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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default SFA as part of a campaign design: supporting operational requirements (part 1)

    In an effort to rope the other three threads together (Fundamentals of SFA, Plan, Train and Organize for SFA, SFA as an Individual Capability) I thought it’d be useful to start a thread on SFA as part of a campaign design where the objectives require a level of sustainable indigenous security capability and capacity in support of broader policy objectives.

    I wanted to use an excerpt from Ralph Peter’s interview with GEN Petraeus because it gets to the issue of SFA as a developmental activity, and raises some significant issues with respect to campaign objectives and developmental timelines. I believe this idea supports the use of “design” in laying out the SFA LOE (Line of Effort), or LLOO (Logical Line of Effort) in Joint speak.

    New York Post -May 19, 2009, Pg. 23 titled “Worried Warrior - Gen. Petraeus on US strategy”, by Ralph Peters
    Post: As the commander of the US Central Command, you're the big-picture "strategy guy." Could you give readers a clear statement of our mission in Afghanistan?
    Petraeus: The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists. That's what it had become before the operations conducted in the wake of 9/11. Al Qaeda wants to carry out further attacks on the US and our allies, and we need to deny them safe havens in which they can plan and train for such attacks.
    Post: Can we get there from here?
    Petraeus: We can, but it won't be easy. To accomplish our mission, we and our coalition and Afghan partners need to reverse the decline in security; develop Afghan forces that can shoulder the burden of security in their country over time; help establish governance that wins local support -- which means incorporating some traditional structures, and support the improvement of basic services for the Afghan people. This will be hard, but the mission's critical. As we used to say about Iraq: Hard is not hopeless.
    While the objective of denying sanctuary to transnational extremists as a broad end lends itself to flexibility with respect to ways and means, Ralph Peter’s follow up question provides GEN Petraeus the opportunity to issue what sounds like CDR’s guidance on both ways and means – this is not new, but is illustrative for this thread.

    I first had the opportunity to begin experimenting with design for SFA last year after I was exposed to it in UQ 2008 – it was then referred to as the Operational Design Process, which had been derived from Systemic Operational Design. We had a brief thread on it here. Later in 2008 I was given an opportunity to experiment with it again when JCISFA supported OSD PA&E SAC on the IW study and a Building Security Capacity excursion. While we were unable to do a full blown design due to resource constraints (to include my having a better knowledge of design), we were able to do a functional design that focused on determining requirements in light of conditions and objectives, and designing an operational approach.

    Even with a reduced design process, the operational approach and requirements to enable that approach indicated a significant investment by the USG to achieve the policy objective, further it indicated that as conditions changed, and objectives were modified, so to the required capabilities would have to change.

    Later we looked at other case studies and applied the design methodology to other experiments and have made similar results. To achieve policy ends in the types of scenarios where there is an obvious security vacuum of significant scale, where we have an interest to see it through, and where the enabling campaign objective is contingent on the ability of the foreign security force partner to generate, employ and sustain sufficient capability and capacity, requires a timeline that extends beyond the shelf life of any one president and probably multiple congresses. This could be in response to what has become an intolerable set of conditions for one or more parties just short of conflict or it could post conflict (not necessarily post U.S. conflict). I did not include the types of shaping activities which might mitigate or preclude conflict for two reasons; 1) there has not been allot of effort looking into that on the main stream experimentation side (we could do better here); 2) If things are A-OK and going our way, then scale is usually not the issue, and what passes for normal is usually good enough. This does not address the issue that often we miss or ignore when conditions change and require more or less effort, and then find ourselves facing the best of some bad choices.

    If by using design we were able to identify what the requirements were for a given foreign security force that would support the overarching policy objective we could then walk the operational stepping stones backwards using the fundamentals of SFA. The SFA assessment methodology can be used to determine where the organizational gaps are in the FSF formations. The Operational Environment Assessment can be used to consider how the conditions affect the development and requirements of the FSF. The Institutional Assessment can be used to consider what DOTMLPF-P actions are required to make the FSF capable of generating, employing and sustaining itself. The operational framework can now be established because you have an understanding of what the FSF must be capable and have the capacity to do to support the policy end, and you have an understanding of where you believe them to be in terms of their development.

