Monday, June 7, 2010

The War We Have, Not the War We Want

In national security circles it is no secret that the military is not happy about having to fight the Global War on Terror.  I am not referring to the grunts and junior officers but the top brass and civilian policy makers who pine for either the starkly drawn lines of the Cold War with the Soviet Union or even the muddled "end of history" in the 1990's.

Counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, guerrilla, asymmetric or low intensity warfare are all labels for dirty, bloody, war . The irony is that these are nothing new, but are in fact war in its distilled or even natural form. Politicians, generals and military strategists since ancient times have downplayed it and tried to cordon if off away from their neat formations of shiny troops.

Alas, the world is messy, is almost defined by chaos so military minds have always known on some level they could not keep the barbarians outside the gates forever.  The 9/11 was a reminder of the chaos model, that entropy reigns, not order, but the message was somehow not received by the Pentagon.  Internal reports and arguments reveal almost a foot dragging mentality.  Secretary of Defense Gates publicly called out the Air Force for withholding UAVs from Central Command forces because they were being held in reserve for other contingencies.

Other contingencies is another way of saying they hope or assume a big conventional war will break out and overshadow this messy little business. It is this kind of thinking supports my argument that that the Air Force should be folded back into the Army. (for those who thought I was just picking on the Marines, I will cover the Air Force in a future post.)

There are other potential threats on the horizon, including China and Russia, but the temptation to look past the GWOT must be resisted if we are to win it as quickly and with as little loss of American lives as possible.

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