Skip to comments.Leading With Two Minds (COINdinistas and the transformation of the US Army)
Posted on 05/07/2010 10:50:13 PM PDT by neverdem
They say that intellectual history travels slowly, and by hearse. The old generation has to die off before a new set of convictions can rise and replace entrenched ways of thinking. People also say that a large organization is like an aircraft carrier. You can move the rudder, but it still takes a long time to turn it around.
Yet we have a counterexample right in front of us. Five years ago, the United States Army was one sort of organization, with a certain mentality. Today, it is a different organization, with a different mentality. It has been transformed in the virtual flash of an eye, and the story of that transformation is fascinating for anybody interested in the flow of ideas.
Gen. David Petraeus, who had an important role, spoke about the transformation while accepting the Irving Kristol Award Thursday night from the American Enterprise Institute. I spoke to him and others about the process this week.
The transformation began amid failure. The U.S. was getting beaten in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Captains and colonels were generally the first to see this, but only a few knew how to respond. Those who did tended to have dual personalities. That is, they had been steeped in Army culture but also in some other, often academic, culture. Petraeus had written a dissertation on Vietnam at Princeton. H.R. McMaster, then a colonel, had also written a book on Vietnam. Others were autodidacts and had studied the counterinsurgency tactics that had been used in Malaysia, Algeria and El Salvador.
Theyd been trained to use overwhelming force to kill bad guys. Theyd been trained to see terrorists as members of networks, almost like computer networks, and to focus on disrupting the nodes where networks joined. But in the theater they sometimes saw that...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
David Brooks talking about the military.
The army adapted. Cool!
Every now and then, I had a superior officer who knew how to capitalize on the strengths of his officers. My last two years in Germany, my battalion commander moved me to supply (S-4) from operations (S-3), mainly because he knew my degree was in public accounting, and the S-3 hated my guts (lol).
Worked out so well for all concerned, I worked for him for another year and a half back in the States.
I'm not holding my breath on any transformation at the NYT.
The piece seems to be written in support of a doctrine advanced by younger officers, although the author credits General Petreus with the innovations, and to some degree resisted by an old guard of Neanderthals and backslappers. Not incidentally, this doctrine is in parallel with the operations as they are now being conducted in Afghanistan and which have drawn some criticism for featuring artificial rules of engagement which unnecessarily expose our troops. It is this that raises doubts in my mind whether this article is intended to be a dispassionate and straightforward analysis of counterinsurgency doctrine or a defense of the Obama administration.
A nominal Republican, actually a Rino, David Brooks lends the patina of Republican legitimacy to this support of the Obama administration military doctrine and may well explain why he was chosen and rehearsed for this piece. It will be interesting to see what rebuttals emerge.
Its a wonder that more institutions arent set up to encourage this sort of alternating life. Business schools do it, but most institutions are hindered by guild customs, by tenure rules and by the tyranny of people who can only think in one way.
Think what this could do for schools of education. Make the professors spend half of their careers rotating through the front lines in inner city schools, and arrange academic credentialling so that performance in combat counted for more than research papers.
Counterinsurgency worked in Vietnam when it was allowed to work. William Colby recruited U.S. police detectives to help identify key personnel of the Viet Cong so they could be neutralized. By 1968 the VC were decimated. North Vietnam replaced them with the NVA. Army Special Forces A-Teams and Marine CAC units pacified villages and taught the locals how to fight fire with fire.
One book General Petraeus consulted was the Marine Corps Small Wars Manual which was compiled in 1934 based on the strategy of pacification that evolved out of the Banana Wars. Then there was the second phase of the Philippine Insurrection (1902-1913) where the Army ultimately succeeded by developing a counterinsurgency doctrine. In the 20th Century these schools were filed away after the particular conflict ended. Advocates were dwarfed by the Big Picture of corps and armies deployed across Western Europe to fight the Red Army and its myriad satellites.
We were NOT getting beaten in Iraq in 2004-05.
Quit reading right there...but it demonstrate the wishful thinking of the commie traitor bastards at the NYSlimes!
If you want a clear look at intellectuals under a bright light, read “Intellectuals & Society” by the best real intellectual of them all - Thomas Sowell.
I learned a lot from that book just recently. He shows that the theories of ivory tower intellectuals tend to be outside their field of expertise, rendering them, in a good many cases, wrong.
Their theories are not tested empirically - they never have to stand the test of the real world.
But their sycophants bring them blindly into the real world, like the theory that arming a nation promotes war and disarming it promotes peace - with disastrous results for everybody.
It’s a great book.
Yes, RoadTest! GREAT book...I just finished it last month.
It explains a LOT, as many of his books do! GREAT book!
It always comes as a great shock to journalists and the little intellectuals twits that infest Washington when they discover that the U.S. Armed Forces are actually comptetent. It just goes against everything that they have been taught by their leftie professors and heard from their policy wonk friends.
The Army and the Marine Corps are quite good at counterinsurgency when they need to be. In Vietnam, the insurgents had their Waterloo in Tet 1968 and thereafter the war was one of conventional forces fighting in a jungle environment. The North Vietnamese Army, with tanks, defeated the South Vietnamese Army some two years after the U.S. Armed Forces sailed away.
While its quite true that many of the lessons learned from our counterinsurgency experience had to be relearned, we were quite right to focus on the real threat to Freedom - the Soviet Empire. We would not have defeated the Soviets by focusing on the Blue Helmet thing, we needed to demonstrate that the Russian Bear could not prevail. We did, and the Empire collapsed.
The Officer Corps has moved seamlessly between the academic world and a full load of battle rattle for years. But, unlike Brooks and others of his ilk, they have recognized the nonsense coming from leftist academics for what it is.
The old guard would be people like the ones who won the Persian Gulf War in 72 hours.
The backslappers would be people who broke Saddam's army, and then his Republican Guards, and then his Special Republican Guards, in three weeks. Having defeated the Taliban in a month, simply by organizing floundering native forces already in being.
Overwhelming, smashing conquerors, who terrified and then slew in great numbers, swiftly and spectacularly, the bestial, murderous, deadly enemies of the People of the United States.
Well, of course we wouldn't have people as uncool as that still in charge of our military, would we? Brontosauruses .....
But we broke a hell of a lot of their tanks -- B-52's caught them on open roads in 1972 and junked them right there -- and killed a million of their most dedicated cadre.
The little bastards never got to Singapore.
That was 72, we weren’t around in 75, Congress had pulled the plug.
Yes, that's true. But we'd done the job on them. The NVA generals estimated it would take them until 1977 to get into shape for another offensive, we had beaten them so badly in 1972. Do you remember reading/hearing that? They were surprised by the sudden collapse of the ARVN and GVN.
That's what a really, really good job of backstabbing and demoralization will do for you. Thanks, Dems! You were true comrades-in-arms -- to the Communists!
I mean, the Democrats wouldn't let the ARVN have bandages! I was so ashamed, when I saw newsreels of those guys suffering, I wanted to hide.
For later read..
Still boils blood here too! We Win--They Lose....gotta roll in Nov. Failure is not an option!
I’m curious about what you think of the H.R. McMaster appointment.