    The SFA developmental tasks of Organize, Train, Equip, Rebuild and Advise can then be aligned and adjusted to accomplish those intermediate FSF developmental objectives in support of the end. This is important because as the conditions and the objectives take shape the requirements will follow, and the requirements tell us what capabilities must be generated. This allows us to consider the demand signal in light of the needs of the operational requirements, and allows us to adapt our force generation processes in a proactive manner vs. a reactive one (provided the force employer is conducting continuous assessments and communicating that implications back to force generator).

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default SFA as part of a campaign design: supporting operational requirements (part 2)

    If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it) it might look like this - end = deny sanctuary to X-national extremists, ways = Afghan Security Capability and Capacity, means = OTERA (SFA as a force employment concept). The LOE timeline would have to be laid out, but it would seem to be significant – although it may vary in terms of level of effort. I think design when applied this way may provide the level of understanding in terms of requirements and capabilities to guide policy, and help us align the broader generating force with the operating force. In addition to being more effective, I also think it would be more efficient as identifying capability requirements early keeps us more proactive then reactive, and as such would support keeping the numbers of individual augmentees much lower – which since they are largely drawn from the generating force would reduce the risk in that area, and keep our force generation systems operating at a higher level of output. This would support balance through flexibility.

    As a follow on, and to a point John Fishel made on the SFA as an individual capability thread, it would also allow us to look at what capabilities are required outside of DoD. In example - if the objective requires a greater capacity of FSF then the partner is currently able to generate, employ and/or sustain what are the contingent developmental objectives that must occur outside the SFA LOEand who should do accomplish them? Looking forward, this may allow the USG to adjust its polices, authorities, programs and priorities to meet those capability requirements and as such avoid risk to the other policy ends it must consider.

    SAMS at Fort Leavenworth is the home of design, and CAC has now mainstreamed design into Army doctrine. At JCISFA we are looking at how to incorporate design into our SFA planning documents and tools.

    Best, Rob

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it)

    Best, Rob

    Hi Rob, funny you should mention that I was reading some old Maneuver Warfare Stuff and this old crusty Marine that now runs a ballet company has the best definition of the word Objective I have seen. Objective= the physical condition the enemy will be in when you finish your mission!!!! some strategic stuff there. And of course the original concept (article by whatshis name) as posed by the 101st Airborne commanding general Max Taylor was....Objectives+Ways+Means= Strategy. Have been reading this thread closely and you have been saying some good stuff as usual....All The Way Sir

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Rob,

    Before I give a more detailed response (without wisecracks ), I do want to raise what I see as a serious flaw or, at least, a distinct impediment: the strategic focus is too tight. Let's take the example you used:

    The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists.
    Okay, that might be the mission for Afghanistan, but it cannot be the (Grand) strategic mission, otherwise we end up with AQ in a cave in the FATA, and the Taliban with safe zones there doing pretty much what they want... Oh, wait, they are !

    This tightness of focus will, IMHO, cause the adoption of some seriously flawed assumptions for SFA. The one that is running around in my head right now is the flawed assumption that "nationality" is the pre-eminent component of identity (vs., say, kinship, ethnicity, religion, etc.). If we assume that a lot of SFA is taking place in so-called "fragile states", i.e. ones that never really developed a strong, unitary "national character", then it strikes me that this is a fatal flaw, since those other elements of identity (think of them as the bases of motivational factors)

    • cut across national boundaries, and
    • are limited in their motivational appeal.

    I'm not trying to dump undrinkable liquid substances in your Wheaties, but I do think that this is a seriously flawed "strategic" assumption that needs to be addressed, especially in the light of SFA.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hi Marc

    Keep in mind though that I was ref. CENTCOM's response to Peter's question - and it was oriented as you noted to the specific mission in Afghanistan. I do think it requires a regional perspective to really consider the capabilities and capacities required - and moreover to put the right capabilities in the right places at the right time. AfPak is a good example, however more broadly - what are the requirements to enable a strategy for interdicting enemy recruiting, traiing and basing grounds abroad, and how can you disrupt or interupt their movements (both physical and others) between locations - this quickly gets into all oj our USG resources, and is contingent to a large degree on muli-lateral support.

    As such, I think there is a signifcant component of developing partner security forces to this end, however there are other areas that must be considered as well.

    You are correct in bringing up the unique nature in each set of conditions and that sustainable security can take multiple forms - however they must be weighed in light of the outcomes you can tolerate.

