Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations
A virtue of having coalition partners with
a legacy of shared sacrifice during difficult military campaigns
is that they can also share candid observations. Such observations
are understood to be professional exchanges among friends to promote
constructive discussion that can improve the prospects of the
coalition successes for which all strive. It was in a constructive
spirit, then, that this article was made available to Military
Review. The article is a professional commentary by an experienced
officer based on his experiences and background. It should also
be understood that publishing this article does not imply endorsement
of or agreement with its observations by the Combined Arms Center
leadership or Military Review. Indeed, some comments are already
dated and no longer valid. Nonetheless, this article does provide
Military Review readers the thought-provoking assessments of a
senior officer with significant experience in counterterrorism
operations. And it is offered in that vein-to stimulate discussion.-Editor
Few could fail to be impressed by the speed
and style of the U.S. dominated Coalition victory
over Saddam's forces in spring 2003. At the time, it appeared, to
sceptics and supporters alike, that the most ambitious military
action in the post Cold War era had paid off, and there was an air
of heady expectation of things to come. Much of the credit lies
rightly with the U.S. Army, which seemed entirely attuned morally,
conceptually and physically to the political intent it served.1
In contrast, 2 years later, notwithstanding
ostensible campaign successes such as the elections of January 2005,
Iraq is in the grip of a vicious and tenacious insurgency. Few would
suggest Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) has followed the path intended
by U.S. President George W. Bush when he committed U.S. forces.
Pentagon and other Administration staff acknowledge that a moment
of opportunity was missed immediately after the toppling of Saddam's
regime: that fleeting chance to restore law and order, maintain
the momentum, nurture popular support and thus extinguish the inevitable
seeds of insurgency sown amongst the ousted ruling elite. Today,
the Coalition is resented by many Iraqis, whilst analysis of attack
trends since mid 2003 shows that Coalition forces formed the bulk
of the insurgents' target set throughout 2004. In short, despite
political and military leaders' justifiable claims of achievement
against tough odds, others claim, justifiably on the face of it,
that the Coalition has failed to capitalise on initial success.
This change in fortune has been attributed
to many factors. The Iraq undertaking was, in any case, 'forbiddingly
difficult' and might not have seemed as appealing had the U.S. forces
not recently achieved a sudden and decisive victory over Taliban
forces in Afghanistan.2 Inadequate attention
was paid to planning for OIF Phase 4, including Security Sector
Reform (SSR), arising in part, according to at least one source,
from frictions in the Administration.3
The CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] decisions to disband the
senior levels of the Baath Party and the entire old Iraqi Army,
thus effectively disenfranchising those most likely to resent the
new order, have also attracted much criticism. Some argue, however,
that the Coalition military, particularly the U.S. Army, were partly
to blame, citing aspects of their performance since the cessation
of formal hostilities and commencement of Phase 4 of the operation.4
Indeed, some serving U.S. Army and DOD personnel acknowledge that
whilst the Army is indisputably the master of conventional warfighting,
it is notably less proficient in the Phase 4 type of role, or what
the U.S. defence community commonly calls Operations Other Than
War (OOTW). The crux of the debate is whether the performance and
approach of the U.S. Army have indeed been contributory factors
in the deepening crisis in OIF Phase 4, and, if so, what that means
for the future development of the Army, particularly given that
it has already embarked on a process of transformation. OIF is a
joint venture, and dedicated, courageous Americans from all 4 Services
and the civil sector risk their lives daily throughout Iraq, but
the Army is the pivotal, supported force, and thus the most germane
to the issue.
My motivation to study this has arisen from
my experience serving with the U.S. Forces in Iraq throughout 2004.
There can be few acts more galling than a soldier from one country
publicly assessing the performance of those from another. However,
this is not an arrogant exercise in national comparisons: there
is no other Army in the world that could even have attempted such
a venture. It is, rather, an attempt to understand and rationalise
the apparently paradoxical currents of strength and weakness witnessed
at close hand over the course of a year. Ultimately, the intent
is to be helpful to an institution I greatly respect.
The purpose of the paper, therefore, is to
assess the impact and root causes of the U.S. Army's approach to
and conduct of operations in OIF Phase 4, in order to demonstrate
that, whilst not yet another Vietnam, it does need to be recognised
as just as critical a watershed in U.S. Army development.
The paper focuses on the moral and conceptual
components of capability, since these are likely to prove the most
contentious and present the U.S. Army with the greatest challenges.
If you are the richest nation in the world, changing structures,
systems and platform capabilities is one thing: changing the way
your people think, interact and behave under extreme duress is much
more difficult. Section 1 will analyse U.S. Army activity from immediately
after the defeat of Saddam's forces in conventional combat until
mid 2005, when this paper was drafted, in order to identify relevant
trends and determine their impact on campaign success. Section 2
will consider these trends in the context of the Army as a whole,
in order to offer wider supporting evidence and determine root causes.
Section 3 will briefly assess the U.S. Army's response to lessons
identified from this period of operations, and conclude. Since the
purpose is to analyse an issue, rather than define policy, there
are no specific recommendations.
Commenting on a contentious current campaign
is self-evidently problematic. With the outcome still so much in
the balance, no absolute conclusions about the overall effectiveness
of the U.S. Army's conduct of operations can safely or legitimately
be drawn: only time will tell. Security requirements also constrain
the depth of supporting evidence. Nonetheless, there is plenty of
unclassified anecdotal and circumstantial evidence from which to
deduce trends, at least about the shorter term effects of its operations
from 1 May 2003, the formally declared end of combat operations,
through to June 2005. Such a short paper can only highlight the
issues most salient to the aim, provide snapshots of evidence, and
trust that the authenticity and currency of the sources will carry
the necessary conviction.
My own experience, serving at the heart of
a U.S. dominated command within the Coalition from December 2003
to November 2004, suggests something of an enigma, hence the spur
to study the subject further. My overriding impression was of an
Army imbued with an unparalleled sense of patriotism, duty, passion,
commitment, and determination, with plenty of talent, and in no
way lacking in humanity or compassion. Yet it seemed weighed down
by bureaucracy, a stiflingly hierarchical outlook, a pre-disposition
to offensive operations, and a sense that duty required all issues
to be confronted head-on. Many personnel seemed to struggle to understand
the nuances of the OIF Phase 4 environment. Moreover, whilst they
were almost unfailingly courteous and considerate, at times their
cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted
to institutional racism. To balance that apparent litany of criticisms,
the U.S. Army was instrumental in a string of tactical and operational
successes through the second half of 2004; so any blanket verdict
would be grossly misleading.
Other sources offer similarly divergent evidence.
