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Fri Dec 28, 2012, 09:50 AM

2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real


2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real
By Doug Macgregor
Published: December 26, 2012

In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, Andrew Grove describes a strategic inflection point as a point in time when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure and the old ways of competing to ones. As Grove writes, successful business structures adapt and thrive. Archaic structures that fail to adapt, decline and die.

What Grove describes is precisely what the incoming Secretary of Defense and his (or her) team must do in the opening months of 2013: Recognize we've passed a strategic inflection point and adapt the armed forces to new realities, fiscal and military, while extracting real $ savings in the process. After all, if businesses can do it, so can the American defense establishment, right? Actually, it's not so easy.

Hindsight tells us that machine guns and artillery would kill millions of infantrymen during World War I and that command of the airspace would be vital to the outcome of battles on land and sea. Frankly, it never required much imagination to figure out that the Arab Spring would soon turn to winter with the replacement of a secular dictator like Mubarak with a Sunni Arab Islamist like Morsi.

Today, it seems incomprehensible that anyone in or out of uniform could miss these realities. Why, Americans ask, could hindsight not have been foresight if viewed through a better, more focused lens? Yet, since the end of World War II, the political and military leaders of the United States have established a record of recurrent misjudgment and misperception of strategic reality from Saigon to Baghdad.

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Reply 2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real (Original post)
unhappycamper Dec 2012 OP
nauthiz Dec 2012 #1
sarisataka Dec 2012 #2

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 11:07 AM

1. Because our thinking has never changed

Not once. We see conflicts between good and evil (communist vs. capitalist) and Islamofascist vs. Democracy. That's not real and when you make decisions based on a false reality you get, well, the mess that is U.S. foreign policy. I think there is a shift to "let's be realistic about this" but I hold no hope that the American public at large would suddenly turn to logic to solve their problems.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:51 AM

2. I see much of the problem being at the top levels

meaning the Pentagon. Despite chain of command, civilian oversight... at its core the military and supporting industries are a bureaucracy. As such it has a resistance to change and preference to do what has been done before. Overcoming that inertia is a very difficult task. It can be done for a short while, given proper leadership, but once that leader moves to a new position the gains are lost as the system reverts to its previous state.

It is also hard to find visionary leadership. The new leaders are trained by the old and thus have a similar outlook in most cases. In addition, as promotion is based on the reviews of the elder leadership there is strong incentive, career wise, to not rock the boat and follow the majority.

Given the lack of military background of current and foreseeable political leaders, I see no change coming from the civilian side. As above, the system encourages 'last war' thinking and discourages innovation at the strategic level, there is little hope of change from the military side.

Sadly this means the learning curve will be drawn in blood, as has happened in the past.

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