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.
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.
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.
For later read..