Extreme critics point to Vietnam and predict a long and bloody struggle,
leading eventually to a withdrawal with political objectives at
best partially secured. However, there is no weight of a priori
evidence to support that view yet, and one senses that its proponents
almost wish for failure in order to make some other wider political
point. A more balanced view came from a senior British officer,
in theatre for 6 months in 2004, who judged that the U.S. Army acted
like 'fuel on a smouldering fire', but that this was 'as much owing
to their presence as their actions'.6
Others have been less sanguine. One senior Washington Administration
official considered that the Army was unquestionably successful
during the combat phase, but much less so subsequently.7
He noted that General Tommy Franks had assured the Administration
that the Army would restore law and order, but in the event it had
failed to do so, and thus to some extent Lt Gen (Retired) Jay M.
Garner had been replaced because of a failure by the Army, since
the absence of law and order had rendered the country ungovernable
by the thinly staffed ORHA [Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance].8 Like many others, he believed
that a window of opportunity had been missed in the period immediately
after the fall of Saddam, to some extent owing to a failure by the
Army to adjust in time to the changing requirement. He thought the
Administration had already recognised the need to be better prepared
for Irregular Warfare (IW) and post conflict stabilisation and reconstruction
(S&R) operations, but the Army had not yet done so.9
Consistent with his claim, the Department of Defense sponsored Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) 2006 draft IW Study reports, inter alia, 'a
need for changed approaches to IW'.10
The remainder of this section will assess two
aspects of the Army's conduct of the early stages of OIF Phase 4,
which are judged key to success, and mutually supporting. These
• The Army's indirect impact on campaign
success, through its interaction with the Iraqi population; and,
• Its inherent effectiveness, in terms
of its capacity to adapt to the unexpected.
U.S. Army Interaction with the Iraqi Population
Western COIN [counterinsurgency] doctrine generally
identifies the 'hearts and minds campaign'-gaining and maintaining
the support of the domestic population in order to isolate the insurgent-as
the key to success. It thus sees the population as a potential instrument
of advantage. It further recognises that military operations must
contribute to the achievement of this effect and be subordinate
to the political campaign. This implies that above all a COIN force
must have two skills that are not required in conventional warfighting:
first, it must be able to see issues and actions from the perspective
of the domestic population; second, it must understand the relative
value of force and how easily excessive force, even when apparently
justified, can undermine popular support. Likewise, whilst S&R
operations imply a more benign environment, nonetheless it is critical
that the actions of the military should not serve to alienate the
local population. The alternative doctrinal approach concentrates
on attrition, through the destruction of the insurgent, and thus
sees the population as at best a distraction to this primary aim,
and in extremis a target for repression.11
Clearly, Western liberal democracies cannot
resort to repression of the population, but they do have varying
perceptions of the balance required between the two doctrinal models
and the extent to which military operations should focus on the
destruction of the insurgent versus his isolation from the population.
The most striking feature of the U.S. Army's approach during this
period of OIF Phase 4 is that universally those consulted for this
paper who were not from the U.S. considered that the Army was too
'kinetic'. This is shorthand for saying U.S. Army personnel were
too inclined to consider offensive operations and destruction of
the insurgent as the key to a given situation, and conversely failed
to understand its downside.
Granted, this verdict partly reflects the difference
in perspectives of scale between the U.S. and her Coalition allies,
arising from different resourcing levels. For example, during preparatory
operations in the November 2004 Fallujah clearance operation, on
one night over forty 155mm artillery rounds were fired into a small
section of the city. Given the intent to maintain a low profile
prior to the launch of the main operation, most armies would consider
this bombardment a significant event. Yet it did not feature on
the next morning's update to the 4-Star Force Commander: the local
commander considered it to be a minor application of combat power.12
Notwithstanding, there is little dispute that
U.S. forces in Iraq over this period were more offensively minded
than their Coalition counterparts. For a start, U.S. Rules of Engagement
(ROE) were more lenient than other nations', thus encouraging earlier
escalation. One senior Coalition officer noted that too much of
the force remained conceptually in warfighting mode in the post
combat phase, and failed to understand that every soldier becomes
a CIMIC [civil-military cooperation] operator in COIN and S&R
operations.13 Conversely, some U.S.
officers held that their allies were too reluctant to use lethal
force. They argued that a reluctance to use force merely bolstered
the insurgents' courage and resilience, whilst demonstrating Coalition
lack of resolve to the domestic population, thus prolonging the
conflict. It was apparent that many considered that the only effective,
and morally acceptable, COIN strategy was to kill or capture all
terrorists and insurgents; they saw military destruction of the
enemy as a strategic goal in its own right. It should be stressed
that this does not imply some sort of inherent brutality or lack
of humanity: examples are legion of the toughest U.S. soldiers in
Iraq exercising deeply moving levels of compassion in the face of
civilian suffering, and often under extreme provocation. The issue
is more a conceptual one about relative views of the value of lethal
The same contrast in national perspectives
applied at the operational level of command. At various key decision
points the instinct of the U.S. senior chain of command differed
from its Coalition counterparts. Yet it would be simplistic and
misleading to suggest that U.S. senior commanders simply did not
understand the importance of popular support. At least 2 evidently
did. Major General (MG) David Petraeus, as Commanding General (CG)
of the 101st Division and responsible for Northern Iraq in the period
after the fall of Saddam, swung his troops routinely between offensive
operations and an equally vigorous domestic construction and restoration
programme.14 He is widely accredited
with maintaining relative peace and normal functionality in Mosul,
a city with an ethnic mix easily liable to ignite into civil conflict.
Likewise, MG Pete Chiarelli, CG of 1st Cav Div, responsible for
the demanding and volatile Baghdad area of operations in 2004, referred
in briefings to his Division's SWETI ops: Sewage, Water, Electricity,
Trash, Information. He considered his role to be as much city chief
executive as soldier. Before his Division's deployment to Iraq he
took his senior commanders and staff on a seminar with U.S. industrialists,
because he realised from the outset that they would need to understand
how to manage a population and restore and rebuild a city at least
as much as they would need to know how to kill and capture terrorists.
The other widely held view, amongst non-U.S.
participants in theatre, was that the U.S. Army was too often insensitive
to the cultural nuances of the situation. In practical terms this
amounts to a variation of the 'too kinetic' theme, since the effect
was potentially the same-to undermine popular support for the Coalition
However, to apply the judgment of cultural
insensitivity universally would be similarly misleading. Troops
could undoubtedly be damagingly heavy-handed, as they could in any
army, but there were many reported instances of U.S. Army courtesy
and empathy with the local population. As an illustration of the
contrasts, one senior Iraqi official who worked closely with the
Coalition had his house twice subjected to routine search by U.S.
