warfare

Joint Paths to the Future Force: A Report on Unified Quest 2004
Topic: Military 7:06 am EST, Mar  7, 2006

The central study question for the Unified Quest 2004 wargame (UQ 04), cosponsored by Joint Forces Command and the United States Army, focused on identifying the concepts and capabilities required to counteract an adversary who, having lost most of his conventional capability, seeks victory through a combination of protracted, unconventional operations and use of WMD. The overarching purpose of UQ 04 was to explore concepts and capabilities that have come together to form joint operational concepts and — continuing a process begun in Unified Quest 2003 — to improve the definition of these joint and future force concepts and capabilities; to identify key issues, insights, and implications raised by them; and to address specific Unified Quest issues. This report provides both a description and an analysis of UQ 04. It identifies that wargame’s scenario, assumptions, central questions and objectives, study issues, and essential elements of analysis. It includes observations by RAND analysts who attended UQ 04 and their assessments of how well the wargame addressed the five study issue areas featured in the game: battlespace awareness; joint command and control; force application; force protection, and focused logistics. The report also includes recommendations and suggestions by the RAND analysts on ways to improve the JFCOM-TRADOC future warfare studies program.

Joint Paths to the Future Force: A Report on Unified Quest 2004

Marine Corps Special Operations Command Activated
Topic: Military 8:42 am EST, Feb 26, 2006

The Marine Corps officially joined the ranks of U.S. Special Operations Command here today in a ceremony that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called an important milestone in the nation's fight against terrorism.

Marine Corps Special Operations Command Activated

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