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John A. Nagl - What we learned in Iraq

Stashed in: Awesome, Family Guy, Military!, America!, Middle East

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Man, that was an beautifully written.  The following stood out for me, but there were many other great 'graphs, too.

"Finally, the experience of the Iraq war offers a breath of hope for the American people at large. In the wake of Vietnam, the United States began its grand experiment of an all-volunteer military. And it was most certainly an experiment: there was no expectation that the system would hold together in a major war, and for two generations young men have been required to register with the Selective Service in case general conflict erupted.

"But there have been two such wars over the past decade, and the all-volunteer force has come through these crucibles of blood and fire with enormous distinction."

I agree, the whole article is worth reading:

What other parts did you like, Geege?

"The second lesson is for the American military, justly proud of its renaissance after the debacle of Vietnam and subsequent triumph in the cold war but grievously unprepared for the wars of this century.

The British historian Michael Howard noted that it was impossible to perfectly prepare military forces for the next war; what is important is to make sure that you have not gotten the preparations so wrong that the military cannot quickly adapt when it is next needed.

The Department of Defense failed that test. It ignored preparations for counterinsurgency operations and neglected the need for a deep understanding of languages and cultures, which played a critical role in the Sunni Awakening that eventually changed the course of the Iraq conflict.

These are old lessons — they were in fact codified in the Marine Corps Small Wars Manual of 1940 and had to be painfully relearned over the past decade. They cannot be forgotten now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are finally drawing down. Recognizing that post-invasion stability operations, including counterinsurgency, are core military tasks for which the Pentagon must prepare is an important first step."

It is going to feel SO GOOD to have these wars over with.

So good.

Can we end the "War on Drugs" while we're at it?

Afghanistan is not over yet.  

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