Army personnel.15 On one occasion the
troops displayed exemplary awareness of cultural sensitivities,
such as appropriate treatment of women in the household. On the
other, the aggressive behaviour of troops from a battalion newly
arrived in theatre led to his formal complaint, with consequent
apology from a U.S. General Officer.
Obviously the latter occasion was simply a
mistake and betrayed, if anything, a lack of training: it was hardly
likely to have been indicative of command intent. Nonetheless, another
U.S. General did assert that it was unreasonable and impractical
to expect front-line soldiers, given their training and pre-eminent
warfighting role, to develop the levels of subtlety or master the
wider range of skills predicated by the hearts and minds campaign.
He implied that their employment must perforce be restricted to
combat tasks, leaving post conflict engagement with the populace
largely to other organisations, such as the Army's reservist dominated
CIMIC units, and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].
The QDR IW Study suggests that the latter General
Officer held the more common view. It notes that, in an analysis
of 127 U.S. pacification operations in Iraq between May 2003 to
May 2005, 'most ops were reactive to insurgent activity-seeking
to hunt down insurgents. Only 6% of ops were directed specifically
to create a secure environment for the population'.16
'There was a strong focus on raiding, cordon
& search and sweep ops throughout: the one day brigade raid
is the preferred tactic'. There was a 'preference for large-scale
kinetic maneuver' and 'focus on killing insurgents, not protecting
U.S. Army personnel, like their colleagues
in the other U.S. Services, had a strong sense of moral authority.
They fervently believed in the mission's underlying purpose, the
delivery of democracy to Iraq, whereas other nations' forces tended
to be more ambivalent about why they were there. This was at once
a strength and hindrance to progress. It bolstered U.S. will to
continue in the face of setbacks. But it also encouraged the erroneous
assumption that given the justness of the cause, actions that occurred
in its name would be understood and accepted by the population,
even if mistakes and civilian fatalities occurred in the implementation.
This sense of moral righteousness combined
with an emotivity that was rarely far from the surface, and in extremis
manifested as deep indignation or outrage that could serve to distort
collective military judgement. The most striking example during
this period occurred in April 2004 when insurgents captured and
mutilated 4 U.S. contractors in Fallujah. In classic insurgency
doctrine, this act was almost certainly a come-on, designed to invoke
a disproportionate response, thereby further polarising the situation
and driving a wedge between the domestic population and the Coalition
forces. It succeeded. The precise chain of events leading to the
committal of U.S. and Iraqi security forces, or reasons for the
subsequent failure to clear what had become a terrorist stronghold,
lie well beyond the classification of this paper. However, the essential
point is that regardless of who gave the order to clear Fallujah
of insurgents, even those U.S. commanders and staff who generally
took the broader view of the campaign were so deeply affronted on
this occasion that they became set on the total destruction of the
enemy. Under emotional duress even the most broad-minded and pragmatic
reverted to type: kinetic.
Much has also been made in open sources about
the failures of intelligence in theatre.17
A detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this paper, but it is
germane that U.S. forces put relatively little emphasis on HUMINT
[human intelligence], concentrating instead on using technological
assets to gather intelligence, the significance being that the latter
can serve to keep the troops separated from the local population.
This assists force protection, in the short term, particularly in
an environment where suicide bombers are the major threat, but it
equally helps to encourage the local sentiment that the troops are
a distant, impersonal occupying force which has no interest in the
population. It denies one avenue for nurturing popular support.
Similarly, the QDR IW Study notes that during the period studied
U.S. forces were relatively isolated from the population they existed
to support: 'they live in fortified camps away from the population
and most face-to-face contact . . . is during cordon and search
or vehicle checkpoint operations'.18
Routine foot patrolling, a key means of interacting and thus gathering
HUMINT, was the exception.
On balance, and notwithstanding many examples
of highly effective interaction with the Iraqi population, the empirical
evidence supports the following broad conclusions about the U.S.
Army in theatre over this period:
• There was a doctrinal issue: some accepted
that the key to success was to gain popular support, in order to
drive a wedge between the terrorist and his lifeline. Others believed
that the best concept was to concentrate on destruction of the insurgent.
Similarly, some commanders believed that there was a pragmatic limit
to the range of skills and approaches a front-line soldier could
be expected to acquire, which de facto limited their value in terms
of significant hearts and minds activity.
• There was a training issue: a significant
proportion was unaware of the doctrine, or the relative importance
of influencing the population through appropriate interaction.
• Intuitively the use of options other
than force came less easily to the U.S. Army than her allies.
• High levels of emotivity, combined
with a strong sense of moral authority, could serve to distort collective
judgement and invoke responses to insurgent activity that ultimately
exacerbated the situation.
• Despite its own multi-cultural nature,
the Army was not culturally attuned to the environment.
• U.S. Army personnel instinctively turned
to technology to solve problems. Similarly, their instinct was to
seek means, including technology, to minimise frequent close contact
with the local population, in order to enhance force protection,
but this served further to alienate the troops from the population.
U.S. Army Adaptability
The U.S. Army way of command is germane to
the argument. According to one source, whilst the U.S. Army may
espouse mission command, in Iraq it did not practise it; other observers
have echoed this sentiment.19 Commanders
and staff at all levels were strikingly conscious of their duty,
but rarely if ever questioned authority, and were reluctant to deviate
from precise instructions. Staunch loyalty upward and conformity
to one's superior were noticeable traits. Each commander had his
own style, but if there was a common trend it was for micro-management,
with many hours devoted to daily briefings and updates. Planning
tended to be staff driven and focused on process rather than end
effect. The net effect was highly centralised decision-making, which
worked when serving a commander with a gift for retaining detail
and concurrently managing a plethora of issues, but all too readily
developed undue inertia. Moreover, it tended to discourage lower
level initiative and adaptability, even when commanders consciously
The U.S. Army's laudable and emphatic 'can-do'
approach to operations paradoxically encouraged another trait, which
has been described elsewhere as damaging optimism. Self-belief and
resilient optimism are recognised necessities for successful command,
and all professional forces strive for a strong can-do ethos. However,
it is unhelpful if it discourages junior commanders from reporting
unwelcome news up the chain of command. The U.S. Army during this
period of OIF exemplified both sides of this coin. Most commanders
were unfailingly positive, including in briefings and feedback to
superior commanders, but there were occasions when their optimism
may have served to mislead those trying to gauge progress. In briefings
to superiors, intentions and targets could easily become misconstrued
as predictions and in turn develop an apparent, but unjustified
and misleading degree of certainty.20
Force commanders and political masters need to know the true state
of affairs if they are to reach timely decisions to change plans:
arguably, they did not always do so.
