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Our maxim: “understanding before action”
Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

viernes, 17 de octubre de 2014

US Army: La importancia de la contrainsurgencia.

 

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/14224/the-u-s-army-makes-its-case-for-post-coin-relevance

 

The U.S. Army Makes Its Case for Post-COIN Relevance.

Two UH-60 Blackhawks assigned to U.S. Army Europe’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade on approach to pick up soldiers during a mission rehearsal exercise (Photo by SPC. Glenn M. Anderson).
           
By , , Column
   
Since the U.S. Army left Iraq and began withdrawing from Afghanistan, it has struggled mightily to reinvent itself and convince Congress and administration policymakers to preserve much of its force structure. This has been an uphill battle. For many Americans, the Army has become synonymous with counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the U.S. doesn’t expect to fight a major land war with another nation, it was easy—if incorrect—to conclude that it no longer needs a large Army.

This forced military leaders and national security experts who believe in the enduring importance of land power to appeal for preserving Army force structure and investing in its modernization. So far this has not been successful, in part because of the Army’s reliance on a historical argument to make its case. The U.S. has often needed a large army in the past when it didn’t expect to, this argument goes. By gutting the Army during peacetime, the United States has faced risks and costs that could have been avoided with better preparation. But however persuasive the historical argument was within the Army, it did not resonate outside the service. What the Army needed was a clearer, forward-leaning explanation of its value in the tumultuous and complex security environment that the U.S. currently faces.

This week the Army released a new version of its overarching operational concept intended to do just that. This has both an internal purpose—to guide Army leaders—and an external one, specifically to make the case for preserving robust land power. The concept, as the Army explains it in somewhat stiff prose, “describes the Army’s contribution to globally integrated operations, and addresses the need for Army forces to provide foundational capabilities for the Joint Force and to project power across land and from land into the air, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains.” According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno’s foreword to the new operating concept, the goal is “securing our vital interests against determined, elusive, and increasingly capable enemies.”

These words were chosen carefully, leading to the three big ideas that form the foundation of the Army’s case for its continued relevance. The first idea is that the Army is the military service with the widest range of capabilities, and hence the most versatile. In a complex security environment without a single clear threat, versatility is invaluable, giving American political leaders a wide range of options when they face a crisis or threat. As Lt. Gen. David Perkins—who as a colonel commanded the famous “thunder run” through Baghdad during the campaign to remove Saddam Hussein from power—wrote in the preface to the operating concept, “Army forces present the enemy with multiple dilemmas because they possess the simultaneity to overwhelm the enemy physically and psychologically, the depth to prevent enemy forces from recovering, and the endurance to sustain operations.”

Such versatility is crucial in heavily populated urban areas, which the Army believes will be the primary venue for conflict in the coming years. In urban environments, it takes close human interaction to understand what is happening and to shape outcomes. The operational concept states, “Because of limitations associated with human cognition and because much of the information obtained in war is contradictory or false, more information will not equate to better understanding. Future enemies will act to remain indistinguishable from protected populations and infrastructure. Combined arms units possess the mobility, protection, and precision firepower that allow them to fight for understanding and identify opportunities to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Army forces possess cross-cultural capabilities that permit them to operate effectively among populations.”

The second big idea is that the Army gives American policymakers the option to seek a truly decisive outcome to an armed conflict if they so choose. Being able to destroy targets from a distance, while important, has limits. By contrast, troops on the ground among the population can alter whatever political factors initially led to the conflict.

The third big idea is that the deployment of effective ground forces is crucial to demonstrate American commitment to a partner or ally. As Perkins put it in his preface, “Although there are political costs and sensitivities associated with the employment of U.S. ground forces, the presence or arrival of credible Army forces demonstrates U.S. resolve and commitment to partners and adversaries.”

The question, then, is whether all of the intellectual energy and effort that the Army devoted to this new overarching operating concept will pay off. Will a case based on versatility, decisiveness and credibility sway American political leaders and the public to pony up the money to maintain the Army at the level that its leaders feel is necessary to implement this concept? At this point it is too early to tell.

Odierno is already expressing concern that the Army won’t be able to fight in a major crisis a few years from now. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently said, “The Army is unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan-type campaign—that is, regime change and occupation followed by nation-building under fire. However, this does not mean that demand for the Army is diminishing, or that the Army’s place in our national security strategy is eroding. It is not.”

Despite Hagel’s support and the logic in the new Army operating concept, in the current political climate many people believe that long-term risks are an acceptable price for short-term savings. Tragically, it may take a military disaster or a security threat that the U.S. cannot adequately counter to demonstrate that the authors of the new Army operating concept were, in fact, on the right track.

After the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government the participants had given the United States. His answer was, “A republic—if you can keep it.” The new Army operating concept helps provide the U.S. with a roadmap for retaining global influence—if it can keep it.

Steven Metz is director of research at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute and the author of “Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy.” His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Friday. You can follow him on Twitter @steven_metz. All ideas in this essay are strictly his own and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Army or U.S. Army War College.

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