TCS Daily – The Most Important Culture War

My latest for TCS Daily, “The Most Important Culture War,” is up. It discusses the new Army-Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual and argues that bureaucratic inertia, not lack of knowledge, is the real problem.

The Army, especially, has a long historical memory. Too many times in its history, it has been sent off to fight wars with an undermanned, under-equipped, under-trained force. It was not willing to risk having that happen again by devoting its suddenly scarce resources to missions outside its core vision of itself—like OOTWa, stability operations, or whatever buzzword was currently fashionable—at the cost of the tools needed to fight a theoretical 900 pound gorilla like a suddenly potent China.

American soldier with Iraqi girl photo Fortunately, the combination of battalion commanders that have grown up mostly during the post-Cold War, the harsh lessons identified* in Iraq, and coffers overflowing with money has at least temporarily created an opportunity for a cultural change. The Army and Marine Corps will continue to get better at counterinsurgency. More billets will be allocated to Arab translators and fewer to tank gunners, at least for a while.

Whether these changes will stick after our withdrawal from Iraq is another matter entirely. If history is any indication, sadly, they will not.

Read the rest at the link and comment there and/or below.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, Published Elsewhere, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.