Like any deployed force, levels of proficiency
were mixed, including a discernible difference between formed units
and ad hoc organisations. However, the range of competence amongst
deployed U.S. Army personnel seemed more pronounced than in other
contributing nations, perhaps reflecting how gravely the inescapable
requirement for manpower was over-stretching the structure, leading
to excessive deployments for individuals and causing the Army to
dig deep into reserves and those parts of the force with the least
expertise.21 Whilst this did not per
se prevent adaptation, it did compound the issue, since the lower
levels of expertise encountered discouraged commanders all the more
from loosening their grip on the reins.
On balance the available evidence indicates
these U.S. Army trends:
• Exceptional commitment, sense of duty,
and unquestioning loyalty to the wider cause, the mission, the force
and superior officers.
• Insufficient adaptability to the requirements
of Phase 4 caused by:
•• Process rather than effects
orientated command and control regimes.
•• A hierarchically conscious command
ethos, which encouraged centralisation, and conversely discouraged
low level initiative or innovation even when senior commanders stressed
the need for them.
•• Commander over-optimism, which
could sometimes compound the disinclination to adapt plans, since
it raised undue confidence in higher headquarters that existing
plans were on track.
• A shortage of manpower from which to
draw troops into theatre, leading to very varied levels of expertise,
which tended to compound the issues noted above.
Much of the above could be explained away as
the inevitable friction resulting from operations in a fractured,
war-torn country with an ethnically complex population. Nor is there
any suggestion that the trends identified above apply universally.
However, setting aside the many exogenous factors impacting on the
effectiveness of the military campaign in Iraq during this period,
there is sufficient weight of empirical evidence to deduce that,
following its striking success in the conventional warfighting phase
of OIF, and notwithstanding the immense bravery and dedication exhibited
throughout the force:
• The Army's approach to and conduct
of operations was a contributory factor in the Coalition's failure
to exploit success immediately after the fall of Saddam. (That is
not to say that the outcome would have been different had the Army
operated differently, but it might have been).
• The Army took too long to adapt to
the changed requirements arising from Phase 4 operations.
• Although the Army may now be achieving
campaign success, it created a harder task for itself by dint of
its approach and conduct during the early stages of OIF Phase 4,
including well into 2004.
Section 2 will consider the Army more widely,
in order to analyse the root causes of the trends identified in
this Section. In so doing, it will demonstrate that the trends identified
in OIF Phase 4 were characteristic of the Army as a whole, and that
the operational state and thinking of the Army in the period leading
up to OIF made the outcome assessed above almost inevitable.
The United States is fighting the Global
War on Terrorism with a mindset shaped by the Cold War. That mindset
helped create today's joint force that possesses nearly irresistible
powers in conventional wars against nation-states. Unfortunately,
the wars the United States must fight today in Afghanistan and
Iraq are not of this variety.-LTC M. Wade Markel, USA22
No army can be analysed comprehensively in
5,000 words, least of all the U.S. This section will, therefore,
concentrate on those aspects of the U.S. Army's conceptual and moral
components judged to hold the key to explaining the features and
impacts identified in the OIF snapshot in Section 1. These are a
combination of enduring, longer term factors, compounded by shorter
term, transient factors, which have collectively conspired to render
the U.S. Army conceptually and culturally ill-disposed to OIF Phase
4, and similarly ill-disposed to adapt to the extent required, and
thus ironically ill-suited to the path determined for it de facto
by U.S. Foreign Policy at the beginning of the 21st Century.
The Army's Conventional Warfighting Focus
The most straightforward reason why the Army
struggled in OIF Phase 4 to achieve the effectiveness demonstrated
in the preceding combat phase was that it was, by design, relatively
ill prepared for it. In spite of COIN and S&R operations having
occupied the majority of the Army's operational time since the Cold
War, and their being an inevitable consequence of the GWOT [Global
War on Terror], these roles have not been considered core Army activities.
The Army's focus has been conventional warfighting, and its branches
into COIN and S&R have been regarded as a diversion, to be undertaken
reluctantly, and preferably by Special Operations Forces and other
specialists, many of whom are in the Army reserves. So deeply ingrained
is the Army's focus on conventional warfighting that even when HQ
3 Corps was preparing to deploy to Iraq in early 2004 and must have
known it would be conducting COIN and S&R operations, with all
that that should entail in terms of targeted preparation, its pre-deployment
training still focused on conventional operations.23
Surprising though HQ 3 Corps' omission may
seem, it is symptomatic of a trend rooted in U.S. Army historical
development: the Army has consistently seen itself more or less
exclusively as a conventional warfighting organisation, and prepared
for operations accordingly. In his seminal book Learning to Eat
Soup with a Knife, LTC John Nagl contrasts the development of organisational
culture in the British and U.S. Armies, in order to determine why
the former succeeded in Malaya but the latter failed in Vietnam.24
The book pre-dates OIF by a year. Nonetheless the parallels with
the evidence arising from OIF Phase 4 are too marked to ignore,
a feature which evidently did not escape the notice of the COS of
the Army, General Peter J. Schoomaker, who in 2005 ordered copies
for every 4-Star General Officer currently serving, and provided
a Foreword to the second edition.25
Nagl notes that 'The American Army's role from
its very origins was the eradication of threats to national survival',
in contrast to the British Army's history as 'an instrument of limited
war, designed to achieve limited goals at limited cost'. And, 'As
a consequence, its historical focus was almost unfailingly and exclusively
to be a conventional warfighting organisation'.26
He contends that this focus was so dominant in the American military
psyche that the Army of the Vietnam era saw its core task unshakeably
as 'the absolute defeat of an enemy on the field of battle'.27
This attitude was sufficiently well ingrained throughout the Vietnam
era that the enemy's destruction on military terms prevailed as
the dominant operational intent, despite the many indicators that
might have driven the Army towards the necessary realisation that
the military objectives must be subordinate to wider political goals.
