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OTB Radio – Tonight at 5:30 Eastern

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live from 5:30-6:30 Eastern. Dave Schuler and I will be joined by special guest Dave Dilegge of Small Wars Journal fame to talk about the renewed debate on Afghanistan.  See “Afghanistan Debate Intensifies,” “Back Off Jack Keane Wannabees,” and “What Are Our […]

John Nagl New CNAS President


Given that Michele Flournoy has taken a position in the Obama administration and Kurt Campbell is widely expected to follow, I had been thinking for awhile that John Nagl is now the biggest star at CNAS. Sure enough: Dr. John Nagl, acclaimed author, West Point graduate, Rhodes scholar, retired Army officer, and Bronze Star recipient, […]

McMaster Gets Star, ARCIC Directorship

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster Photo

H.R. McMaster has been officially nominated by the president for brigadier general and is “currently enroute to serve as director, concepts development and experimentation, Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virgina.” Foreign Policy‘s Blake Hounshell reports that, The ARCIC is a relatively new center that has the potential to […]

Canada: American Military Deserters Not Welcome


If you’ve volunteered for service in the U.S. Armed Forces but don’t actually want to go to war, don’t count on hiding in Canada. The Canadian government’s effort to remove [U.S. Army deserter James Corey] Glass contrasts with the warm reception given to deserters and draft avoiders from the United States during the war in […]

G8 and EU Growing Pains

Sarkozy Wins Photo

Two articles cited in today’s Small Wars Journal roundup have almost nothing to do with wars, small or otherwise, but are nonetheless interesting in showing the state of flux of some key international institutions. Steven Erlanger reports on a bold attempt to forge a “Union of the Mediterranean” which would be something of a minor […]

Mullen Signals Sea Change

Mike Mullen Army War College Speech Photo

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the graduating class of the Army War College to accept responsibility, listen to their subordinates, and broaden their horizons. He also signaled a radical transformation of the way the Defense Department does business. The chairman also called on a national discourse on defense. […]

U.S. Kills Jihadists with Stroke of Pen, Creating Violent Extremists as Byproduct


The war against Jihadists and Islamo-Fascists has been won; each and every last one of these vermin has been eradicated courtesy of the United States Government. Unfortunately, the victory is quite literally in name only. The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language. Federal agencies, including […]

Petraeus Picking Generals as Part of Army Overhaul

General David Petraeus Photo

The Army is in the process of retooling its personnel system to meet the challenges of modern warfare, beginning with bringing General David Petraeus home from Iraq to oversee a selection board for one-star generals. The Army has summoned the top U.S. commander in Iraq back to Washington to preside over a board that will […]

Joe Biden, Neocon?


Today’s WSJ editorial is entitled, “The Bush-Biden Doctrine: ‘Realists’ discover the virtues of democracy in Pakistan.” Here’s the opener: Whatever Pervez Musharraf’s failings in Islamabad, his impact in Washington has been nothing short of miraculous. With his declaration of emergency rule, the Pakistan President has single-handedly revived the Bush Doctrine. The same people who only […]

COIN Manual Plagiarized?


Anthropologist David Price has a harsh and rather unscholarly critique of General David Petraeus and his team for “pilfering” from the social science literature without proper attribution, including “no quotation marks, attribution, or citations” for ideas loosely paraphrased from academic works and an incomplete bibliography. Small Wars Journal publishes a series of responses to Price […]

New Interagency COIN Manual


Small Wars Journal passes on word that the State Department is working on a new interagency manual entitled “Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policymakers: A Work in Progress.” Given that State and other non-military agencies are critical to successful counterinsurgency, it’s good to see them working this issue. SWJ’s editors are right, though, that we’re a […]

Iraqi Insurgents ‘Thinking and Adaptive’


Greg Grant describes the constant struggle by American soldiers to adapt to an ever-changing enemy in Iraq. Even though the Army has been fighting the shadowy insurgency for four years in Iraq, it has been slow to change its conventional approach: massing firepower on an enemy’s formations. The United States invaded Iraq with the world’s […]

Airpower’s Crucial Role in Irregular Warfare


Frank Hoffman draws my attention to a piece in Air & Space Power Journal by Major General Allen Peck entitled, “Airpower’s Crucial Role in Irregular Warfare.” Having recently written about the problems with relying on air power for COIN, I was interested in getting the alternative view from an unquestioned expert. I remain unpersuaded. He […]

COIN at the Company and Platoon Level


CPT Jeremy Gwinn has a detailed outline at Small Wars Journal for how making Army companies and platoons more adept at counterinsurgency. It rather defies excerpting but, essentially, it would assign civil affairs, psychological operations, intelligence, media relations, and similar tasks to enlisted combat arms soldiers as additional duties. While the need identified is valid, […]

H.R. McMaster Passed Over – Reverse Peter Principle?


The legendary Colonel H.R. McMaster has been passed over, for a second time, for promotion to flag rank. Matt Bennett, a VP at the liberal Third Way sees this is a “corollary to the Peter Principle: genuinely gifted and brilliant public servants who are kept far below the level to which they should ascend.” He, […]

Memorial Day, 2007

As you must surely know, today is Memorial Day, a day for reflecting on the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform who have given their lives in the service of their country. It began as Decoration Day, a day for decorating the graves of those who had died in the American Civil War. […]

Small Armies and Small Wars


Robert Farley has some interesting thoughts on the implications the smaller, more modern forces the major Western powers have for their ability to handle counterinsurgency missions. Why is it that the United Kingdom, which is in an absolute sense far more wealthy now than it was in 1930, having difficulty maintaining a foreign deployment of […]

New Counterinsurgency Manual, Same Old Military


Michael Gordon has an interesting look at the nearly-complete revisions to the counterinsurgency manual and the cultural turmoil it is causing within the American military. The United States Army and Marines are finishing work on a new counterinsurgency doctrine that draws on the hard-learned lessons from Iraq and makes the welfare and protection of civilians […]

In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam


Thomas Ricks has a front page feature article in today’s WaPo entitled “In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam.” It is, apparently, the first of a series of previews of his forthcoming book, “FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.” This morning’s piece does a fair job of showing why the Iraqi guerrilla movement got […]

Iraq Civilian Deaths in Comparative Perspective

Source: The New York Times via TechnoChitlins via Ann Althouse. The latter observes, The contrasting numbers for the Iraq War and the politically motivated killings under Saddam Hussein, whom the war ousted from power, are very stark. The contrasting numbers for the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan civil war are much […]

Pentagon Makes Nation-Building Equal to Combat

Rowan Scarborough reports that the Pentagon has acceded to reality and made nation building a priority equal to major combat operations. Nation-Building Elevated — Pentagon raises stability missions’ importance level (Washington Times, p. 1) The Pentagon yesterday announced a landmark change in the use of combat troops, elevating “stability missions” — commonly called nation-building — […]

Iraq War Success Stories


I have come across several pieces recently talking about very successful counter-insurgency operations in Iraq by American special operators. Together, they provide some useful lessons learned (or, as some military wags would note, “Lessons Identified”–they’ve been “learned” many times to little avail). I started a post on this piece Monday and get sidetracked: In Iraq, […]