TURNING THE CORNER?
Don Sensing makes a good case that yesterday’s raid which killed the Hussein boys “was the result, not the cause, of the turning of the corner in the guerrilla war in Iraq.”
As skilled as the Desert Storm-era force that I served in was, all indications are that the current one is qualitatively better. I guess a decade plus of fighting all types of wars has made for a lot of “lessons learned” that are constantly incorporated. Just the advances made in urban combat and counter-guerilla operations are staggering, let alone the improvements in technology and/or application of same. While the force is smaller and overextended, its strength goes well beyond simple size or technological superiority.
Further thoughts (1226): James Kitfield outlines in Prodigal Soldiers* noted that Desert Storm was led by men who were shaped by our failures in Vietnam. But it was also fought, with a handful of exceptions, almost entirely by troops previously untested in battle. The US military had gone 18 years without major combat operations. Since ODS, it has been one deployment after another. So, while the maneuver units in ODS had been through the National Training Center–a wonderful innovation–we’d never heard shots fired in anger. Today, almost anyone who has been in the military more than five years has seen some sort of combat. And the leaders have obviously learned a lot.
*Disclaimer: The hardcover was put out by Simon&Schuster. The paperback was put out by my company, Brassey’s, well before I started working here. It’s current sales are negligible, as is my financial stake in it.
Update (1836): In the comments below, Don mentions an extended essay on this topic from his archives. It’s worth reading.