The trends identified in Section 1 are consistent
with this. Likewise, there is plenty of evidence, from Nagl by implication,
and from other sources more directly, that this uncompromising focus
on conventional warfighting, and concomitant aversion to other roles,
have persisted to the present day, or at least until very recently,
and were instrumental in shaping the Army's approach to OIF in 2003
and 2004. LTC [Scott M.] Eagen, an instructor at West Point, informs
cadets studying COIN: 'the United States has never excelled at fighting
insurgencies. In particular, our most disastrous effort, Vietnam,
has left a bitter taste for irregular warfare on the historical
palate of most Americans'.28 U.S. Army
Colonel (Retired) Don Snider, a senior lecturer in Social Sciences
at West Point and an authority on the professional development of
the Army, asserted that Army senior officers 'only realised recently
that OOTW had become an enduring purpose for the Army'.29
Combined Arms Center staff, in a briefing to the author about Military
Transformation, talked exclusively about enhancing warfighting capability
and were evidently at a loss when asked what was being done to enhance
COIN and S&R capabilities.30
Nor does COIN have a strong conceptual and
training foundation in the U.S. Army. As LTC Eagen notes: 'To make
matters worse, nowhere in the DOD's Joint Professional Military
Education system is a course that is solely dedicated to the specific
study of counter-insurgency'.31 Written
doctrine has also been neglected. The U.S. Army published an interim
field manual on COIN only recently, in response to events in Iraq,
but too late to assist those who needed to adapt so swiftly in 2003.32
Furthermore, COIN only merits the status of an elective subject
at West Point and other officer training establishments, and is
not widely studied in any of these: there is little incentive to
do so. As Snider observed, from the outset officers are taught that
the acid test is army operations in great power battles; they must
not be found wanting in this mainstream activity. Careers are shaped
accordingly, and the COIN expert has been seen as something of an
outsider. Likewise, according to TRADOC [Training and Doctine Command]
staff, COIN is not yet included in their programmes of instruction
as a type of operation in its own right, although some relevant
military tasks are.
The U.S. Army has not merely been uncompromising
in its focus on conventional warfighting. It has also developed
an uncompromising approach to conventional warfare that is particularly
ill-suited to the nuances of COIN and thus compounds the problem.
Nagl again: 'When the United States finally did develop a national
approach to the use of force in international politics, the strategy
of annihilation became characteristically the American way of war'.33
Eliot Cohen cites the two dominant characteristics of American strategic
culture as: 'The preference for massing a large number of men and
machines and the predilection for direct and violent assault'.34
Although a doctrine intended for conventional warfare rather than
COIN, it has permeated the American military and renders the transition
to the more graduated and subtle responses required for effective
COIN all the more difficult.
Nagl also notes the conceptual separation in
American military thinking between military and political activity:
'the American way of war is marked by a belief that the nation is
at war or at peace; the binary nature of war leaves no space for
political-military interface'.35 Granted,
modern technology enables lethal force to be applied more precisely,
thus helping to minimise collateral damage and reduce the potential
for inadvertent alienation of the civilian population. Nonetheless,
the characteristic U.S. military intent has remained one of uncompromising
destruction of the enemy's forces, rather than a more finely tuned
harnessing of military effect to serve political intent-a distinction
in the institutional understanding of military purpose that becomes
highly significant when an army attuned to conventional warfare
suddenly needs to adapt to the more subtle political framework of
a COIN campaign.
In short, the U.S. Army has developed over
time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly
swift and violent style, which left it ill-suited to the kind of
operation it encountered as soon as conventional warfighting ceased
to be the primary focus in OIF. Success thereafter therefore depended
on its capacity to adapt, to S&R in the first place, and then
to COIN as the insurgency gathered strength during 2003.
U.S. Army Organisational Culture and Adaptability
The capacity to adapt is always a key contributor
to military success. Nagl combines historical analysis with a comprehensive
examination of organisational theory to rationalise why, as many
of his readers will already intuitively sense, 'military organisations
often demonstrate remarkable resistance to doctrinal change' and
fail to be as adaptive as required.36
His analysis is helpful in determining why the U.S. Army can appear
so innovative in certain respects, and yet paradoxically slow to
adapt in others. He notes that: 'Even under the pressures for change
presented by ongoing military conflict, a strong organisational
culture can prohibit learning the lessons of the present and can
even prevent the organisation's acknowledging that its current policies
are anything other than completely successful'.37
He suggests that the culture of the British Army encourages a rapid
response to changing situations, whereas 'the culture of the American
Army does not, unless the changed situation falls within the parameters
of the kind of war it has defined as its primary mission'. And,
it has 'evolved a standard organisation and doctrine devoted to
ensuring uniformity in the employment of American material and firepower
superiority on the battlefield, and encouraged innovation in line
with these proclivities'.38 Empirical
evidence supports his thesis, namely a propensity for innovation
in pursuit of enhanced conventional warfighting capability, and
the converse-that its organisational culture, unquestionably strong,
has tended to discourage adaptation to roles deemed outside its
primary mission, namely everything other than conventional warfighting.
Nagl goes so far as to suggest that the demands
of conventional and unconventional warfare differ so greatly that
in extremis it may be very difficult, if not impossible, for an
organisation optimised for one to adapt to the other, all the more
so when it has a strong organisational culture attuned to its original
role.39 The evidence from Section 1
is consistent with his thesis, but his implied solution, to focus
on just the one type of mission, is unrealistic. U.S. foreign and
security policy requires forces that can undertake the full spectrum
of roles, and the manpower strains arising from OIF Phase 4 illustrate
all too clearly that the entire Army needs to be able to engage:
any thought of COIN and S&R being the preserve of a specialist
force must be banished. Adaptability within the one army remains
the prerequisite for success.
Compounding Cultural and Conceptual Factors
If the Army's strong organisational culture,
focused on conventional warfighting, has discouraged adaptation
to other roles, other conceptual and cultural factors have compounded
the difficulties faced.
Armies reflect the culture of the civil society
from which they are drawn. According to Snider the Army is characterised,
like U.S. domestic society, by an aspiration to achieve quick results.40
This in turn creates a presumption of quick results, and engenders
a command and planning climate that promotes those solutions that
appear to favour quick results. In conventional warfighting situations
this is likely to be advantageous, but in other operations it often
tends to prolong the situation, ironically, as the quick solution
turns out to be the wrong one. In COIN terms the most obvious example
is the predilection for wide ranging kinetic options (sweep, search
and destroy) in preference to the longer term hearts and minds work
and intelligence led operations: even though the former may often
be the least effective strategy, it always seems the most appealing,
since it purports to offer a quicker and more tangible result.
Armies also develop customs and behavioural
norms that serve, inter alia, to emphasise to the workforce their
necessary distinctness from their civilian origins. The U.S. Army's
habits and customs, whilst in some respects very obviously products
of American society, are also strikingly distinct, much more so
than most militaries, to the extent that some individuals almost
seem like military caricatures, so great is their intent on banishing
all traces of the civilian within. U.S. Army soldiers are not citizen
soldiers: they are unquestionably American in origin, but equally
unquestionably divorced from their roots. Likewise, most armies
to some extent live apart from their host civilian environment,
but the U.S. Army has traditionally been more insular than most,
especially when abroad: U.S. Army bases world-wide are a mini-America.
Neither trait can make it any the easier for Army personnel to empathise
with the local civilian population on operations, particularly when
the local cultural norms also happen to be markedly different from
It is, on the face of it, quite logical in
a force with unparalleled access to high technology, to seek to
use technological solutions to compensate for shortages in manpower.