    Marc considered:
    This tightness of focus will, IMHO, cause the adoption of some seriously flawed assumptions for SFA. The one that is running around in my head right now is the flawed assumption that "nationality" is the pre-eminent component of identity (vs., say, kinship, ethnicity, religion, etc.). If we assume that a lot of SFA is taking place in so-called "fragile states", i.e. ones that never really developed a strong, unitary "national character", then it strikes me that this is a fatal flaw, since those other elements of identity (think of them as the bases of motivational factors)
    This can't be just about SFA (although as a developmental activity its a great place to discuss it) - this is much more broadly the issue of all the actions we take to achieve a policy end. I will say that design supports considering this more broadly and the risks associated with one COA over another (of which one may be doing nothing as to not make things worse).

    Lets asssume that design uncovered the issues you brought up - but your requirement to extend security in order to deny safehaven remained. The process of design may lead you alternative ways of doing this, and requirements that pop out of the SFA LOE and into the governance and/or economic (or whatever LOEs you are using in your campaign design). There might be a requirment for political accomodation with a tribe that is currently excercising a form of self government - but which might support some assistance in other areas. The possibilities are as numerous as the range of conditions, however our tolerance may not allow us to accept all of them.

    SFA is really a force employment concept to support whatever ends are decided on, the process of campaign design though is what is supposed to frame how you can best achieve those ends. e.g. it may tell you that if you extend security in this area, you need to consider what are the implications to the adjacent areas. It may telll you that at the moment the conditions do not support a preferred COA, but you may be able to do other things that shape the outcome in the meantime - e.g. if country X says "no way" to your assistance - maybe he'll accept support from somebody else who is willing or desires your assistance. We often get myopic in the way we approach a problem and don't look at the alternative ways to solve it because it does not seem direct enough - design supports identifying the correct problem and then looking at that problem from multiple perspectives to consider the range of possibilities.

    WRT to SFA - Design lends itself well to it because of the nature of development which may include a siginificant timeline where conditions can be greatly altered based on interaction. This I think is really beneficial when trying to establish a rational for generating one capability over another.

    Hope that answered you questions - I'll forward you the UNCLASS design guide based on the work I did. Its not perfect - really more of a functional design, but it does get at the logic wrt identifying requirments.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-20-2009 at 10:24 PM.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Bob's World said:

    If you have defined the problem incorrectly, no matter how terrific your answer is to flawed analysis, you will have to be very lucky indeed for it to achieve your intended effect.
    I do not disagree. This is why I think design is the way to go. Now it may not change the nature of the policy, but it may provide the operational commander the analysis to argue for a different end, or at least argue for patience.

    As for it being the flaw in SFA as a concept - I'd say that SFA is just a force employment concept - e.g. a set of capabilities which enable a given operational appraoch or COA.

    SFA developmental objecitves are set within that, and the definition states that SFA should be part of a comprehensive whole of government approach - that is unless you already had a good enough partner in other areas and were just adding some new capabilities (e.g. not a stability op) and might not need it.

    I'd add that the goal of SFA is to create sustainable capabilities and capacities in security, and that requires instituional development along with the teeth. This gets to why the assessment methodology must include an organizational assessment, an operational environment assessment and an institutonal assessment. You have to have all three. If the institutional assessment tells you for example that the ministries will not be capable of supporting the capability and capacity you are developing, then either set your sites lower, or be prepared to pony up for temporary successes which you bear the burden of sustaining (or you could cut your losses).

    Perhaps we need look no further than OIF to consider the challenges associated with instituion building - I think employing something like design would help us navigate that better. WRT OEF - we just said that the Afghan security forces needed to be doubled - is this in light of them being able to do what they need to do? Using design could we have seen that earlier. Or is it just a matter of changing our objectives? What are the requirements for the partner govt. to sustain a force of that size? Could design help there?

    Finally I'd note that we don't always get to pick the end - or shape the conditions, we just have to find a way to bring it a conclusion we can live with. If design is done before hand - other choices which result in options that allow us to consider how bad we really want it (and size accordingly) may be possible, but all to often we miss the boat - as Ken White noted on another thread - "fire breaks and prevention make life easier" - otherwise we have to make some tough choices.



    Best, Rob

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default A threat-centric approach only delays the inevitable

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it) it might look like this - end = deny sanctuary to X-national extremists, ways = Afghan Security Capability and Capacity, means = OTERA (SFA as a force employment concept).
    This better than most gets to what is probably the biggest rock in my craw about SFA: It is premised on this VERY VERY flawed equation being true.

