Transforming at Glacial Speed
According to the CS Monitor, "U.S. doctrine moves away from solely emphasizing the waging and winning of wars". Here.
With little fanfare during the past few weeks, the Pentagon has rolled outone of the most significant changes to military doctrine since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The policy directive recently signed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declares that the job of planning and training to win the peace after a war is now virtually as important to the military as the conflict itself.
The document marks a sea change from the ideals of the past, when the military was loath to take on any responsibility beyond waging and winning wars. Indeed, it suggests that the Pentagon increasingly sees Iraq and Afghanistan as templates for wars of the future, with success hinging not only on military superiority, but also on the ability to reconstruct failed states.
"The [Pentagon] directive will help ensure that the Department of Defense develops the capabilities required to meet future stability operations challenges as part of an integrated US government effort," says Jeffrey Nadaner, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for stability operations, by e-mail.
The Pentagon has so far rejected the idea of special stability-operation units in favor of plans for a more general indoctrination of all troops. And that should not interfere with the military's dominance on the battlefield, writes Mr. Nadaner: "The effort to improve the balance between stability and combat operations should not undermine the warrior ethos, which is the foundation of armed forces."
But there are some doubts:
But especially at a time when the Army is accepting more recruits who make substandard scores on aptitude tests, some analysts wonder whether the new approach asks too much. "There is a point beyond which it isn't practical to expect so many different things from the same group of people," says Loren Thompson, a defense expert at the Lexington Institute in Arlington.
Already, the Army has been asked to become more flexible, more agile, and more intelligent to make up for the decreased size of the force since the end of the cold war. The new directive could call on it to fundamentally change its culture and training: Each new hour of stability-operations training could mean an hour of combat training lost. No longer are they simply machines of war, grinding toward some military objective. Now, they are to be intermittent instruments of peace, as well.
The problem, suggests Dr. Thompson, is that "people who are good
killers tend not to be good mediators."
Remember kids we don't "do" nation building except when we "do" nation building. It's good that DOD is acknowledging the need for this change. How it reflects in how units are structured, trained, and equipped remains to be seen. The quote that "people who are good killers tend not to be good mediators" probably has some validity. One of the key points that has come out of some of the Katrina after action reviews that I have heard is that the "tactical" types were not always a good fit for operations in the disaster zone. Jailers tended to work better because they had more experience dealing with people and their myriad problems. So do paratroopers make good peace keepers? Maybe not.
I think the military ought to invest more in creating units that are capable of operating in the "three block fight" environments. We somehow have to bridge the gap between the Special Forces teams that are built for this fight, but are too few to handle a large chunk of territory like Iraq, and the larger civil affairs units which are mostly concentrated in the Reserves and not build for combat. The Provincial Reconstruction Team concept may be a good start. The military ought to begin to formalize these topics in its training. I've graduated from a ton of Army schools, and not one of them had a formal civil military operations component.
I also think the federal government beyond DOD has a role to play in this. Our government has no "expeditionary" component beyond its military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies. However, there is certain expertise that does not reside in any of the entities. USAID does some heroic things, but does not particularly function well in non-permissive environments. Perhaps we need to start looking at military units that have a mix of federal civilians on them.
Change is coming, but we'll have to see how fast.