That logic is further encouraged when the deployed force is supported
by a massive industrial base, with vested business interests in
the wider employment of technological solutions, and a powerful
Congressional lobby culture. However, the lure of technology can
be misleading. In an environment where, above all else, it is imperative
that the occupying force be seen as a force for the good, it is
counter-productive when technological solutions are employed that
promote separation from the population. Furthermore, a predilection
with technology arguably encourages the search for the quick, convenient
solution, often at the expense of the less obvious, but ultimately
more enduring one.
In sum, whilst the Army's organisational culture
has discouraged adaptation to non-conventional roles, a range of
other cultural and conceptual factors have compounded the trend.
U.S. Army De-Professionalisation
Another reason why the Army has struggled to
adapt is simply that it has not been at its professional best in
Snider contends that the Army 'de-professionalised'
during the 1990s.41 He asserts that
the culmination of the Army's post Vietnam re-professionalisation
came in the `91 Gulf War, when the Army was probably 'the most integrated
and professional yet produced by the USA'. However, over the next
6-8 years it became more bureaucratised, centralised and correspondingly
less professional. It was just starting to recover from this when
9/11 happened and it became unavoidably committed to such extensive
and challenging operations.
Evidence supporting the notion of de-professionalisation
has been widely reported elsewhere, to the extent that it is unlikely
to be contentious any longer, but it merits brief consideration,
since it offers further clues about the general capacity of the
Army to adapt as it embarked on OIF.
A significant symptom, and in time a catalyst
for the de-professionalisation of the Army, was the so-called exodus
of the captains, now a well documented phenomenon. Captains are
a particularly significant rank in the U.S. Army, as they provide
the company commanders, and it is arguably company and squad commanders
who are the lynchpin in the de-centralised operations that tend
to characterise COIN and S&R campaigns. According to Mark R.
Lewis, in the mid-90s, junior officers, particularly captains, began
leaving the Army in increasing numbers.42
The captain attrition rate exceeded the in-flow necessary to maintain
a steady state, such that by 2000 the Army could fill only 56% of
those positions intended for experienced captains with officers
of the right quality and experience.
Army studies into the extent and causes of
this attrition indicated predictable dissatisfaction with pay and
benefits, and the domestic turbulence caused by the increased operational
tempo that has characterised Western military life since the Cold
War. However, junior officers also consistently expressed dissatisfaction
with their jobs, and with their leaders. These factors are linked:
one of the principal reasons for job dissatisfaction was the sense
of a zero-defects culture in the Army, which arose indirectly from
unit leadership ambition-mistakes in the unit do not, at least on
the face of it, show the commander in a good light, with consequent
perceived impact on his career. This sense of junior officer dissatisfaction
with the leadership became so profound that in one study, commissioned
by the then Army COS General Eric Shinseki in the year 2000, it
was reported that 'many officers believe there needs to be a clean
sweep of senior leadership'.43
Lewis argues convincingly that the captain
exodus had degraded Army effectiveness and caused a downward spiral
of increasing attrition and inexperience in post. It had also exacerbated
the zero-defects culture, since, to plug the resultant gaps, even
more junior officers had to be advanced to more demanding posts
all the more quickly, causing competence to fall even further, with
leaders thus even less inclined to trust their subordinates and
allow them freedom of action. Lewis notes that before 1994 pin-on
time to captain was about 54 months, but by 2002 it had dropped
to 38 months. And a year later the Army was engaged in the most
ambitious and demanding undertaking to date in the careers of most
of those serving, OIF, and in particular OIF Phase 4.
This episode strongly suggests that operational
standards in the Army had indeed fallen since Gulf War 1. Formal
Army examination of it reported as much, and it seems inconceivable
that overall levels of competence would not have dropped, given
the reduction in pin-on time to captain by over 25%, and their pivotal
role of company command.
Similarly, the indications of a zero-defects
culture at unit level, and a mistrusting leadership, lend credence
to the notion of an inadequately adaptive force. Adaptation requires
finely tuned responses to situations encountered at local levels.
The more dispersed the force and varied the situations encountered,
the more critical it becomes that command be decentralised, such
that junior commanders can exercise their initiative and innovate
in order to respond appropriately. But this is contingent on leaders
trusting their subordinates, and the latter having the competence
to warrant that trust, which is hardly synonymous with a zero-defects
Summary of Analysis of Root Causes
Analysis of the Army's evolution, organisational
culture, and other cultural traits, explains in large part why the
trends identified in Section 1 occurred. In a sense, it also lends
those trends greater credibility, since it illustrates their consistency
with characteristics observed in the Army as a whole prior to OIF.
In essence, always seeing itself as an instrument of national survival,
over time the Army has developed a marked and uncompromising focus
on conventional warfighting, leaving it ill-prepared for the unconventional
operations that have characterised OIF Phase 4. Moreover, the resultant
strong conventional warfighting organisational culture and centralised
way of command tended to discourage the necessary swift adaptation
to the demands of Phase 4. The Army's cultural singularity and insularity
compounded the problem, as did the recent so-called de-professionalisation.
However, the Army is certainly not complacent.
The final section will briefly assess its reaction to the lessons
it has identified from OIF Phase 4. We are leveraging the momentum
of this war to transform our Army's organisation and culture. .
. . For the 21st Century, we must have an Army characterised by
a culture of innovation and imagination.-COS of the Army, General
Peter J. Schoomaker.44
Tempting though it may be to attribute all
the problems in OIF to U.S. institutional ineptitude and a collective
closed view of the world, this is simplistic, quite apart from being
unjust. Enlightened Americans in theatre, military and civilian,
were surprisingly willing, for such a powerful nation, to bare their
professional souls and heed advice from other nationals. A visit
to various U.S. Army establishments in May 2005 to research this
paper revealed a similar open-mindedness, frankness, and hunger
to learn and adapt, in order to improve military effectiveness.
It was also clear that Army senior leadership was actively engaged.
The Army already intends, for example, to bolster
junior leadership training, through a compulsory 6-week Basic Officer
Leader Course (BOLC), to supplement existing officer initial training
and education courses. Army-wide cultural awareness training is
also being planned. Meanwhile, HQ Department of the Army is actively
discussing the establishment of a formal proponent for OOTW, clearly
a timely step. It is also considering adjusting the balance of the
Army's core focus to include OOTW missions, but recognises that
it cannot forsake its conventional warfighting prowess, nor resource
fully the required spectrum of roles; hence the capability for the
one force to adapt between roles becomes of paramount importance.