    If you have defined the problem incorrectly, no matter how terrific your answer is to flawed analysis, you will have to be very lucky indeed for it to achieve your intended effect.

    This is a very Threat-Centric perspective. Build the capacity of host nation security forces to (presumably physically) deny sanctuary to extremists and you win. I can't think of a single historic example of where this has achieved more than just a temporal effect. One has to address underlying causes of such populace-based conflict in order to achieve an enduring effect. Security is a supporting effort.

    I would offer as a far more effective strategic equation: End ="Good"* Afghan Governance free from perceptions of US legitimacy = vastly reduced US footprint with complete subjugation of remaining US military operations being in support of Afghan security forces = focus on development of afghan governance as main effort with at least a half of foreign assistance to that end coming from (hold your breath - )Iran.

    Key is to understand that "good governance" as used by me does not mean "effective" on some objective measurement of services, but subjectively how the populace feels about the governance. Populaces will rise up in insurgency when they perceive a major problem that they also perceive that they have not legimate means to resolve. So, success does not come from massive efforts to "fix" governance and battalions of "metrics" gathers; instead it comes from addressing perceptions, polling populaces to understand and facilitate host nation efforts to address their concerns, and ensuring that reliable mechanisms to address grievances exist.

    One can graph out every single populace's relationship with its respecitve government on a simple x-y graph; with "violence" on the y-axis and "poor governance" on the x-axis. Most would plot in a big scatter in the lower left hand corner, but trending upward on the violence scale as one moves outward on the poor governance scale. To take a country like afghanistan and simply suppress the insurgent without addressing the conditions of poor governance merely artifically moves it staight down on the y-axis without moving back on the x-axis. Once that artificial suppression is removed (take Yugoslavia, for example) the violence will rapidly shoot straight back up to a high level.

    As an interesting side note:
    from a recent Gallup poll conducted in Afghanistan:

    Single Greatest Problem for Afghans today (open-ended answers):

    1. The Economy (41%)

    2. Unemployment (16%)

    3. Security (12%)

    4. Rising and high living costs since international community presence (8.5%)



    Lack of Leadership Alternatives:



    Most Trusted Person in Afghanistan:


    1. Karzai (25%)

    2. No one (22%)

    3. Ramazan Bashardost (7%)

    4. Younus Qanoni (7%)

    5. Ali Ahmad Jalali (6%)



    Most desirable election outcome:



    Who should be in charge of Afghanistan?:

    1. New government (53%)

    2. Foreign Forces NATO/ISAF (26%)

    3. Present Government (10%)

    4. Other (5%)

    5. Clerics (1%)

    6. Taliban (1%)



    Importance and Popularity of Iran



    How important for Afghanistan is a strong relationship with ____ country?


    1. Iran (59%)

    2. US (50%)

    3. India & Pakistan (both on 45%)


    Which country do you feel closest to? (open-ended answers):

    - 41% of all responses put Iran as most admired country

    - 62% have family connections in Iran

    - 35% of Afghans would move to Iran as their first-choice destination


    Role of the Taliban:

    Is the Taliban having a negative effect on the country?

    - Yes: 78%

    Is Pakistan supporting the Taliban?

    - Yes: 53%

    US approval Rating:

    - Even Split: 48% approve ; 48% disapprove
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Bob's World,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This better than most gets to what is probably the biggest rock in my craw about SFA: It is premised on this VERY VERY flawed equation being true.
    ....
    This is a very Threat-Centric perspective. Build the capacity of host nation security forces to (presumably physically) deny sanctuary to extremists and you win. I can't think of a single historic example of where this has achieved more than just a temporal effect. One has to address underlying causes of such populace-based conflict in order to achieve an enduring effect. Security is a supporting effort.
    You know, I think we agree on a lot of things (especially the importance of perception). I would, however, like to take your comment and, since I really believe that battlespaces are much larger than tend to be generally discussed, toss it into what I believe is one of the primary battlespaces for all current and (immediate) future US conflicts: the homeland political debate.

    I would argue that ever since the Crimean War, one of the key battlespaces is homeland politics. This, BTW, is much more than a simplistic concept such as "national will" since it should be taken as a dynamic model.

    So, I would suggest that for the US home population, at least for those who vote and are involved in the political process, about the only way to get them to agree to a war is to wave a bloody flag and induce fear. This absolutely requires three things:

    1. the existence of a credible "threat";
    2. the perceived belief that that threat could "hurt us"; and
    3. a political-military strategy that "guarenbtees" that the homeland voting populace will not get "hurt".

