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Gen. McMaster: Raiders, Advisors And The Wrong Lessons From Iraq

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the man who started winning...

The first mistake is what McMaster called "a raiding mentality": the idea that we'll get a "fast, cheap, and efficient" victory if we can only identify the crucial "nodes" -- enemy leaders, nuclear weapons sites, whatever -- and take them out, whether with a Special Ops team like the one that killed Bin Laden, a long-range smart weapon, or a drone, McMaster said in his remarks at theCenter for Strategic and International Studies. "That's a fundamentally unrealistic conception," said McMaster. "We know raiding and an attritional approach" -- i.e. just killing enemies until the survivors give up -- "did not solve the problem in Iraq" (or for that matter Vietnam). "Targeting does not equal strategy."At its worst, a raiding approach is a militarized version of "George Costanza in Seinfeld, 'leave on an up note' -- just go in, do a lot of damage, and leave," McMaster said to laughter.The second fallacy, McMaster said, is that "we have exaggerated what we can accomplish through proxies or partners." There's a real value to T.E. Lawrence-like advisors who can guide a foreign force to victory, and the Army's spent a lot of time learning how to do that, with McMaster as one of the leading advocates of cultural and language skills.

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