At the Defence-wide level, the QDR IW Study notes that key improvements
could be achieved by efforts to:
• Capture and preserve corporate knowledge
on IW, as distilled from historical experience and refined by current
• Develop mechanisms for feeding this
knowledge into the wider force and government.
• Do all this before conflict or in the
initial stages, in order to avoid the 'fatal learning curve' (experienced
at the start of OIF Phase 4, and many previous IW campaigns).
• Improve skills and tactical repertoire
for IW across the wider force-broaden the knowledge base outside
Special Operations Forces and Marines.45
In short, much seemingly apposite work is in progress.
Nonetheless, there are potential pitfalls.
For example, it remains to be seen whether a mere 6 weeks of BOLC
will prove adequate, or whether a root and branch review of officer
training and education would not be more appropriate. U.S. Army
officer entrants, surprisingly, receive somewhat less practical
vocational leadership training than many of their European counterparts.
In the process, the Army could also afford to review the rank and
experience levels of company and squad commanders, since these posts
are so pivotal to achieving adaptability.
However, the main concern remains whether the
Army will really become adaptive in the manner required. In this
respect Nagl's work, so helpful in understanding the trends observed
in OIF Phase 4 through his analysis of the Army's evolution and
organisational culture, is yet again useful, but this time ironically
so. In his Foreword to the Second Edition, drafted in early 2005,
Army COS General Schoomaker notes: 'As we capture lessons from military
operations, our Army is immediately integrating the lessons into
our training, so that each follow-on unit learns from the experience
of those in contact with the enemy'.46
Yet 3 Corps' reported focus on conventional warfighting in its pre-deployment
training, discussed in Section 1, hardly chimes with the COS's intent.
Nor is that the only example of pre-deployment training being poorly
attuned to operational reality.
In similar vein, Nagl reports in his own draft
Preface to the Second Edition, composed after he had served in Iraq
for a year: 'The Army is adapting to the demands of counterinsurgency
in Iraq at many levels, from the tactical and operational through
the training base in the United States'.47
Yet Nagl's service in Iraq pre-dates most of the contrary observations
in Section 1, so evidently not all of the Army has been adapting
in the manner required. Or perhaps the discrepancy between Schoomaker
and Nagl's assertions and the concurrent reports from other sources
indicates that the Army (and Nagl, ironically) is already falling
prey to the very danger that Nagl highlights, and discussed in Section
2-that of the strong organisational culture convincing the institution
that it is adapting in the way required, when it is instead merely
innovating all the more vigorously in line with its perceived primary
mission. As Nagl so lucidly recounts, the Army has a history of
reacting thus.48 Or perhaps the discrepancy
simply reflects the inevitable variations in adaptability and effectiveness
in an organisation as large and diverse as the U.S. Army and thus
highlights the extent of the challenge facing General Schoomaker.
Certainly, the conventional warfighting pre-disposition is so deeply
ingrained in the institution that it will take many years to effect
the necessary transformation.
The Army's 'Warrior Ethos' is also illuminating
in this respect. It was introduced in 2001, therefore well before
OIF, in response to concerns that some branches of the Army lacked
basic soldierly skills and the realisation that whatever their specialisation
they must first and foremost be combat effective. It was noticeable
in Iraq that it was emphasised frequently, in a range of ways. At
its core is the Soldier's Creed. Note that it enjoins the soldier
to have just the one type of interaction with his enemy-'to engage
and destroy him:' not defeat, which could permit a number of other
politically attuned options, but destroy. According to TRADOC, 'lessons
learned from OIF re-validated the "need" and influenced
the final language, which was officially released in 2003'.49
Yet it is very decidedly a warfighting creed, which has no doubt
served well to promote the much sought conventional warfighting
ethos, but cannot be helping soldiers to understand that on many
occasions in unconventional situations they have to be soldiers,
not warriors. Is the Army really learning to become adaptive to
changes in purpose, or is it learning to innovate all the more vigorously
in line with its conventional warfighting primary focus?
Similarly, the OSD [Office of the Secretary
of Defense] paper Military Transformation: A Strategic Approach
outlines the key tenets of the intended Defence-wide Force Transformation.50
It makes much of changing the military culture, and enhancing strategic
and operational agility and responsiveness, but is itself uncompromisingly
and ironically orientated towards warfighting in tone and content.
It leaves the distinct impression that the Transformation project
will concentrate too much on harnessing high technology to enhance
conventional warfighting capability across Defence, and too little
on the much more critical, and demanding, transformation of the
human workforce, the key to development of a genuinely adaptive
The U.S. Army's tardiness in adapting to the
changing operational imperatives of OIF Phase 4 was indeed a contributory
factor in the Coalition's failure to exploit the rapid victory over
Saddam achieved in the preceding conventional warfighting phase.
Furthermore, its approach during the early stages of OIF Phase 4
exacerbated the task it now faces by alienating significant sections
of the population.
However, to conclude, as some do, that the
Army is simply incompetent or inflexible, is simplistic and quite
erroneous. If anything the Army has been a victim of its own successful
development as the ultimate warfighting machine. Always seeing itself
as an instrument of national survival, over time the Army has developed
a marked and uncompromising focus on conventional warfighting, leaving
it ill-prepared for the unconventional operations that characterise
OIF Phase 4. Moreover, its strong conventional warfighting organisational
culture and centralised way of command have tended to discourage
the necessary swift adaptation to the demands of Phase 4. Its cultural
singularity and insularity have compounded the problem, as has the
recent so-called 'de-professionalisation'.
Though justifiably confident and proud as a
warfighting organisation, the Army acknowledges it needs to change.
It is, rightly, considering adjusting its core focus to encompass
Operations Other Than War, with all that that entails in terms of
proponency, doctrinal development and a broader training base, although
Army planners are keenly aware how difficult it will be to achieve
this without compromising unduly the Army's existing warfighting
pre-eminence. Likewise, it plans to bolster leadership training
and rectify shortcomings in cultural awareness. However, these initiatives
may not be enough: the inconsistency between trends observed in
OIF Phase 4 and signals from the training base and leadership raise
the concern that the Army still does not appreciate the extent of
the watershed it faces. To that end, the planned Army Transformation
needs to focus less on generating warfighting capability and much
• The realisation that all military activity
is subordinate to political intent, and must be attuned accordingly:
mere destruction of the enemy is not the answer.
• The development of a workforce that
is genuinely adaptive to changes in purpose, as opposed to merely
adapting to be even better at conventional warfighting.
• Keeping the lure of technology in perspective,
and realising that the human component is the key to adaptability.
As important, the Army needs to learn to see
itself as others do, particularly its actual or potential opponents
and their supporters. They are the ones who need to be persuaded
to succumb, since the alternative approach is to kill or capture
them all, and that hardly seems practicable, even for the most powerful
Army in the world.