    This final point becomes crucial when we are talking about how SFA is packaged. I would argue that it must be packaged as threat-based due to political considerations at home. Let me take this a step further, and note that the "threat", at least in the political battlesphere, doesn't have to be a physical threat; it can be a "threat to propriety". For a recent example of this type of threat, look at how the role of women in Afghanistan has been constructed in the Western media to both justify and further military intervention in Afghanistan. Even though I disagree with a lot of what he writes, Max Forte has a really good analysis of this up on his blog.

    Think about the problem-centric position you are taking (which, BTW, I happen to agree with !). Can you imagine trying to "sell" it politically? Try the following rhetorical argument on for size and see how it flies:
    I know! We have an unemployment rate of roughly 8%, but our national secruity requires that we invade X! Terrorists based in X have attacked our interests abroad, and the only way we can stop these mad dogs is to ensure a 100% employment rate in X!
    Ya know, it ain't gonna sell . So what is the US left with? An argument on "principle"? Sorry, but that isn't going to cut it either (Darfur anyone?). In the only battlespace that counts for most politicians, then, it has to be threat-based. And what, pray tell, do you think that these self-same political gurus will do to generals who disagree or who frame campaigns in terms they don't like?

    [/rant]

    Sorry for the rant and the sarcasm, but sometimes they are the best way to make a point. In this case, and because the US military is sub-ordinant to civilian political control, that means that the politicians define the campaign master narrative, not the military folks who a) have to carry it out and b) probably know a lot better than the politicians.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Bob's World;72310]
    Key is to understand that "good governance" as used by me does not mean "effective" on some objective measurement of services, but subjectively how the populace feels about the governance. Populaces will rise up in insurgency when they perceive a major problem that they also perceive that they have not legimate means to resolve. So, success does not come from massive efforts to "fix" governance and battalions of "metrics" gathers; instead it comes from addressing perceptions, polling populaces to understand and facilitate host nation efforts to address their concerns, and ensuring that reliable mechanisms to address grievances exist.

    TE]

    BW,Rob,Marct.....So wouldn't it be better to change the Strategy formula to Motive,Methods and Opportunity? With the Motive of the population as the primary Objective??

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default I prefer "causation"

    [QUOTE=slapout9;72326]
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

    BW,Rob,Marct.....So wouldn't it be better to change the Strategy formula to Motive,Methods and Opportunity? With the Motive of the population as the primary Objective??
    I think of the presence of "poor governance" as causation.

    I think of the spark that falls on a populace experiencing poor governance as motivation.

    We tend to focus on the spark. Leaders, ideology, etc. Without the existence of causation such motivation is benign. But the spark is what is on the surface, what is easy to see, to measure. We focus on the spark. It draws the eye.

    The key is to remove the fuel. But the fuel is made up of our own failures, and to remove the fuel you must first not only recognize the fuel but take responsibility for it. This is why most COIN efforts are either failures or long drawn out affairs. Because insurgency happens when governance fails, and most governments would really just prefer to blame the problem on the spark or the portion of the populace in flames.

    When some other country is experiencing this, it comes to your door as well if you are perceived as the source of legitimacy of that failed government. This is the true root of GWOT. Failed governments across the Middle East, populaces experiencing poor governance, and the US seen as a major source of legitimacy of those governments. The US seen as an obstacle to achieving good governance.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good post, Marc. While I agree in part with Bob and with you,

    One thought might bear a deeper look...

    I agree generally with your three post-Crimean things but strongly believe that in the US the threat need not be that credible for most; the ability to hurt us is subject to many vagaries; and -- define 'hurt.'

    We don't categorize that easily. I know many that would subscribe totally to your descriptions; I know as many or quite probably more who don't need those things. We're a rather belligerent crew for the most part...

    That said, there's no question in my mind that domestic politics drive our wars nor is there any question that the recent ones have seen what you say postulated or used by the whoever was in charge (to one degree or another and even if very flakily for the last few Presidents...). So I agree that's been the method here -- I just do not agree that, for the US, going to war absolutely requires those things.

    Bob's world asks a good question:
    "Remember when the use of military force by the US was a rare and very big deal?"
    His answer is also good -- most American do not remember such a time.

    This probably is not a good place for my anti Goldwater-Nichols rant...

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