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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection draws from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within the Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Nation-Building: A Joint Enterprise

Nation-Building: A Joint EnterpriseIntellectuals argue that wars are won or lost by nations and not by militaries. The military does, however, make a significant contribution to any eventual outcome of a conflict. Many observers believe the military is responsible for the final outcome of any conflict despite a multitude of related factors. For example, there are those who contend that America lost the war in Vietnam even though, from a tactical standpoint, the Army did not lose a battle. Many blamed this loss on the lack of a coordinated national strategy, but continue to hold the military accountable for failing to develop a winning strategy. Similarly, in Iraq, many claim the war is being lost and blame the leadership of the Department of Defense for any number of strategic errors. This harkens back to the issue that the military is accountable to fight and win America's wars. Others question why the military needs to support such missions as nation-building. The fact of the matter is the military as an element of national power is employed to protect the United States' national interests.

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Strategic Communication

Strategic CommunicationThe late Colonel Harry Summers liked to tell a tale familiar to many who served in Vietnam. In April 1975, after the war was over, the colonel was in a delegation dispatched to Hanoi. In the airport, he got into a conversation with a North Vietnamese colonel named Tu who spoke some English and, as soldiers do, they began to talk shop. After a while, Colonel Summers said: "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield." Colonel Tu thought about that for a minute, then replied: "That may be so. But it is also irrelevant." If that conversation were to be held in today's vocabulary, it would go something like this. Colonel Summers: "You know, you never defeated us in a kinetic engagement on the battlefield." Colonel Tu: "That may be so. It is also irrelevant because we won the battle of strategic communication--and therefore the war." For five years, Americans have been struggling to comprehend strategic communication. They have lamented the seeming failure of their government to persuade the Islamic world of America's good intentions while Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda operate in the best fashion of Madison Avenue.


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Responding to a Nuclear Iran

Responding to a Nuclear IranWhat should American foreign policy be if current efforts to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons fail? Despite the recent resumption of high-level contacts between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the potential for stronger action by the United Nations Security Council, an Iranian nuclear weapon remains a distinct possibility. The current debate regarding US policy toward Iran revolves around the relative merits of a preventive military strike, including the possibility of seeking regime change in Tehran, versus a policy that focuses on diplomacy and economic sanctions to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear bomb. This debate, however, risks prematurely foreclosing discussions regarding a wide-range of foreign policy options should diplomacy and sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to limit its nuclear ambitions. The choices America would face if Iran developed nuclear weapons are not simply between preventive military action and doing nothing. The calculations America would face are not between the costs of action versus the costs of inaction. A nuclear-armed Iran will certainly pose a number of challenges for the United States. Those challenges, however, can be met through an active policy of deterrence, containment, engagement, and the reassurance of America's allies in the region.


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Propaganda: Can a Word Decide a War?

Propaganda: Can a Word Decide a War?Two years ago, the Lincoln Group, a government contractor, sold unattributed pro-United States stories to Iraqi newspapers in an effort to win the war of ideas and counter negative images of the U.S.-led coalition. The mainstream American press, members of Congress, and other government leaders immediately and loudly condemned these actions as "propaganda" and contrary to the democratic ideals of a free press. A Pentagon investigation, however, found that no laws were broken or policies violated. Nor was the term "propaganda" ever used by the Lincoln Group or U.S. military in its efforts to apply the information element of power in a war in which the center of gravity (in Clausewitzian terms) is defined as "extremist ideology." Which begs the question: How do you fight a battle of ideas with one hand tied behind your back? The ways and means of winning that battle are both informed and ultimately restricted by an innate U.S. culture that struggles with democratic ideals seemingly at odds with the use of information to win over hearts and minds even while the enemy maintains no such inhibitions.


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