View Full Version : Thrashing about is not a strategy

08-21-2014, 03:33 PM
A short article by Professor James Russell @ NPS, looking at the choices faced today and ends with:
Until we grasp the central truths about the distinction between strategy and tactics and the limits of our military power, we will continue to thrash around ineffectually in yet another attempt to address the problem of fighting limited wars for limited objectives.


Here's another passage, yes it is written for an American audience, but I would argue it applies to other nations, allies etc:
The inability to think through the lessons of more than a decade of irregular war symbolizes the intellectual fog gripping the foreign and national security policy establishment that has confused and blurred the distinctions between tactics and strategy.

There is a swipe at the creation of the US SOF capability and whether lessons have been learnt from UW / IW / COIN.

J Wolfsberger
08-21-2014, 05:48 PM
I'm not really certain what his point is. Do we need to do some more thinking about lessons learned? Sure.

But he also seems to be saying nobody can ever beat an insurgency. OK, so abject surrender? Do we concede the world to ISIS?

If you talk about a problem without discussing solutions, it's called "whining." If Professor Russell wants to assert that conventional forces can't win, SOF can't win, then he should suggest alternatives. (And by alternatives, I don't mean the stale, socialist/Communist bromides that failed so miserably wherever applied.)

08-21-2014, 05:56 PM
I posted this British ex-diplomat's viewpoint earlier on the current Iraq thread, it warrants appearing here and I cite his last two paragraphs:
It is time for a root-and-branch review of the principles of British foreign policy, so that they reflect two essential things: the world as it is and not as we would wish it to be; and the British national interest. Or, to put it another way, don't do nation-building and don't intervene in other people's civil wars - we usually make things worse, as in Iraq, and the waste of blood and treasure is unforgivable.

If this means hobnobbing with dictators, so be it. Only genocide and threats to world order merit military intervention, as with IS. For the rest, nations must be allowed to find their own destinies. After all it took Britain 713 years after Magna Carta, undisturbed by foreign invasion, to give women the vote.


08-21-2014, 10:34 PM
Gen. John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.), has a column taking a contrary view:http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2014/08/gen-allen-destroy-islamic-state-now/92012/?oref=d-river

He does write that the USA should not act alone:
The whole questionable debate on American war weariness aside, the U.S. military is not war weary and is fully capable of attacking and reducing IS throughout the depth of its holdings, and we should do it now, but supported substantially by our traditional allies and partners, especially by those in the region who have the most to give – and the most to lose – if the Islamic State’s march continues.

To date I have seen very little regional support - excluding basing. A number of nations, families and individuals have financially supported the Jihadists - little sign of that stance changing. No mention of Iran either, hardly a 'traditional' ally (see main Iraq thread and Crowbat's recent explanation of their role).