General Schoomaker asks, rhetorically: 'When
the historians review the events of our day, will the record for
our Army at the start of the 21st Century show an adaptive and learning
organisation? I think so, and we are committed to making it so'.52
His intent is absolutely right. But he faces a challenge potentially
no less tough than his post-Vietnam forebears, and it is to be hoped
that the historians from all nations, not just America, will agree
with his provisional verdict.
The Soldier's Creed
I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve
the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,
trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always
maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself.
I am an expert and a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy
the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American
way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
1. British military doctrine
uses the terms "morally," "conceptually," and
"physically" to encompass the constituent components of
a force's fighting power.
2. The epithet "forbiddingly
difficult" is taken from a Royal College of Defence Studies
3. Phase 4 was intended
to be stabilisation operations following the formal cessation of
combat after the defeat of Saddam's forces. Although Security Sector
Reform (SSR) eventually became an Army-led activity, I do not discuss
it in this article because it would entail discussing too many extraneous
factors to use it as a gauge of Army effectiveness. Various sources,
including discussions with a senior U.S. official, support the contention
that administrative frictions caused inadequate attention to be
paid to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Phase 4 planning. However,
detailed analysis is outside the scope of this article. For a hard-hitting
analysis, see Correlli Barnett, "Post-conquest Civil Affairs,
Comparing War's End in Iraq and in Germany," The Foreign Policy
Centre, London, February 2005, on-line at <http://fpc.org.uk/publications/144>,
accessed 2 November 2005.
4. A plethora of media
articles lay the blame for disbanding the Baath Party and the Old
Iraqi Army partly on the coalition military and the U.S. Army. See
"Special Report on Iraq," The Economist (18 June 2005):
5. Anonymous U.S. Army
colonel, Baghdad, September 2004.
6. MG A.J.N. Graham,
Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, interview
by author, May 2005.
7. Anonymous, interview
by author, May 2005.
8. GEN Tommy Franks,
Commander, U.S. Central Command, was responsible for OIF until early
in Phase 4.
9. "Irregular warfare"
is a term commonly used in U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) literature.
Counterinsurgency operations might be considered a subset of irregular
10. DOD, Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) 2006, vers. 3.1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office [GPO], 23 May 2005). The QDR will be presented to
Congress in early 2006 but was the focus of much study during 2005.
11. For an excellent,
concise discussion of the two contrasting doctrines, see John A.
Nagl, Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning
to Eat Soup with a Knife (New York: Praeger, 2002), 26.
12. The bombardment
was a U.S. Marine Corps operation, not an Army one. Still, it illustrates
the issue-the markedly differing national perspectives about scales
of combat power.
13. Anonymous, interview
by author, May 2005.
14. MG David H. Petraeus
was subsequently promoted to the rank of lieutenant general (LTG)
in June 2004 and took command of coalition SSR operations. I was
privileged to share an office with this inspirational officer for
15. The house of LTG
Nasier Abadi (with whom I had frequent contact and who later became
the vice chief of the defence staff in the newly created Iraqi Ministry
of Defense) was searched twice.
16. QDR 2006.
17. For a concise
discussion of the intelligence operation, read Anthony H. Cordesman,
The War after the War: Strategic Lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan
(Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) Press, 2005).
18. QDR 2006.
19. Anonymous, interview
by author, May 2005.
predictions as certainty seemed evident in the reporting of progress
against SSR milestones to Washington during the latter half of 2004.
On at least two occasions, one senior officer in the reporting chain
expressed frustration that he was not receiving an accurate picture
of progress, although a senior National Security Council official
later asserted in a December 2004 interview that the White House,
at the end of the chain, had accurate situational awareness. Brigadier
Nigel Aylwin-Foster, British Army, is the Deputy Commander of the
Office of Security Transition in the Coalition Office for Training
and Organizing Iraq's Armed Forces.
21. Of course, the
corollary to the observation of excessive deployments and digging
into reserves is that if other nations shouldered more of the burden,
there would be correspondingly less strain on the U.S. Army, but
this article is not about burden-sharing.
22. LTC M. Wade Markel,
"Winning Our Own Hearts and Minds: Promotion in Wartime,"
Military Review (November-December 2004): 25; QDR 2006.
23. Discussions with
U.S. exercise observers in theatre, Iraq, 2004.
25. The National Review
Online noted that Nagl's work had become "must reading for
high-level officers in Iraq because its lessons seem so directly
applicable to the situation there." See on-line at <www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/567702.
html/>, accessed 2 November 2005.
26. Nagl, 43.
27. Ibid., 50.
28. LTC Scott M. Eagen,
memorandum for cadets enrolled in study module MS460, Counterinsurgency
Operations, West Point, New York, 21 September 2004, 1. Eagen overstates
the case, in fact. As Nagl notes, the United States has sometimes
been successful, particularly against Filipino guerrillas in the
aftermath of the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 19th century,
where the emphasis was on isolating guerrillas from the population.
Unfortunately, the lessons were quickly lost as institutional focus
was diverted elsewhere by the next conflict. (See Nagl, 46.)
29. Anonymous, interview
by author, 24 May 2005.
30. Ibid., 25 May
31. Eagen, 1.
32. U.S. Army, Field
Manual-Interim 3-07.22, Counterinsurgency Operations (Washington,
DC: U.S. GPO, 1 October 2004).
33. Nagl, 43.
34. Eliot A. Cohen,
"The Strategy of Innocence? The United States, 1920-1945,"
in Nagl, 44.
35. Nagl, 43.
36. Ibid., 8.
37. Ibid., 217.
38. Ibid., 218.
39. Ibid., 219.
40. Snider, interviewbyauthor,24May2005.interview
by author, 24 May 2005.
42. See Mark R. Lewis,
"Army Transformation and the Junior Officer Exodus," Armed
Forces and Society, 31, 1 (Fall 2004): 63-93.
43. Chief of Staff
of the Army (CSA) Eric K. Shinseki, Leadership Survey, U.S. Army
Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2000,
quoted in Lewis.
44. GEN Peter J. Schoomaker,
prepublished draft foreword to the second edition of Nagl.
45. QDR 2006.
46. Schoomaker in
48. Nagl, 43-50.
49. MAJ Donald Ellerthorpe,
Executive Officer to the Deputy CSA, Operations and Training. (No
other information given.)
50. Office of the
Secretary of Defense, "Military Transformation: A Strategic
Approach," Pentagon, Washington, D.C., 2003.
51. The Economist
(18 June 2005), 12, notes that "Mr. Rumsfeld has a visionary's
fixation on the high-tech 'transformation' of America's military
and a misplaced disdain for the plain old infantry.
52. Schoomaker in
Also available online at: