Friday, May 07, 2010

Brooks and Ricks on the US Army

David Brooks is laudatory today.  He believes the Army has been converted to a counterinsurgency doctrine through the leadership of Gen. Petraeus.  Tom Ricks likes the Brooks narrative,

I must say I'm more skeptical.  There was an earlier post on The Best Defense in which a guest poster ended by saying:
 I would argue, though, that the truth is closer to this being a business as usual concept regarding something perceived as a fad: General Petraeus and COIN are the flavor of the month now, but once Iraq winds down for us and explodes for the Iraqis after our drawdown and Afghanistan drags on and gets more of a mess, will it still be an appetizing taste? Past history shows that it won't be. That leaves the real question as: how much can GEN Petraeus' influence change the dynamic?
There are a  bunch of comments on that post, most of which I've not read.  Personally I'm a bit cynical about the Army, the whole military actually. Supposedly after Vietnam they changed their culture. But either they forgot the change, and the lessons of the war, or the change was oversold.  Or maybe the sheer inertia of the Army is underestimated.  After all, you've got people who've invested their lives in armor or artillery who have every incentive to look for flaws in a COIN Army.  They're backed up by the military-industrial-Congressional complex.  Drinking tea with tribal leaders may be effective, but it doesn't create jobs in a Congressional district.

So my bottom line is Mr. Brooks may be over impressed. Petraeus may have done everything right, and everything it could, but it doesn't mean COIN is embedded in the Army's DNA yet.

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